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Cornell University


Thursday, November 17, 2016
Knowledge and skills used in a non-profit setting

A discussion on “Career Paths in Research-driven Non-Profits – An Opportunity for Young Scientists?”

Victoria Miller, CEO and Founding Executive Director of the Trisomy 18 Foundation, gave an impassioned speech about career opportunities for young scientists in Research-driven Non-Profits.

Using the example of her own foundation (, Victoria Miller explained the contrast of cultures between basic research and non-profit science programs. Punctuated with anecdotes and answers to the audience's questions, she showed how scientific knowledge and skills are used in a non-profit setting.

Specifically, Miller explained that research in a small non-profit is more deliverable-driven and patient-oriented than in basic science. She also explained how non-profit research is suited to those who like multitasking and to wear many hats. For example, part of the mission of a researcher in a small non-profit is to be more involved in patient therapies. The mission also includes performing "non-scientific" tasks, such as increasing awareness, or explaining results to stakeholders or donors that contributed $25 after a facebook fundraising call. This human component was one of the most striking differences between basic and non-profit research emphasized by Miller's speech.

After an eloquent presentation, Miller sat among BESTies for a Q&A session. The discussion was captivating: scientific, technical at times; touching and even poignant at others. The take-home message from Victoria Miller to young scientists? Consider a career in a small non-profit: the hurdles are higher, but the rewards are so much bigger. A very inspiring session.

As a result of planning the speaker's visit with the BEST Program, a document was created and included in the hand-outs to highlight the contrast of academic research with the non-profit setting, a milieu the attendees were less familiar with. See NPOs vs Academic Research here.

by Elodie Gazave, science communication and marketing specialist for the BEST Program