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 2018

Thursday, April 26, 2018
2-3 pm, Singh Center – Room 035
Sign up here

From Goal Setting to Goal Meeting

Faisal Khan, EMTM, MAPP
Transformational Coach & Management Consultant,

Laura Taylor
Co-creator of the Penn Program for Flourishing

Have you ever set goals and had a hard time meeting them? Join Faisal and Laura to learn some scientifically researched ways to increase the odds of not just setting, but meeting your goals. Walk away with strategies to create, motivate, and pursue your personal goals that increase your chances of meeting them. Tap into your agency and pathways to engage to see meaningful progress.


Tuesday, April 24, 2018
1:00-2:00 pm, Singh Center – Glandt Forum
Sign up here

Marketing & Research (not a Star Wars Story)

Denis Bendejacq, PhD
Corporate Research Lab Director, COMPASS UMI 3254

In private firms, almost regardless of the structure they adopted, two worlds have usually coexisted: that of research & innovation, where scientists propose technologies and can somewhat pursue their thirst for understanding, and that of business, where customers often dictate the pace at which research must produce results. Although this paradigm has been evolving over the last years, it is always in this seemingly contradictory but challenging situation that marketing comes into play: among all of the​scientific topics that​ ​researchers could be working on,​ ​marketing can help discern those​ ​that could answer a need of the market and generate revenues. ​In a world where funding ​​becomes increasingly tied to ​​the value​ of an innovation, it is essential for scientists whose ambition is to work for a private firm, as well as those who are destined for Academia, to understand how to play with marketing in order to become impactful contributors tomorrow.


Monday, March 19, 2018
2:00-3:00 pm, Singh Center – Glandt Forum

This session is co-sponsored by Penn Engineering’s Advancing Women in Engineering and the Penn Women in Chemistry group.

Tales from my professional journey (so far)

Lisa Friedersdorf, PhD [bio]
Director of the National Nanotechnology Coordination Office
United States National Nanotechnology Initiative

Please join me for a discussion about career options in industry, academia, and government for graduates of technical programs. This conversation will be based on my observations over the course of a non-traditional career as a woman engineer. I will share key lessons learned (e.g. wear your hair back around power tools!) and resources for students to create their own path.


Thursday, February 22, 2018
1:00 – 2:00 pm, Singh 035

Nailing your scientific pitch to different audiences

Vanessa Chan, PhD [bio]
Professor of Practice, Innovation & Entrepreneurship
Materials Science & Engineering Dept., Penn

In this conversation we will discuss how to take a scientific topic (e.g., your thesis, your invention) and create pitches that will resonate with a wide range of communities.  We will use Carbon 3D as an example and share with you their Science paper, the business articles that have been written about them as well as the TED talk and scientific talks that their founder has given.  Coming out of this conversation, you will learn how to hone your story so that it resonates with different audiences since ultimately, communicating what you are doing is a critical component of your success!


Tuesday, January 23, 2018
12-1 pm, Room TBA

Discussion:  Mentoring

Russell Composto, Associate Dean for Undergrad Education, Penn Engineering; Professor of Materials Science & Engineering
Kristin Field, Education and Professional Development for the Singh Center and REACT project
Michaile Rainey, Director, Advancing Women in Engineering

Audience focused discussion on mentoring, networking and generally tapping into community resources for your professional benefit as well as for participating in the community to help others build their careers.