Industry Research Careers for Scientists


How does research in industry differ from the research you do here as an academic scientist? The world of industrial research companies often seems mysterious to PhD students and postdocs, but all of their scientists were once in academia and made a successful transition. This panel will provide a peek behind the proprietary curtain of industry research as these UChicago alumni share their own experience as well as tips for landing your first industry job.


Stephanie Klenotich,  Professional Development Program Research Scientist at Hospira, a Pfizer Company (PhD'12, Neurobiology) realized her love of neuroscience through undergraduate studies at the University of Rochester. Following completion of a Bachelor of Science in Brain and Cognitive Science, she spent a year as a laboratory manager and technician in the lab of Dr. John Piletz at Loyola University Chicago researching potential treatments for hypoxia-ischemia in neonatal rodents. In 2008, she began doctoral studies in Neurobiology at the University of Chicago in the lab of Dr. Stephanie Dulawa. Her thesis work aimed to understand the neurbiological substrates underlying anorexia nervosa. As a graduate student and postdoc in the Dulawa lab, Dr. Klenotich gained expertise in animal models of psychiatric disorders through implementing a mouse model of anorexic behaviors to uncover treatment targets. The translational work done in the Dulawa lab fed a deep desire to enter a career in drug development. Dr. Klenotich immediately felt at home at the generic drug development company Hospira. At Hospira, a Pfizer company, she is currently in the Professional Development Program in R&D. As a scientist in the program, Stephanie will complete four 6 month rotations to gain experience in generic drug development and position herself for a career in R&D at Pfizer. 

Rob Appell, Process R&D Leader at Dowpharma (PhD'90, Chemistry) received his B.S. degree from Hope College (Holland, Michigan) in 1986 and his Ph.D. in organic chemistry from The University of Chicago in 1990 under Prof. Phillip Eaton. He joined The Dow Chemical Companhy in late 1990 and has been involved in a variety of activities in the Dowpharma pharmaceutical contract manufacturing organization. His roles included process R&D, pilot and production plant support, new technology development, academic collaborations, project management and technical sales. He has worked to develop partnerships with key Chinese contract manufacturers bringing low-cost alternatives to Dowpharma’s Western pharmaceutical customer base, as well as on-ground support of projects in China. Rob moved in 2010 to the Dow Pharma & Food Solutions business, managing projects related to manufacturing of their Methocel and Ethocel cellulosic products, as well as development and recent launch of the Affinisol family of pharmaceutical solubilization excipients.

Hongzhong Zheng, System Architect at Samsung (PhD'08, Computer Engineering, University of Illinois at Chicago) received the BS and MS degrees in electrical engineering and computer science from Huazhong University of Science and Technology, China, and the PhD degree in electrical and computer engineering from the University of Illinois at Chicago in 2009. He is currently a system architect and leading new memory system research group at System Architecture Lab of Samsung Semiconductor Inc. He has extensive experience of novel memory system architecture with DRAM and emerging memory technologies, computer architecture and system performance modeling, energy-efficient computing system designs etc. He had more than 20 patents (including issued and pending applications), and more than 10 peer reviewed papers published in top journals and conferences. He is a member of the ACM and the IEEE.

Rebecca Mathew, Senior Scientist at Abbvie (Postdoc, Immunology, UChicago; PhD, Molecular Biology, Georg August Universität, Göttingen) graduated from International Max Planck Research School and Georg August Universitaat, Gottingen in Molecular biology. She did post-doctoral training in immunology with Prof. Albert Bendelac at the university of Chicago and joined Abbvie as Sr.Scientist in oncology discovery in 2015.


Jessica Swanson (PhD'06, Physical Chemistry, University of California - San Diego) is a Senior Research Scientist in the Department of Chemistry and the Director of Industrial Relations for the Division of Physical Sciences the at the University of Chicago.  She oversees the newly formed Industrial Affiliates Program in addition to an annual recruiting meeting for PhDs and postdocs in chemistry, molecular engineering, physics, biophysics and related disciplines.  In her research position, Dr. Swanson is an expert in biomolecular simulations and theoretical chemistry applied to biomedically and environmentally relevant problems.  She is a passionate proponent of connecting science with societal influence, particularly in the areas of clean energy and global sustainability.