Career Paths in Science Education and Beyond Faculty: A Panel Discussion with STEM PhDs in Secondary Education

Watch the 90-minute panel discussion here.

As part of the STEM PhD Pathways Program, OCS McDougal Fellows spotlighted various career paths in secondary education through a diverse panel discussion held on November 16, 2022. Three Yale PhD scientists who chose different career paths after receiving their doctoral degree shared their unique advice and insight on important considerations breaking into the field of high school education.

During this session, our three panelists touched on the following topics:  

  • When did your passion for Secondary Education first develop? How (and why) did you career aspirations evolve while you were earning your PhD?  
  • What were the personal values important to you in your career that led you down this particular career path?  
  • What opportunities can those with PhDs seek in Secondary Education, other than teaching positions?  
  • What skills are important to build in order to remain relevant in your field, as the workforce in Secondary Education becomes more diverse?  
Dr. Natasha Gutierrez

Panelists Bios:

Natasha Gutierrez (PhD, Cellular and Molecular Biology) 

Director of Instruction at Humanities II (Charter School in South Bronx) 

Dr. Natasha Gutierrez (they/them) is currently the Director of Instruction at Humanities II, a New Visions charter school in the South Bronx.  Growing up in the Bronx, Dr. Gutierrez was always fascinated by science as well as the benefits of mentorship.  After graduating with their Ph.D. in Cellular and Molecular Biology from Rutgers University-Newark, they did their postdoctoral work with Dr. Daniel Colon-Ramos at Yale Medical School.  During their time at Yale, a shift in mindset about STEM education occurred and they decided to go back to their community in order to be an educator.  They received their M.A. in Adolescent Education from Hunter College and started teaching high school science where they developed student-led projects for students to present at Research Symposium that were connected to solving problems that affected their communities.  Additionally, they created curricula which is aligned not only to nature of science skills, but also providing opportunities for students of color in STEM fields.  Dr. Gutierrez is currently coaching teachers in their pedagogy to increase engagement in STEM fields and interest that will go beyond high school.  They have actively shifted science pedagogy in their school community by focusing on project-based learning and scientific research as opposed to lecture-based pedagogy.    

Dr. Tyson Edwards

Tyson Edwards (PhD ’14, Genetics) 

Science Teacher at Venture High School & Former Advocate at Society for Science & the Public  

Dr. Tyson Edwards graduated from the University of Utah with a B.S. in Biology and attended Yale University from 2008 – 2014. He performed doctoral work in the Department of Genetics with Dr. Marc Hammarlund, where he investigated the role of heparan sulfate proteoglycans in neuronal regeneration. After a brief postdoctoral fellowship at the Fred Hutch Cancer Research Center in Seattle, Dr. Edwards worked in the molecular diagnostics industry for 3 years as a Research Scientist. He then returned to the classroom in 2018 as a Science Teacher at Venture High School in Marriott-Slaterville, UT, and has been enjoying it ever since. 

Dr. Shani Peretz

Shani Peretz (PhD ’01, Genetics) 

Director of the Research Science Signature Experience at Peddie School and Former Chair of the Science Department 

Dr. Shani Peretz earned her Ph.D. from Yale’s Genetics Department in 2001. She then worked in cancer clinical research before joining the Peddie School science department in 2005. Peddie is an independent high school, where 60% of the students live on campus and 20% come from other countries. She spent many years leading the science department and founded the Research Science Signature Program, which helps students join research labs in the summer before their senior year of high school. Currently, Peretz serves as director of the Research Science Signature Experience and also advises the Peddie Environmental and Sustainability Team (PEST) and the Medicine Club. She has 3 children, raises Seeing Eye Dog puppies, and makes wobbly pottery in her free time. 

This event was hosted by Haofan Li and Janani Baskaran, previous McDougal Fellows at the Office of Career Strategy 

By Haofan Li
Haofan Li McDougal Career Fellow