Graduate School Career Day Celebrates Multitude of Career Paths

By Amy Widner

About 160 undergraduate and graduate students and faculty from UAMS, Arkansas and surrounding states attended the Oct. 18 event, which featured six speakers, a panel discussion, tour of campus and a workshop on networking.

“When I graduated, there were two career paths: academics and pharma,” said UAMS Graduate School Dean Robert E. McGehee Jr., Ph.D. “Today, I’m pea-green with envy of you guys. You have so many opportunities for what you can do with your degrees.”

Crowd photo

Students from UAMS, Arkansas and surrounding states attended the career day.

In part, this variety was illustrated by the diversity of speakers on the agenda.

Sutton Williams, a Ph.D. candidate from the University of Mississippi Medical Center Graduate School in Jackson, talked about why he chose a Ph.D. program that emphasizes training to become an educator in addition to a scientist.

“Programs like this help you realize what learning actually is and how to facilitate it for your students,” Williams said. “You also learn the different methods for educational research, which are slightly different than other approaches to scholarly research.”

Dr. Gandy gives presentation

Jay Gandy, Ph.D., professor and chair of the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health in the UAMS College of Public Health, outlines the many careers available in the regulatory sciences.

Emily Bellis, Ph.D., a computational biologist and a postdoctoral research fellow in biology at Pennsylvania State University, talked about embracing unexpected discoveries on the path to her Ph.D.

Jay Gandy, Ph.D., professor and chair of the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health in the UAMS College of Public Health, outlined the many careers available in the regulatory sciences.

Jill Berg, Ph.D., R.N., told the story of how her pursuit of a Ph.D. took her from nursing to research to administration and ultimately her role as a vice president of patient care, chief nursing officer and COO.

Cindy Moran, assistant director of the Arkansas State Crime Laboratory, discussed careers in forensic medicine. And Argelia Lorence, Ph.D., the Vaughan Endowed Professor in the Department of Metabolic Engineering at Arkansas State University, talked about careers at a traditional undergraduate university.

Student watching presentations

In addition to the lectures, the students also took part in a workshop on networking and took a tour of campus.

Dana Gaddy, Ph.D. — professor with the Department of Veterinary Integrative Biosciences at the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas — led a networking workshop on how graduate students and postdoctoral fellows can start building professional relationships and collaborations.

“This is one of our favorite days and favorite events we do here at the Graduate School,” McGehee told the audience at the 18th annual event. “We think of it as a recruitment event, but more importantly, we think of this as an informative event to get you thinking about all of the things you could do with a biomedical graduate degree.”

McGehee said one of the greatest things about graduate schools is that they are so dynamic. As the world outside the institution’s walls changes, graduate schools have to change on the fly and stay on the cutting edge.

For example, McGehee pointed out that the UAMS Graduate School is now offering a biomedical informatics degree. The regulatory sciences program discussed by one of the speakers, Gandy, is new and aims to train graduates for regulatory roles in government, like the FDA and EPA, or for jobs at private sector consulting firms working in these fields. In addition, the UAMS Graduate School is following the trend — as highlighted by the speaker, Williams — of including more opportunities for its students to learn about and practice being educators as a part of earning their Ph.D.

“The sky is the limit on your education in graduate school,” McGehee said.