Who We Are

We are here to help Ph.D.s and postdocs in any discipline make informed choices 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.

Staff

Susi VarvayanisSusi Sturzenegger Varvayanis
Executive Director
Graduate School, 325 Caldwell Hall
sv27@cornell.edu
607.431.3612 (cell)

Denise DiRienzoDenise DiRienzo
Experiential Program Director
Graduate School, 325 Caldwell Hall
dfd59@cornell.edu
607.255.5235

Mailing/delivery address for Careers Beyond Academia:

325 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.

Current Board Membersadvisory board

(expanded to reflect our university-wide mission)

Najva Akbari, Applied and Engineering Physics (2018-present)
Celine Cammarata, Human Development (2017-present)
Cedric Clark, Food Science (2020-present)
Katherine Delaney, Nutrition (2020-present)
Caitlyn Finton, Psychology, (2020-present)
Ananda Fontoura, Animal Sciences (2020-present)
Fiona Harnischfeger, Food Science (2017-present)
Kate Harline, SIPS-Plant Biology (2020-present)
Jin Liang, Weill Institute for Cellular and Molecular Biology (2017-present)
Victoria Ortega, Biomedical and Biological Sciences (2020-present)
Conrad Smart, Physics (2020-present)
Runxi Shen, Computational Biology (2020-present)
Bojan Srbinovski, English (2020-present)
Ruisheng (Rick) Wang, Biomedical Engineering (2018-2020)
Cassi Wattenburger, SIPS-Soil and Crop Sciences, (2020-present)

Former Board Members (Term Served)Former board members

Levon Atoyan, Electrical and Computer Engineering (2016-18)
Lena Bartell, Applied and Engineering  Physics (2014-16)
Elvis Cao, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering (2017-18)
Wisler Charles, Biological and Biomedical Sciences (2014-17)
R. Alex Coots, Nutritional Sciences (2014-17)
Mohammad Haft-Javaherian, Biomedical Engineering (2017-18)
Aaron Joiner, Biochemistry, Molecular and Cell Biology (2015-17)
Kristine Kolkman Champion, Neurobiology and Behavior (2014-17)
Gael Nicholas, Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology (2017-2018)
Sarah Oluwabusayo Adeyemo, Soil and Crop Sciences section of the Integrative School of Plant Sciences (2017-18)
Sabrina Solouki, Immunology and Infectious Disease (2016-18)
Tiffany St. Bernard, Biomedical Engineering (2014-17)
Kenneth Yancey, Biological and Environmental Engineering (2014-17)

Cornell BEST Principals 2013-2019

Avery AugustAvery August PI
Associate Vice Provost and Professor
Department of Microbiology and Immunology, College of Veterinary Medicine
(see “Portraits of Extraordinary Cornellians“)

 

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

 

Chris SchafferChris Schaffer Co-PI
Associate Professor
Meinig School of Biomedical Engineering

 

History

In Fall 2013 our program began as part of the first round of an NIH-funded 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 at the consortium NIH BEST website and via Twitter at #NIHBEST.

The consortium as a whole compiled a list of reasons why all Ph.D. granting institutions need strong career development programs. In addition, we have published in peer-refereed journals to share best practices.

Though the initial NIH grant targeted biomedical researchers, the intent of the Cornell program was always to become institutionalized. 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 2018-19, Careers Beyond Academia formally joined the Graduate School and has the support of Cornell’s Provost to expand as a university-wide initiative, inclusive of all disciplines.