Johns Hopkins has awarded nearly $1 million in funding to 37 programs dedicated to supporting the professional development of PhD students. Administered by the Office of the Provost at Johns Hopkins and overseen by Nancy Kass, vice provost for graduate and professional education, the PhD Professional Development Innovation Initiative will fund short- and long-term projects that aim to expose students to a broad range of career paths, as well as projects dedicated to supporting students from backgrounds that are underrepresented in higher education.
The PhD Professional Development Innovation Initiative is a vital part of supporting PhD students as they prepare for their careers, Kass says. Studies have shown that, nationally, fewer PhD graduates across disciplines go on to have careers in academia. Surveys of students have also shown that they are interested in learning about the various career paths a PhD education can provide them. Johns Hopkins has made strides in recent years to envision and develop programs—including through the Professional Development and Career Office and the PHutures—to better introduce students and postdoctoral trainees to different career sectors and to help them gain practical skills that may be relevant in these careers but are less likely to be included in their formal training programs.
But additional ideas are needed, Kass says. The PhD Professional Development Innovation Initiative invited faculty and PhD students to join in that program ideation process.
"We want to make sure that Johns Hopkins PhD students are aware of a wide range of career paths available to them in their given disciplinary area. These programs are designed to introduce current students to alumni, to provide internship opportunities, and to set up new types of training and skill building to allow students to know about and be better prepared for careers in multiple sectors," Kass says. "We also have provided a dedicated mechanism through this initiative for students from underrepresented backgrounds to engage in a new set of mentoring and networking programs."
The funding ranges from one-time event grants of $750 to long-term initiative grants of up to $200,000. These funds support a range of projects that serve various groups of PhD students. One project, for example, includes a career day for students interested in data science, whereas another will provide a new set of internships for PhD students in the humanities and social sciences. One project aims to help students visit JHU alumni working in the biotech hub in Boston, whereas another brings experts together for a podcast, disseminating their insights in accessible 30- or 60-minute interviews.
"It is very important for the university to develop programs like this, which provide funds but also expertise and experience," says Andrew Miller, a professor and director of graduate studies for the Department of English. He is leading the program to provide internships to students in the humanities. "Faculty know best how to become faculty; for PhDs to find other careers, the university must provide infrastructural assistance. This is especially true for the humanities, where there is no strong tradition of employment outside the academy."
The initiative also included awards for programs dedicated to supporting diversity. Among those winning proposals is the Leadership Development Alumni Network for Minority PhDs, led by Hopkins physician-scientist Damani Piggott. The project will launch an expansive network of alumni and PhD students who come from backgrounds that are traditionally underrepresented in the biomedical workforce. By matching students with alumni who share similar backgrounds and life experiences, the team hopes to show budding scientists and doctors that there is a place for them in the professional fields of medicine and biology, and that their points of view are critical to protecting health for all humans.
"There are groups of people who have been historically and contemporaneously underrepresented in science, medicine, public health, nursing, and other fields because of gaps in opportunity and access to education," says Piggott, the assistant dean for graduate biomedical education and graduate student diversity at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. "That underrepresentation prevents us as a society from leveraging the full expanse of our human talent, to the detriment of the health of our communities. It's critical to close those gaps and provide positive and affirming mentorship that is sensitive to diverse histories and legacies in our space."
A full list of the funding categories and project descriptions are below.
PhD Program Career Events
PhD Program Career Events are short-term awards to fund individual events or series that expose PhD students to non-academic career paths. Awards range from $750 to $5,000. The winning proposals are:
Doug Barrick, a professor of biophysics, will lead a four-part event series aimed at exposing biophysics PhD students to diverse career paths. Drawing from alumni from the Program in Molecular Biophysics, the team will bring in speakers from the biotech, public policy, science writing, finance and analytics, and law sectors. Collaborators on this project are Juliette Lecomte and Gregory Bowman, both professors of biophysics.
Judy Bass, an associate professor in the Department of Mental Health, will lead a four-part event series that provides current and future doctoral students who are interested in the field of public mental and behavioral health with the range of potential non-academic career pathways. The series will include lunchtime panel presentations with invited guests from the field and opportunities for individual and small-group meetings with panel participants. Collaborators on this project are Elizabeth Stuart, a professor of mental health; Heather Volk, an associate professor of mental health; Brion Maher, a professor of mental health; Renee Johnson, an associate professor of mental health; and Scott Hubbard, the administrator for the Department of Mental Health.
Brian Caffo, a professor of biostatistics, will lead a one-day event that exposes students to health-related careers in data science, a growing, interdisciplinary field that encompasses social scientists, computer scientists, and statisticians. PhD students will discover new career opportunities to apply their skills, gain insight into the day-to-day responsibilities and impact of data scientists, and connect with data scientist recruiters. Collaborators on this project are alum Benjamin Ackerman and PhD students Eli Sherman, Brooke Jarrett, and Cynthia Steinhardt.
An interdisciplinary group of engineers and neuroscientists will host a workshop teaching negotiation skills to PhD students in order to prepare them for their careers, research projects in the lab, and communicating throughout everyday life. Led by Vikram S. Chib, an assistant professor of biomedical engineering, the workshop will also focus on teamwork, problem solving and analysis, and the ability to create win-win situations. Collaborators are Jay Baraban, a professor of neuroscience; Solange Brown, a professor of neuroscience; and PhD students Haley Abramson and Karla Robles.
Nathan Connolly, an associate professor of history and director of the Program in Racism, Immigration, and Citizenship, will lead a four-part event series that exposes doctoral students in the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences to careers in criminal justice reform. The initiative will introduce students to organizations, activities, and positions available in the field and host several high-profile speakers working on criminal justice reform. Collaborators on this project are Stuart Schrader, an assistant research scientist and associate director of the Program in Racism, Immigration, and Citizenship; Christy Thornton, an assistant professor of sociology; and Vesla Weaver, Bloomberg Distinguished Associate Professor of political science and sociology.
Peter Espenshade, a professor of cell biology and associate dean for graduate biomedical education at the School of Medicine, will lead an interdisciplinary group of faculty and staff members in an effort to connect PhD students and alumni working in the largest biotech hub in the country: Boston. By building connections to Boston, the program will expose students to the culture and various opportunities that exist in the field of biotech. Collaborators on this project are Steven Claypool, an associate professor of physiology and cellular and molecular physiology; Rajini Rao, a professor of physiology, cell and molecular medicine and director of the Graduate Program in Cellular and Molecular Medicine; Caren Freel Meyers, an associate professor of pharmacology and molecular sciences; Brendan Cormack, a professor molecular biology and genetics; Arhonda Gogos, director of the Biochemistry, Cellular & Molecular Biology PhD Program at the School of Medicine; Doug Barrick, a professor of biophysics; James Knierim, a professor of neuroscience and co-chair of the Neuroscience PhD Program; Rejji Kuruvilla, a professor of biology and co-chair of the Cell, Molecular, Developmental Biology, and Biophysics PhD program at the Krieger School; Michael Matunis, a professor of biochemistry and molecular biology and director of the Biochemistry and Molecular Biology PhD program at the Bloomberg School of Public Health; Patricia Phelps, director of the Professional Development and Career Office; Trudee Wooden, senior associate director of Alumni Relations for the School of Medicine; and Madeline Stokes, director of innovation initiatives and corporate relations for Johns Hopkins Technology Ventures.
Stéphane Helleringer, an associate professor in the Department of Population Family and Reproductive Health at the Bloomberg School, will lead the creation of a four-part event series that expands opportunities for PhD students in the department to learn about career pathways outside of academia and to feel more confident in their ability to pursue these paths. By connecting students with the department alumni who have gone on to work at leading nonacademic public health organizations, students will develop contacts and think strategically about the skills they are developing during their degree. Collaborators on the project are Donna Strobino, a professor and vice chair of the Department of Population, Family and Reproductive Health, and PhD students Mridula Shankar and Grace Sheehy.
Anna Kalbarczyk, assistant director of the Center for Global Health, will lead a six-part event series on women's leadership in global health that introduces PhD students across JHU divisions to women leaders working with different types of organizations in the field of global health. The series will provide meaningful networking opportunities with speakers and peers across departments and divisions. Collaborators on this project are Yukari C. Manabe, a professor of medicine; Nancy Glass, a professor; Becky Genberg, an assistant professor of epidemiology; and Michele Decker, an associate professor in the Department of Population, Family & Reproductive Health.
Rebekka Klausen, an associate professor of chemistry, will work to expand the Department of Chemistry's Pathways to Your Career seminar series, which builds relationships between students and established scientists in careers outside academia. Under the planned expansion, Klausen's goal is to diversify speakers and programming.
Rejji Kuruvilla, a professor of biology, and collaborator Joan Miller, an academic affairs manager, will invite 10 speakers to provide insights on career opportunities other than the traditional research university trajectory. These speakers will become networking contacts for students interested in diverse non-academic career paths in biomedical sciences.
Peter Lewis, chair of African Studies at the School of Advanced International Studies, and Jon Youngs, manager of graduate services at SAIS, will organize two alumni panel events featuring guests working in policy-making and analysis (e.g., the government) and multilateral organizations (e.g., the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, or the Inter-American Development Bank). The panel discussions will allow PhD alumni in these fields discuss their experiences and the value of a SAIS PhD education.
Melissa Marx, an assistant professor of international health and epidemiology, and Emily Gurley, an associate scientist in the Department of Epidemiology, will organize five events. that expose to students to professionals in epidemiology practice careers. The series will provide a path to careers for PhD student members of the Surveillance, Outbreak Response Team, as well as students from across the schools located on the university's East Baltimore campus.
Marx will also independently organize two Evaluation Practice Career Panels designed to expose PhD students to career paths in international health focused on program evaluation.
Beth McGinty, the associate chair for research and practice in the Department of Health Policy and Management at the Bloomberg School of Public Health will lead four workshops, each focusing on a different aspect of professional development for PhD students, including understanding the academic and non-academic job markets, dissertation grant-writing, and "dissertation success" with PhD students who are nearing their dissertation defense or recent alumni.
Andrew Miller, a professor and director of graduate studies in the Department of English, and PhD candidate Thai-Catherine Matthews will launch a pilot series of five career-readiness events curated for graduate students in both the humanities programs as well as the Anthropology, Political Theory, and History of Medicine programs at Johns Hopkins. These events will culminate in a Graduate Humanities Reverse Career Fair, which will allow students to present their work directly to employers with open internship and full-time positions.
Christopher Potter and Marshall Shuler, both associate professors of neuroscience, will organize a course aimed at helping graduate students in the Neuroscience Graduate Program obtain an appreciation of the options, challenges, and steps towards careers in the broadly defined field of neuroscience. The course will solicit participation from speakers both inside and outside Hopkins to inform graduate students about the multitude of career options that are available to them.
Gloria Ramsey, associate dean for diversity, equity, and inclusion at the School of Nursing, will lead the organization of a four-part lecture series inviting alumni and other speakers to discuss non-academic career paths with PhD and DNP students from backgrounds underrepresented in nursing fields.
Joanne Selinski, an associate teaching professor in the Department of Computer Science, and Max Zinkus, a research assistant in the department, will organize an annual event that promotes diversity in technical academic and industrial careers, the emotional wellbeing of underserved students, and the personal growth of students through mentorship.
Scott Smith, a professor in the Department of Computer Science, and PhD student Andrew Hundt will organize a four-part event series designed to help equip computer science PhD students with better tools to succeed in their long-term careers. Company representatives will be brought in to discuss careers for students in their respective industries and to teach practical tools for career development.
Paul Smolensky and Barbara Landau, both professors of cognitive science, will organize three events that allow current PhD students in the Department of Cognitive Science to learn about alternative career paths from alumni working in the field.
James Spicer, a professor of materials science and engineering, will lead the development of a five-part event series that provides engineering PhD students with an opportunity to network with professionals working in related, non-academic fields. Collaborators for this project are Ellen Libao, the administrative manager for Materials Science and Engineering, and PhD student Jessica Ma.
Christy Thornton, a professor of sociology, and Julia Burdick-Will, an assistant professor of sociology, will organize three events to introduce current PhD students in sociology (and related disciplines, such as political science) to non-academic careers in three areas: government research institutes, non-profit research and advocacy organizations, and private sector research firms. These workshops will help students become familiar with careers outside the academy and help more advanced graduate students network with professionals in these fields and workshop their application materials.
Nadia Zakamska, associate professor and director of graduate studies for the Department of Physics and Astronomy, and Kevin Schlaufman, an assistant professor and non-academic careers advisor for the department, will organize 10-13 events that expand the existing non-academic professional development initiatives in Physics and Astronomy. The initiative will invite speakers from outside of academia to describe alternative career paths and initial steps in the job search process, and who will informally interact with students in questions-and-answers sessions.
PhD Non-academic Careers Innovation Program
PhD Non-academic Careers Innovation Program are longer-term awards that fund professional development programs and experiences for PhD students that explore non-academic career paths. These programs can include internships, training workshops, or networking events; awards range from $25,000 to $200,000. The winning proposals are:
Yuval D. Bar-Or, an associate professor of finance at the Carey Business School, will lead a program designed to equip JHU PhD students from across the institution with business skills that will serve them well in nonacademic career paths. The program will consist of one or two events a month, such as workshops, seminars, and/or case study discussions. The focus will be on skill-building, networking, and preparation for a broad array of career options.
Gundula Bosch, executive director of the R3 Center for Innovation in Science Education and director of R3ISE graduate science programs, will launch the Leadership through Effective Messaging Training Program to develop PhD students' abilities to communicate with broad audiences by conveying key information responsibly, effectively, and truthfully. The six-workshop program will include instruction from communications and leadership training experts and will be co-facilitated by Brian W. Simpson, editorial director for the Bloomberg School of Public Health Office of Communications, and Brian Klaas, senior technology officer at the Center for Teaching and Learning.
Laura E. Caulfield, a professor of International Health, will lead a program to provide career exploration, skill building, network opportunities, and internships for our nonlaboratory, science-oriented PhDs. The program will offer opportunities to those focusing on the population and social sciences, data science, and policy. Co-collaborators on the project are Patricia Phelps, director of the Professional Development and Career Office at the School of Medicine; Eliseo Guallar, a professor of epidemiology; Anne Rositch, an associate professor of epidemiology; Sidney Dy, a professor of heath policy and management; Laura Nicholas, an assistant professor of health policy and management; Danielle German, an associate professor of health, behavior, and society; and Judy Bass, an associate professor of mental health.
The "Design Your Own Internship" program, led by William Egginton, director of the Alexander Grass Humanities Institute and executive director of the R3 Center for Innovation in Science Education, will provide JHU PhD students in the humanities and social sciences paid internships in non-academic organizations. These internships will provide immersive learning opportunities for students to develop skills and first-hand experience in a non-academic organization that would not otherwise be available. Collaborators on this project include: Kate Bradford, assistant director of career services at the Professional Development & Career Office; Rhiannon Mayhugh, assistant director of experiential learning at the Professional Development & Career Office; Joseph Plaster, curator in public humanities for Sheridan Libraries and University Museums; Roshni Rao, director of PHutures; and Bécquer Seguín, an assistant professor of Spanish in the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures.
The Hopkins Biotech Podcast will feature 30- to 60-minute interviews with alumni, faculty, or other figures connected to Hopkins who now either work in or with at least one nonacademic institution and model a viable career pathway for life science PhDs. Each episode will illustrate the speaker's personal and professional journey. These stories will expose students to a variety of career options that exist in the private sector and in non-academic public sectors. This project will be led by Caren Freel Meyers, an associate professor in the Department of Pharmacology & Molecular Sciences at the School of Medicine. Key collaborators include: Roshan Chikarmane, a PhD candidate in the Department of Pharmacology & Molecular Sciences and co-director of alumni relations for the Hopkins Biotech Network; W. Taylor Cottle, a PhD candidate in the Biochemistry Cellular and Molecular Biology Program and president of the Hopkins Biotech Network; Jenna Glatzer, a PhD candidate in the Cellular and Molecular Medicine Program and editor of the transcript for Hopkins Biotech Network; CJ Neely, assistant director of career education for the Professional Development and Career Office; and Kevin Carter, student program manager for Johns Hopkins Technology Ventures and FastForward U.
Emily Gurley, an associate scientist and epidemiologist, and Melissa Marx, an assistant professor of international health, will lead a program designed to provide hands-on experience with applied epidemiology and public health to PhD students with an interest in non-academic careers and to develop and foster a hub of interaction between PhD students and epidemiologists working in applied practice locally, nationally, and globally. The program will establish "practiceships" in partnership with external organizations, increase networking opportunities for students through an invited seminar series, provide support for PhD students to attend conferences, and interview visiting practitioners about their careers in applied epidemiology.
Professor Peter Lewis, chair of African Studies at the School of Advanced International Studies, will join Jon Youngs, manager of graduate services at SAIS, to launch a recurring series of non-credit skills courses dedicated to PhD students. These practical professional skills will complement the academic acumen cultivated through doctoral research to make graduates more marketable in a wider variety of careers.
Andrew Miller, professor and director of graduate studies in the Department of English, along with collaborator Thai-Catherine Matthews, a PhD candidate in the department, will launch a program providing funding for graduate students currently enrolled in any of either Hopkins' 10 humanities departments or the humanities adjacent programs of Anthropology, Political Theory, and History of Medicine to pursue summerlong internships outside of the Baltimore area. Students that couldn't otherwise afford the high costs of living in work-experience meccas like New York, Philadelphia, or Boston, would be awarded the chance to pursue professional experience during their summers away from coursework.
The interdisciplinary graduate certificate in Sustainable Design will equip PhD students with skills and training for non-academic careers in diverse fields of environmental planning, practice, and policy. The team, led by anthropologist Anand Pandian, aims to employ multiple modes of learning including expert-guided methodological instruction, interdisciplinary sustainable design theory, and applied problem-solving to improve social and ecological outcomes in the Baltimore area. Key collaborators on this project include: Nicole Labruto, a postdoctoral fellow in Anthropology and associate director of the Hopkins Ecological Design Initiative; Carsten Prasse, an assistant professor in the Department of Environmental Health and Engineering; Susanna Thon, an assistant professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering; and Lee Davis, co-director of the Center for Social Design at the Maryland Institute College of Art.
Preparing Future Technology Leaders is an integrated program specifically for underrepresented minority students that tracks and supplements their research experience to allow for readiness and success in industrial careers following a STEM PhD. Led by Associate Professor Rebecca Schulman, the two-year program will teach students the skills to succeed in industry in stages throughout their doctoral program. Key collaborators on this project are Darlene Saporu, associate dean for diversity and inclusion at the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences and the Whiting School of Engineering, and Roshni Rao, director of PHutures.
Diversity Networking, Mentoring, and Professional Development Programs
Diversity Networking, Mentoring, and Professional Development Programs aim to provide PhD students with mentors and role models from underrepresented backgrounds. These awards range from $25,000 to $75,000. The winning proposals are:
Neural Networking is an initiative to increase opportunities for neuroscience and biomedical engineering PhD students from underrepresented backgrounds to network with faculty and alumni from outside those departments who are also from underrepresented backgrounds. This program will also allow these PhD students to serve as mentors for undergraduate students or interns working in neuroscience or BME labs. The effort will be led by Jay Baraban, a professor of neuroscience, as well as Solange Brown, an associate professor of neuroscience; Vikram Chib, an assistant professor of biomedical engineering; and Sri Sarma, an associate professor of biomedical engineering.
The Leadership and Education in Academic Research and Networking for Enhancing Diversity (LEARNED) initiative, led by Aisha S. Dickerson, an assistant professor of epidemiology, will foster community and belonging among PhD students and postdoctoral fellows from underrepresented minority backgrounds. The LEARNED program will provide participants with critical resources for ensuring both academic and professional success via didactic seminars and workshops focused on developing skills and materials for future employment opportunities while simultaneously developing a powerful network of peers. Collaborators on this project are Roland J. Thorpe, an associate professor in the Department of Health, Behavior and Society; Joel Bolling, assistant dean for diversity, inclusion, and equity at the Bloomberg School; Sabra Klein, a professor and chair of the Graduate Program Committee; David Sullivan, a professor and principal investigator of Malaria and Mosquito-borne Diseases; postdoctoral fellow Alyssa M. McCoy; and doctoral students Dorian Jackson and Ohemaa Poku.
The Leadership Development Alumni Network for Minority PhDs will create a vibrant alumni mentoring network to support PhD students from backgrounds that are traditionally underrepresented in biomedical fields. Alumni will share their network and nonacademic career knowledge, instill leadership skills, and provide culturally congruent mentoring necessary for student success. The project is led by Damani Piggott, assistant dean for graduate biomedical education and graduate student diversity and an assistant professor of medicine and epidemiology. Collaborators for this project are Patricia Phelps, director of the Professional Development and Career Office; Joel Bolling, assistant dean for diversity, equity, and inclusion at the School of Public Health; Jada C. Domingue, co-chair of the Hopkins Diversity Postdoctoral Alliance Committee; Alex Duran, director of the Office of Assessment and Evaluation at the School of Medicine; Sherita Hill Golden, professor of medicine and vice president and chief diversity officer for Johns Hopkins Medicine; Robin Ingram, assistant vice president of the School of Medicine Alumni Relations and FJHM Engagement; Gloria Ramsey, associate dean for diversity, equity, and inclusion for the School of Nursing; Susana Rodriguez, co-chair of the Hopkins Diversity Postdoctoral Alliance Committee; Aliyah Silver, from the Biomedical Scholars Association; and Beza Woldemeskel, president of the Biomedical Scholars Association.
Ralph Etienne Cummings, a professor and chair of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, will lead an effort to organize two annual conferences for Black graduate students on all Johns Hopkins University campuses. The conferences will focus on professional development, networking, and skill- and community-building. The initiative will also establish the JHU Black PhD Alumni Association. Collaborators for this project are the Homewood Black Graduate Student Association; Renee Eastwood, director of graduate and postdoctoral academic and student affairs for the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences; Christine Kavanagh, assistant dean of graduate and postdoctoral academic affairs for the Whiting School of Engineering; Darlene Saporu, associate dean for diversity and inclusion for the schools of Arts and Sciences and Engineering; and PhD students Ikenna Okafor and Bria Macklin, who are also co-directors of the BGSA.