Transitioning from Academia

Join myCHOICE Director, Abby Stayart, AB'97, PhD'12 in a discussion about using your PhD beyond academia.

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Dr. Stayart will describe her personal journey through, out of, back to, and adjacent to academia, in the context of why a PhD is a valuable commodity and some advice for how to market your degree to the broadest audience possible.

Abby Stayart, PhD, is the Program Director of myCHOICE (my Chicago Options In Career Empowerment), a professional development program within the University of Chicago Biological Sciences Division. myCHOICE is funded by the NIH “Broadening Experiences in Scientific Training (BEST)” grant with the mandate of providing postdocs and grad students with exposure to the diverse career paths that are suitable for PhD-trained scientists through a variety of programming, including a seminar series, mini-courses, internships, and career-themed treks to industry hubs across the country. Abby oversees all aspects of the program and is a single point of contact for it: she designs and executes program components, and is the primary liaison with myCHOICE partners across the University campus (including the Biological Sciences Division Postdoctoral Association) and beyond.

Abby has been associated with the University of Chicago for 20+ years, starting with her undergraduate work in gender studies and linguistics (AB ’97 Tutorial Studies). After college she took some time off in the ‘real world’, working as a freelance lighting designer and house painter, a manager at Crate & Barrel, and a writer of travel itineraries, a technician at the Stowers Institute for Medical Research, then earned a second bachelor’s degree in Biology at Rockhurst College in Kansas City, MO. Abby returned to the University in 2005 for doctoral training in the Biological Sciences Division, first as a graduate student in the Rothman-Denes lab (PhD ’12, Genetics), followed by postdoctoral training in the lab of Laurens Mets. While a postdoc she engaged in a variety of extracurricular activities, including adjunct teaching at Loyola University and extensive involvement with the University of Chicago’s Biological Sciences Division Postdoctoral Association. She assumed her current position in myCHOICE shortly after the program’s inception in Winter 2015. The depth and breadth of her experience with the University makes her uniquely suited to developing programming that addresses the needs of the graduate and postdoctoral communities, interacting with alumni who are interested in re-engaging with today’s trainees in exciting and rewarding ways, and shepherding the program through its maturation and ultimate goal of sustainability within the University community.


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