Alumni Spotlight: Brittany Jacobs

Current Employer:

United States Environmental Protection Agency

Job Title:


Home Town:

Glen Burnie, MD

Current Location:

Maryland/Washington D.C.

Research Topic:

Using molecular techniques to define how mechanical signals regulate skeletal muscle mass

Faculty Advisor:

Troy Hornberger

CMB Degree Received in:


What and where is your current position?

I am biologist for the US EPA’s Office of Water at Headquarters in Washington, D.C. My branch provides human health science support for decisions and policies that implement the Clean Water Act, Safe Drinking Water Act, and a variety of other water related statutory programs that protect water quality and human health.

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

I made the decision to pursue a career path outside of academia during the last two years of finishing my PhD. I applied to the Presidential Management Fellowship (PMF) during my last year and became a finalist ( I applied to any position that was remotely related to science and got a call back from the EPA who was willing to take a chance on someone with no background in toxicology or environmental policy. I took the leap and was PMF with the EPA for 2 years and was converted to a full time employee in August 2018.

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

The biggest challenge I faced was realizing/admitting that an academic career path wasn’t the right fit for me and then figuring out what I wanted to do next.

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

The thing I like best about my job is feeling like my work matters and that it is important to protecting the nation’s health. The most challenging thing is process (i.e., how slow things can move and that your work has to be okayed by lots of folks before it can be made public)

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

My first CMB retreat! It was pretty epic for a lot of reasons.

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

To remain open minded and seize the opportunities in front of you. You don’t have to have it all figured out.

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

Working for the federal government means you are deeply invested in public service. Although it is tough to find time to do anything else but science during your PhD, try to make room to give back and demonstrate that you care about your community.

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