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Who we are


 Lisa Tison-Thomas, Ed.D.


Assistant Dean, Career & Professional Development



Dr. Tison-Thomas brings over a decade of experience in higher education with a specific focus on providing career and professional development instruction and services to students preparing to enter the workforce. 

Prior to her role here at UMass Chan, she served as a Cooperative Education Faculty member and Chair of the College of Science Co-op Curriculum Committee at Northeastern University. In these roles she developed co-op curriculum, and she taught professional development and ethics courses to students preparing to go out into the workplace. 

She brings direct experience in leading the development of employer partnerships and experiential learning opportunities for students preparing for careers in academia including academic medical centers, industry, and government. Earlier in her career at Middlesex Community College, she assisted with restructuring and centralizing their internship programs to provide experiential learning opportunities for students from diverse backgrounds and low-income families.

Dr. Tison-Thomas is passionate about workforce and leadership development. Her dissertation research is in academic leadership development, with a focus on succession planning and competency building. Her research has helped her examine and understand how organizations determine competencies needed for organizational continuity, how professional development programs are built, and by which methods organizations can best help develop competencies in potential leaders.

Dr. Tison-Thomas received her undergraduate degree in psychology from the University of Massachusetts, Boston, and her Doctorate in Education from Northeastern University.


 Cynthia N. Fuhrmann, Ph.D.


Cynthia Fuhrmann 

Associate Professor, RNA Therapeutics Institute

Associate Professor, Biochemistry and Molecular Biotechnology

(508) 856.1935


Dr. Fuhrmann founded the Center for Biomedical Career Development in 2014 to serve the UMass Chan community while acting as an incubator for innovating educational approaches to prepare PhD scientists for the biomedical workforce. As Assistant Dean (2012-2022), Dr. Fuhrmann oversaw educational programs focused on the career and professional development of graduate students and postdocs in the Morningside Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences. She continues to contribute to teaching and innovation within the Morningside Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences. As PI of UMass Chan’s NIH BEST award (2013-2018), she led integration of career development into the core PhD curriculum. Her scholarship has focused on career plannng for scientists, with national projects including co-authorship of myIDP on AAAS/Science Careers, an interactive career-planning tool used by early-career scientists worldwide. She leads the cross-stakeholder national initiative, Professional Development Hub (pd|hub), to advance evidence-based practices in PhD career and professional development. Fuhrmann holds a B.S. in chemistry from University of California Davis and a Ph.D. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from UCSF.

About Dr. Fuhrmann's scholarly work >

 Nadia Rukarangira


Team alumni:


Irina Parker


Irina Parker


  Ms. Parker coordinated scheduling, program logistics and newsletter updates for cBCD in 2018-2022.  She also supports the Office for Postdoctoral Scholars and the Morningside Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences more broadly.  Prior to coming to UMass Chan, Irina worked with doctors and patients in a psychiatric setting.

Mindy Donovan


Mindy Donovan



Ms. Donovan coordinated data tracking for cBCD's NIH BEST initiatives and served as project coordinator for cBCD in 2014-2018. She continues to work in Morningside Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences Academic Affairs in the role of Administrative Manager.

Catherine Schweppe, Ph.D.

Catherine Schweppe 


Dr. Catherine Schweppe's postdoctoral training in the cBCD (2020-2021) focused on academic administration, career development, and graduate education scholarship. She received her bachelor's degree in Biology and Psychology from the University of Washington and served as an NIH post-baccalaureate fellow with the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Dr. Schweppe received her PhD in Neuroscience from UCLA, where she studied mechanisms of neural repair following stroke. While at UCLA, she worked with the UCLA Career Center's Graduate Services team for over three years to provide professional development advising and programming to graduate students and postdoctoral scholars in STEM fields. Following her postdoctoral training in the cBCD, she moved on to a Presidential Management Fellowship, a 2-year experience through which she will be rotating within departments of the National Cancer Institute at the NIH, with an emphasis on science communication, education, and research policy.

Spencer Fenn, Ph.D.


Spencer Fenn


Dr. Spencer Fenn oversaw our Career Pathways initiatives at the cBCD in 2018-2019. He is now a Senior Scientific Recruiter for Recruitomics Consulting. Prior to joining UMass Chan, Dr. Fenn performed biomedical research at Tufts University and was a scholar of the NIH IRACDA-funded Training in Education and Critical Research Skills (TEACRS) Program. He received his Ph.D. in Bioengineering from the University of Vermont (UVM), where he was appointed as an NIH T32 Predoctoral Fellow of the Vermont Lung Center. During his time at UVM, Dr. Fenn was a beneficiary of their Graduate Teaching Program and taught several lab courses in the Dept. of Mechanical Engineering. He is passionate about innovation, technology, and entrepreneurship, with several patent submissions and awards based on his research in the field of biomaterials. Dr. Fenn has held leadership roles both in academia and at other non-profit organizations, having served as President of the UVM Chapter of the Materials Research Society and Vice Chairman of the Board at the Vermont People with AIDS Coalition. He holds a bachelors degree in Biomedical Materials Science from the University of Manchester, UK.


 Sonia Hall, Ph.D.




Dr. Sonia Hall joined cBCD for a one-year postdoctoral fellowship in 2016-17. In this role, Dr. Hall developed curricula for Career Pathways Communities (a new program launched in Spring 2017), curated content for cBCD's weekly newsletter, and assisted in data analysis for UMass Chan’s NIH BEST-funded programs. This work complemented her years of promoting the career development of early career scientists through volunteer leadership roles at Genetics Society of America (GSA), as co-director of Kansas DNA Day and Massachusetts DNA Day, and as a NSF-GK12 Fellow at University of Kansas during her PhD training. She holds a B.S. in Biology and Ph.D. in Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology from the University of Kansas, where she studied under the mentorship of Dr. Robert Ward. 

In Summer 2017, Dr. Hall transitioned into a newly-created position at GSA, Director of Engagement and Development, and in 2019 became President and CEO of BioKansas. 


Heather Yonutas, Ph.D.

Heather Yonutas


During her neuroscience postdoctoral training at UMass Chan Medical School, Dr. Heather Yonutas served as a part-time Career Pathways Curriculum Intern in cBCD in Fall 2017. In this role, Dr. Yonutas worked closely with the Assistant Dean to develop and coordinate Career Pathways Communities, a core component of UMass Chan’s NIH BEST-funded curriculum for fourth-year students. This included introducing job simulations and the Career Pathways Celebration networking event. She attained her Ph.D. from the University of Kentucky in the Spinal Cord and Brain Injury Research Center, where her training was supported by the NIH via a Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA F31). She had a teaching certificate in Medical Neuroanatomy and sought this part-time internship position with the cBCD to further develop her curriculum development and leadership experience. The internship drew on her former experience as the President of the Graduate Student Congress at the University of Kentucky for 2 years, where she sought to connect the voice of the graduate students with the academic administration. She is now a scientist at Voyageur Therapeutics. 

Morgan N. Thompson, Ph.D.

Morgan Thompson 




Dr. Morgan Thompson was Assistant Director in 2014-2017, playing an instrumental role in founding cBCD and launching our initial NIH BEST-funded curriculum, programs, and services. She received her Bachelors degree in Biological Sciences from Wayne State University and her Ph.D. in genetics at Harvard Medical School (HMS). At Harvard, she led the expansion and national dissemination of the graduate student organization, Science in the News (SITN). Dr. Thompson also served on the Public Outreach Committee of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB) and was a member of the Coalition on the Public Understanding of Science (COPUS) and Voice of Young Science USA networks. Prior to joining cBCD, Dr. Thompson was Project Manager for the Science and Social Justice Project – a collaboration between Kalamazoo College and HMS that champions integration of social justice and responsibility into science education and research. She returned to the Project in Summer 2017.  In 2019, Dr. Thompson returned to the Morningside Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, now serving as Assistant Dean, Student Affairs and Enrollment.

Thi Nguyen, Ph.D.




As a project consultant for cBCD in 2014-2015, Dr. Thi Nguyen contributed to website content for cBCD and established the cBCD weekly newsletter. She has been featured on NatureJobs blog for “Ask the Expert”, and served as a Guest Advisor for ScienceCareers online Career Forum. She holds a PhD in Neuroscience from UT Southwestern Medical Center and was a postdoctoral scholar at the Gladstone Institute of Cardiovascular Disease in San Francisco. She was formerly a program director for career development programs at UCSF, and then Associate Dean for Graduate Career and Professional Development at Washington University in St. Louis. Known as an innovator in the field of PhD career development, she has created national resources in areas such as business skills for scientists and InterSECT job simulations, and currently consults in the field.