Alumni Stories: Julie Granka

Julie Granka
Biology PhD, 2013

Population Geneticist

What from your experiences, development, research, and interactions at Stanford have you found essential to success in your postgraduate career?

There are a number of experiences that helped to prepare me for my current role as a scientist in industry, aside from academics and research itself. One very important skill I learned during graduate school was how to effectively communicate my research to scientists and nonscientists alike. Conferences, meetings, talks, and even happy hours helped to develop this skill, as did extracurricular activities outside of research such as teaching and mentorship. Academic research trains you to be an independent thinker, a skill which is also extremely important in the workplace. In addition to this, however, research collaborations with other scientists helped to prepare me for the large amount of teamwork and other collaborations that I now have in industry.


What have you found personally rewarding about your work/field?

I love being able to work on research projects that directly impact real people. It is really rewarding to take part in research whose results I can see in action. Scientific research that I do ultimately shapes our product and how we analyze customer data. In addition, I enjoy interacting with not only scientists, but also with other nonscience professionals.


What information would you share with PhD candidates who are interested in your current field?

My job responsibilities primarily include conducting scientific research (computational biology and human population genetics). While much of my research is done independently, overall my research is much more oriented around the outcomes and results that we achieve as a team, rather than as individuals. As a result, I collaborate and work closely with other scientists on my team. In addition to this, I work closely with other teams in the company including the product team, where I provide input on website and product content. In addition, I have been working with the public relations team to write blog posts about scientific research as well as assist with other media stories.

A strong research background in population genetics/research is required for the first part of my job. In addition to this, being able to work on a team and communicate with other scientists is essential. Verbal and written communication skills, as well as an awareness of the audience for this communication, are essential for my other roles.

For more on opportunities in this job sector, see Biotechnology Research