March 16, 2000
Vol. 19 No. 12

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    Employment opportunities for Ph.D. candidates offered at Science Career Forum

    By Steve Koppes
    News Office

    Chicagoland Ph.D. students and postdoctoral researchers in the sciences will explore job opportunities with employers as diverse as Genentech, Ford Motor Company and Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory at the University’s first Science Career Forum Thursday, March 16, and Friday, March 17, at the Donnelley Biological Sciences Learning Center, 924 E. 57th St.

    Event organizer Robin Wagner, Associate Director for Graduate Services at Career & Placement Services, has widely advertised the event to the University’s 1,000 Ph.D. candidates and postdoctoral fellows in the biological and physical sciences. But she welcomes all Chicago-area Ph.D. candidates and postdoctoral researchers in science to the employer expo portion of the forum March 17.

    The Science Career Forum, which will be held annually, is sponsored by the University’s Biological and Physical Sciences divisions and CAPS.

    “I see this as one way in which our students can be better prepared for any career on which they embark,” said David Oxtoby, the William Rainey Harper Professor in Chemistry and Dean of Physical Sciences. “This will be beneficial even to those students who pursue academic positions, because in universities there is now much closer collaboration with industry. An understanding of what is involved in research and careers in alternative settings is important for future faculty members as well as for those who plan to move outside academic settings.”

    The Science Career Forum was inspired by Biotech Industry Day at the University of California at San Francisco. Sponsored by Science magazine, UCSF’s Biotech Industry Day attracted 30 companies and 800 job seekers last month, said Michael Alvarez, director of UCSF’s Career Center.

    “As far as I can tell, this is a pretty new approach to recruitment,” Alvarez said.

    Nevertheless, some employers, such as McKinsey & Company, an international consulting firm with offices in Chicago, have recruited at the University before. “We’re one of a small number of campuses McKinsey has targeted because of the quality of our graduate programs,” said CAPS Director Robert Riesman.

    McKinsey has hired more than a dozen Chicago Ph.D.s in the past year alone. The number hired in any given year depends on who is available, said McKinsey recruiter Ricci Luken. “We’re always looking for qualified candidates with the appropriate fit,” Luken said.

    The Science Career Forum will begin with a panel discussion on non-academic careers from 1 to 2 p.m. Thursday, March 16. Panelists will be Paul Hershberger (Ph.D., ’88, chemistry), senior research scientist, Proctor & Gamble; Dorothy Patton (Ph.D., ’67, biology), director of science policy, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; Shannon Mrksich, partner, Brinks Hofer Gilson & Lione law firm; Dairene Uy (Ph.D., ’96, chemistry), technical specialist, Ford Motor Company; and Robert Heinrikson (Ph.D., ’63, biology), distinguished senior scientist, Pharmacia & Upjohn.

    A research expo, featuring 75 poster presentations by doctoral candidates and postdoctoral researchers, will follow the panel discussion from 2 to 5 p.m. The expo will enable young researchers from Chicago, Northwestern University and the University of Illinois at Chicago to discuss their work with prospective employers in the context of their own research. “It provides interviewing experience that’s more focused on their strike zone,” Wagner said.

    An employer expo is scheduled from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday, March 17, featuring 20 employers in biotechnology, physics research, pharmaceuticals, government, patent law and management consulting. No advance registration is required to attend these events.

    For more information, visit http://www.caps.uchicago.edu/science.htm.