myCHOICE Program Personnel
The myCHOICE PIs are responsible for the development and oversight of the myCHOICE program. Prof. Adams is the contact PI while Prof. Prince, Prof. Solway, and Ms. Cohen provide key structural and organizational inputs to programmatic development and implementation. Below are profiles of the four myCHOICE PIs.
Erin Adams, Ph.D.
Joseph Regenstein Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Dr. Adams is an expert in molecular immunology; her lab uses structural, biochemical and cellular approaches to understand how the immune system distinguishes healthy tissue from diseased. Her exposure to a highly entrepreneurial environment during her graduate and postdoctoral training in the California bay area stimulated her interest in alternative career opportunities for trainees at the University of Chicago.
Victoria Prince, Ph.D.
Dept. Organismal Biology & Anatomy
Dean of Graduate Affairs,
Biological Sciences Division
Dr. Prince is an expert in developmental biology, using the zebrafish model to understand embryonic development of the brain and pancreas. She has held the position of Dean and Director of the Office of Graduate Affairs for the Biological Sciences Division (BSD) since 2010. This position provides her with a comprehensive view of all eighteen graduate programs within the BSD.
Julian Solway, M.D.
Walter L. Palmer Distinguished Service Professor of Medicine and Pediatrics
Director, Institute for Translational Medicine
Dr. Solway founded and chairs the Committee on Molecular Medicine, and is Dept of Medicine Vice Chair for Research and Dean for Translational Medicine. An engineer turned physician-scientist and practicing pulmonologist, Dr. Solway is an authority on asthma known for his breadth of knowledge and experience ranging from respiratory mechanics to cell and molecular physiology.
Ellen Cohen, MPP
Executive Director, Center for Health and the Social Sciences.
Ms. Cohen directs CHeSS which is comprised of 100 faculty affiliates across all University of Chicago schools and divisions and staff who write and manage federal and non-federal grants, develop and oversee training programs for Ph.D. students, post-doctoral researchers, fellows and junior faculty, and sponsor seminars, workshops and lectures. As former Dean of Students at Chicago’s Harris School of Public Policy, she oversaw training of all masters and Ph.D. students, worked with faculty on curriculum development, course offerings, research, and applied learning opportunities. Ellen received her MPP degree with honors from the Harris School and her BA degree in economics from Brown University.
myCHOICE Program Director
The myCHOICE Program Director, Dr. Abby Stayart, oversees all aspects of the program components and is a single point of contact for it. Dr. Stayart interfaces with the myCHOICE PI’s, collaborates closely with the myCHOICE Navigators, and serves as a liaison with myCHOICE partners across the University campus.
Abby Stayart, Ph.D.
Dr. Stayart has been associated with the University of Chicago Biological Sciences Division for more than a decade, first as a graduate student in the Rothman-Denes lab, followed by postdoctoral training in the lab of Laurens Mets. The depth and breadth of her experience in those roles make her uniquely suited to addressing the needs of the graduate and postdoctoral communities through development of myCHOICE programming and services.
myCHOICE Communications Manager
The myCHOICE Communications Manager, Christopher Peña, assists the Program Director in managing myCHOICE programming components. He is primarily responsible for event logistics, social media, and database maintenance.
Christopher Peña, PhD
Dr. Christopher Peña is a native Texan braving the icebox of the Chicagoland area. Since earning his Ph.D. in Cancer Biology, Dr. Peña has worked extensively in science policy, outreach, and communications before successfully completing an educational postdoctoral fellowship (K12 IRACDA) in south Texas. Dr. Peña is excited to share and apply his range of experience in both traditional and non-traditional academic careers with all myCHOICE participants.
The myCHOICE Navigators, Dr. Mike Tessel and Dr. Briana Konnick, are key contacts for myCHOICE trainees and directly interact with myCHOICE Program Manager Abby Stayart and the myCHOICE PI’s. Our team of Navigators, Drs. Tessel and Konnick specialize in preparing our trainees for competitive applications and partnering myCHOICE trainees with members of our diverse mentor pool who can assist them at their unique level of career development.
Michael Tessel, Ph.D.
Director, Graduate Career Development & Employer Relations
Office of the Provost-UChicagoGRAD
Dr. Tessel oversees career development initiatives for 9,000+ graduate students and postdocs at the University of Chicago. He and his team support professional development of advanced-degree trainees across academic disciplines. Michael also manages employer relations and outreach, connecting hiring organizations with UChicago talent and facilitating recruitment of graduate students and postdocs.
Briana Konnick, Ph.D.
Assistant Director, Graduate Career Development
Office of the Provost-UChicagoGRAD
Dr. Konnick provides career services to graduate students, postdocs, and alumni in the Biological Sciences Division, Physical Sciences Division, and Institute for Molecular Engineering. Working with students, faculty and administrators, Briana develops and executes a broad range of programming for professional development. Additionally, Briana offers one-on-one advising to assist trainees throughout the various stages of the career development process.
Our extended internal and external mentor network, including many UChicago alumni, provides key links for our trainees in areas beyond the academy, in alternative research enterprises, the private sector and all of the myCHOICE subject areas. By matching qualified program participants in one-on-one relationships with leaders across the spectrum of careers that leverage research training, this component of myCHOICE fosters relationships in which experienced professionals guide, advise and offer insights to assist emerging scientists in their professional growth.
We are currently developing a comprehensive list of mentors who have agreed to be contacted by current trainees for informational interviews. Are you a prospective mentor, interested in joining the myCHOICE Mentor Network? Take a look at our FAQs for more information, then join the Mentor Network by completing this form.
Are you a current myCHOICE Trainee, eager to apply for access to the Mentor Network database? Stay tuned for an email from myCHOICE about its availability.