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grAdvantage GSA Career Nights

grAdvantage Career Nights expose graduate students to individuals that have transitioned to careers outside academia after receiving a graduate degree. The speakers will describe their career paths while offering “pearls of wisdom” to those in the audience that may be considering a career outside of academia.  The presentations will be followed by a networking social hour for local professionals and graduate students to mix, mingle and discuss career options over food and refreshments. See the Gradvantage calendar for the next Career Night!


The 2018-2019 academic year features the following speakers. The inaugural career night will feature a special panel of three speakers.


May 16th, 2019

International House Great Hall, 4:30-7:30 pm

Click here to register!

Career Night Panelists:

Natalie NadyNatalie Nady, Ph.D. 
Scientist, Takeda

Natalie obtained her Ph.D. in Medical Biophysics and Biochemistry from the University of Toronto, Canada studying epigenetic mechanisms, namely investigating the role of histone modifications and various protein domains that recognize them. She completed her post-doctoral studies at Stanford University continuing to study epigenetic mechanisms and various ways to modulate transcription. Natalie co-authored a number of peer-reviewed publications in top journals, presented her work at national and international meetings, and held federal Canadian and NIH (K99) grants. She is currently working as a scientist at Takeda where Natalie is responsible for target identification and validation in order to initiate novel drug discovery programs across all therapeutic areas. She is also an instructor at UC San Diego Extension teaching biochemistry.


Teresa KruckenbergTeresa Kruckenberg, Ph.D.
Director, Research & Development, Collins Aerospace

Ms. Kruckenberg has over 30 years in Aerospace composite materials and manufacturing and 20 years with Aerostructures.  In her role as Director of R&D, Teresa Kruckenberg is responsible for the identification and development of distinctive and breakthrough technologies that support Collins Aerospace – Aerostructures’ product line.  She leads the R&D team to develop less expensive, higher performance, lighter weight, quieter, and environmentally greener nacelle and aerostructure products.   Her team also includes a test lab in Chula Vista and a prototype lab in Riverside.  

During the past decade, Teresa has had roles of increasing responsibility and was responsible for implementing a structured technology development process ensuring consistent maturation of technology and capture of IP across the organization.        Her team also developed several innovating technologies, including some for acoustic noise treatment which was instrumental in winning an award from the FAA for the CLEEN II technology demonstrator program.  

Ms. Kruckenberg has a Ph.D. and M.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Sydney and San Diego State respectively and B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Oklahoma State University.  Ms. Kruckenberg was selected as the UTC Aerospace Systems – Aerostructures Tribute to Women in Leadership (TWIN) Visionary Leader honoree for 2014.


Joseph MurrayJoseph Murray, Ph.D. 
Principal Scientist, FICO

Joe Murray is a Director at FICO Analytics (San Diego) and joined FICO in 2009.  He currently leads development of new products for preventing financial crime using advanced machine learning, with the goals of reducing fraud, money laundering and cyber risk.  He has developed predictive models for clients worldwide, with applications in retail banking, fraud prevention and mobile device security.  He received his PhD in Electrical Engineering from the University of California, San Diego, and postdoc at MIT's Brain and Cognitive Sciences, focusing on machine learning and neural networks.


Tyson SwetekTyson Swetek, MBA
Operations and Engineering Manager, San Diego Gas & Electric

Tyson Swetek graduated in 2004 with a Bachelor’s of Science in Electrical Engineering from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.  He joined SDG&E in 2005 as an associate engineer.   He spent his early career in distribution holding various positions in different operating districts that involved managing SDG&E’s first responders to power outages and managing the distribution maintenance and compliance program.  He then led a substation team responsible for asset management, construction, and maintenance. He currently manages the Transmission Engineering department for SDG&E, where he is responsible for the design, engineering, and construction of high voltage power lines.  Overall, he has spent 14 years at SDG&E with 11 years spent in leadership roles.  He has an MBA from San Diego State and is a licensed professional engineer.  


Past Speakers

Winter Career Night, March 1st, 2018


Steve ChappleSteve Chapple is a Visiting Scholar from Yale University at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography.  His latest book is BREAKPOINT: Reckoning with America's Environmental Crises (co-author Jeremy BC Jackson, Yale Univ Press 2018.)  He is Executive Director of the San Diego Unified STEAM Leadership Series which bridges the public high school system with hitech business and science in San Diego to empower students to live their passion and get better jobs and careers.  He is the co-founder of Intellectual Impact, which produces video and film; writes the Intellectual Capital newspaper column; and consults to certain biotech companies including BioFluidica, which makes an advanced chip for capturing circulating cancer cells in the blood, and fetal cells as well.  His advice: when in doubt, create your own job!


Matthias BlumeDr. Matthias Blume is VP of Retail Lending at Applied Data Finance.  Previously, he was Chief Risk Officer at the FinTech startup LoanHero and Chief Analytics Officer at the AdTech startup Covario. He served as Director of Analytics for two of San Diego's larger data science companies, FICO and CoreLogic, after starting his career as a Data Scientist in 1997.  He has focused on innovation, creating a dozen new products, and has been fortunate to continue some research in machine learning and natural language processing in the corporate environment.

Matthias earned his BS in Applied Physics from Caltech in 1987.  He took five years off -- working as an engineer and literally traveling around the world -- before returning to school to earn his PhD in Electrical and Computer Engineering from UCSD.  At UCSD, his goal was to apply insights from natural neural systems in artificial neural networks, so he also spent a lot of time in Cog Sci, Psychology, Neuroscience, CS, and the Salk Institute.  


August 23, 2018 Career Night Panel


Jeff Lievense
Senior Advisor to CEO

Bio: 36 years of pioneering and productive leadership in industrial biotechnology. Broad and deep experience in process development, project and functional management. Key contributor to commercial development of a dozen fermentation and chemical products, including milestone achievements in the field. Built effective organizations in large companies, small companies, start-ups and non-profits. Noted for technical excellence, commercial focus, high enthusiasm, interdisciplinary teamwork, direct communication style and courage.


Mallory Collins
Sr. Business Manager
Red Door Interactive

Bio: My interest lies in identifying and executing consumer-centric marketing programs and advertising campaigns that are backed by data and insights. I have a background in using market research and quantitative measurement as a tool to formulate and analyze effective strategy per business goals, and a passion for working with brands to identify and capitalize on new marketing opportunities within an ever-evolving, digital world.


Claudia Mowery
Chief Engineer/Technical Director
General Atomics

Bio: 16+ years with General Atomics Aeronautical Systems and Northrop Grumman; part of the booming Unmanned Air Vehicle industry. I have pursued the many aspects of the engineering design, analysis, manufacturing, and test processes of two specific unmanned air vehicles throughout my career. I have rounded out my “technical only” experience with business savvy as a recent EPSE graduate from UC San Diego.


naomi-handley.jpgNaomi Handly is a Scientist at Octant, Inc., a biotech startup using NGS to develop a multiplex platform to cheaply scan thousands of drugs against hundreds of receptors simultaneously. Naomi joined Octant in 2017 and was the second full-time employee hired to set-up the lab and develop the first prototype.

Naomi graduated from Brigham Young University and received her PhD in Biochemistry from University of California, San Diego in 2017. Her thesis work focused on how mammalian cells communicate with one another immediately following a wound at the single-cell level using quantitative fluorescent microscopy.


Lara-Hochstein.jpgLara Hochstein is a Lead Curriculum Designer at IXL Learning, an educational technology company based in San Mateo, CA that is currently used by 1 in 9 students in the U.S. Lara has been at IXL for 3.5 years and currently leads the development of English Language Arts content for grades Pre-K through 2. Her team designs interactive and engaging skills that help students learn and explore grammar, vocabulary, phonics, reading, writing, and more. Lara also works closely with engineers, writers, editors, illustrators, and voice talent to ensure that her team's final product is of the highest caliber.

Lara received her bachelor's degree in French and Italian from Princeton University in 2008 and her PhD in Linguistics from UCSD in 2014. As a doctoral student at UCSD, Lara studied child language acquisition, and her dissertation research focused on pragmatic language development in typically-developing children and children with autism spectrum disorders.


Thuy-Vo-Dang.jpgDr. Thuy Vo Dang is the Curator for the Southeast Asian Archive at UC Irvine. She earned her Ph.D. and M.A. in Ethnic Studies from UC San Diego and a B.A. in English and Asian American Studies from Scripps College. She began working at UC Irvine in 2011 as the Inaugural Project Director for the Vietnamese American Oral History Project, now Viet Stories. Outside the university, she serves on the Board of Directors for Arts Orange County and the Vietnamese American Arts and Letters Association, both nonprofit arts organizations. Vo Dang is co-author of Vietnamese in Orange County, published in 2015, and is currently working on A People’s Guide to Orange County (forthcoming, UC Press), a book project that foregrounds hidden stories of the region through a social justice lens. Part of a research team awarded an IMLS Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian grant in the community anchors category, she researches the intersection between ethnic studies theory and community archives practice. 


Ali-Crawford.pngAli Crawford is a Senior Scientist in Illumina’s Applied Genomics Product Development team. Illumina scientists work on many diverse applications such as oncology, reproductive health, forensics, microbiology, agriculture, complex disease and translational research. Ali joined Illumina in 2013 to aid in development of Illumina’s Undiagnosed Disease offering. She currently leads the Transplant Diagnostics product development team.

Ali graduated with honors from the University of Florida and received her doctorate in Neurosciences at the University of California, San Diego. Her thesis work focused on the molecular cues driving axon guidance and synapse formation in the developing nervous system. As a postdoctoral scholar, Ali focused on the genetic causes of pediatric brain disorders.


Nathalie-Becker.pngNathalie Becker began her career in the USAF as a Personnel Specialist, where she had the opportunity to be stationed in Germany and Florida before transitioning into the civilian world. She spent her first 7 years in the agency domain before moving to an in-house Corporate Recruiter role for T-Mobile where she focused on recruiting for the CFO’s organization. After 5 years working for T-Mobile and seeing the company grow from 3K employees to over 30K employees as the Manager of Talent Acquisition, she made the move to Microsoft where she worked in Corporate Staffing and the Server and Tools Business. Nathalie moved to San Diego in 2012 and took a role at Illumina’s headquarters and currently drives all of Talent Acquisition for Finance, Global IS, Facilities, Global Business Performance and Legal.


Alex-Guazzelli.pngDr. Alex Guazzelli is currently leading a data mining and engineering group for in San Diego. Prior to that, he was the Chief Scientist at Opera Solutions, a company focused on extracting value and insight from Big Data. He was also the Chief Technology Officer at Zementis, a company focused on predictive analytics standards. As a result of his work at Zementis, Dr. Guazzelli has taught a course on open-standards as part of the data mining certificate at UCSD Extension.

Dr. Guazzelli has a bachelor's and master's degrees in computer science. He attained both degrees in Brazil where he grew up. He arrived in the US in 1994 to pursue his PhD in computer science at the University of Southern California where he studied and contributed solutions to the problem of how systems learn and apply such knowledge to navigate in the world. He went on to pursue a Postdoc in electrophysiology at the University of Washington.


Melanie-Havey.pngMelanie Havey grew up in San Diego and started here HR career in Carlsbad at an Autism therapy agency, where she recruited clinical, education and administrative professionals. She came to NuVasive about two years ago to further her recruiting experience and make an impact at the medical device company. NuVasive has granted her the opportunity to recruit for sales, engineering, supply chain, technical and executive roles. She has a particular passion on impacting the company’s sales organization and funneling the best talent into the nationwide sales teams.


Lesley-Blankenship-Williams.pngLesley Blankenship-Williams is a tenured instructor at Palomar College in San Marcos where she teaches lower-division Human Anatomy, Human Physiology, Microbiology and Biology of Marine Mammals courses.  

During Lesley’s Ph.D. program at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Lesley taught as an adjunct instructor or lecturer at multiple colleges in the San Diego area.  These rewarding experiences convinced her to pursue an academic career that focused on teaching rather than research. She is now tenured and happy (or happily tenured) as a full-time instructor at Palomar College. Lesley’s achievements include (1) winning the 2012 Distinguished Faculty of the Year award, (2) co-developing and writing a documentary on sea otter conservation that won five regional Emmys, and (3) writing and self-publishing a book to help unprepared nursing students succeed in their courses. Lesley is excited to discuss the opportunities for teaching in higher education, which range from an moonlighting gig to a full-fledged rewarding career.


Sabine-Hadida.pngSabine Hadida, Ph.D. - Senior Director and Head of Chemistry at Vertex Pharmaceuticals in San Diego. Since joining in 2002, Sabine has led the chemistry efforts on Cystic Fibrosis that discovered multiple drug candidates including the approved medicines, KALYDECO and ORKAMBI. In 2013, her team was named Heroes of Chemistry by the ACS. Sabine received her PhD in Pharmacy from the University of Barcelona and spent two years conducting postdoctoral research at the University of Pittsburgh.


Jon-Gonzales.pngJon Gonzales is a Business Consultant for ZS Associates in the San Diego office. He is part of the ZS Medical Affairs Leadership Team, as well as a contributing member to the R&D Excellence Practice Area within ZS. During his time at ZS, Jon has worked exclusively within the Medical Affairs/MSL consulting practice area. Jon has supported these Medical Affairs projects across the Pharmaceutical and Biotechnology industry, deriving insights by leveraging his scientific research background and analytical skills.

Prior to joining ZS, Jon worked as a Medical Writer where he was responsible for crafting the scientific message for educational materials for several pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies. Jon received a Bachelors of Science in Biochemistry from Colorado State University. He also holds a Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences from the University of California, San Diego, where he received the 2012-2013 Outstanding Dissertation Award for the Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program.


Amber-Mace.pngAmber Mace, PhD is Deputy Director of the California Council on Science and Technology (CCST) and is a Policy Fellow with the UC Davis Policy Institute for Energy, Environment and the Economy. Mace devotes her time to building new and revitalizing existing programs and organizations that are dedicated to increasing the impact and value of science-informed decision-making.

Prior to this, Mace served as the Associate Director of the UC Davis Policy Institute for Energy, Environment and the Economy. She also served as the executive director of the California Ocean Protection Council (OPC) and assistant secretary for coastal matters at the California Natural Resources Agency. In this role she applied her background in ocean policy and marine ecology and collaborative leadership skills to guide the state in developing policies that promote the sustainable use of California’s ocean ecosystem. Prior to that, she served in the dual roles of science advisor to the OPC and executive director of the California Ocean Science Trust, a non-profit whose mission is to provide objective, high-quality science to decision makers.

She learned firsthand about the challenges of public policy-making at the federal level as a Knauss Fellow in the U.S. Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, and at the state level as a California Sea Grant state fellow at the California Natural Resources Agency. Amber was recognized as a Coastal Hero by Sunset magazine in 2011 and her California coastal research experience includes piloting a submersible with the Sustainable Seas Expedition. She earned a bachelor of arts in geography from UC Berkeley and a doctorate in ecology from UC Davis and the Bodega Marine Laboratory.


Ken-Lau.pngKen Lau is the Technical Marketing Manager at BioLegend, a biotech company that produces antibodies, recombinant proteins, and multiplex reagents for assays like flow cytometry, microscopy, ELISAs, and western blotting. As the Technical Marketing Manager, Ken oversees tech support to ensure customers are both happy and educated on how to use BioLegend’s products. On the marketing side of things, Ken utilizes his scientific background in immunology to generate creative content for brochures, flyers, ads, and webpages. He also trains both local and international teams on the company’s newest product line releases. He received both his B.S. and Ph.D in Microbiology and Cell Science from the University of Florida. His graduate career focused on immunology, specifically the interaction between gut bacteria, Th17 cells, and Type 1 Diabetes onset. 


Katrina-Oko-Odoi.pngKatrina Oko-Odoi is the Founder and Chief Editor of EditingWorm, a writing and editing company that works with entrepreneurs, businesses, and scholars. After years immersed in academia, Katrina channeled her passion for words into entrepreneurship, launching EditingWorm in 2012. Based on Katrina’s own experience navigating the chasm between the higher ed. and business worlds, one of her company’s primary goals is to bridge that gap through high-level research, analysis, and content development strategies. An avid writer and researcher, Katrina has published numerous journal articles, poems, and cultural and literary essays and is a regular guest blogger for several higher education and business websites.

Katrina received her B.A. in Spanish Literature and International Studies and her PhD in Literature from the University of California, San Diego. She is passionate about supporting graduate students to achieve success in their fields, and offers a monthly webinar series that provides guidance on different stages of the doctoral process. She is also committed to educating graduate students regarding the reality of the academic job market and the many alternative careers available to PhDs. She strives to spark a deeper discussion surrounding how graduate programs can better prepare their students for diverse professional opportunities post graduation, including cultivating transferable job skills that are applicable for employment in the private sector.


Vu_Elizabeth.jpgElizabeth Vu is a Co-Founder and Implementations Lead for Learning Equality, a start-up non-profit organization dedicated to enabling universal access to high quality open educational resources by creating tools optimized to work in areas where Internet access is lacking or costly. As Implementations Lead, she supports the use of KA Lite, an offline version of Khan Academy, in over 160 countries. She uses her research background to understand how students and teachers use educational software in varied formal and non-formal educational contexts. Dr. Vu has a B.S. in Environmental Science from UC Berkeley and a Ph.D. in Biological Oceanography from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego.