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Rita B. Leahy Career Series

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The Rita B. Leahy Doctoral Career Series for doctoral students brings current students, postdocs, and Maryland alumni together to meet and explore career opportunities. Each session of the series focuses on one broad career area and features alumni from different disciplines doing meaningful work related to that area. The 2020-2021 series features eight sessions focused on careers in: research, data science, biotechnology, federal agencies, policy and advocacy, entrepreneurial ventures, communications, and public health.

Recordings of all past sessions are available on YouTube:

Day Date Time Topic Speakers
Wednesday 9/30/2020 3-4 pm Federal Careers

Panelists: Ashley Ruth (Materials Science Engineering '15), Scott Albrecht (Sociology '10), Heather Platter (Public Health '2018)

Tuesday 10/20/2020 3-4 pm Data Science Careers

Panelists: Rachel Adler (Neuroscience & Cognitive Science, 2018), Ranchu Mathew (Physics, 2017), Yuandon Qi (Agriculture and Resource Economics, 2018)


11/19/2020 3-4 pm Research Carers Outside of Academia

Panelists: Aaron Mannes (Public Policy Analysis, 2014), Theresa Kim (Public Health, Statistics, 2017), Crystal Upperman (Marine Estuarine Environmental Sciences, 2016)

Friday 1/22/2021 11:30 am-12:30 pm

Careers in Biotechnology

(Part of the January Graduate Success Symposium)


Panelists: Sarah Ellinwood (Cellular and Molecular Biology, 2017), Chris Frew (CEO Workforce Genetics), Deborah Hemingway (CEO, Maryland Development Center)

Tuesday 2/16/2021 3-4 pm Policy and Advocacy Careers

Devesh Roy (Senior Research Fellow at International Food Policy Research Institute), Adria K. Schwarber (Science Policy Analyst at FYI Science Policy News)

Wednesday 3/3/2021 3-4 pm Writing and Communication Careers

Heather Epkins (Communications Director for Governor's Coordinating Offices in the Office of Maryland Governor Larry Hogan), Gregory Michaelidis (Head of public sector communications at MITRE) and Katie Stanutz (Undergraduate Studies Program Manager at The Ohio State University)

Tuesday 4/6/2021 3-4 pm Entrepreneurial Ventures & Start-Ups

Registration Link

Douglas Arion (Executive Director at Mountains of Stars - Public Science Education and Outreach), Nalini Murdter ( Senior Vice President, M&A Operations and Integration at Crown Bioscience, Inc.), Doug Henderson (Scientist at SIMULATE), Brian Borak (Senior Lead Scientist at Booz Allen Hamilton)


Thursday 6/10/2021 3-4 pm

Careers in Public Health

Darren Sledjeski (Deputy Director Division of Extramural Activities at National Institute of General Medical Sciences), Chandria Jones, Senior Research Scientist at NORC/University of Chicago, Gamaliel Baer (Howard County Health and Wellness Coordinator and Founder of OIHWL)

About Dr. Rita B. Leahy

Photograph of Rita B. LeahyRita Leahy received her PhD in Civil Engineering from the University of Maryland in 1989. She is very grateful for her education at Maryland because it put her in touch with organizations and people who had a big impact on her life and career. Dr. Leahy feels it is very important for Ph.D. students to understand the different career options that are available to them and to build a professional network. In 2018, Dr. Leahy created a fund in the Graduate School to support the professional development of doctoral students and the creation of an annual speaker series featuring UMD alumni working in exciting and meaningful careers outside of the academy. 

Dr. Leahy’s own career path is a testimony to the power of networking - developing and maintaining connections with individuals.  These connections along with an unstoppable spirit of openness took her career in directions she never could have predicted. She believes that success in life is “finding something that you love to do and finding someone willing to pay you to do it.”  According to Dr. Leahy, success is where preparation and opportunity meet.