Master's and Ph.D. Career Symposium

4.3 Transferable Skills in STEM for Careers beyond Academia

Organized by Chris Lopez, UC Davis Professors for the Future and Ph.D. student, Microbiology

Time: 2:20-3:30pm

Room: 126 Wellman

In the current competitive marketplace, good grades and scientific publications may not be enough to guarantee a job. Instead, competitive job seekers may need to distinguish themselves by promoting their other talents, often termed "transferrable" or "soft" skills. This session is meant to inform students and postdocs of the types of transferrable skills they should be developing as they prepare to enter into a career beyond academia. Invited speakers from STEM industries will provide information on the skills they deem essential for successful job applicants to not only land the position, but to be successful throughout their careers.


Bryna Corcoran is Vice President of Digital for Weber Shandwick located in San Francisco. In this role she leads a team of digital strategist and provides senior strategic counsel for clients across the consumer tech practice. Her background includes deep expertise in SEO and website optimization, as well as brand voice positioning and creative content strategies for digital and social media channels, both from paid and organic executions. Prior to joining Weber Shandwick, Bryna spent 8 years on the Global Digital Marketing team at Hewlett-Packard where she helped position HP as a pioneer in brand presence across the digital, social and mobile marketing space. This was achieved with innovative online campaigns, website re-branding efforts, and a few industry-first social media campaigns across consumer tech, B2B and enterprise audience channels. Bryna’s strategy and content work also contributed to HP becoming the most followed brand on LinkedIn and the first to reach 1M followers.

Amanda Fischer earned her B.S. from Humboldt State University in Northern California after graduating from a high school in the SF, Bay Area. During her time at Humboldt she found her passion for Microbiology, Plant Biology, and Genetics. Amanda joined Professor Jacob Varkey’s genetics lab on campus and this was her first experience doing research. After graduating, Amanda took a year off to apply for graduate school during which she worked in a Plant Biology lab at Purdue University and interviewed for different graduate school programs. Amanda then joined the Plant Biology Graduate Group at UC Davis as a Ph.D. candidate where she had the pleasure of working for Professor Clark Lagarias. Amanda has always been very application minded with regard to her science and Dr. Lagarias was able to provide opportunities for her to collaborate with industry labs as well as encouraging her participation in the UC Davis Designated Emphasis in Biotechnology Program (DEB) led by Dr. Judy Kjelstrom. One of the requirements/opportunities provided by this program was an internship in an industry lab. Amanda was fortunate enough to work for Novozymes Biotech in Davis full time for three months during her fourth year of graduate studies. In addition to the exciting and fast-paced science, Amanda was working on at Novozymes, it was very motivating for her to work for a company with a vision to positively impact the environment with its products. This vision is a common thread among Novozymes employees in addition to Novozymes thirst for innovation. While finishing up her graduate work, Amanda married her husband, an environmental engineer, and they welcomed the first of two sons. To date, she has been working for Novozymes for 9 years; she began her career as a scientist and is currently managing a group of 12 fungal expression scientists. Working at Novozymes allows her a wonderful work life balance and she enjoys living in Davis with her husband and two very active boys’ ages 5 and 10.