RHB Alumni Return to Educate Students on Possible PhD Careers

By Ryan Clark
CHS Communications Director

Two alumni from the College of Health SciencesRehabilitation and Health Sciences PhD Program came back for a visit on Thursday, Nov. 9, to relay an important fact to the current students.

You can do a lot of things with your PhD in terms of a career, the alumni said. You don’t have to go into academia.

Clearing up misconceptions and giving a little bit of information about their own personal stories, both Drs. Emily Hunt and Nathan Morelli answered questions throughout the day during a luncheon and a seminar. Both Hunt (2020) and Morelli (’21) are graduates of the RHB program, and both have gone on to work in industry — Hunt as a Medical Science Liaison for Heraeus Medical USA in Boston and Morelli as a Principal Clinical Scientist in Brain Modulation at Medtronic in North Carolina.

Both said that during their academic journeys, they discovered they didn’t want to become professors. They also said there weren’t a lot of examples to follow into other careers. They want to provide that kind of help.

“I hope they see that the skills you learn with a PhD can translate to other places,” Hunt said. “There’s so many things you can do with your degree that we don’t talk about enough.”

Some of those skills include:

  • Critical thinking
  • Problem solving
  • Asking questions
  • Communicating with diverse groups
  • Teamwork
  • Disseminating/synthesizing high-level information
  • Looking at things through a research lens

However, Morelli noted there are things that those in academia must be ready for if they decide to pursue careers in industry.

“There are many differences,” he said. “Like writing a resume instead of a (curriculum vitae).”

Other tips to note:

  • How to look for an industry job
  • How to prepare for the interview
  • How to write the resume

Hunt was able to land her job through contacts and friends, while Morelli said he utilized the LinkedIn social network and really did a lot on his own.

“That first leap is always a bit like jumping into a black hole, but once you do it, it gets easier,” he said. “There is a perception that if you leave academia, what you do is less important, but that’s not true. In fact, in industry, you have to be helping patients and making them better, or no one will buy the product.”

Hunt noted that sometimes it can be difficult for a student to tell their mentor that they want to explore other career options; however, that was not the case when she made her announcement. Hunt’s mentor was Esther Dupont-Versteegden, PhD, director of RHB.

“She was nothing but supportive,” Hunt said. “And if there are any students out there who feel scared, I hope I can help them.”

Hunt noted that she especially wants to help female students, as the medical field is still predominantly male-dominated.

Both said they think there will be more PhD students going into industry in the future.

“People who are pursuing their PhDs are very passionate,” Morelli said. “They should be able to do what they are passionate about.”