Graduate education provides exciting pathways to a diversity of careers – from leading edge research in industry and academia, to science policy, entrepreneurship, STEM education, intellectual property, law and beyond. Simultaneously, dramatic developments in research methods and collaboration, fundamental changes to the nature and evolution of work, demographic shifts and growth in the scope of occupations and career pathways requiring STEM expertise have driven the need for new 21st century personal and professional competencies. This interactive workshop will provide an overview of key trends in materials research and hands-on activities providing critical information, actionable strategies, resources and reflection, all set in a real-world context of materials science and engineering research, that support the successful transition from undergraduate education to graduate school and beyond.

Example of topics will include:

  • Trends and characteristics of transformative materials research – including the intersection of scientific, technological and social aspects;
  • Considerations in the selection of a research advisor, project and group;
  • Traditional and new forms of scientific and technological collaboration in materials science and engineering;
  • The science of learning, development of expertise, resilience, balance and growth mind-set;
  • The changing nature of scientific communication, knowledge dissemination and dialogue; and
  • Increasing complexity and consequences of ethics in materials research, in particular in the context of inclusion and equity.


Christine Ortiz, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Station1

Christine Ortiz is a scientist, engineer, social entrepreneur, educator and professor. As Founder of Station1, Ortiz has 25 years of experience in higher education and is the (tenured and chaired) Morris Cohen Professor of Materials Science and Engineering and former Dean for Graduate Education at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). During this time, she has had the privilege of supporting over 7000 students from more than 100 countries and working with hundreds of faculty and staff on initiatives in diversity and inclusion, global education, technology-enabled learning, learning assessment, curricular and pedagogical design, new financial models, 21st century personal and professional skills development, and many more areas. As a scientist and engineer, her research expertise focuses on the area of multiscale design and mechanics of biological and bioinspired materials and manufacturing. Ortiz has over 180 scholarly publications and 30 national and international honors, including the Presidential Early Career Award in Science and Engineering given at the White House by President George W. Bush. She received a BS degree from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) and MS and PhD degrees from Cornell University, all in the field of materials science and engineering. Ortiz is an alumni of the National Consortium for Graduate Degrees for Minorities for Science and Engineering (GEM), which provided her with a transformative fellowship and summer internship that enabled her to continue her education and was critical to her career path. Ortiz serves on numerous boards, including as a regional accreditation commissioner for the Commission on Institutions of Higher Education, New England Association of Schools and Colleges.

Ellan Spero, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Station1

Ellan Spero studies the ways that people envision human progress, through the institutions, built environments and narratives that they create. As a historian of technology, business and higher education, Spero's work is about drawing connections between the ways that people learn, produce and maintain systems of knowledge and material culture. She is passionate about the amazing potential of connecting people across disciplines and physical geographies; this resonates throughout her work at Station1, the opportunities that she aims to facilitate for their students, collaborators, and how she approaches the serendipity of her own research and place in the world. Spero is interested in the ways that people create and maintain collaboration across professional sectors, a theme of her own research in the history of nascent academic–industrial partnerships at the beginning of the 20th century. She was recently a visiting scientist at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) at the Smart Living Laboratory, a research and development center for the built environment of the future. As a joint Postdoctoral Fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD), Spero created coursework that engaged students in analysis of technology, culture and the city. She holds a PhD degree from MIT in history, anthropology, science, technology and society,  BS and MS degrees from Cornell University in fiber science and apparel design, and a MA degree from the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in museum studies and textile conservation.
Dana Munzner, Station1

Dana Munzner is a professional development advisor passionate about working with students in the STEM field. She started her career as a research analyst at John Hancock, then moved into program management at Northeastern University’s College of Engineering working with several environmental health focused multi-institutional research centers. Her experience in higher education spans grants management, strategic planning, one-on-one student advising, employer relations, event planning, program evaluation and reporting. At Station1, Munzner manages and develop their programs with strategic alignment, works with employer partners in pioneering STEM fields with social impact, and is a co-instructor in their interdisciplinary curriculum. She aims to create inclusive and diverse environments, and feels personally driven to increase participation of students from all backgrounds in the STEM field by increasing access to high-quality hands-on work experiences and professional mentorship. Previously, Munzner worked as the Global Co-op Counselor at Northeastern University’s College of Engineering advising graduate and undergraduate students on international work experiences and developing employer relationships abroad. She has also developed and managed an interdisciplinary training program aimed to increase diverse participation in the field of environmental health research. Munzner received a BA degree in Asian studies and philosophy from Suffolk University and a graduate certificate in business administration from Northeastern University’s D'Amore-McKim School of Business.