Who We Are

We are here to help Ph.D. students, postdoctoral scholars and research masters students in any discipline make informed strategic decisions about their careers and develop skills through flexible, experiential, and empowering opportunities for their future success.

If you have questions about how you can make the most of our services, please schedule an appointment via email at gradcareers@cornell.edu, call, or book a Zoom appointment through this link.

We are located with the Graduate School’s Office of Career and Professional Development.


Susi VarvayanisSusi Sturzenegger Varvayanis LinkedIn logo
Executive Director of Careers Beyond Academia
Office of Career and Professional Development
Graduate School, 143 Caldwell Hall (hybrid work schedule)

Book an appointment with Careers Beyond Academia using the QR code or booking link:Book an appointment with Careers Beyond Academia

Sarah Day
Professional Development Program Coordinator and Graduate School Assistant
Office of Career and Professional Development
Graduate School, 143 Caldwell Hall

Mailing/delivery address for Careers Beyond Academia:

143 Caldwell Hall
121 Reservoir Ave.
Ithaca, NY 14853

View the interactive campus map for directions.

Advisory Board

Our talented advisory board is made up of graduate students and postdocs who are selected to serve one- to three-year terms. This interdisciplinary leadership team’s most important roles are to shape our program, act as ambassadors within Cornell and beyond, and help organize and moderate multiple events each year. Feel free to reach out to them for more information about how Careers Beyond Academia can help you.

Current Board Membersadvisory board

Cedric Clark, Food Science (2020-present)
Katherine Delaney, Nutrition (2020-present)
Ananda Fontoura, Animal Sciences (2020-present)
Aaron King, William Keeton HouseĀ Assistant Dean, Developmental Psychology, (2021-present)
Conrad Smart, Physics (2020-present)
Runxi Shen, Computational Biology (2020-present)

Former Board Members (Term Served)

Now (or soon-to-be) alumni, our Advisory Board Members actively continue to serve current graduate students and postdocs by sharing opportunities and connecting via LinkedIn. Feel free to reach out to them for a discussion.Former board members

Najva Akbari, Applied and Engineering Physics (2018-21)
Levon Atoyan, Electrical and Computer Engineering (2016-18)
Lena Bartell, Applied and EngineeringĀ  Physics (2014-16)
Celine Cammarata, Human Development (2017-20)
Elvis Cao, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering (2017-18)
Wisler Charles, Biological and Biomedical Sciences (2014-17)
R. Alex Coots, Nutritional Sciences (2014-17)
Caitlyn Finton, Psychology, (2020-22)
Mohammad Haft-Javaherian, Biomedical Engineering (2017-18)
Kate Harline, SIPS-Plant Biology (2020-22)
Fiona Harnischfeger, Food Science (2017-20)
Aaron Joiner, Biochemistry, Molecular and Cell Biology (2015-17)
Kristine Kolkman Champion, Neurobiology and Behavior (2014-17)
Jin Liang, Weill Institute for Cellular and Molecular Biology (2017-20)
Gael Nicholas, Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology (2017-18)
Sarah Oluwabusayo Adeyemo, Soil and Crop Sciences section of the Integrative School of Plant Sciences (2017-18)
Victoria Ortega, Biomedical and Biological Sciences (2020-22)
Sabrina Solouki, Immunology and Infectious Disease (2016-18)
Bojan Srbinovski, English (2019-21)
Tiffany St. Bernard, Biomedical Engineering (2014-17)
I-An Su, Developmental Psychology (2020-21)
Ruisheng (Rick) Wang, Biomedical Engineering (2018-20)
Cassi Wattenburger, SIPS-Soil and Crop Sciences, (2020-22)
Kenneth Yancey, Biological and Environmental Engineering (2014-17)


In Fall 2013 our program began as part of the first round of a National Institutes of Health-funded (grant #DP7OD18425) consortium of ultimately 17 universities charged with coming up with bold and innovative approaches to increase student and postdoctoral exposure to multiple career options for Ph.D.s. View the list of funded institutions and read the abstracts of each funded project.

As a consortium of creative experimentalists, the NIH awardee institutions’ goals were to share what they have found to be the most useful practices for helping graduate students and postdocs prepare for their future careers. More can be found about the NIH BEST consortium outcomes in the Elsevier publication, BEST: Implementing Career Development Activities for Biomedical Research Trainees in which each awardee institution wrote a chapter based on their challenges and successes throughout the grant cycle.

The consortium as a whole has published on the many reasons why all Ph.D. granting institutions need strong career development programs and we have published in peer-refereed journals to share best practices about a variety of topics, including experiential learning.

2018 annual reportThough the initial NIH grant targeted biomedical researchers, the intent of the Cornell program was always to serve the entire institution. Therefore to immediately broaden the pilot to include all STEM Ph.D. students and postdoctoral scholars at Cornell, from 2014-2018 the Colleges of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Arts & Sciences, Engineering, Human Ecology, Veterinary Medicine, and the Graduate School offered additional support to broaden our reach. Contact us to request a copy of our 2018 annual report, available in pdf form. A no-cost extension for 2018-2019 was granted to ease the transition to a university-sustained model.

As of November 2019, Careers Beyond Academia formally joined the Graduate School with the generous support of Cornell’s Provost to expand as a university-wide initiative, inclusive of all disciplines. It is now part of the Graduate School Career and Professional Development office.

Cornell BEST Principals 2013-2019

Avery AugustAvery August PI
Cornell University Deputy Provost and HHMI Professor
Department of Microbiology and Immunology, College of Veterinary Medicine
(see “Portraits of Extraordinary Cornellians“)

John ParkerJohn Parker Co-PI
Associate Professor of Virology
Department of Microbiology and Immunology
Baker Institute for Animal Health
Cornell University

Chris SchafferChris Schaffer Co-PI
Meinig School of Biomedical Engineering
Cornell University