Professional Development Series

The Singh Center for Nanotechnology offers a monthly professional development seminar series as a resource for graduate students and postdocs in STEM disciplines. The series covers three general areas: career paths, soft and transferable skills, and career-related knowledge and resources. Topics are meant to supplement the formal academic and technical research training graduate students and postdocs receive in the classroom and/or in their laboratories and to help to explore career paths and develop competencies for advancing their career goals.

If you are interested in being on the mailing list or in suggesting a topic/speaker, please email kfield[at]

Please note that this series does not generally cover teaching and best practices for pedagogy. The Center for Teaching and Learning offers excellent resources on developing teaching skills. In general, the Singh Center series also does not focus on traditional academic career development (i.e., finding faculty positions). There are a number of resources at Penn that offer programming on faculty job searches (e.g., Career Services Academic Careers, Penn Engineering Postdoc Community, Biomedical Postdoctoral Programs).

| View Past Events |

Fall 2020

Friday, December 11, 2020
2-3 pm ET, Zoom
Sign up here.

Global Scientific Collaborations: A Key to Scientific Success

Joseph S. Francisco, PhD
President’s Distinguished Professor of Earth and Environmental Science and of Chemistry
University of Pennsylvania

Today, more than ever, research is of an international character, and “globalization” of science research is proceeding rapidly. This has important implications for the sciences. The conditions for science research around the world are continually improving, and thus global collaborations and partnerships can provide rich opportunities to enhance research and training. Diverse views and experiences give internationally connected research groups a significant competitive advantage over geographically limited ones; this is because the integration of different approaches enables much more creativity. Many of the world’s most pressing problems call for global cooperation, such as climate change, food security, public health, infectious diseases ( e.g. COVID-19), or resource conservation and environmental sustainability. Research collaborations across borders will become natural for the next generation of academics, as sharing of facilities will make it easier for them to be more productive. My talk will focus on the benefits of global collaborations and on students preparing for this future.


Wednesday, November 11, 2020
3-4 pm ET, Zoom

Tools for the 21st Century: science policy and diplomacy

Mahlet Mesfin, PhD
Visiting Scholar (2019-2020), Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement
Consultant, National Academy of Science’s Policy and Global Affairs Division

Mahlet Mesfin transitioned from being a PhD student in bioengineering at Penn examining chemical signaling pathways in brain cells after a mechanical injury to working in and representing the U.S. government to address how science and technology can strengthen ties between countries and impact international affairs and foreign policy.  Dr. Mesfin will discuss experiences along her career path in science policy and science diplomacy and the ways in which science and scientists will increasingly have a role to play in the challenges that the United States and the world will face in the 21st century.


Wednesday, October 14, 2020
10:30-11:30 am, Zoom
Select materials from this session are linked below.

Intellectual Property and Innovation

Tomás Isakowitz, PhD, Manager, Penn I-Corps and PCI Fellows Program


Pamela Beatrice, Ph.D., Director, PCI Licensing Group
Penn Center for Innovation 

Penn’s Patent Policy

This session will provide an overview of intellectual property and its role in technology transfer and of programs for helping the creation of startups based on Penn research. A brief overview of patents and their importance will be provided. Opportunities for Penn graduate students and postdocs to participate in the PCI Fellows Program and Penn I-Corps will be discussed.


Wednesday, September 16, 2020
3:30-4:30 pm EDT, Presentation available here

Applying a technical degree to a career in innovation

Hannah Murnen, PhD, Chief Technology Officer, Compact Membrane Systems

Dr. Murnen has held both technical and business positions across multiple chemical manufacturers, as
well as having served large chemical multinationals in her capacity as an Engagement Manager in
McKinsey’s Chemicals practice.  Dr. Murnen will be talking about the different decision points in her
career, how they have led her to where she is now and what she has learned from each of them.