symposium banner

What is the NIEHS Biomedical Career Symposium?

The annual NIEHS Biomedical Career Symposium, in its 26th year, was one of the largest assemblies of biomedical organizations and young scientists in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina. Targeting postdoctoral fellows and graduate students, the Career Symposium provided young scientists with an opportunity to explore a myriad of career options and created contact network as they plan for their future careers in the biomedical sciences.


Robert Dunn, Ph.D.

Robert Dunn, Ph.D.

Senior Vice Provost for University
Interdisciplinary Program, North Carolina State University

Keynote Address: Imagining Success that Spans Disciplines: Lessons from Belly Buttons, Climate Change, Sourdough Bread and Face Mites

Rob Dunn is an ecologist and evolutionary biologist by training. He was trained disciplinarily to study the essential rules of the living world. Initially, the focus of his research was on those rules as they applied to tropical insect communities. But as he embarked on his career he iteratively and clumsily began to realize that his professional strengths lie not in narrow disciplinary work, but instead in making connections across disciplines. This would eventually lead him to begin to study insects in cities, with the public, then microbes in cities, then, when he finally began to listen to the public, the life in foods such as beers, sourdough bread, yogurt and kimchi. In a wide ranging talk, Dunn shares ten lessons from these experiences. Some of these lessons come from successes, but most of them come from failures. Dunn is now the Senior Vice Provost of University Interdisciplinary Programs at NC State, where he has a chance to help others work in ways that don't fit into the narrow disciplines of academia.


Rob Dunn is the Senior Vice Provost of University Interdisciplinary Programs and a Reynolds Professor in Applied Ecology at North Carolina State University. As Senior Vice Provost he oversees efforts to spur interdisciplinary scholarship, education and public engagement at NC State. As a scholar, he studies the ecology and evolution of societies and the species with which they interact. This has included projects on the global ecology of sourdough bread, the evolution of sour taste, and the origin of yoghurt microbes, among many others. Dunn has published more than two hundred peer-reviewed articles and more than a hundred magazine and newspaper articles. He has published seven books, including, most recently, A Natural History of the Future and, with Monica Sanchez, Delicious, the Evolution of Flavor and How it Made us Human.

Career Symposium Committee Co-chairs

Sohal Puja, Ph.D.
Sohal Puja, Ph.D.
Fellow - Visiting
Tel 984-287-3920
[email protected]
111 Tw Alexander Dr
David P Rall Building
Research Triangle Park, NC 27709
Victoria Ledbetter
Victoria Ledbetter
Fellow - ORAU Postbaccalaureate
Tel 704-751-2865
[email protected]
530 Davis Dr
Durham, NC 27713