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2023 Ph.D. Connections Conference

Ph.D. Connections is a career conference designed to support doctoral students and postdoctoral fellows in their exploration of career paths beyond academe. Ph.D. students and postdoctoral fellows will learn about career opportunities beyond the professoriate through engaging sessions with Ph.D.s working in diverse fields.

Learning Goals

Participants will have the opportunity to learn from the keynote presenter, University of Michigan alum Laura Morgan Roberts, Ph.D. Dr. Morgan Roberts holds a Ph.D. in organizational psychology and is the CEO and founder of The Alignment Quest Enterprise. She is also a professor of practice at the University of Virginia Darden School of Business. Dr. Morgan Roberts’s keynote address will be followed by an in-person networking lunch with local professionals representing diverse career sectors. The conference is co-sponsored by the University Career Center, Rackham Graduate School, and the Office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies at the University of Michigan Medical School.

Effectively Explore Careers Beyond the Professoriate

The goals of Ph.D. Connections are to enable students and postdoctoral fellows to:

  1. Gain an increased awareness of careers available to Ph.D.s in a variety of sectors
  2. Learn about skills and key competencies that are important in different industries
  3. Develop strategies and build networks to effectively explore careers beyond the professoriate.

Register for the Conference

Register for the 2023 Ph.D. Connections Conference, Monday, March 13, to Thursday, March 16.
Virtual sessions will be held throughout the week.

Register Today

Schedule Overview

March 13

  • 12:00 p.m. EST, Career Panel: Biotech, Healthcare, and Pharma Organizations
  • 3:00 p.m. EST, Career Panel: Consulting

March 14

  • 12:00 p.m. EST, Career Panel: Academic and Higher Education Institutions
  • 3:00 p.m. EST, Career Panel: Government Organizations

March 15

  • 12:00 p.m. EST, Career Panel: Nonprofit Organizations
  • 3:00 p.m. EST, Career Panel: Technology Industries

March 16

  • 10:30 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. EST, Keynote Address by Laura Morgan Roberts, Ph.D.
  • 12:15 to 2:00 p.m. EST, In-Person Networking Lunch with Local Professionals


March 13

Career Panel: Biotech, Healthcare, and Pharma Organizations

  • 12:00 to 1:15 p.m. EST

The combined impact of the biotech, pharma, and healthcare industries on the future of human health outcomes is huge. Ph.D. degree holders have many career options within these industries in areas that are related, but not limited to, scientific research. Panelists will discuss lessons from their career trajectories, describe their daily professional lives, and provide tips and tools to best prepare for launching new careers in these industries.


Career Panel: Consulting

  • 3:00 to 4:15 p.m. EST

Panelists will share insights about the business challenges they take on in their consulting roles. The session will speak to what is required to uncover solutions for clients, the skills drawn upon to address issues, and the approaches used to solve complex problems. You will gain a better sense of how advanced degrees from a myriad of fields may translate to the consulting arena.


March 14

Career Panel: Academic and Higher Education Institutions

  • 12:00 to 1:15 p.m. EST

Higher Education institutions offer a wide range of opportunities for Ph.D.s beyond the tenure track, including roles focused on advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts, work in the pedagogical space, and positions involved in various aspects of research. Panelists from a variety of disciplines will share their experiences in these types of roles and answer your questions about the ever evolving possibilities in the higher education sphere.


Career Panel: Government Organizations

  • 3:00 to 4:15 p.m. EST

Panelists from local and federal agencies will share their experiences as Ph.D. holders in government positions, details about the opportunities and challenges they face, and insights into what is necessary to launch a career in this arena.


March 15

Career Panel: Nonprofit Organizations

  • 12:00 to 1:15 p.m. EST

Careers in nonprofit organizations tap into the expertise of Ph.D. holders from a variety of academic backgrounds, and utilize skills including scientific expertise, program management, research, administration, and more. Panelists working on issues such as disease surveillance, sustainability, energy, health outcomes, environment and public policy, economics, and politics will share their own career stories and provide insights on careers in the nonprofit field.


Career Panel: Technology Industries

  • 3:00 to 4:15 p.m. EST

The technology industry is rapidly expanding and generating interesting and rewarding career opportunities for Ph.D. holders with a variety of academic backgrounds. Panelists will share lessons learned from their own career paths and provide insights into applying your Ph.D. in the technology industry.


March 16

Keynote with Laura Morgan Roberts
The Alignment Quest: Aligning Strengths, Values, and Differences to Maximize our Collective Potential

  • 10:30 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. EST

Introductory remarks will be made by Rackham Dean Mike Solomon.

Extraordinary leaders commit to creating contexts that engage all of their stakeholders maximally, from positions of strength. This means enabling people with diverse perspectives and backgrounds to bring their best selves to work—leveraging their unique strengths and experiences to make valuable, authentic contributions to their organizations. Dr. Laura Morgan Roberts presents evidence-based insight that will help you activate the unrealized potential that diverse perspectives and experiences can bring to your career and to your organization. This session builds upon an appreciative perspective for learning about, learning across, and learning from differences, while fully acknowledging the “best-self blockers” that biases and inequity present for our workplaces and communities. The Alignment Quest™ framework lays out a pathway toward self-actualization, meaningful engagement, impact, and fulfillment.

Action 1: Who are we at our best?
  • Discovering our strengths
  • Studying our successes
Action 2: How do we maximize our potential contributions?
  • Aligning our capabilities and capacity with our commitments
Action 3: How do we bring out the best in others?
  • Personal action plans for learning and leading inclusively

Networking Lunch

  • 12:15 to 2:00 p.m. EST

Join us for a final in-person networking lunch with professionals from in and around the Ann Arbor area representing diverse career sectors.

Dr. Laura Morgan Roberts

Dr. Laura Morgan Roberts Biography

Dr. Laura Morgan Roberts is an innovative global scholar, speaker, and consultant on the science of maximizing human potential in diverse organizations and communities. She currently serves as the Frank M. Sands Sr. Associate Professor of Business Administration (with tenure) at the University of Virginia Darden School of Business. Dr. Morgan Roberts earned a B.A. in psychology (highest distinction and Phi Beta Kappa) from the University of Virginia, and an M.A. and Ph.D. in organizational psychology from the University of Michigan. She has served on the faculties of Harvard Business School, Georgetown University, and Antioch University.

Dr. Morgan Roberts’s thought leadership in diversity, authenticity, and leadership development has been recognized by Thinkers50 (Talent Management Top 10 Thought Leader); LinkedIn (Top 10 Voice in Equity); ThinkList #Amplify; and the Academy of Management Organizational Behavior Award for Societal Impact. She has published research articles, teaching cases, and practitioner-oriented tools for strength-based development, workplace equity, and inclusion. Dr. Morgan Roberts has co-edited three books: Race, Work, and Leadership (2019 Axiom Business Book Award winner); Positive Organizing in a Global Society; and Exploring Positive Identities and Organizations. She is a frequent contributor to Harvard Business Review and the Academy of Management Review, and is regularly quoted in global media outlets. Dr. Morgan Roberts’s co-authored article, “Toward a Racially Just Workplace,” was featured as one of the 12 most impactful articles published in the 100-year history of Harvard Business Review. With family roots in Gary, Indiana, and Washington, D.C., Dr. Morgan Roberts is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. For more information, visit


The University Career Center, Rackham Graduate School, and the Office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies at the Medical School would like to acknowledge the valuable contributions of the conference planning committee members. Names of our committee members are listed below. Finally, the Ph.D. Connections planning committee would like to acknowledge several staff members from the University Career Center and Rackham Graduate School who each made significant contributions to the logistics and communications for this event; their names are also included below.

Ph.D. Connections Committee Chairs

Kirsten Elling, Ph.D.

Coordinator for Graduate Student Career Advancement, University Career Center, University of Michigan

Maggie Gardner, Ph.D.

Program Lead, STEM Professional Development, Rackham Graduate School, University of Michigan

Ph.D. Connections Committee Members

Veronica Beck, Ph.D.

Research Operations, Management & Strategy Fellow – Michigan Medical School Office of Research

Danielle Coleman

Events Coordinator, Rackham Graduate School, University of Michigan

Kathleen Panagis, Ph.D.

Lecturer III, Biomedical Engineering, University of Michigan

Kaylee Steen, Ph.D.

Associate Director of Professional Development and Trainee Support, Office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies, Medical School

Sarah Van Cleve

Graduate Student Intern, University Career Center, University of Michigan

Carolyn Walsh

Career and Professional Development Program Coordinator, Office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies, Medical School

Additional Contributors

Kevin Calhoun

Director, Office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies, Medical School

Nate Hill

Social Media and Community Engagement Strategist, University Career Center

Matt Nelson

Director of Communications, Rackham Graduate School

Bryan Pollard

Events Coordinator, Rackham Graduate School

Laura Schram, Ph.D.

Director, Professional Development and Engagement, Rackham Graduate School

Sally Schueneman

Career Events Manager, University Career Center

Mike Solomon, Ph.D.

Dean, Rackham Graduate School

Joelle Fundaro Randall

Assistant Director, University Career Center

Jameson Staneluis

Multimedia Designer, Rackham Graduate School

Marc Williams

Web Designer, Rackham Graduate School

Rackham Graduate School

Rackham Graduate School offers opportunities, funding, and resources that prepare students to access the wide range of career opportunities available to them. We want to help you:

  • Identify and expand your transferable skills
  • Discover the many career options available to you

The University Career Center

The University Career Center (a unit of Student Life) serves Ph.D. students in a variety of ways and offers expertise on how to conduct non-academic job searches. Ph.D. students are encouraged to access individual appointments, programs, and web resources designed to address their career needs.

The Office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies (OGPS)

The Office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies (OGPS) team uses a rigorous and tailored approach in their programs to meet the needs of their graduate, postdoctoral, and postbaccalaureate communities. OGPS programs are intended to empower learners in eight competency areas using a hands-on approach. The eight OGPS competencies include career awareness, skills assessment, knowledge and skill building, communication, learning by engagement, portfolio building, experiential discovery, and job search.