Alumni Highlight – Marina Damiano

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Our alumna Marina Damiano, Ph.D., gave a great talk at the departmental research and awards symposium. For those of you who missed the chance to meet Marina and hear about what she has been doing, we chatted with Marina and asked her about life after DePaul. You can connect with Marina on LinkedIn or Twitter. Our questions and her responses are shown below:

  • What degree did you obtain from DePaul and what did you do immediately afterwards (go into another degree program, go into the workforce, etc)?

I earned a B.S. in Chemistry and B.A. German (double major); Minor in Mathematics; and participated in the Honors Program during my time at DePaul.

After DePaul, I earned a Ph.D. in Chemistry from Northwestern University. My graduate research focused on developing nanoparticle-based therapeutics as alternatives to chemotherapy.

  • What is your current position and how long have you been in that position?

Two years ago, I started Damiano Group, a scientific communications consulting business.

I started my business because I noticed that scientists are not always the best at communicating the exciting and impactful research we do. This is a problem because good communication is necessary for exchanging ideas, piquing the interest of funding organizations, and engaging with the public to increase awareness and encourage action. It’s not only true for individual scientists, but also for the companies and organizations creating new products, services, and policies.

Focusing on researchers and organizations in science and healthcare, I help my clients better communicate the what, how, and so what for their research, product, or service.

  • What types of tasks and activities do you do in your current position (in other words, what actually happens in that job, our students might not know!)?

Every day is different! I work both in the business and on the business, meaning I am responsible for the actual work for my clients and all aspects of running the business.

My client projects fall into two buckets: writing and communications coaching.

Writing projects can range from creating a blog post featured in Nature to a peer-reviewed article in The Patient.

Communications coaching projects can range from coaching a senior Ph.D. student in preparation for a job talk — a research presentation given as part of a job interview in academia and industry — to preparing talking points for a healthcare CEO’s interview in a top online or print publication specific to the life science, pharmaceutical, medical device, and healthcare industries (often called trade media).

If I’m not doing work for a client, I’m strategizing on how to keep current clients happy, pitching new clients, hiring contractors, and doing anything necessary to keep my business running smoothly.

  • How has your chemistry degree and DePaul education helped you in your career? What were the most beneficial aspects?

My chemistry training at DePaul built the foundation for pursuing graduate work. More importantly, the liberal arts emphasis of DePaul provided a well-rounded education and gave me insight into the world outside of the laboratory and academia.

  • What do you think are the most useful skills to have for your current career?

Writing and speaking skills, of course. A basic understanding of science is ideal, but specific technical expertise is not necessary. Your job is to interview experts and ask the right questions to get the information you need to tell their stories.

It is crucial to learn how to read verbal and non-verbal cues when interacting with someone, how to be persuasive, and how to understand the viewpoint of your intended audience.

  •  What advice do you have for our graduating students or recent graduates as they look at the next step in their careers?

Graduate school and bench research in industry are not your only options (though they are fine options, indeed). You can create your own path, but the keyword is “you.” If you want a non-traditional job, you must attend the networking events, send the e-mails, introduce yourself to the speaker after the seminar, ask for advice. Most people had help finding their first job (or maybe even all their jobs) and are happy to give back time to talk about their career paths and assist new graduates. But, you have to make the first move.

  • Do you have anything else you would like to share with our students and alumni?

Developing good written, visual, verbal, and non-verbal communication skills is critical to success, even if you choose not to go into a career in science communication.

Practice talking and writing about science and your research to different audiences as often as you can. Know your audience and what’s important to them. Make sure you have a compelling reason for why they should care about what you’re saying or writing and how they can take action.

 

Q&A With James Coy-Dibley

Alumni QandA

JC Dibley pic

James Coy-Dibley was a student that many from the Department interacted with even though he wasn’t a chemistry major. He did well in his courses and eventually became a chemistry tutor. Interestingly, James decided to publish a workbook of chemistry material based on his experience as a tutor. Our chair, Dr. Lihua Jin, asked him a few questions about his time at DePaul recently and here are his answers:

1) What has an education at DePaul done for you?

An education from DePaul University provided me with a seamless combination of academic progress and personal achievement, fueled by both the dedication of outstanding faculty and the plethora of opportunities the university offers its students. From day one, the emphasis of DePaul’s faculty focuses on their students’ success, both in and out of the classroom. At DePaul, it is not just a matter of ensuring that the student thrives within the classes and university setting, but, equally, that the student earns a degree and gains experience that will prepare him or her into a successful career after DePaul. The chemistry department at DePaul embodied this approach, with the dedicated professors providing me with both a fantastic education as well as the several opportunities that propelled me to where I am today.

 

2) What opportunities have you taken advantage of at DePaul/in the chemistry department that has been critical for your growth as a student/tutor?

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DePaul Chemistry MS programs

In addition to our undergraduate degrees in chemistry (BS, BA, and Chemistry Minors are available), we have several options for students interested in a Masters in Chemistry:

  • Standard MS – Thesis and non-thesis tracks
  • MS in Polymer and Coating Science – Thesis and non-thesis tracks
  • Combined BS/MS for DePaul Undergraduate Students.

Our MS courses are offered at night because we recognized that MS students may be working during the day as their take their courses. Many MS students also TA labs or tutor students at DePaul. Several of our MS students do research in various research groups in the department. If they are on the thesis track, they write a thesis and give a thesis defense at the end of their time here.

Our MS students come from a variety of locations and backgrounds, and go on to get PhDs in chemistry, go into chemical industry, or go into a variety of other jobs such as teaching at local community colleges.

Applications to our program are accepted three times a year: August 1st for Autumn Quarter, December 1st for Winter Quarter, and March 1st for Spring Quarter.

For more information, check out the graduate program page on the Department of Chemistry Website. 

You can also come and ask questions at the quarterly DePaul Graduate Program Open House events. The next one is this Thursday, October 13th, from 5-7 pm in room 120 in the Student Center on the Lincoln Park Campus at 2250 N Sheffield Ave.

We have highlighted a few of our current and former our MS students in the past, to learn more check out the following posts:

Alumni Highlight: Dana Klug BS ’13

Hello DePaul Community,

We are very proud of our DePaul students and alumni. They go on to do great things in a wide variety of areas. One chemistry alumna, Dana Klug (BS ’13), was just honored with a prestigious scholarship from the American Chemical Society’s Division of Medicinal Chemistry!

DePaul University Chemistry Dana Klug
Photo by Matthew Modoono/Northeastern University

Here’s the story from Northeastern University, where Dana is currently working on getting her PhD in chemistry: http://www.northeastern.edu/news/2015/08/graduate-researcher-wins-fellowship-to-design-drugs-to-combat-deadly-disease/

While at DePaul, Dana worked in Dr. Karver’s lab and we are sure the skills she learned there are being put to good use. Congratulations Dana!

Students: Use Your Resources!

Hello DePaul Students, Alumni and Friends! Dr. Grice here (@GriceChemistry). One thing we always tell our students in our classes is to use their resources to help them succeed. We want students to read their texts, come to class, go to course assistant (CA) and instructor office hours, and do practice problems so that they can improve. Everyone learns in a different way, so we want to give students various resources to learn how to tackle the concepts. But it doesn’t stop there. As a student you should be building your resume and networking while here at DePaul, so you can be prepared for your life after college (yes, it exists and we want to help you get there!). There are many resources on the internet that can be extremely valuable for other important parts of a student’s time here at DePaul (and beyond). In addition, if you start doing research or plan to go into a research/bench chemistry position, there are many great resources to help you learn about your projects and tackle the challenges that chemistry research throws at you. Maybe you need to write a thesis or research paper and you want to know how approach writing such a large document.  Maybe that TLC or column is giving you a lot of trouble. There are resources out there to help!

The Catalyst is a home for links to many resources to help you succeed.

We want the The Catalyst to be your go-to place for online resources. You will find many under the Links to Resources tab at the top of the page. We will try to keep the links updated as new tools come up, so go ahead and bookmark it! We’ve sorted them by area where they may be useful to you and have only included links to things that we have read and/or used ourselves. There’s a lot of not-so-great stuff out there on the internet and we want to help you sort through it by giving you this resource. Future posts to The Catalyst will be dedicated to introducing you to many of these. In the meantime, visit Links to Resources and dive in! All the best, -Dr. Grice

Here are a few links that I have put together for you based on input from faculty and staff.

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