Career Development

We are committed to help our students for their successful career development. Based on an Individual Development Plan (IDP), each SBB student discusses his/her career goals with our faculty on a regular basis. Here, we summarize typical career paths of our SBB alumni.

1. Careers in academia
Some of our SBB alumni became faculty in universities (see their Career Stories below). Others became staff scientists in research institutions. Post-doctoral training (typically, 2-5 years) suitable for your career goals is crucial to pursue an academic career. Our faculty advise each SBB student about how and when he/she should seek post-doctoral opportunities. 

2. Careers in pharmaceutical / biotechnological industries
For their R&D, many pharmaceutical and biotech companies use approaches of structural biology and biophysics. They also need representatives who can explain how their drugs work at a molecular or atomic level. So, the industries offer many career opportunities for structural biologists and biophysicists. Some SBB alumni joined a company immediately after their graduation. Others became senior scientists in industries after several years of postdoctoral training in academia (see below).

3. Other careers
Some SBB alumni are engaged in other professions such as a patent agent in a law firm and a computational analyst in an Internet provider. So, the graduate training at SBB can lead to various career paths! 

Our Alumni's Career Stories

Here, we showcase some of our alumni's career paths.

Career Stories

  • Rodrigo Maillard received his Ph.D. degree in 2007 through our Structural Biology / Biophysics graduate program track at UTMB. He is currently an Associate Professor at Department of Chemistry, Georgetown University.

    During his Ph.D. study at UTMB (under the supervision of Prof. James C. Lee), Rodrigo worked on thermodynamics of viral envelope proteins. After the graduation in 2007, he received his postdoctoral training in the laboratory of Prof. Carlos Bustamante at University of California Berkeley. There, Rodrigo learned single-molecule biophysical techniques (e.g., optical tweezers; see right) and applied them to ClpXP protease. He discovered that this protein machinery generates mechanical force through ATP hydrolysis to unfold and translocate its protein substrates. This work was published in Cell, one of the most prestigious journals in life sciences.

    In 2014, Rodrigo started his own research group as an Assistant Professor at Georgetown University. Currently, as an Associate Professor, Rodrigo leads the research group of 10 people and studies the transduction of information in allosteric proteins. His group has published important papers on long-range communications between different parts of proteins. This is a long-term research theme since Rodrigo was a graduate student at UTMB!

    To learn more about Rodrigo’s career, visit the webpage of his lab.


  • Michal Szymanski obtained his Ph.D. degree in 2011 through our Structural Biology / Biophysics graduate track at UTMB. Currently, he is an Associate Professor and the Head of Structural Biology Laboratory at University of Gdansk, Poland.

    During his Ph.D. work at UTMB, Michal conducted kinetic and thermodynamic investigations of protein-DNA interactions using fluorescence spectroscopy under the supervision of Prof. Wlodzimierz Bujalowski. Michal’s Ph.D. work was very successful: he published 17 papers in the Bujalowski lab! Michal received a postdoctoral training in the laboratory of Prof. Whitney Yin at UTMB and learned X-ray crystallography there. Michal determined several crystal structures of enzymes and their DNA complexes involved in replication and repair of mitochondrial DNA. These structures were published in prestigious journals such as PNAS, EMBO Journal, and Nature Communications. 

    In 2017, Michal started his own research group at University of Gdansk in his home country, Poland. As an Associate Professor, Michal supervises 11 people in his laboratory, including postdoctoral fellows, graduate students, and undergraduate students. Michal and his team are studying large macromolecular machines involved in DNA replication and repair processes. This research theme continues throughout Michal’s career since his Ph.D. work at UTMB.

    To learn more about Michal’s career, visit his lab website.

  • Alexandre Esadze received his Ph.D. degree in 2014 through our Structural Biology / Biophysics graduate program track at UTMB. He is currently working as a Principal Scientist at Pfizer, Inc.

    During his Ph.D. study at UTMB, Alex conducted biophysical studies of protein-DNA interactions in the laboratory of Prof. Junji Iwahara. Using NMR spectroscopy, stopped-flow fluorescence, and other biophysical methods, Alex investigated how a zinc-finger transcription factor Egr-1 scans DNA and locates its target sequence among numerous different sequences. Alex published many research articles in prestigious journals such as JACS, Nucleic Acids Research, and PNAS. After completing his research at UTMB, Alex received a postdoctoral training in the laboratory of Prof. James Stivers at Johns Hopkins University. There, Alex studied how DNA-repair enzymes scan genomic DNA in the nuclei. His work was supported by a fellowship from the American Heart Association.

    In 2019, Alex joined Pfizer as a Senior Scientist. With his biophysical expertise, Alex characterizes antibody-antigen interactions related to COVID-19, Lyme disease, and other diseases as part of vaccine R&D at Pfizer. In 2022, Alex was promoted to the rank of Principal Scientist. His current career in the pharmaceutical company is taking full advantage of the expertise developed through our Structural Biology / Biophysics graduate program track at UTMB.

    To learn more about Alex’s career, visit his Linked-In webpage.