From Worm Sperm Expert to Writer/Editor
What on earth, outside of academic research, can you do with a PhD based on studying worm sperm? Good question.
When I started my PhD program, I knew that I didn't want to run a research lab at a major research institution. My experience as an undergraduate at a small liberal arts college had been so incredible, I wanted to become a college teacher myself. So, while I studied worm sperm in graduate school, I got as much teaching experience as possible, both as a TA at Emory and as an adjunct instructor at a local liberal arts college. Instead of applying for post-doctoral positions, I applied for teaching positions at colleges that emphasized teaching but also supported undergraduate research programs. I made sure that I could articulate how C. elegans was the perfect system for conducting relatively simple, inexpensive summer undergraduate research. From these efforts, I became a tenure track professor at Morningside College in Sioux City, IA.
I loved college teaching, but one day a Promega Notes magazine arrived as part of a package I had ordered for my genetics classes using Promega's Training Support Program, and I perked up when I saw the position of science/technical writer and editor in the back of the magazine. I had always been interested in writing, and had considerable experience writing for the Emory Report when I was in graduate school. (I made a cold call on the editor of the Report and offered my services as a science writer.) While I was teaching at Morningside, I edited a faculty newsletter, a newsletter from the natural sciences division, and wrote several free lance articles for local and national publishers. All of these experiences gave me the writing portfolio I needed to land the position at Promega.
In my current position as a scientific communications specialist at Promega, I edit technical manuals, create teaching resources for professors at liberal arts colleges, and instruct in courses offered through the BioPharmaceutical Technology Center Institute. I write regularly for the Promega Connections blog, and I am an editor of our technical publications portal. I love what I do. I use my degree and I still get to teach (without the hassle of faculty meetings).
—Michele Arduengo, PhD, ELS