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 |

Spring 2021

Thursday, April 22, 2021
1-2 pm ET, Zoom

Promoting STEM Equity and Inclusion through Engagement in Penn-West Philadelphia Partnerships
Richard Carter, EdD and Rita Hodges, MSEd
Netter Center for Community Partnerships, University of Pennsylvania

In this session, representatives from Penn’s Netter Center for Community Partnerships will present opportunities for STEM graduate students to engage meaningfully with the West Philadelphia community. In particular, the Netter Center’s Moelis Access Science program supports partnerships that improve science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education in K12 classrooms, as well as undergraduate and graduate STEM education at Penn. The program’s curriculum approach focuses on facilitating hands-on and inquiry-based science education in public school classrooms, as well as incorporating community-based, problem-solving learning. The classrooms are based in West Philadelphia schools with which the Netter Center has long-standing organizational relationships. In addition, the Educational Pipeline Program, operated by the Perelman School of Medicine in partnership with the Netter Center, Penn’s School of Veterinary Medicine, and 4 public high schools, works to provide mentorship and hands-on education for local high school students while exposing them to a variety of careers in medicine and healthcare. This session will underscore the critical role of higher education partnerships with local K12 schools and communities in helping to realize STEM equity and inclusion.


Tuesday, April 6, 2021
10 – 11 ET, Zoom

Special: Student Highlight
My Journey from Fossil Fuels to Resilience
Robert Fetell
Class of ’21, Earth Science and Class of ’22, Engineering Geology
Earth & Environmental Science, University of Pennsylvania

A presentation on resilience and climate adaptation solutions, viewed through the lens of Robert’s journey that started at Shell International, B.V. in the Netherlands and led him to follow an inner calling to mitigate the consequences of climate change on his hometown of Miami Beach, FL. Robert’s experiences with the City of Miami Beach on resilience improvements taught him engineering solutions to safeguard the existing built environment, and led him to found a nonprofit, the Resilience Youth Network, to unite young people behind climate adaptation. Discussion of these topics will follow with participants.


Friday, March 19, 2021
11 – noon ET, Zoom

The Benefits of an Advanced Science Degree in Business Development
Francisco Buitrago, PhD
Scientist, Arkema Inc.

The job market for scientists and engineers in industry is very broad. From R&D to process development, there are a variety of positions in which a scientific background is essential. Regardless of the industry, all companies have the goal to create new business opportunities by nurturing excellent relationships with customers. Please join me to learn about my experience along the fine line between R&D and Business Development.


Thursday, February 25, 2021
1-2 pm, ET Zoom

Engineering at Penn: A Local History of Materials Science & Contemporary Approaches to STEM Ethics
Brit Shields, Ph.D., Senior Lecturer, Bioengineering Department, School of Engineering & Applied Sciences, University of Pennsylvania

Brit Shields has training as a sociologist and historian of science and currently teaches the undergraduate engineering ethics curriculum at Penn.  Her scholarship focuses on the reciprocal relationship between technology and society.  This talk will include an overview of the local history of material science at Penn as well as contemporary approaches to STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) ethics education today.