Home‎ > ‎

Program Overview




1: Foster Awareness of career opportunities and personal strengths via multiple platforms

2: Provide Longitudinal Mentoring from a Professional Path Advisor (Drs. Margulies and Gaulton) to help trainees make informed choices for their career development

3: Devise and Enact Professional Development Plans to provide cohesive individualized pathways for acquiring core workplace skills, and career-specific competencies through workshops and elective coursework

The NSF Penn Pathfinders program is designed to prepare doctoral students in biomedical science and bioengineering to make informed decisions about career paths, and to guide them in acquiring the essential competencies to be successful in pursuing their career objectives. 

Awareness of nontraditional career paths is fostered in monthly 2 hour meetings and panel discussions and semi-annual one-on-one Professional Path Advisor meetings, supplemented by ≤3 hours/month of career development and skill building via seminars, workshops, networking, and elective coursework. 

Nontraditional career paths include Research in Non-Academic Settings (industry, government and start-ups), Teaching (as a primary activity), and Science Entrepreneurship (including consulting, finance, commercialization, management, and entrepreneurship).


Penn Pathfinders Fellows develop individualized professional development plans, and work with career path mentors and peers to achieve their full potential.

The Penn Pathfinders Program is an Innovations in Graduate Education pilot study funded by the NSF Research Traineeship (NRT) Program, designed to pilot, test, and evaluate novel, innovative, and potentially transformative scalable approaches to graduate education training in science and engineering.