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Former Students Speak!

Test TubesWe thought it might be really helpful if you were able to see what some of our recent graduates are doing with their lives now, along with some of their comments about the program and about living in Cincinnati, so that you can get a sense of the atmosphere here and some of the many options open to you with a PhD from MolGen.

Dr. Cameron McDaniel

Graduated with PhD in 2018
Current Position: Post-Doctoral Fellow- University of Cincinnati

My time in MolGen has been extremely rewarding.  One of our greatest strengths is our interdisciplinary nature.  By incorporating many facets of molecular science, students have the opportunity to learn many of the fields, which can help them in their projects and train them for careers outside of grad school.  The professors are welcoming and helpful, teaching you what you need to know and how to go about investigating problems you may be encountering

Dr. Doug Millay

Graduated with PhD in 2010
Current Position: Assistant Professor- Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center

I chose to perform my graduate studies in the Department of Molecular Genetics for two main reasons.  First, the department has a tremendous track record of training scientists within multiple scientific disciplines (academia, industry, and government). This was an important consideration because as I entered graduate school my future career path was not crystal clear, and flexibility within a department enhances the potential for success.  Second, I felt the environment within the department, and their association with Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, was simply focused on developing skills scientists need to be successful at the next career stage.  These skills include the ability to think critically, cutting-edge experimental techniques, and effectively communicating results.  The department is able to establish strong foundations for their students because of the diversity in core curriculum and faculty, which range from microbiologists to geneticists to biochemists. 

I can confidently say that with a proper work ethic, combined with the core resources and commitment of faculty within the department, there is a high likelihood of scientific discoveries for students.  The training I received in the Molecular Genetics Department was the foundation for my current position as an Assistant Professor at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.

Dr. Colleen McGannon O'Malley

Graduated with PhD in 2009
Current Position: Regional Data Specialist for Citizen Schools

The Molecular Genetics Department was very supportive of my interest in education. During my time there I participated in the Preparing Future Faculty Program. I also taught in the Saturday Science Program for middle school students. 

My committee was also supportive of my participation in the NSF GK-12 fellowship program in which graduate students act as an in-house scientist in local K-12 classrooms. 

I personally had the experience of working at Norwood High School with two math and two science teachers to develop lessons around my research while they modeled teaching techniques for me to learn. These experiences built the skills that I needed for my current position within the educational nonprofit Citizen Schools.

Citizen Schools extends the learning day for middle school students by ~3 hours. We focus both on building academic skills and providing middle school students with knowledge around career/college opportunities by bringing in community volunteers to teach the students about their jobs with an 11-week apprenticeship curriculum.

Dr. Olivia Schneider-Stricker

Graduated with PhD in 2009
Current Position: Senior Scientist, Diapharma

The Department of Molecular Genetics at the University of Cincinnati was a great place for me to grow up as a scientist. Throughout my time there, I felt as though the faculty went out of their way to not only give me a broad foundation of basic science knowledge, but also give me the space to explore my non-academic career options.

During my graduate career I planned many events as for graduate student associations, attended and presented at many scientific meetings, and acted as an instructor at a local undergrad institution. These extracurricular activities helped me gain leadership experience and the extra non-tactical tools I needed to succeed in my current position as chief scientific officer at Shenandoah Biotechnology. 

In this position, at a small biotechnology company, I wear many hats and need to be very flexible and self motivated. I am responsible for generating all marketing materials, organizing quality control information for all product lines, representing our company at relevant scientific meetings, technical sales/customer service and developing business with other biotechnology companies.

Although these duties were not learned in the course work taught in MolGen's curriculum, the attitudes and general culture of the department made me well rounded enough to thrive outside of academia.

Dr. Emily Bradford

Graduated with PhD in 2010
Current Position: Research Assistant Professor, University of Kentucky

The Molecular Genetics department is made up of top-notch faculty who are committed to the support, training and development of graduate students. The atmosphere in the department was friendly, collegial, and collaborative. It was an exceptional environment in which to grow both personally and scientifically.

Establishing collaborations within and among departments was encouraged, as was developing the confidence and freedom to pursue those collaborations independently. In addition to scientific training, the department faculty fully supported my forays into teaching, writing and other “nontraditional” careers as I explored career options.

In short, the MolGen department provided me with the open opportunity and support necessary to develop into a more successful and independent scientist.

I obtained postdoctoral training at the University of Chicago’s medical center. The translational nature of my research in MolGen allowed me to secure a postdoc in an environment in which both basic and translational science are conducted by scientists, active physicians, and physician scientists.

This foundation has allowed and will continue to allow me to pursue basic science with a direct goal of clinical relevance.

Dr. Jamie Baird-Titus

Graduated with PhD in 2005
Current Position: Assistant Professor of Chemistry at the College of Mount St. Joseph, Cincinnati

After graduating with a BS in biochemistry from Ohio State University in 2000, I started in the PhD program in the Department of Molecular Genetics at UC. From the beginning, there was no question that my training, both in the classroom and in the lab, was going to give me an excellent preparation for a wide variety of career paths including academia, industry, and/or government.

However, like many graduate students, I spent much time wondering about the next step in my career. The transition from graduate student to postdoc to a career requires much thought and effort. I knew I had to explore additional opportunities outside the classroom/lab to do this. 

My research adviser was extremely supportive of my search for a career and allowed me to participate in the Preparing Future Faculty (PFF) Program, to go to different conferences and workshops and to help organize and lead the fledgling Postdoctoral Fellows Association on campus, among many other opportunities.

In the Department of Molecular Genetics, intelligence and ability of the faculty are given. It was the support of the faculty and my desire to explore additional opportunities that facilitated my transition to a career as a professor at a small college in Cincinnati—a career that I love and am very happy with.

Dr. Stacey Ogden

Graduated with PhD in 2002
Current Position: Assistant Member, Department of Pharmacology, St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital

I was very impressed with the MolGen interview process.  I found everyone I spoke with to be very knowledgeable and likeable, and was impressed with the wide range of research that was taking place in the department. I felt like UC/MolGen would provide me with the opportunity to get involved in new fields of study that I had not previously considered.  

During my graduate work at UC, I was able to develop skills that allowed for me to become a strong, independent researcher. I learned how to manage a project largely on my own, but found guidance readily available when I needed it. Also, because of the wide range of research disciplines within the department, I was able to think about my work in a more “global” sense. I think that this is a valuable skill because many people tend to become too specialized in their thinking, and may miss opportunities to expand their own research.

First-year course work allowed for a great deal of interaction with fellow graduate students, and as a result, I felt that I was able to make friends quickly. Additionally, the graduate student association planned frequent social events, allowing for interactions with students in other departments. Strong interpersonal relationships were beneficial to my research in that social conversations frequently became scientific discussions.

I feel like the training that I received at UC/MolGen has made me very competitive in my current position. I have moved on to an academic postdoc, and find that I frequently call upon skills and information that I learned during my graduate studies.

The aspect I most enjoyed about living in Cincinnati was that it offers much of what people expect of a larger city, but has the feel of a smaller Midwestern town. There are always a variety of cultural and sporting events to attend, shopping is quite good, and the restaurants are diverse and very good. Now that I have moved away from the area, I find that I quite miss it, and look forward to the next opportunity to visit.

Dr. Lance Barton

Graduated with PhD in 2003
Current Position: Assistant Professor at Austin College, Texas

When I looked more closely at the department, there were a number of broad choices in research options that intrigued me. Also since I was pretty sure, when I entered, that I wanted to end up teaching at a small school, I felt that having variety in my experiences and curriculum would be a benefit.

I really learned a lot and enjoyed my winter classes, especially Protein Structure and Function as it really helped me develop my critical analysis skills and learn how to read primary literature. Even though these were the hardest courses I had taken, my grades were better than at any other level, because I was truly motivated to learn.

I learned unique skills in all three of my rotations and I felt very lucky to have interacted with Drs. M, D and D. In the end all three were on my committee and I respect their opinions and input very deeply. I was also very pleased with UC, because all three faculty were understanding of my goals to teach at a liberal arts college and never once stood in the way of me getting the experiences I needed. When it comes to skills I learned at UC, I feel I learned everything I needed to succeed in my position.

Dr. M was an excellent mentor and allowed me to really mature as a scientist. As a teacher I learned a lot of skills through the PFF program. It was these experiences and my personal reflections on these experiences that attracted attention to my faculty-position applications. It was definitely the center of attention during my interviews.

So I guess having all those opportunities and all the career preparation I received, I would not, could not, have made a better decision than the molecular genetics program at UC.

Dr. Jennie Brzezinski

Graduated with PhD in 2001
Current Position: Research Scientist with the Food and Drug Administration

One of the main things that attracted me to the Molecular Genetics Department was the diversity of the research. Since my bachelor's degree is in microbiology, I investigated many graduate programs in microbiology and immunology, but I was afraid of being "locked into" one particular area of study; I really wanted to gain diverse experience, both in classroom curriculum and laboratory work.

The vast array of projects going on in the department made me feel at ease that I had a lot more options at my disposal and therefore more opportunities for growth.

The skill I have found to be the most useful is that of public speaking. During my graduate education, we were given ample chances to speak publicly. For example, a journal club course is required for first- and second-year students, which is the first time that most students will give a scientific talk.

Student seminars and poster sessions are all geared to fostering confidence and skill at presentation. In my current position, I am one of two biologists in a group of chemists. I know that my ability to convey information to people outside of my field during my interview seminar was a vital aspect to my employment, and is a critical skill for all scientists. Cincinnati is a great place to live—since graduate school I have chosen Cincinnati as my permanent home.

Cincinnati has all the benefits of a large city; we have wonderful museums, a ballet company, a symphony orchestra and several theater groups. Cincinnati also has MLB and NFL teams.

With that being said, Cincinnati is a very safe city with many quiet suburban neighborhoods just minutes from campus, and a low cost of living, which makes stipend money go farther, reducing the need for student loans.

Dr. Lori Pile

Graduated with PhD in 1999
Current Position: Associate Professor at Wayne State University

The breadth of the department was an important factor in my choice of graduate school department. When I entered the program, I was uncertain of the exact area of research that I wanted to pursue.

The breadth of the department presented lots of opportunity. I obtained multiple skills while a graduate student in Mol Gen at UC. A rigorous and extensive course curriculum, participation in journal clubs, the opportunity to present my research at departmental seminars, college poster sessions and national meetings all contributed important components of my training. Importantly, I gained an appreciation for how to conduct scientific research.

I learned how to develop a scientific question, and to determine appropriate and necessary approaches to begin to address the question. I was competitive for my chosen career path. I received numerous offers for postdoctoral positions and I received (and accepted) an offer for a position as assistant professor of biological sciences at a Category I research institution from my initial round of job applications.

Cincinnati was a very easy large city to live in while in graduate school. It is large enough to have plenty to do but small enough to be affordable and accessible.

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Graduate Program in Molecular Genetics,
Biochemistry and Microbiology

Medical Sciences Building Room 1654
231 Albert Sabin Way
PO Box 670524
Cincinnati, OH 45267-0524