How postdocs can change the world!

Tentative Program

8:30 – 9:15 Registration & Breakfast
9:15 – 9:30 Opening Remarks by Michael Witherell (Berkeley Lab Director)Auditorium 50×

Michael Witherell is the Director of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and Professor of Physics at the University of California at Berkeley. Previously, he served as Vice Chancellor for Research and held the Presidential Chair in Physics at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Prior to that, he had been the Director of Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab).

Dr. Witherell received his Ph.D. in Experimental Particle Physics from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. He then served on the faculty at Princeton and at UC Santa Barbara. He won the W. K. H. Panofsky Prize in Experimental Particle Physics from the American Physical Society in 1990. Later he was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1998 and to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2017.

9:30 – 10:15 Keynote by Gary McDowell (Future of Research)Auditorium 50×

Gary McDowell is co-founder and executive director of Future of Research, a non-profit grassroots advocacy group working with junior scientists to advocate for critical systemic changes to the way we do science. The members of Future of Research were named 2015 “People of the Year” by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) “for their dedicated, creative, and expanding efforts to empower early-career and aspiring scientists with knowledge and awareness so that they can take control of their futures and help bring needed change to the scientific enterprise”.

McDowell obtained his PhD from the department of oncology at the University of Cambridge (UK), investigating protein degradation in a developmental biology context. He then moved to Boston where he spent 2 years as a postdoc in the lab of Hanno Steen (Boston Children’s Hospital) before moving to the lab of Michael Levin (Tufts University). There he studied the role of the cytoskeleton in early left-right patterning of embryos until May 2016.

McDowell currently sits on the advisory board of Impossible Labs, the American Society for Cell Biology’s LGBTQ Working Group, the steering committee of Rescuing Biomedical Research, and is an advisor to the Genetics Society of America Early Career Scientists Policy Group. In 2017 he was appointed to the Next Generation Researchers Initiative, a Congressionally-mandated committee convened by the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine which will examine the policy and programmatic steps that the nation can undertake to ensure the successful launch and sustainability of careers among the next generation of researchers in the biomedical and behavioral sciences in the U.S.

10:15 – 10:45 Coffee Break
10:45 – 12:15 Workshop 1 Workshop 2 Workshop 3 Workshop 4 Workshop 5 Workshop 6 Workshop 7

1. The Business of Science: Preparing for Professional CareersB59-3101


Successfully competing for a job requires separating yourself from your competition. You can all do the science! Being competitive requires successful mastery of highly valued business and social skills. In these workshops, you will learn about 23 critical business and social skills valued by professional organizations and how the scientific method parallels the business process. You will also learn to convey your own experiences and accomplishments effectively to demonstrate your mastery of those skills and distinguish yourself from your competition. The same approach is effective and important in academic settings.


SciPhD provides scientists with unique insights into the skills required for being successful in academic and industry settings. CEO & Co-founder Dr. Randall Ribaudo has over twenty years of experience in the Scientific Research and Biotechnology fields and has successfully made the transition from academia to industry. He started SciPhD to use lessons from his experiences in both academia and industry to empower young scientists.

2. Applied Communications: Building and Leveraging Your NetworkB54-130 (Pers Hall)


Over 80% of jobs come from referrals, not from applying through company websites, or job boards. Knowing an advocate who can get your targeted resume directly to the hiring manager is enormously helpful in landing the job. In this workshop, we will discuss how to get those advocates by building a strong in-person and online network using effective communication techniques. You will learn to strategically take advantage of opportunities to meet new people and expand your network at scientific and business meetings as well as in your everyday life. You will also learn to manage your network with effective use of LinkedIn, and leverage that network to get your resume on the hiring manager’s desk.


SciPhD provides scientists with unique insights into the skills required for being successful in academic and industry settings. Vice President of Communications & Co-founder Larry Petcovic started his career as a Health Physicist. He realized the importance of effective communication early on his career and went on to study behavioral sciences and social neurosciences. He uses his learnings extensively in the SciPhD training programs.

3. Transforming Your Research into a Successful VentureB50A-5132 (Sessler)


You are working toward the career that best fits your scientific expertise, interests, and values. Regardless of whether your career path is academia, starting a company, or industry R&D, you will need to develop the right attitude, skills, and behaviors essential for transforming your research into a successful venture. This workshop will help you develop an entrepreneurial mindset and define the steps you can take toward becoming an independent entrepreneur. You will learn about business and academic ecosystems – where & how innovation fits into them and how you can identify & appeal to the key stakeholders in these ecosystems. You will also learn to build, maintain, and leverage your professional network for advancing your interests to the next level.


Naeem Zafar is a faculty member at the Sutardja Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology at the University of California, Berkeley. He teaches courses in Entrepreneurship, Technology Strategy, Innovation and New Venture Finance – these are attended by people across different stages of their careers. Naeem is also an experienced serial entrepreneur – he started his own business at the age of 26 and subsequently worked on six successful startups.

4. Lies, Damned Lies, and Academic NarrativesB59-4102


Do you suspect that everyone around you has been following a career plan since the age of eight? Have your interests changed over the years? Do you fear that your scattered career trajectory is putting you at a disadvantage? It is okay. Career narratives are narratives, and narratives are constructed. The people who are hiring know that, because they have constructed one themselves. In this workshop, you will learn about the concept of constructing a narrative, and then work in small groups to discuss developing a narrative that best fits your experiences and goals.


Terry D. Johnson is an Associate Teaching Professor of Bioengineering at the University of California, Berkeley. He teaches courses on a wide range of subjects, and has co-authored the popular book How to Defeat Your Own Clone (and other tips for surviving the biotech revolution). He is passionate about the power of bioengineering in healthcare and is happy to have a conversation with anyone about science and engineering.

5. 100% Empowerment, 0% Guilt: Recognizing & Addressing Unconscious BiasB59-4101


Unconscious bias is prevalent in all types workplaces. Most people are unaware of their personal bias and its effect on others. Come learn about what unconscious bias exactly is, how it can result in hostile workplaces for underrepresented minorities, and how we as a collective can help reduce its effect. This workshop will lead participants through scientifically-tested methods to reduce their personal biases and teach them how to intervene when they see others acting with bias. Note: Participants will need to bring a laptop, iPad, or android tablet that can connect to the internet for this workshop.


The Unconscious Bias Project, UBP, is a registered 501 (c)(3) nonprofit working to help raise awareness about unconscious bias in the scientific research community, and to promote evidence based approaches to reduce bias and its consequences. Emily Kearney will lead this workshop – she has been working with UBP for two years while working towards her PhD in ecology at the University of California, Berkeley.

6. Building Startups: You too can be an EntrepreneurB70-191


Dreaming about starting your own company? With the lowering cost of development and increasing amount of resources, entrepreneurship is now more accessible than ever. Through startups, researchers around the world are taking their careers into their own hands and solving problems they are passionate about. Come learn about how you can turn your idea from the lab into a product on the market and transition from lab scientist to entrepreneur. We encourage people from all fields of science to attend this workshop.


Jun Axup, PhD, is Scientific Director and Partner at IndieBio, the world’s leading startup accelerator for life sciences. She has worked at several startups and is passionate about using the intersection biology, technology, and design to increase the human healthspan. At IndieBio, she has helped fund and build 94 companies that redefine speed and innovation for biology. She leads the 4-month program in downtown San Francisco that provides $250K in funding, lab space, and world-class mentorship.

7. Careers in Consulting and Business DevelopmentB50B-1237


Ever wondered how you can transition from a being a lab scientist to a consultant? This workshop will introduce you to the basics of management and strategic consulting, and the steps you can begin taking right now to make the transition.


Matthew Cook is is the Associate Director of Corporate Strategy & Planning at Gilead Sciences where he supports senior executives solving strategic challenges and helps lead annual TA strategic planning and portfolio review. Previously, he was a Project Leader in the San Francisco office of the Boston Consulting Group.

12:15 – 2:00 Networking Lunch
2:00 – 3:00 Career PanelAuditorium 50
3:00 – 4:00 Science BattleAuditorium 50
4:00 – 4:30 Break
4:30 – 5:15 Keynote by Geri Richmond (University of Oregon)Auditorium 50×

Geraldine Richmond is the Presidential Chair in Science and Professor of Chemistry at the University of Oregon. Her research focuses on elucidating environmentally and technologically relevant processes that occur at water, semiconductor and mineral interfaces, using advanced laser spectroscopy and computational methods.

Richmond was elected to the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and is a Fellow of the American Chemical Society (ACS), the American Physical Society (APS), the Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and the Association for Women in Science (AWIS). Widely recognized as a leader in her field, she received numerous awards, including the National Medal of Science from President Obama, and the 2018 Priestly Medal, the highest honor of the American Chemical Society. Awards for her education, outreach and science capacity building efforts include the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring, the ACS Award for Encouraging Women in the Chemical Sciences and the ACS Charles L. Parsons Award.

She has served in leadership roles on numerous journal editorial boards and many international, national and state governing and advisory boards. Richmond recently finished her term as President of the AAAS, and is currently serving as the U.S. Science Envoy to the Lower Mekong River Countries (Secretary Kerry appointee). She is also the founding and current director of COACh, a grass-roots organization formed in 1998 that has helped in the career advancement of over 20,000 women scientists and engineers in the U.S., Asia, Africa and Latin America.

5:15 – 5:30 Closing RemarksAuditorium 50
5:30 – 8:30 ReceptionCafeteria Patio