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New Group Offers Business Training for Scientists



New Group Offers Business Training for Scientists

By Cindy Brauer

Business skills and knowledge are rarely covered in science PhD coursework. A new organization at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) aims to provide such training and resources for postdoctoral fellows, graduate students and others considering a career in management consulting, venture capitalism, business development or strategic management. Response to its initial events indicates the Scripps Consulting Club (SCC) has found a ready audience.

“Some 50 people came to the California launch meeting and more than 25 showed up at the Florida meeting,” said SCC President Joseph Lai, a fourth-year graduate student in the Gottesfeld lab. “Clearly, there appears to be a demand for exposure to the business world and career options.”

The brainchild of Kelvin Chan, graduate student in the Yu lab, SCC is a student- and postdoc-led group on both TSRI’s Florida and California campuses. In addition to Lai, leaders include Greg Solis of the Petrascheck lab (VP marketing) and Anna Juncker-Jensen of the Quigley lab (VP operations) on the California campus and Sydney Stoops of the Kodakek lab (VP marketing) and Shourjo Ghose of the Carroll lab (VP operations) on the Florida campus.

Modeled loosely on consulting clubs at major U.S. universities and business schools, SCC’s goal is to bridge the gap between business and science in such areas as project management, marketing, analysis, decision making, problem solving and interviewing. The training can also enhance the career of the researcher who wants to stay at the bench.

“These skills are really about new ways to approach a problem, to answer questions, to look at the big picture,” Solis noted.

SCC skills-building and training events currently include bimonthly workshops and seminars. The first workshop, "Project Management" presented by Eric Morfin on November 5, was attended by more than 60 people on the California campus and viewed via live broadcast by 15 more in Florida. The next SCC workshop will feature Janet White, development director for oncology projects at Pfizer, who will discuss “Pyramid Framework Approach.” Scheduled for Friday, January 6, at 5 PM, the event will be held on the California campus in the Committee Lecture Hall, Skaggs Institute/Molecular Biology building. It will also be recorded for future reference.

The SCC also organizes twice-monthly case study sessions, held on the first and third Tuesdays of the month. “The case studies are formatted to demonstrate what a consulting firm would ask of a prospective employee,” said Lai. “Participants are given a case study scenario and requested to provide an analysis and recommendation.”

SCC workshops and seminars are open to the entire TSRI community as well as the general public. SCC case studies, however, are currently limited to TSRI participants.

The organization’s activities and resources posted through a, email list serve, LinkedIn and Twitter. To contact SCC directly, email

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“[Based on the turnout for our events], there appears to be a demand for exposure to the business world,” says TSRI graduate student Joseph Lai, who is Scripps Consulting Club president. (Photo by Cindy Brauer.)

SCC leaders on the CA campus include (left) Anna Juncker-Jensen of the Quigley lab, VP operations, and Greg Solis, of the Petrascheck lab, VP marketing. (Photo by Cindy Brauer)