PhD Career Pathways

The PhD Career Pathways is an opportunity for current Notre Dame postdocs to engage with past postdocs pursuing diverse careers via video-conferencing and provided lunches. We also invite experts to present on topics relevant to the postdoc population. The series was started in January 2018. Check out below for more information on our past and future presenters.

Upcoming PhD Career Pathways Events

(To come)


Past PhD Career Pathways Events

Postdoc Interview Training Practice

Erik Oswald Sport Coat No Tie Low Res

Erik Oswald, M.Ed.
Graduate Career Consultant
Graduate Career Services

Date: Wednesday, April 29, 2020
Time: 10:30 AM - 12 PM
Zoom Meeting Link

Join Erik Oswald, Graduate Career Consultant, for an innovative new workshop to develop and practice your interview skills. In groups of three postdocs, you will rotate through the roles of interviewer, interviewee, and observer after a brief training session. Participant feedback from prior events has been positive:

"Having the chance to listen to other people's interviews and then being able to interview in front of multiple peers (rather than just one), made the experience feel very real and, in turn, became a really great practice for a real interview."

Diversity Statements for Academic Positions


Pamela Nolan Young, MEd, JD
Director for Academic Diversity and Inclusion
Office of the Provost

Date: Wednesday, May 20, 2020
Time: 11 AM - 12 PM
Zoom Meeting Link

In a tight job-market it is important to set yourself apart for the competition.  Join Pamela Nolan Young, the Director of Academic Diversity and Inclusion for a workshop on drafting diversity statements. Topics will include a definitions of “diversity”, composition strategies, and do’s and don’ts. Now more than ever your statement maybe the added value needed to give you the edge.

Panel Discussion - Job Opportunities outside Faculty Jobs for Social Sciences and Humanities PhDs

This month's panel discussion focuses on job opportunities apart from the tenure-track for PhDs in the social sciences and humanities. Our three panelists are fantastic examples of how to succeed in careers outside of traditional academic paths.

Date: Wednesday, April 15, 2020
Time: 11 AM - 12 PM
Zoom Meeting Link


John Dillon, PhD
Product Manager, Building Text Mining / NLP Products at ProQuest

John Dillon earned his PhD from the University of Notre Dame in 2015 and currently works as the Text and Data Mining Product Manager at ProQuest. He has published papers on Machine Learning and Sentiment Analysis and has worked previously as a postdoctoral researcher with the University of Notre Dame, USAID, and IBM Research.

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Sonia Howell, PhD
Senior Producer, Notre Dame Learning

Sonia Howell is the Senior Producer for Notre Dame’s Office of Digital Learning. Prior to her current role, Sonia served as the program producer for Notre Dame's online Master's Program in Data Science. She received her PhD in English and Digital Humanities with An Foras Feasa and the School of English Media and Theatre Studies, NUI Maynooth, Co. Kildare, Ireland.

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Dylan M. LeBlanc, PhD
Teacher at La Lumiere School, Historian, Researcher, Writer

Dylan LeBlanc is a humanities educator and researcher currently teaching at La Lumiere School, an independent Catholic boarding and day school in LaPorte, Indiana. He completed his PhD in History at Notre Dame in 2019. While at Notre Dame, he served as a Graduate Consultant for the Office of Grants and Fellowships.


Postdoc Resume Preparation

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Valli Sarveswaran, PhD
Associate Program Director
Office for Postdoctoral Affairs


Date: Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Time: 12 PM - 1 PM

Zoom Meeting



Join Valli Sarveswaran, Associate Director of the Office for Postdoctoral Affairs for a workshop on crafting dynamic resumes for non-tenure track academic and industry jobs. Topics will include: resume basics, how to turn your CV into a resume, how to prepare a resume for jobs outside of your discipline, and dos and don’ts.



Viktoriya Sokolova, PhD
Head of Biological Laboratories
Essen, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany


Facilitator: Becca Love, PhD, Postdoctoral Research Associate, Biology

Date: Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Time: 12 PM - 1 PM

Location: 117 Bond Hall



Viktoriya Sokolova studied biochemistry at the V.N. Karazin Kharkiv National University, Ukraine. She received her Ph.D. at the University of Duisburg-Essen in 2006. She did her postdoctoral studies in the Institute for Medical Radiobiology, University Hospital Essen. And since 2011 she is the head of biological laboratories (Biosafety level 1) at the Institute of Inorganic Chemistry, University of Duisburg-Essen.

Currently, her research is focused on the development and testing inorganic nanoparticles for biomedical applications.


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Kathryn Sawyer (Vidrine), PhD
Assistant Program Director, Office of Grants and Fellowships, University of Notre Dame


Facilitator: Madeleine McLeester, PhD, Postdoctoral Research Associate

Date: Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Time: 12 PM - 1 PM

Location: 115 Bond Hall


Kathryn Sawyer Vidrine, PhD, received her doctorate in History from Notre Dame in 2018 and now serves as Assistant Program Director for the Office of Grants and Fellowships at The Graduate School. In her current role, she helps grad students find, apply for, and win money and experiences to further their academic careers. She also coordinates the ongoing data collection and reporting for the office. While she knew that her historian's skills would be useful in her role of grants advisor, where she critiques writing, reads many and varied things quickly, and searches for information in odd places, she was also surprised to find that her skills transferred to data visualization and simple analysis as well. She now enjoys a job with normal working hours and a variety of intellectual stimulation with all the perks of being on a university campus. She lives in Mishawaka with her family.



Micayla Bowman, PhD 

Account Manager - Central Region @ IDEXX BioAnalytics


Facilitator: Phillip McCown, PhD, Postdoctoral Research Associate

Date: Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Time: 12 PM - 1 PM

Location: 117 Bond Hall


Dr. Micayla Bowman is an Account Manager for IDEXX BioAnalytics covering the Central North American academic and government accounts. Micayla began her career in sales with IDEXX in March 2019 as an Inside Sales Representative followed by a promotion to Account Manager in October 2019. She received her BS in Chemistry from Frostburg State University in Frostburg, Maryland in 2012 and her PhD in Biochemistry at the University of Notre Dame in 2018 under the direction of Professor Patricia L. Clark where she studied the biophysical properties that govern protein folding mechanisms. In her current role, she leverages technical expertise in life science research towards the business sector. Forever a scientist at heart, she enjoys learning about clients' research projects and feels empowered by providing creative solutions. Micayla is currently based in Maryland and will be relocating to Chicago in 2020. 



Giuseppe Allegretta, PhD 

Research Scientist / Lab Leader in Cold Metabolism at BASF 


Facilitator: Mark Horsman, Postdoctoral Research Associate

Date: Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Time: 12 PM - 1 PM

Location: 121 Information Technology Center

As the Lab Leader at BASF Germany, Dr. Giuseppe Allegretta is working in research and development in the field of novel herbicide metabolism in plants, animals, and soil. This work is carried out using Ultra high-Pressure Liquid Chromotography- High Resolution Mass Spectrometry (UPLC-HRMS). He worked on the development and elucidation of new strategies against Multi Drug Resistant Pathogens (Pseudomonas aeruginosa) at the Helmholtz Institute for Pharmaceutical Research Saarland (HIPS) and earned a PhD before he joined Notre Dame as a postdoc.



Craig Kinnear, PhD 

Senior Custom Research Analyst at Mintel


Facilitator: Madison Schramm, PhD, Postdoctoral Research Associate, ND International Security Center

Date: Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Time: 12 PM - 1 PM

Location: 121 Information Technology Center

Craig Kinnear finished his PhD in History at Notre Dame in 2016. Since then, he has been working as a private-sector researcher and consultant. Currently, Craig is a Senior Research Analyst in Comperemedia's Research Consultancy group. His work with Comperemedia's clients includes brand positioning, message effectiveness testing, market segmentation, customer experience (CX) research, and competitive intelligence. He insists that anyone with a humanities or social science PhD can pursue a career in market research, even without quantitative training, and wants everyone to know that he actively avoided numbers during his academic career. In fact, he insists that he did not open Excel once during his entire time at Notre Dame.


Panel Discussion

Our next PhD Career Pathways will feature a panel discussion with graduate students and postdocs who have received tenure-track faculty position offers this academic year. This is a Q&A session intended to de-mystify the tenure-track faculty application process. It is open to all graduate students and postdocs, especially those who are starting the tenure track faculty application process.



Elizabeth Jackson
Liz Jackson completed her PhD in Philosophy at Notre Dame in 2019. Summer 2019-Summer 2020, she will be a Research Fellow (i.e. a post doc) in the School of Philosophy at Australian National University. Fall 2020, she will join the Department of Philosophy at Ryerson University in Toronto as an Assistant Professor. Her research is primarily in epistemology and philosophy of religion.

Monica Lawson
Monica Lawson joined the University of Notre Dame in 2017 as a postdoctoral researcher in the Psychology Department. Monica’s research focuses on parent-child interactions within high-risk developmental contexts, such as chronic poverty and child maltreatment. She additionally studies how adults communicate with children about experiences that only the child witnessed and methods for talking with children to elicit accurate and detailed event reports. She earned her Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology from the University of Toledo in 2016. Monica recently accepted a tenure-track faculty position in the Psychology Department at the University of Texas at San Antonio. She is excited to mentor graduate and undergraduate students in her research laboratory and to teach undergraduate and graduate developmental psychology courses. 

Andrew O'Connor
"Andrew J. O’Connor recently defended his dissertation on the Qur’an’s conception of prophethood in the “World Religions & World Church” concentration of the Theology Department at the University of Notre Dame. In August 2019 he will begin a tenure-track position in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies at St. Norbert College in De Pere, Wisconsin. Andrew is in fact a native of Wisconsin and earned his BA in History from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2010. He also holds a MA in Middle Eastern Studies from the University of Chicago (2013) and was a Fulbright Researcher in Amman, Jordan, for the 2017-18 academic year."

James Soda
James Soda holds a PhD and MS in Computational Science from Florida State University, as well as a MA in Ecology and Evolution from Stony Brook University. Since June 2017, he has been a post-doctoral researcher in Alex Perkins's  lab in Notre Dame's Department of Biological Sciences. Beginning in Fall 2019, he will be an Assistant Professor of Mathematics at Quinnipiac University, a teaching-focused institution in Hamden, Connecticut.

Annette Trierweiler
Annette is currently a Postdoctoral researcher at the Environmental Change Initiative at Notre Dame University. At Notre Dame, she has done tropical forest ecosystem modeling and examined the impact of deforestation on malaria. Annette came to Notre Dame as a postdoc in 2016 after earning her Ph.D. in ecology from Princeton University. She also earned a master in geology from Ohio State University.  This fall, Annette will start her dream job as a tenure track assistant professor in The Biology & Geology Department at Baldwin Wallace University, a small liberal arts college outside of Cleveland. 

Mark Horsman, Postdoctoral Research Associate, Chemistry and Biochemistry

Date: Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Time: 12 PM - 1 PM

Location: 115B Galvin Life Science Center



Sara Skiles, PhD 

Associate Director

Center for the Study of Religion and Society

University of Notre Dame


Facilitator: Shanna Corner, Postdoctoral Research Associate, Center for Study of Religion & Society

Date: Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Time: 12 PM - 1 PM

Location: LaFortune Dooley Room - Rm 102


As the Associate Director for the Center for the Study of Religion and Society, Sara manages day-to-day operations, including staffing, budgets, grant management, and communications.  Previously, she managed several grant projects for the center, including the Global Religion Research Initiative, the Cardus Religions Schools Initiative, and the National Study of Youth and Religion.  She also periodically teaches courses in the Notre Dame sociology department as an adjunct professor.  Sara earned her PhD in Sociology from Notre Dame, and also has Master's degrees in Sociology and Public Administration from the University of Texas at Arlington.


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Kelsey Weigel, PhD 

Flagship BiosciencesScientist II


Facilitator: James Soda, PhD, Postdoctoral Research Associate, Department of Biology

Date: Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Time: 12 PM - 1 PM

Location: 121 Information Technology Center


After completing her BS in Molecular Biology and BA in Spanish at Rockhurst University, Kelsey went straight into the PhD program at the University of Notre Dame. While at Notre Dame she worked on a few different projects. She was in the home lab of Dr. Zach Schafer, and there she mainly focused on the contribution of the tumor microenvironment (TME) to the regulation of anoikis (detachment-induced cell death). In addition, she worked on a collaborative effort with Dr. Shaun Lee’s group on a unique therapeutic development proof-of-concept project. Most of the work on all her projects was done in breast cancer models. Upon receipt of her PhD, she proceeded to a two year Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. While at Anschutz, Kelsey worked predominantly on TME signaling in head and neck cancer with heavy emphasis on mouse modeling. Although she had never had much opportunity to explore alternate careers, she used her time at Anschutz to network with and learn about the local pharmaceutical/biotech/diagnostics industry space and accepted a job offer from Flagship Biosciences. Kelsey started with Flagship Biosciences in Jan. 2018. Flagship Biosciences is an imaging analysis company that operates in the pre-clinical to clinical space and focuses on the diagnostic personalized medicine space. Now, as a Scientist at Flagship, Kelsey utilizes her knowledge of cancer signaling pathways and mechanisms of action to interact with clients including large and small pharmaceutical companies and physicians. Her experiences gained in academia directly contribute to study design, data interpretation, and data-driven decision-making to improve cancer drug development and patient treatment opportunities.



Courtney Wiersema, PhD

Assistant Director

Graduate Career Development

University of Chicago


Facilitator: Libby Baker, PhD, Teaching Scholar, Department of History

Date: Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2019

Time: 12 PM - 1 PM

Location: 121 Information Technology Center


Dr. Wiersema provides career advising for MA and PhD students in the humanities and humanistic social sciences, and she co-directs PATHS, an NEH-funded initiative to diversify career options for humanities PhDs.  Prior to joining UChicagoGRAD in 2016, she served as an Arts and Letters Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of History at Notre Dame and a Graduate Teaching Fellow in the University Writing Program.  She received her Ph.D. in American History from Notre Dame in 2015.





Leesa Duckworth, PhD

Specialist, Global Security Tech & Policy

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory


Facilitator: Lee Mordechai, PhD, Postdoctoral Research Associate, Medieval Institute

Date: Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2018

Time: 12 PM - 1 PM

Location: 121 Information Technology Center


Dr. Leesa Duckworth is an Industrial and Organizational Psychologist specializing in process and human performance optimization. She is employed at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory as a Nonproliferation Specialist in the Global Security, Technology & Policy group within the National Security Directorate. Dr. Duckworth is also a line manager for the Office of International Nuclear Safeguards internship program (SIP) interns and research associates, a team lead for the NNSA Graduate Fellowship Program (NGFP), and a University Relationship Manager and Senior Advisor in support of the NGFP program. As part of her profession, Dr. Duckworth developed and deployed an agile, strategic career development methodology, and utilizes it for the development of her staff and others. She also supports work in international nuclear safeguards, arms control and nonproliferation. In addition to her current position, Dr. Duckworth has over 25 years of experience in the nuclear weapons production and maintenance environments which include work at the Pantex Nuclear Weapons Production Plant, leading both operations and nonproliferation programs. Prior to her employment at Pantex, Dr. Duckworth served 6 years in the United States Navy. Dr. Duckworth holds both an MS and Ph.D. in Industrial and Organizational Psychology, and a BSOE in Human Services/Psychology and Industrial Safety.


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Ian Street, PhD

Virtual Lab Manager


Facilitator: Gary Beane, PhD, Postdoctoral Research Associate, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry

Date: Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2018

Time: 12 PM - 1 PM

Location: 121 Information Technology Center


Ian Street earned his PhD in plant biology from Washington University in St. Louis and did a postdoc studying plant development at Dartmouth College. He is currently a Virtual Lab Manager at HappiLabs, an editor of The National Postdoc Association's newsletter, The POSTDOCket, and writes about science on his blog The Quiet Branches.



Mridul Mandal, PhD

Research & Development Scientist

EAG Laboratories


Facilitator: James Soda, PhD, Postdoctoral Research Associate, Department of Biology

Date: Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2018

Time: 12 PM - 1 PM

Location: 121 Information Technology Center


Mridul is currently a staff scientist in Biotechnology Department at EAG Laboratories (a company of Eurofins Scientific). He graduated from Interdisciplinary Graduate School of Medicine and Engineering with Ph.D. in Physical and Bioanalytical Chemistry at the University of Yamanashi, Japan and worked under Prominent Professor and Scientist Kanzo Hiraoka. After graduation, he joined in his lab as a postdoctoral researcher until February 2014. During his Ph.D. and postdoctoral studies, he developed multidisciplinary expertise in engineering, biomedical science, and bioanalytical chemistry that led him to make many achievements of great impact for the field. Moreover, based on his outstanding ability in research, he was awarded the most prestigious Japanese Govt. Scholarship (Monbukagakusho) and a Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) fellowship. In March 2014, he moved to the University of Notre Dame to continue his postdoctoral research with a funding from Advanced Diagnostics and Therapeutics. During his time at Notre Dame he developed surface electrode assisted surface acoustic wave nebulization mass spectrometry (SWAN-MS) and coupled to QTRAP mass spectrometer for multiple reaction monitoring (MRM) based peptide and drug quantitation. He also accomplished another postdoctoral research at the University of Vermont, where he was focused on the development and application of mass spectrometry methods to study the metabolomics of cancer, brain, and heart diseases. He is also the developer of many ambient mass spectrometry based ionization sources.



Louise Bezuidenhout, PhD

Science and Technology Researcher

University of Oxford


Facilitator: Rachel Banke, PhD, Teaching Scholar, Kaneb Center for Teaching and Learning

Date: Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Time: 12 PM - 1 PM

Location: 121 Information Technology Center

In 2017 Louise moved to the Institute for Science, Innovation, and Society (InSIS) at the University of Oxford, UK.  At InSIS Louise is starting up a new centre-wide stream of research entitled “Changing Ecologies of Knowledge and Action”.  In this role Louise has started up projects in the UK, Zimbabwe, Brazil, and Sudan that draw attention to the evolving contexts of knowledge production – both within academia and broader society.Louise Bezuidenhout a researcher from South Africa with PhDs in both the life and social sciences. In her research, she combines her expertise in laboratory research with those in sociology and ethics to conduct embedded research within molecular biology laboratories.  This unusual approach to empirical ethics has enabled her to examine the ethical issues arising from day-to-day research and to theorize on issues of responsibility within scientific practices.  In the course of her research, she has conducted empirical research in South Africa, Uganda, Kenya, Zimbabwe, UK and the US.  During her time at Notre Dame, Louise worked with a multidisciplinary team based at the Centre for Theology, Science and Human Flourishing on a project looking at virtues in scientific research.  Together with Dr. Dori Beeler, she conducted an extended ethnographic analysis of daily laboratory practices, using the data to establish a virtue ethics account of responsible conduct.



Kate Finley, PhD

Teaching Scholar, Department of Philosophy

University of Notre Dame


Facilitator: Patty Kuo, PhD, Postdoctoral Research Associate, Department of Anthropology

Date: Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Time: 12 PM - 1 PM

Location: 339 O'Shaughnessy

Dr. Finley completed her PhD in Philosophy here at Notre Dame, and this semester is a Postdoctoral Teaching Scholar through the 5+1 program in the College of Arts and Letters. After finishing her postdoc appointment this Spring, she will begin her tenure-track appointment as an Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Hope College in Michigan.

Curtis Urban

Curtis Urban, PhD

Program Coordinator, Pre-College Programs

University of Notre Dame


Facilitator: Rachel Banke, PhD, Teaching Scholar, Kaneb Center for Teaching and Learning

Date: Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Time: 12 PM - 1 PM

Location: 119 O'Shaughnessy


Dr. Curtis C. Urban, a 2016-2017 Postdoctoral Teaching Scholar in the History Department at Notre Dame, is a Program Coordinator for the Office of Pre-College Programs in the Enrollment Division at the University of Notre Dame. Curtis received his Ph.D. in American History from Notre Dame, with research that focused on the transnational origins of American identity during the American Revolution. As a postdoc, he taught for a semester at the Heidelberg Center for American Studies in Heidelberg, Germany, offering a seminar on colonial American history. Additionally, Curtis assumed an administrative role in the History Department upon his return to Notre Dame, working with both the Director of Graduate Studies and Director of Undergraduate Studies to recruit prospective students and create graduate student professional development programs. As a Program Coordinator for Pre-College Programs, Curtis develops courses and plans events in collaboration with Notre Dame faculty for prospective high school students interested in ND. In addition to recruiting for summer programs and reviewing applications for Pre-College Programs, Curtis manages Pre-College's online application tools and serves as the chief liaison to Shared Services. Curtis credits his postdoc experiences for helping to obtain his position: "The postdoc was exactly the training I needed to find a career in college administration," Curtis noted. "The flexibility on the part of the postdoc office in terms of my responsibilities allowed me to create a position that provided me with the tools for future success. Teaching my own course in Heidelberg, recruiting students to the History major, and facilitating professional development programs were all essential components of my development. I couldn't have asked for much more from my Notre Dame postdoc."


Kristie Fisher, PhD

User Experience Researcher



Facilitator: Patty Kuo, PhD, Postdoctoral Research Associate, Department of Anthropology

Date: Thursday, February 8, 2018

Time: 12 PM - 1 PM

Location: 121 Information Technology Center


Kristie is a user experience researcher at Google. Researchers at Google gather data and insights to inform all phases of the product development cycle. Kristie conducts foundational research to understand people's needs and define target groups for a given new product or feature, usability studies to help refine and iterate on ideas in partnership with designers and engineers, and survey and usage data analyses to understand how Google products are being used in the wild. Kristie received her PhD in cognitive psychology from the University of Washington in 2011, with a focus on problem solving and analogical reasoning. Before joining Google she worked as a user experience researcher at Microsoft Studios and as a contracted researcher at Microsoft Research.



Sarah Lukens, PhD

Data Scientist

Meridium (GE Digital)


Facilitator: Valli Sarveswaran, PhD, Associate Program Director, Office for Postdoctoral Scholars

Date: Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Time: 12 PM - 1 PM

Location: 258 Fitzpatrick Hall


The first PPC will kick off in January with Dr. Sarah Lukens, a former ND postdoc now working as a Data Scientist at Meridium (GE Digital). Sarah Lukens is a Data Scientist at GE Digital. Her role involves analyzing asset maintenance data and creating statistical models that support asset performance management (APM) work processes, which involves components from natural language processing, machine learning, and reliability engineering.  She completed her Ph.D. in mathematics in 2010 from Tulane University with focus on scientific computing and numerical analysis with applications in fluid-structure interaction problems in mathematical biology. Prior to joining Meridium in 2014, she conducted postdoctoral research at the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Notre Dame building data-driven computational models forecasting infectious disease spread and control.