GRADUCon 2018 - Industry Research Careers for Scientists Panel


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.


Denise Lau, Computational Biologist, Tempus (PhD Immunology 2016)

Denise Lau is a senior computational biologist at Tempus. She began working there in early 2016 and has helped lead the development of immunotherapy and immunology related products. Her work focuses on building computational tools to analyze RNA and DNA sequencing data from tumor biopsies that physicians can use to make data driven treatment decisions. Before Tempus, Denise completed her PhD in immunology at the University of Chicago, where she used RNA and BCR repertoire sequencing to characterize a novel B cell population.

Dimitris Priftis, Materials Process and Physics Engineer, Boeing, Adjunct Professor of Materials Science, Clemson University (Postdoc Molecular Engineering 2015)

Dimitris is currently a Materials, Process and Physics engineer in the Boeing research and technology center at Charleston SC as well as an adjunct professor of materials science at Clemson University. At Boeing Dimitris serves as a technical lead engineer and program manager of the coatings team. Dimitris has a chemistry degree from the Aristotle University and a masters and a PhD in polymers science from the University of Athens, Greece. After completing his PhD Dimitris joined the Bioengineering department at Berkeley as a postdoctoral researcher. For about two years he was enjoying mentoring a number of undergraduate students and performing research in bio-inspired polymeric materials. Prior to joining Boeing in 2015 Dimitris was a research professional at the Institute for Molecular Engineering at the University of Chicago. Dimitris has also been a visiting researcher in many scientific institutions including Argonne, LBL and Oak Ridge national labs, UT, Univ. of London and has authored over 21 publications. Dimitris enjoys volunteering and has been an affiliated member of various Chicago based non-profit organizations that emphasize in providing educational and research opportunities.

Frank Olechnowicz, PostDoc Chemist, Behr Process Corp. (PhD Chemistry 2018)

Paint and coatings in general are a mixture of many different components, designed to have specific application feel and physical barrier attributes. I use my degree every day in the lab, designing and synthesizing new polymer additives. These are then formulated into experimental paint, and a battery of material science tests are performed to evaluate key properties.

Ketrija Touw, Senior Scientist, Abbott Laboratories (Postdoc 2016)

I am a Senior Scientist at Abbot Laboratories, focusing on test development for infectious diseases for screening on medical devices. Previously I was a postdoctoral fellow in the University of Chicago where I studied gut microbiota effects on intestinal tract motility. I received my Ph.D. from Indiana University Department of Medicine where I studied diabetes effects on digestive system. I received my B.S. in Biology from Latvian University.


John Leonard, Current Postdoc, University of Chicago (PhD Biochemistry and Molecular Biology UCSF 2014)