Even during her time as a graduate student, Valerie Schaibley (PhD, 2013) has enjoyed science communication. She has been and is inspired by “really good science writing, reading a well-written pop-science article, science blog post, or peer-reviewed paper” to become a better writer and communicator.
Valerie did her thesis work with Jun Li on characterizing mutation patterns in the human genome and how the patterns are influenced by recombination rate and GC content. She currently works as a geneticist and genetic counselor coordinator for ActX, a small start-up company that focuses on providing personalized medicine based on the patient's’ genomic data. A large part of her job entails writing to communicate genetic test results with patients. Since last year, she also has been working as a managing editor to supervise other writers.
How Valerie found her current job is a bit unusual. She found out about her job through a job posting on LinkedIn rather than through networking with people in the science writing field. Although Valerie recognized the networking is important, she also said that “networking isn’t the the only way to find jobs” and “students should follow all possible paths.”
Valerie reminisced about the numerous thesis defenses she has attended as some of her favorite times in the department.
“I remember when I was just starting out in the department, watching some of the older students defend,” Valerie said. “I was so impressed, and (to be honest) completely intimidated. The farther along I got in my PhD, the more exciting thesis defenses became until I was in the audience watching my close friends defend. It was always fun to see all of the hard work come together in the end.”
Valerie mentioned the department tradition of whirly ball games during her recruitment weekend was a favorite memory of hers.