Q&A with Uday Krishnamurthy, Ph.D.
B.E., Biomedical Engineering, Osmania University, India, 2010
Ph.D., Biomedical Engineering, Wayne State University, 2017
Uday Krishnamurthy is a senior magnetic resonance imaging R&D scientist at Siemens Healthineers. He was a participant in the 2015-2016 BEST Program when he discovered that he wanted to pursue a career in industry. During his time at Wayne State, he developed MRI techniques to image the developing fetus in utero.
Q. When did you participate in the BEST program and what tracks did you follow?
A. I participated in BEST at Wayne State in 2015 when I was a graduate student. I was interested in looking at all career paths, including the traditional Postdoc.I followed industry, teaching, and science communication tracks.
Q. Why did you decide to apply to the BEST program?
A. I was about two years away from my graduation and honestly, I was not even thinking about my professional career. It was more out of curiosity that I went to the first session. Things changed after a couple of sessions and workshops—they got me thinking about life and career after graduation.
Q. What role did BEST play in helping you to decide that you didn’t want to go into academia?
A. At the time, I enjoyed the academic environment and had not made my decision either way.
Most positions in academia and industry have great flexibility in the actual day-to-day role and job titles can be misleading. For example, you could be a professor at a university but heading up a section in the technology transfer office and dealing with other companies and aspects such as patenting and licensing. Similarly, with the same title, you could be a facility head dealing with budgeting, marketing, human resources, management, and not especially focused on research. Oftentimes you have the flexibility to mould your position to your interests.
When deliberating about what path to take, I was considering things such as whether I would enjoy the role, have career growth, the location, and any potential visa issues.
The BEST program introduced me to career paths I had not considered or was even aware existed. The workshops helped me to identify my transferable skills, personality traits, and positions that were a natural fit with my personality. Thankfully, the decision was not too hard. I felt that industry was the best fit for me.
Q. Through BEST, were there any skills that you realized you had that were surprising to you or that you realized you needed to work on?
A. I realized that simple things like public speaking and science writing, tasks that we already do during our Ph.Ds. are very valuable and sought-after. I wanted to diversify these skills to areas beyond the topics of my thesis. I started to take note of the major industry trends and what things most new startups were focusing on.
Q. How did you get your current position at Siemens?
A. I applied to a job posting. The interview process was long with multiple phone/ Skype rounds followed by two on-site in-person interviews.
I had worked on Siemens’ MRI scanner and technology through my Ph.D. and interacted with people from industry R&D on numerous occasions. When at a conference, I always tried to meet with the people I had previously emailed with. Following key industry trends and being aware of promising new technologies all helped me in during the interview process.
Q. What do you do at Siemens?
As a senior scientist in MRI R&D, my role is very diverse. Primarily, I manage joint collaborative research with premier academic partners and also develop novel MRI and PET-MRI imaging methods.
In addition, I also work on scientific publications, invention disclosures, provide proof of principle for novel methodologies, train academic researchers, and perform pre-product development. Understanding the product cycle (invention-to-product) and knowing what drives the adoption of technology in a clinical setting helps me greatly.
Q. What do you like most about this company?
A. The culture of the organization, particularly within my team, is very supportive and collaborative. Almost all of the senior management are Ph.D.s, come from a technical background, and therefore, value research and technical development. You have the freedom to follow your passion and design projects around those topics.
Q. Any advice for grad students or postdocs who may want to pursue this path?
A. Keep your options open. It’s never too early to start considering your career after graduation. It’s also important to have a solid elevator pitch ready (who you are, what your research entails, etc.) ready for any opportunity you might have to introduce yourself to others. Network actively and passively, develop a well-rounded personality—getting involved in the university community can help here—organize meetings, write scientific blogs, volunteer, make use of graduate seminars. And it goes without saying that you have to be good at your science.