Alternative Career Pathways in STEM

Alternative Career Pathways in STEM

Workshop Description

Could you be missing out on an exciting and rewarding career outside of academic and industrial research? These positions are no longer “alternative” career options as the contrast between the number of graduate students and postdocs, and the limited availability of tenure-track faculty and industry science positions increases. Non-traditional careers such as university administration, consulting, science education, patent law, science policy, business, science communication, and product development are just a few of the many professional tracks available to scientifically trained students in chemistry and engineering disciplines. This workshop will begin with a brief introduction by the moderator followed by several panelists who will share how their education, training, and professional skills prepared them to successfully compete for their current positions outside of the traditional pathway. These first-hand experiences will be discussed in order to help students identify a satisfying and rewarding career path to pursue. The majority of the session will be spent addressing questions from the audience.

Dr. Phillip Palmer serves as the Assistant Dean in the Bayer School of Natural and Environmental Sciences at Duquesne University. In this role, Dr. Palmer is involved in a myriad of activities ranging from: recruitment and retention efforts directed at both the graduate and undergraduate levels, college in high school program, alumni affairs, marketing communications, community outreach, and strategic planning for the school and university, respectively. He is also involved in undergraduate teaching via his faculty appointment within the Bayer School of Natural and Environmental Sciences. Overall, he is tasked with cultivating relationships regionally, nationally, and internationally with the goal of creating a diverse educational environment that reflects the ever changing multicultural world in which we live. Dr. Palmer came to Duquesne in 2015 from the University of Pittsburgh, where he directed the Education, Training and Outreach Core for the University of Pittsburgh’s Models of Infectious Disease Agent Study (MIDAS). The National Center of Excellence under the leadership of Dr. Donald S. Burke, Dean of the Graduate School of Public Health, focused on interdisciplinary scientific approaches using computational modeling and simulation as a tool to fight global infectious disease spread. Dr. Palmer was responsible for the overall program management of a $1.25 million MIDAS grant funded by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS). He has mentored and counseled various student groups including K-12, undergraduate, graduate, post-baccalaureate, and postdoctoral fellows from a wide range of disciplines. Dr. Palmer brings significant leadership, academic, and professional experience in biological science and community health research, teaching, marketing, science education and outreach, academic career development, and diversity-related initiatives.

Andre Samuel, a long-time resident of Washington, DC, graduated from the University of the District of Columbia with a degree in Biology. Following graduate study at the George Washington University in Genomics and Bioinformatics, he received his PhD in Biology from Duquesne University. At Duquesne, his research focused on studying the structure and function of the cold shock related proteins in E. coli. As a Ph.D. candidate, Dr. Samuel founded the S.I.G.M.A Science Mentorship Initiative, a summer study program designed to introduce diverse ninth graders to the University’s lab with the long-term goal of encouraging the pursuit of careers in scientific research. Dr. Samuel’s research experience includes studying toxicology and carcinogenicity effects of novel drugs, hookworm vaccine development and tuberculosis reactivation in non-human primates. Dr. Samuel has a passion for STEM education and life science research. Dr. Samuel received the BMe community leader award in 2015 and The President’s Volunteer Service Award in 2016 for his dedication to STEM education.  He believes that creating fun engaging and hands on lab experiences for people is the best pathway to an interest in STEM.


Dr. Samantha Sutton received a Ph.D. in Biological Engineering from MIT and has combined engineering design principles with executive coaching to create the field of life engineering. She has worked with thousands of executives, entrepreneurs, physicians, researchers and professionals at institutions including Stanford, Google, Columbia, the National Cancer Institute (NCI), the Society For Neuroscience (SfN), and American Women in Science (AWIS).