An introductory post from student blogger Brittany
As young research scientists we are too often told to follow the yellow brick road to academia and while that may be the end goal for many students, it cannot be said for all, as a growing number of graduates from the biomedical sciences field are venturing out into a variety of career paths. I am one of those graduates. My name is Brittany Butler and I recently received my Doctorate in Neuroscience from the University of Florida after receiving a dual Bachelor’s degree in Biology and Chemistry from the University of Missouri-Kansas City, so as you may be able to tell I have a soft spot for science. As a trained microscopist, I enjoyed spending hours on the scope obtaining data for my dissertation which focused on understanding the molecular machinery responsible for altering proteins involved in Parkinson’s disease and drug addiction.
I was fortunate enough to attend a highly competitive Neuroscience program with an amazing mentor and despite my success as a graduate student, my passion did not encompass a career in academia, but I knew that I wanted a career that would incorporate my enthusiasm for the advancement of scientific research. It was during a workshop at the National Society for Neuroscience Conference that I first learned about the high demand for patent agents/lawyers with extensive scientific experience. The presenter, Paul A. Calvo, Ph.D., was genuinely enthused and forthcoming with the pros and cons of being a patent agent, such as high job satisfaction but extensive hours reading. His honesty regarding his choice to transition from what many consider a “traditional” career path to patent law and how his life had changed for the better immediately intrigued me. The idea of being able to work with lawyers and attorneys to patent compounds, antibodies and biotech devices seemed rather impressive. Upon leaving the meeting I felt encouraged; after years of debating between alternative fields I finally had an idea about the career path that suited my passions and goals.
Because I’m quite methodical in nature, I spoke with as many people and read as many articles as I could about a career transition to Patent Law to determine if it was right for me. Luckily for me, I knew VaNae Hamilton, Ph.D., a student in the 2014 entering class of the Masters in Patent Law Program (MSPL) at The University of Notre Dame. She like me was a recent biomedical sciences Ph.D. graduate, so our stories paralleled although she was a few steps ahead. I knew that The University of Notre Dame was an exceptional academic institution, and because I am originally from the Midwest, the thought of going back was comforting although I had grown accustom to Florida winters. I picked VaNae’s brain with questions about her personal experience with the program and I could tell she was all-around very satisfied. The curriculum is not only well structured and detailed for the success of students with a science or engineering background, but it also provides hands-on experience in the field which was crucial in my decision to apply. Prior to my acceptance I often spoke with the Program Director, Karen Deak, Ph.D., and other members of the administration and I immediately felt welcomed, so when I finally got my acceptance letter I was beyond ecstatic. Initially it was daunting to think I was going back to school yet again and change isn’t easy, but I knew this was an opportunity I didn’t want to pass up, that I couldn’t pass up. I look forward to starting the MSPL program in fall of 2015 and trading out my tickets to the swamp for front row seats to Touchdown Jesus!