Phd Trekkers



Join us, Mari, a Latina soil scientist from Massachusetts, and Yan, an Asian chemist from California, on our graduate trek towards a Ph.D. and beyond. A podcast on the interface of science, socio-political discourse, activism, and intimate life journeys. #CornellAlumni #PhDLife #NSFGRFP #WeAreMcNair


  • EP30: BRiDGE: Changing the Face of Departmental Seminars

    30/01/2020 Duración: 01h45min

    Have you heard of BRiDGE? Tune in to today's podcast to learn how some trailblazing graduate students are taking matters into their own hands, by taking out the stodginess in traditional department seminars and turning them into a tool that works to change department culture and increase the visibility of traditionally underrepresented scientists in STEM. Historically, scientists invited to give seminars have been cis-gendered older white males. This is due to the cultural norm, that scientists only invite those within their own personal networks to give talks, gating the access to academia and making way for the ol' boys club phenomenon. Additionally, it is still not the norm at many unis to have just students meet with these invited speakers for cordial conversations on not only science, but the broader impacts of the individual's work and on their experiences along their career trajectory. BRIDGE aims to increase the representation and visibility of early career scientists from underrepresented groups

  • EP29: Yan Finds a Postdoc Position!

    09/01/2020 Duración: 34min

    Yan shares his story on finding a postdoc position after many applications and several interviews. Listen in for advice on the dos and donts in postdoc applications and interviews. Yan also tells his once-in-a-lifetime story hanging out with the 2018 Chemistry Nobel Laureate Frances Arnold.

  • EP28: Mari Gets Surgery

    09/01/2020 Duración: 01h18min

    Mari and Yan are back! After over having half a year to recuperate from a surgery Mari updates Yan on what its been like being back at home during this time. Mari talks about getting her surgery and how she is struggling staying connected with her lab work while taking this much needed time away and break from the traditional grad school timeline.

  • EP27: When I Grow Up...An Unexpected Journey Into Science, Academia, and Single Parenting

    30/11/2018 Duración: 01h02min

    Join us as we talk with Dr. Samantha Ying, an Assistant Professor from UC Riverside on her journey through undergrad and take an intimate look at the world of academia and the barriers it poses on members of our society from becoming part of & contributing to our scientific community – specifically, single mothers. Dr. Ying was a Fall 2018 BRIDGE Scholar at UMass Amherst, we would like to acknowledge the funding from BRIDGE that made this podcast interview possible. Dr. Samantha Ying's Website: BRIDGE @ UMass: If you would like to get in contact Dr. Samantha Ying's email:

  • EP26: Yan's First Conference

    17/10/2018 Duración: 57min

    We are back! Join us as we chat about Yan's experience at his first conference!

  • EP25: A Ph.D. in Action: Fighting Hurricane Maria w/ Dra. Rosimar Rios-Berrios

    06/05/2018 Duración: 01h02min

    This interview was made possible by BRIDGE, a new initiative at UMass focused on increasing the presence of early career underrepresented scientists and providing them with the opportunity to give department seminar talks. To learn more: Join us as we talk with Doctora Rosimar Rios-Berrios originally from the mountains of Puerto Rico (Barranquitas), as she shares with us what she works on at NCAR. Motivated and intrigued by the hurricane weather that affected her home in Puerto Rico, Dra. Rosimar's work is dedicated to answering questions on hurricane intensification while bridging the knowledge gap by sharing this information with her community of Puerto Rico. Hear about her journey in academia and what lead her to starting a platform that would enable her to directly help her community during Hurricane Maria. To learn more about Dra. Rosimar Rios-Berrios:

  • EP24: Presidential Award for STEM Mentoring with Prof. Sandra Petersen

    22/04/2018 Duración: 01h17min

    Listen to our interview with Prof. Sandra Petersen who received the 2015 Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring (PAESMEM). Sandy talks about her research in veterinary science as well as her mentoring work as the director of the Northeast Alliance for Graduate Education and the Professoriate (NEAGEP), a 15-institution alliance focused on increasing the number of students from underrepresented groups who earn Ph.D. degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects. She also talks about her life from a small town in Nebraska, to being a registered nurse, to becoming a Professor, to her activism and mentorship, and to the Oval Office meeting President Obama! For more information on her work, please visit: For more information on the Northeast Alliance for Graduate Education and the Professoriate (NEAGEP), please visit:

  • EP23: Long Distance Relationships In Graduate School

    02/04/2018 Duración: 01h15min

    Join our stories on navigating through the various challenges of being in long distance relationships in grad school. To all grad students, are you currently in a ldr? How does being in a ldr contribute to your experience in school, research, and life? What are your advice for making a ldr work?

  • EP22: Ph.D.'ing After Serving in Iraq

    11/03/2018 Duración: 01h10min

    Today we are talking with Rachelle from Western Mass, a Marine Veteran, Soil Scientist, University of Massachusetts Alum, and soon to be Cornell Graduate Student. Join us as she talks to us about her experience training & serving in the Marines in Iraq after high school and then returning to the US for a Bachelors and Masters. Rachelle takes us into her world as a #firstgen #female #veteran going back to school to get her Ph.D. and the challenges in her journey.

  • EP21: Semi-Synthetic Life with Professor Floyd Romesberg

    04/02/2018 Duración: 01h47min

    Listen to @PhDTrekkers where Yan interviews Professor Floyd Romesberg in the Chemistry Department at the Scripps Research Institute. Floyd talked about his fascinating multidisciplinary research in chemical biology and the unique challenges associated with it. Specifically, Floyd talks about his journey from a high school student with a 1.8 GPA to pursuing graduate degrees in science, from zero knowledge & experience in chemical biology starting his postdoc career to multiple biotech startup companies, and from 15 years of searching for new genetic alphabet to the forefront of artificial & semi-synthetic life. We even talked about his experiences on giving a TedTalk and his perspectives on our current political climate including discussions on the Russian involvement in our 2016 election, Trump, Charlottesville, and political divisiveness. For more information on Prof. Romesberg's work, please visit:

  • EP19: 2017 in Review

    31/12/2017 Duración: 59min

    Be sure to tune in as we reflect on the old year and get ready to take in the new! Join us as we talk about our most proud accomplishments and biggest challenges in 2017, our thoughts on the various political movements this year (e.g. current political climate, political divisiveness & polarization, #MeToo, #MovingForwardTogether), and what we are excited and looking forward to do in 2018!

  • Stonehenge, Bath, Theater

    11/12/2017 Duración: 42min

    Gambling, Politics, and Fashion? Join us on the last leg of our adventure through London as we visit the famous Stonehenge, explore natural hot waters in the town of Bath, and are left in awe by the immense culture and love for theater in the area. #Travel #Theater #London #Opera #Bath #Stonehenge

  • #SafeAtWork with GWIS

    26/11/2017 Duración: 01h17min

    Sexual violence is an enduring problem in academia, and graduate student women are especially susceptible to this abuse. The Graduate Women In STEM (GWIS)at UMass have been fighting to change this atmosphere in academia, even before social media was taken up by the #metoo. They worked to put together a #SafeAtWork campaign as a call to arms encouraging graduate women to center their basic right which they deserve and which Title IX protects: the right to be safe at work. Join us as we chat with GWIS campaign managers on their work in putting together the #Makeitsafe Town Hall Meeting where they brought students and administration together to start a discussion on the ongoing epidemic of sexual violence in academia. Campaign Page: Quarterly Magazine:

  • EP16: Lost in London

    12/11/2017 Duración: 50min

    Join us as we continue our travels through London experiencing all the sights, smells, and tastes this place has to offer! Listen to how we lost each other in Westminster Abbey and how Yan make a big fuss over it! Tons of fun in London and more adventures to come!

  • EP15: Raising a Family & Getting Tenure with Prof. Ryan Shenvi

    29/10/2017 Duración: 01h15min

    Want to know what it's like to raise a family while trying to get tenure? Tune in this episode of PhD Trekkers where Yan interviews Prof. Ryan Shenvi in the Chemistry Department at the Scripps Research Institute. Ryan talks about his life and career while raising four children with his wife who's equally busy being a doctor in the midst of her residency. Ryan also discusses his career trajectory and how he discovered the unique similarities between science, chemistry, art, architecture, and creativity. Furthermore, Ryan talks about his experiences on getting tenure after his first paper and funding grant was rejected. Other topics include Ryan's teaching style and philosophy, research funding and collaborations, future of science/chemistry and AI, how to deal with failures and setbacks in research and academia, and his advice for younger scientists! For more information on Prof. Shenvi's work: For a lecture from Prof. Shenvi on science and creativity:

  • EP14: A Trek in London - Part 1: Leake Street Tunnel

    15/10/2017 Duración: 49min

    Join the PhD Trekker's first literal trek in London! Tune in for general travel and planning tips, airline customer service ratings, the London Pass, our first impressions of London and its rich culture, and the secret hidden gems in London! Specifically, listen to Yan's 30sec Trump conversation with the British custom/border officer on Trump's travel bans, the importance of taking a break during your graduate career, our interactions with graffitti artists in the Leake Street tunnel, and how these interactions and experiences has served as inspirations for our personal growth! For more information on the Leake Street Tunnel and the London Pass, please visit:

  • EP13: Student or Employee? Supervisor or Mentor? - Interview with UMass Graduate Student Union

    30/09/2017 Duración: 01h13s

    Are graduate students employees or students? Are PIs supervisors or mentors? Join the PhD Trekkers' discussion on this delicate issue central to our career development. Topics include the graduate student-PI relationships & power dynamics; the grey area where graduate school functions both like a startup company & like a traditional higher education program, and the various underlying graduate student health issues behind this establishment. We also discuss potential solutions from both the grad student and PI perspectives along with some of the historical progresses made in this area. Furthermore, Mari interviews the graduate student union (GEO-UAW) at UMass on their recent efforts and activism towards protecting graduate student rights and benefits. To learn more about UMass graduate student union, please visit:

  • EP12: From Cellos to Soils - Interview with Carolyn Anderson

    16/09/2017 Duración: 53min

    Tune in to listen to Mari's interview with Carolyn, a first year graduate student on her nonlinear path towards a #PhD in #science from Cellos to Soils. Getting a Ph.D. is never really a straight path as everyone makes it seem. Learn tips on how to navigate the #academic world, finding opportunities and your way through life despite what others may be telling you or think.

  • EP11: Quarter Life Crisis

    03/09/2017 Duración: 49min

    Have you experienced the quarter life crisis? And how did you pull through that? Tune in for Mari and Yan's heart touching stories on their quarter life crisis experiences. Topics include life goal/dream, career trajectory, communicating with parents and the generation gap, mental illness & depression, self reflection and evaluation, gap year opportunities, and advice for everyone who are going through this phase of their life. We even put in a Billy Joel song!

  • EP10: Fellowship Writing 101 - Intellectual Merit & Broader Impact

    15/08/2017 Duración: 59min

    Looking to apply for academic funding and fellowships? Join the PhD Trekkers where we unpack some basic fellowship application do's and don'ts. Tune in for some advice on constructing your research proposal & personal statements, on the reviewing criteria such as Intellectual Merit & Broader Impact and what they encompasses, and the application revision/reviewing process. Other topics include some insider tips from Professors who have personally served on the fellowship reviewing panel and our personal stories/experiences on applying for graduate fellowships. These tips does not only apply for the NSF GRFP to also to other scholarship, fellowship, and other funding opportunities as well. For more information and questions on the NSF Fellowship please email us as For more information on the The National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships Program please visit:

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