GRADUCon 2021 - First Years as Faculty (STEM)


We think and talk a great deal about what goes into obtaining a tenure track professor position. But what does the day-to-day of the first years of a faculty position actually look like? From administrative duties to committee meetings, and from teaching loads to setting up your lab — there’s a lot that goes into the “rookie years.” Hear from recent PhD/postdoc alumni about what they learned and did in their first years as a faculty member. This session will focus specifically on faculty roles in the STEM disciplines.


Ethan Morgan, Assistant Professor, Ohio State University (PhD, Epidemiology, University of Chicago, 2017)

Ethan Morgan is an Assistant Professor in the Center for Healthy Aging, Self-Management and Complex Care in the College of Nursing at The Ohio State University as well as a shared appointment in the Infectious Disease Institute. As an epidemiologist, the focus of his research has been on developing a better understanding of the etiology of diseases among sexual and gender minority (SGM) populations, particularly in the context of substance use, HIV, and sexually transmitted infections (STIs). For example, across several publications, he has examined the association between substance use and a variety of health outcomes, including both infectious (e.g. HIV, HPV, STIs) and chronic diseases. His research has more recently begun to examine the etiology of elevated inflammation among this high-risk population, particularly in terms of chronic disease risk and substance use. For example, Ethan has noted an increase in the prevalence of risk factors for cardiovascular disease among SGM individuals, (e.g. high inflammation, stress, tobacco use, and substance use).

Rebecca Thompson, Assistant Professor of Chemistry, St. Edward’s University (PhD and MS, Chemistry, University of Chicago, 2020)

After completing her PhD at the University of Chicago in early 2020, Rebecca Thompson began a position as an Assistant Professor of chemistry at St. Edward’s University in Austin, TX. St. Ed’s is a small, primarily undergraduate institution with an emphasis on liberal arts education. She currently teaches a mix of general chemistry and upper-level physical chemistry courses. She also maintains an active research lab on campus with undergraduate researchers investigating the structure and function of modified interfaces for use in biomedical devices.

Roselyne Tchoua, Assistant Professor, DePaul University (PhD, Computer Science, University of Chicago, 2019; MS, Electrical Engineering, University of Tennessee at Knoxville, 2006)

Roselyne Tchoua is an Assistant Professor at the School of Computing, DePaul University. Her interests gravitate around making seemingly inaccessible technology or manageable amounts of data more reachable. She joined DePaul Center for Data Science to continue working in the fascinating space between computer science and other science fields, extracting insight from data using machine learning, natural language processing techniques and crowdsourcing. She received her PhD in computer science from the University of Chicago, focusing on Hybrid Human Machine Scientific Information Extraction. During her graduate studies, she collaborated with scientists at the Institute of Molecular Engineering and the National Institute of Standards and Technology to extract polymer names and properties from the literature. Before going to the University of Chicago, she was a scientist at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in the Scientific Data Group. She has seven years of experience working with scientific applications. At ORNL, she implemented and maintained online simulation data management and collaboration tool for High Performance Computing scientists.

Emily Davenport, Assistant Professor, Penn State University (PhD, Human Genetics, University of Chicago, 2014)

Emily R. Davenport is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biology at Penn State University who is interested in understanding the relationship between humans and our microbiomes. Having long been interested in microbes, Dr. Davenport earned a Bachelor of Science degree with comprehensive honors in Bacteriology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2007. She became familiar with genomic techniques while working at the microarray company Roche NimbleGen between 2007 and 2009. She merged her interests in bacterial and eukaryotic genomics during her PhD in Human Genetics, which she earned from the University of Chicago in 2014. She continued to explore the role between host genetics, the microbiome, and phenotype during a postdoc at Cornell University between 2014 and 2019, which included a year as a visiting postdoc at the Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology between 2018 – 2019. Since fall 2019, she has lead a lab at Penn State interested in understanding how human gut microbiomes are determined and what role they have on human health and evolution.


Chihway Chang, Assistant Professor, Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics, University of Chicago (PhD, Physics, Stanford University, 2013).

Chihway Chang is an Assistant Professor at the University of Chicago. She was a graduate student at KIPAC and received her PhD in 2013. After a postdoc at ETH Zurich, she moved to Chicago as a KICP fellow in 2016 and joined the faculty in 2018.  She works primarily on cosmology with weak-lensing.  You can find more information about her and her work on her website.