Alumni Spotlight: Thomas Yeager

Thomas Yeager headshotCurrent Employer:

Victoria University

Job Title:

Senior Lecturer

Home Town:

Portland, OR

Current Location:

Melbourne, Australia

Research Topic:

The role of tumor suppressor genes in bladder cancer

Faculty Advisor:

Catherine Reznikoff

CMB Degree Received in:


Describe your current position:

I am a Lecturer in Biology at Victoria University in Melbourne Australia.

Describe your career path from graduate school to your current position.

From Madison I took a post-doc position at a cancer lab in Sydney, Australia researching teleomers. Following that, I returned to Madison to work in the R&D department at Promega for 4 years. Next I moved to Melbourne Australia to work at CSL, a pharmaceutical company, in the process development group. For the past 8 years I have been teaching and doing research at Victoria University.

How did your experience with CMB shape your career?

The CMB experience taught me how to work hard in a team setting and how to conduct rigorous scientific research. It also taught me how to present my research (both written and orally) in an approachable and easy to understand manner.

What made you decide to pursue a PhD with CMB at UW-Madison?

The excellent reputation of the CMB program and the hard working, but very fun people in Madison. Also Madison is a great city to live in.

What challenges did you face in your graduate degree, or in launching your career?

I had to work very hard, putting in long hours trying to really understand the area of cancer research which was completely new to me at the time.

Describe a “day in the life” of your current job.

I teach students a few hours a day in first or third year biology classes. I try to meet at least once a week with my PhD students and then try and keep on top of the administrative activities of the job. I also try to find a bit of time to keep up on research topics that I am interested in.

What do you like best and what do you find most challenging about your current job?

I like the interaction with the students and opening their eyes to the exciting world of biology, especially as it relates to their daily lives.

What is your favorite story/memory from your time in CMB?

During my time in CMB, We used to get season hockey tickets on Friday nights and go watch the games and shout ourselves hoarse cheering for the Badgers.

What is the most important lesson you have learned throughout your career?

To work as hard as you can on any given project and if things are not working out for whatever reason, let the group know so that you can get support in completing the task.

What is your best piece of advice for current graduate students preparing for their careers?

Try to get as many experiences as possible in your scientific career as you will never know which one really excites you until you are doing it. Then you can follow that path to a rewarding career.

What advice would you give to current students who are specifically interested in a career path similar to yours?

Get as much experience in teaching as possible, from being a teaching assistant while being in the CMB program, to volunteering to teach anything you are passionate about.

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