Career development for STEM scientists

In 2017-2018, Elvis served on the advisory board of the Careers Beyond Academia Program at Cornell University. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Elvis, along with colleagues at McGill University, Harvard University, and the University of Cambridge, co-founded the World Beyond Academia (WBA) Talk Series in 2020, aiming to inform STEM Ph.D. students and graduates of career choices beyond academia. This effort was featured in the article Young martlets: Exploring the world of academia and beyondon Matter (Cell Press).

Elvis co-authored an article “Let graduate students do internships,” calling for support of graduate students to pursue internships during graduate school, and another article “Why we need scientists to make sustainable policies,” on Matter (Cell Press) to advoate policymaking as an alternative career option for STEM Ph.D. trainees, especially those in chemical sciences.

S1E1 - BrainCo: Brain Machine Interface Real World Application

S1E1: Abstract and Speaker's Bio
S1E1: Introduction of Hosts


Despite the fact that brain-machine interface (BMI) has a history of nearly 100 years, there is no denying that we still have little knowledge about human brains. The technology is still at its initial stage and applications are, therefore, limited. Having chosen brain science as his starting point for research and entrepreneurship, Bicheng Han founded BrianCo that develops brain-machine interface (BMI) technology products. As a scientist entrepreneur, Han thinks a company must be operated with a scientifically rigorous attitude. This is because entrepreneurship is not only about commercial success but should also aim to improve social welfare with the most cutting-edge technologies and provide children, disadvantaged groups, and those who are most in need of help.

Aug. 16th, 2020

S1E2 - Career Pathfinding for a PhD

S1E2: Abstract and Speaker's Bio
S1E2: Introduction of Hosts


It might not be true, but many say that being a PhD narrows your career choices. During the PhD studies, many of us have been swinging between the academic path and other paths such as industry, start-up, quant, etc., especially when one is not receiving expected academic achievements. However, it is never easy to give up the academic path considering the time and efforts we have put in our PhD study, and sometimes it is simply our pride that prevents us from quitting academia. As a PhD, Yuzheng has rich and diverse experience. He was involved in start-ups and consulting during his PhD study, and had experience in top consulting and tech companies. Currently, he is a senior data scientist at Facebook while running his YouTube channel. His story will inspire us to make our own career pathfinding strategies.

Aug. 29th, 2020

S1E3 - Navigating my way into MBB

S1E3: Abstract and Speaker's Bio
S1E3: Introduction of Hosts


Management consulting is the practice of helping organizations to improve their performance. The Big Three or MBB refers to the name colloquially given to the world's three largest strategy consulting firms by revenue, namely McKinsey, Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and Bain & Company. In WBA S1E3, we are honored to have two incoming consultants (Alex from McKinsey and Hanzhang from BCG) as our guest speakers. This talk will be divided into three sections: a round-table discussion by MBB consultants, a mock interview session, followed by a Q&A session. In the first session (~20 min), Alex Lee and Hanzhang Pei will introduce their experience in navigating their way into MBB. The discussion will be led by Elvis Cao and Bihe Chen, and will also include a resume critique section (~5 min). The second session (~50 min) will be centered around two mock interviews. The third session for Q&A will last ~20 min.

Sept. 13th, 2020

S1E4 - A Career in Transition – From Scientist to Entrepreneur to National Lab Director

S1E4: Abstract and Speaker's Bio
S1E4: Introduction of Hosts


As Program Director at the National Research Council of Canada, Phil leads a 7-year $57M collaborative research program to develop disruptive technologies to decarbonize Canada. Before joining the NRC, Phil was on the cusp of starting a cleantech company as a finalist in the Carbon XPRIZE. Before that, he was on the academic fast-track, having published multiple papers in Science and Nature during his PhD at the University of Toronto. Join this talk as Phil describes his career journey and learn about approaches and techniques that he’s learned to get ahead. Phil will talk about what it takes to publish in high-impact journals, why starting a cleantech company is so hard, and what working at a national lab is like.

Sept. 25th, 2020

S1E5 - How to become the alchemists of Wall Street

S1E5: Abstract and Speaker's Bio
S1E5: Introduction of Hosts


Owing to their successful models which predict markets with tremendous accuracy, quantitative analysts (quants) have long been considered the mathematical wizards or programming experts behind Wall Street. The challenging nature of quantitative finance results in a high rate of failure; the minority who do succeed consistently deliver exceptional performance to their clients. As such, skilled quants who can leverage statistics, state-of-the-art technologies, and massive datasets to devise successful portfolios are in great demand and command high salaries. In WBA S1E5, we are joined by Dr. Ziliang Che, a Harvard mathematics Ph.D. graduate and a quantitative researcher in Citadel Securities, Dr. Minzhe Wang, a U-Chicago statistics Ph.D. graduate and a quantitative researcher at Jump Trading, and Dr. Xifan Wang, a Rice-U MSE Ph.D. graduate and a quantitative researcher at one of the top asset management firms in Houston. They will share their stories of how to navigate the challenges and avoid the pitfalls on the road to becoming the prophets on Wall Street.

Oct. 11th, 2020

S1E6 - Deploying a sustainable business and the technology behind it

S1E6: Abstract and Speaker's Bio
S1E6: Introduction of Hosts


There's an overwhelming demand among our generation for businesses and careers that combine productivity with purpose. PhD students and recent graduates bring another unique value proposition to the table with a deeper understanding of technology. Combining purpose, business, and technology brings about new tech-driven initiatives that are needed in the world today. For example, an increasing number of tech startups and small businesses are working toward overcoming one of the greatest global challenges that humanity faces, climate change. In this talk, Staff will give an introduction to Air Company and its purpose-driven business and mission, as well as talk about bringing sustainable technology out of the laboratory and into the world. We will discuss how increased awareness for environmental and social impact are driving many of today's innovations, and the different ways in which one could use their training as a PhD in science and engineering to build a sustainable business.

Oct. 24th, 2020

S1E7 - Career Opportunities in Engineering & Scientific Consulting

S1E7: Abstract and Speaker's Bio
S1E7: Introduction of Hosts


Engineering consulting is using hands-on, analytical problem solving with real-world applications. It is a unique career path that utilizes the skills gained throughout a Ph.D. program to help provide technical expertise in a variety of fields, including failure investigation, prevention, design review, risk assessment, IP, regulatory and product recall support, custom testing, etc. Consulting can be an exciting career option because you never know what case or project you’ll get to work on next, which offers the opportunity to expand your knowledge and actively keep learning after you leave the academic realm. During this talk, Marysol will give you a taste of what engineering consulting is through a sample case study, by sharing tips on how to prepare for consulting, and by imparting her experience as a member of Exponent’s biomechanics team.

Nov. 7th, 2020

Season 2 Special Talk - Face-to-face with an Editor-in-Chief

S2 Special Talk: Abstract and Speaker's Bio
S2 Special Talk: Introduction of Hosts


Are you interested in the publishing industry? Are you curious about how an editor review and make the decision on papers? Would you like to know why and how Dr. Cranford became an editor from a professor? Are you planning to submit your manuscript to Matter? Join us and chat with our editor-in-chief face to face.

Dec. 6th, 2020