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 2018

Wednesday, December 5, 2018
2-3 pm, Singh Center – Rm 221
Sign up here

What the History of Nanotechnology Tells Us about Its Future
Jody A. Roberts, PhD
Director, Institute for Research
Science History Institute

What social and ethical issues might arise from the research and development of new nanotechnologies? And what can be done to address these issues proactively? In this session, we’ll explore the connection between historical narratives, present-day research, and future outcomes. In particular, we’ll examine how research agendas get framed in these histories and how those agendas can yield very different sorts of social and ethical issues to be addressed. Participants will leave with a sense of how social and ethical issues arise, and their own role in addressing these issues in a meaningful way.


Thursday, November 1, 2018
2-3 pm, Singh Center – Glandt Forum

Intellectual Property and Innovation
Pamela Beatrice, PhD
Director, PCI Licensing Group
Tomás Isakowitz, PhD
Director, PCI Fellows Program

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, October 10, 2018
2-3 pm, LRSM Reading Room

From Academia to a Start-Up: A Journey of How Micro-Bio Robots Led to Micro-Aerial Robots 

Denise Wong, PhD
Robotics Engineer
Exyn Technologies

Planning the next steps of your career can be intimidating, especially after years in academia where the curriculum is structured and your focus is very narrow.  We become subject matter experts and often forget about the broadly applicable skills valued in industry.  In this discussion, I’ll talk about my transition from academia to working at a fast-paced, early staged tech start-up.


Thursday, September 20, 2018
2-3 pm, Singh Center – Glandt Forum

Words Matter

Sharon L. Haynie, PhD
Independent Consultant
Hypatia Technology Works, LLC

I offer anecdotes, insights and personal stories that demonstrate how words (from others or challenges in crafting words) impacted my career.  I wish I had received more communications training during my science journey that would have supplemented the intensive training on shaping ideas and sharpening my technical acumen.  I will share some broad examples—from words that sent my career aloft—an invaluable postscript for mentors; words used in technical papers or presentations; or words I choose even in casual conversation or dialogue with colleagues and general audiences.  It is my belief that language and presentation skills are critical to your professional success.  I am convinced that words are a critical component in our science interactions; thus, I urge participants to pay more attention to the words they select—words can be welcome, wisdom, and warning and sometimes a weapon.