Examples of Alternative Career Paths

Stephanie Chasteen, PhD Condensed Matter Physics, Postdoctoral Fellow, Exploratorium Musem of Science, Art, and Human Perception

Stephanie Chasteen is no ordinary post-doc. She works at the Exploratorium, a world-famous hands-on science museum in San Francisco, doing everything from designing hands-on activities to creating the Exploratorium’s SmallTalk podcast on nanotechnology.

Nancy Forbes, M.A.s in Physics and Spanish, Independent Science Policy Consultant and Writer

Nancy Forbes, like many graduate students, left her physics PhD program with a Master’s. Unlike most physics students, Forbes also holds degrees in comparative literature and Spanish. How did her broad experiences lead her into a science policy career? And does she regret not finishing the PhD program?

Gregory Jaczko, Ph.D. Physics, Commissioner, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission

Gregory Jaczko has been working on Capitol Hill since he finished graduate school. He now serves as one of five commissioners of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, in charge of regulating all nuclear materials in the United States. How did this previous AAAS Fellow end up here?

John Krane, Ph.D. Experimental High Energy Physics, Quantitative Financial Analyst, Third Millennium Trading, Chicago

As a physics student, John Krane knew he didn’t want to teach. He now works as a "quant" for a trading firm in Chicago. Read on to hear about his career in financial analysis, as well as his advice on going to graduate school for physics.

Sean Mattingly, PhD High-Energy Particle Physics, Dedicated Client Support, Bank of America

Sean Mattingly had every intention of staying in academia. He finished his PhD, did a postdoc and applied for faculty jobs. So how did he end up working in the corporate world for Bank of America?

Moussa Mahgerefteh, PhD in Nuclear Engineering, Nuclear Core Designer, Dept. Training Coordinator, Three-Mile Island Facility, Exelon Corporation

Moussa Mahgerefteh wanted a PhD in physics but opted for nuclear engineering instead, since the job market was wide. Little did he know that the Three-Mile Island accident would occur only shortly after obtaining his PhD. The job market now looks good again and Mahgerefteh sees a bright future for nuclear power.

André Moreau, PhD Physics, Senior Research Officer, National Research Council Canada, Industrial Materials Institute

André Moreau works halfway between industry and academia as part-scientist and part-manager. He advises obtaining a broad skill set and believes networking and learning how to be a good speaker are two great skills to have.

Thomas J. Richards, PhD in Experimental High-Energy Physics, Retired, after 34 years at Caterpillar Inc.

Tom Richards started thinking about a career in industry while a graduate student in high-energy particle physics. He discusses his preparation for an industry job and his transition to a job at Caterpillar, which became a long and rewarding career in R&D. Richards’ points out that "Ph.D. physicists possess many outstanding attributes [and] I suggest that they should build on them to maintain unique and valuable skills not readily found in others."