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Research skills, tenacity help recent GSBS grads secure competitive career opportunities

June 08, 2022 By: Emily Rech/MD Anderson UTHealth Graduate School

Research skills, tenacity help recent GSBS grads secure competitive career opportunities

As the 2021-2022 school year draws to a close, many GSBS students have gone through the job search process and have come out victorious. Highlighted here are three students with fantastic careers on the horizon. Learn how each student landed their post-grad positions, and their future goals.

Alexis Mobley, PhD, Neuroscience & Immunology

Mobley recently accepted a position at Johnson and Johnson as a global regulatory affairs associate. When she first began her job search, she knew she wanted to work with a company that encouraged mentorship, camaraderie, and opportunities to work with senior leadership. She credits the GSBS Office of Career Development and a national science mentoring scholarship with fostering the networking connections that made it possible for her to meet senior and junior level employees at Johnson and Johnson.

“The Office of Career Development really worked with me as I tried to find an industry job that would accommodate my autoimmune disorder and still be fulfilling. We worked together to make sure I was competitive for the SMDP program. One of the heads of the Global Regulatory Affairs program at Johnson and Johnson is a SMDP scholar as well, and I was able to meet with him to make sure this was really something I wanted to do. The application process was a whirlwind of personality tests and screenings, where I landed the ‘in-person’ interview. I don’t know how many people can say this, but the interview was fun. I really clicked with the other heads of the program (and, unbeknownst to me at the time, my future supervisors). I was honest, open, and truthful about what I wanted and needed, while making sure I was the right fit for the company’s needs too.”

Mobley is beyond excited to join a company that is established in its field and genuinely cares for its employees. She has ambitious goals for her career as well. “I want to eventually be the head of an innovation center, leading pharmaceutical companies to cutting edge science and getting promising translational science to the market for patients. In the more grandiose, I want my voice to be heard and my representation to be meaningful. I represent and am a community leader for so many of my intersections and I’m happy to be ‘in the room where it happens,’ helping guide decisions that will benefit marginalized voices.”


Mary Figueroa, PhD, Therapeutics & Pharmacology

Figueroa has accepted a position on the cell therapy team at Fenix Group International, a life science consulting firm headquartered in Pennsylvania. She started her PhD journey not knowing what direction she would like her career to take, but found a plethora of resources at the Graduate School that steered her towards the fields in which she was most interested.

 “I attended many seminars and panels from student groups or the Career Development office, which definitely helped me narrow down my career choices. I was able to gain leadership skills through student groups, committees, and the UTHealthLeads program, which also helped. Lastly, the course flexibility of the Therapeutics and Pharmacology program allowed me to learn from a wide array of classes, including Principles of Toxicology and Design and Management of Clinical Trials.”

Figueroa found her current employer purely through networking. After speaking to a representative looking at her poster at the American Society of Hematology conference in December of 2021, she reached out to her new contact and quickly delved into the interview process. Within a few months, she had secured an offer.

“I had no consulting experience prior to getting this job interview. I joined the TMC Consulting Club and entered my first case competition after the second interview. I think the main reason they hired me was because of my broad scientific knowledge. Dr. Salinas was also a huge help for me in preparing my resume, tailoring my interview responses, and reviewing my job offer.”

Jessie Morrill, PhD, Biochemistry & Cell Biology

This August, Morrill will be starting her position as an assistant professor in the Department of Animal Science at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL). In her lab at UNL, Morrill’s goal will be to better understand the benefits and consequences of dietary nutrients on health and disease in both animals and humans. This research will go towards making scientific advancements that will help farmers and ranchers in their efforts to provide the world with an abundant and nutritious food supply. Along with her scientific aspirations, Morrill is excited to be a supportive mentor to her future students, just as her graduate school advisors have been for her. “As a mentor, I will strive to provide my students with opportunities and the resources they need to achieve success in their personal and professional lives.”

While Morrill has had many successes during her time at The Graduate School, including receiving a TL1 Training Grant from the Center for Clinical and Translational Sciences, she believes her mentors and peers were an important aspect of her journey.

“As a student from a nontraditional background, many of the topics I learned in the classroom and techniques I learned in the lab were entirely new to me. There were learning curves to overcome, but the faculty, staff, and students were a tremendous support. Through each step of my journey at the GSBS, from learning about grant writing to passing candidacy to preparing for my career, I thrived because of the training environment and resources that GSBS offers.”

While attending a scientific conference, Morrill made the acquaintance of a few faculty members from the Department of Animal Sciences at UNL. They shared memorable conversations, and several months later, when a new position in the department was announced, she was invited to apply, and the rest is history. “During my interview for the position, I felt that the department was a perfect fit for my research program. I am thrilled to be joining a wonderful team, and am excited to see my lab flourish at UNL.”

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