Campus News

Doctoral interns benefit from xPD Campus initiative

Vice President of Research David Lee, center, meets with doctoral students Emily Krach, Jessica Shotwell, Theodoric Mattes, Joe Seale, Anish Patel, Hue Duong and Zachary Waldrop, who are taking part in the xPD Campus Internship summer program (Photo courtesy of Crystal Leach.)

Several UGA doctoral students in the humanities and social sciences are getting exposed to diverse areas within the Office of Research this summer thanks to the Graduate School’s xPD Campus Internship initiative.

The program is designed to provide Ph.D. candidates with career development experiences that complement the depth of expertise they will receive in their graduate programs.

“The xPD Campus Internship program allows students to learn more about areas of higher education administration to which they might not otherwise be exposed,” said Andrew Crain, director of experiential professional development at the Graduate School. “The goal is to stretch your skillset in a new and interesting way and to obtain some tangible experience which you can leverage in your future career planning.”

Seven Ph.D. candidates are spending their summer months interning at the Office of Research, including Emily Krach and Jessica Shotwell, graduate students in genetics and public health, respectively.

Krach, who’s interning with Innovation Gateway, applied for the xPD Campus Internship program to better narrow her anticipated field of bioscience technology ­commercialization.

“Interning with Innovation Gateway has definitely solidified my interest in the technology transfer industry,” said Krach. “I have been exposed to unique careers available to Ph.D.s that I was previously unfamiliar with, which excites me for the future of the field and my potential role in it.”

Krach’s mentor, Rachael ­Widener, is seeing benefits from the program as well.

“Emily has asked lots of great questions and provided valuable feedback regarding the patentability and market value of inventions made by our researchers here at UGA,” said Widener, senior licensing manager for Innovation Gateway.

“I’ve learned about the many steps and people involved in establishing an academic-corporate partnership, the general process of technology transfer and establishing start-ups, and how research projects can translate into tangible, real-world products,” said Shotwell, who is interning with the Office of Industry Collaborations.

She hopes to one day serve as a liaison between scientists and other stakeholders to help translate research into practice and products in a way that ultimately benefits the public.

These interns and offices they serve are not the only ones who have seen the benefits of the xPD program.

“Many of the companies we’ve worked with this summer have been impressed by the internship program and the fact that UGA is working to provide these opportunities for experiential learning for our graduate students,” said Crystal Leach, director of industry collaborations.

Both Krach and Shotwell strongly recommend the xPD Campus Internship program to any curious graduate students looking to further their career development.

“I’m a huge advocate for pursuing your interests and curiosities, and the xPD internship program provides a platform to do so,” Shotwell said. “Not only have I learned a lot about the world of industry-academic partnerships, but I’ve also made beneficial connections with people that I would not have otherwise.”