Stephanie Miller- Director of Research Development and Innovation at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

Stephanie Miller1. What is your current position?

Director of Research Development and Innovation at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

2. How did you learn about your current position?

Online posting

3. What was your work or educational background before you were hired?

Ph.D. in biochemistry, worked as an intern in a tech transfer office, then full time for 4 years

4. Which aspects of your background (postdoctoral training, internships, etc.) were required for your position?

My degree and the internship were no explicitly required, but I most likely would not have gotten the job without them.

5. How long after your interview did you start your position? Were there any barriers to starting your position when you’d hoped (e.g. lack of space or funding available, time to secure appropriate visa)?

About 2 months, no barriers

6. Was your mentor supportive of your career choice?

Not at first, but I think he’s made peace with it at this point.

7. How would you describe the interview process and how did you prepare for it? Were there any skills or experiences in your CV that seemed to stand out?

The interview process was a day-long event where I met with faculty and various members of the administration. I prepared by reading everything I could about the school to which I was applying and wrote a 12-page plan of what I would strive to accomplish if hired. That written plan was probably what got me the job. I think my CV was pretty typical for the tech transfer field.

8. Had you seriously pursued other positions or career paths prior to being hired? If so, what factors led to your ultimate job choice?

Yes, I was interviewing for a business development position at a small start-up company at the same time. I decided to stay in academic tech transfer because it was an opportunity with less risk (you never know if a start-up will fail and you’ll be out of a job).

9. Has your career trajectory followed the path you’d expected when you started graduate school?

Not even close. I didn’t know what the words “tech transfer” meant when I started grad school.

10. Was anything about your job not what you’d expected before you were hired?

My internship prepared me pretty well for the job.

11. Are there any skills or experiences you wish you’d had before you started?

I wish that I had more formal education/training in business. I’ve had to learn a lot on the job.

12. How do you spend an average workday?

Meeting with faculty to discuss their research and possible intellectual property outcomes, evaluating inventions for possible commercialization, working with IP attorneys to protect the university’s IP properly, and relaying a summary of all of that activity to my supervisor in the upper administration.

13. What do you most like about your work?

Interfacing with a wide-range of faculty and their varied research. I learn about something new everyday.

14. What do you find the most challenging about your work?

Understanding the varied research and its technical details. I work with faculty members across the entire university and they are often doing research in areas that I’ve never even heard of

15. What skills do you think are absolutely essential for your position?

Curiosity and personal drive

16. Do you think it helps to have a certain personality to do the work you do?

Yes, there is a lot of face-to-face interaction, often with people you haven’t met before. You have to be comfortable talking with people

17. Are there any traits that would make it difficult to succeed in your position?

Someone with an introverted personality would probably not enjoy tech transfer, or be particularly successful

18. What advice would you give to someone looking for a position like yours?

You have to first have the scientific background (Ph.D. in the biological or physical sciences) and then you have to learn intellectual property law and business, typically through in internship or some short courses. I’m not advocating that you need a JD and an MBA, you just need to be somewhat familiar with the principles of those disciplines

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