Toggle Accessibility Tools

Detailed Information on 2015 Careers Symposium

Careers Symposium and Round Table Discussion
Friday, October 9th Starting at 8:30 AM in BPS 1415
Part of the Fourth Annual Symposium on Plant Biotech for Health and Sustainability

Students and Postdoctoral Trainees interested in all areas of the biological sciences are invited to participate in a series of events aimed at helping you explore career options. It is being held as part of the Symposium on Plant Biotechnology, but you must register separately for these events.

Session One – Careers and Career Paths
8:30 AM Room BPS 1415

Welcome, Rob Last

“Chance favors the prepared: Functional unstable elements in DNA and in careers”
Marcelo Vinces, Director, Center for Learning, Education and Research in the Sciences, Oberlin College (host: Dan Lybrand)

 “Oh, the Places You Will Go:  Non-science career options with a scientific degree”
Melissa D. Ho, Managing Director, Africa, Millennium Challenge Corporation (host: Christina Azodi)

Session Two, Roundtable Discussions
10:00 AM Various Locations (details will be communicated to registrants)

Research Intensive University Faculty Track
Greg Bonito, Assistant Professor of Plant, Soil and Microbial Sciences, MSU
Andrea Doseff, Associate Professor of Molecular Genetics, Ohio State University
Hiroshi Maeda, Assistant Professor of Botany, University of Wisconsin
Michaela TerAvest, Assistant Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, MSU

Biotechnology Industry Opportunities
Lyle Crossland, Director, Agronomic Traits, Monsanto Corporation 
Richard Trethewey, Vice President, Project Management Office, BASF Plant Science LP
Jim Wynn, Director of Bio-based Technology Derisking, Michigan Biotechnology Institute

Outreach and Communications Careers
Sheril Kirshenbaum, Director, The Energy Poll, University of Texas at Austin
Marcelo Vinces, Director, Center for Learning, Education and Research in the Sciences, Oberlin
Danielle Whittaker, Managing Director of BEACON, MSU

Careers in Government
Melissa Ho, Managing Director, Africa, Millennium Challenge Corporation
Rob Last, Barnett Rosenberg Professor of Plant Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, MSU
Roger Thilmony, USDA Research Molecular Geneticist, Albany CA

Biosketches for our two featured speakers:

Marcelo Vinces, SpeakerMarcelo Vinces joined Oberlin College in 2013 after two years serving as a AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellow at the National Science Foundation (NSF). While at NSF, Marcelo worked at the intersection of scientific research and government policy within the Division of Molecular and Cellular Biosciences (MCB), supporting initiatives to advance emerging fields in biology and undergraduate biology education, while receiving regular professional development and training afforded to Fellows in the program. Previously, Marcelo spent four years as a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University and the Katholieke Universiteit in Leuven, Belgium, where he used brewer’s yeast to study the biological function of highly mutable repetitive “junk” DNA sequences. He received his PhD in Molecular Microbiology at Tufts University in Boston, writing a thesis on transcription factors that regulate the dramatic shape-changing abilities of the pathogenic yeast Candida albicans. He pursued his doctoral degree after completing studies at Cornell University, where he had discovered his love for microbiology both in class and in the lab, getting his start in undergraduate research using a yeast system (in a plant lab!) studying metal uptake. When not studying yeast in the lab, Marcelo made himself at home in the classroom, teaching biology to a wide range of students, in elementary school, college and medical school. Besides fulfilling his duties in his various positions, Marcelo has also dedicated his time on policy issues such as broadening participation and increasing diversity in STEM fields, improving networks for scientists in “diaspora” communities, and communicating science to a wider audience. Marcelo was born in Ecuador, and grew up in Brooklyn, New York.

Melissa Ho, SpeakerMelissa Ho has more than 20 years of experience in agricultural development in sub-Saharan Africa, South and Southeast Asia, Latin America, and the United States.  Melissa joined the Millennium Challenge Corporation as Managing Director for Africa in September 2015.  Previously, Melissa led a technical team in the Bureau for Food Security at USAID covering cross-cutting issues related to global food security, including nutrition integration, women’s economic empowerment, training and extension, climate change and resilience, guiding the strategic direction, activity design, and implementation of Feed the Future in 19 focus countries and other aligned countries.  Melissa also served as Senior Advisor at USAID and as the technical lead in the development of the G-8 New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition initiative, launched by President Obama, G-8, African and corporate leaders at Camp David in 2012. Previously, Melissa was part of the Agriculture Development team at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, where she was the lead Program Officer responsible for the development and execution of the agricultural water management strategy and portfolio managing over $100 million in grants.  Melissa has worked for the U.S. Congress in varying roles, including as a Specialist in Agricultural Policy for the Congressional Research Service and as the Agriculture Policy Advisor to Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton.  Melissa has a B.Sc. in Environmental Systems from Cornell University, an M.Sc. in Soil Science (Plant Water Relations) from the University of California, Davis, and her Ph.D. in Plant Physiology from the Pennsylvania State University. 

Application process for first year students interested in the program
May through July of each year

Annual Plant Biotechnology for Health and Sustainability Symposium
Dates to be determined October or November each year

Meetings of students with Executive Committee Members
Semiannually Fall and Spring Semester