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Mark Staudt, Ph.D.

Mark Staudt, Ph.D.

Mark is a Licensing Associate at the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF). Often termed Technology Transfer, this field involves working with professors and other campus inventors to determine the best commercial path forward for their technology. Frequently this involves some type of intellectual property (IP) protection, which is most often secured in the form of a patent. Concurrent with protecting the IP, he works to find a commercial partner to license the technology, develop it, and bring it to the consumer market where society can benefit from the University’s discoveries. Like many in the field of technology transfer, Mark followed a tortuous path to arrive at his current position. It began at the University of Texas with degrees in Chemical Engineering and the Plan II humanities program. After a short stint as an engineer in industry with BASF, it wound back to academia at the University of Wisconsin for a PhD in Biomolecular Chemistry. Looking for opportunities away from the bench, he next took an internship at WARF, which introduced him to the field of technology transfer where he has finally found a home – first working at Rice University’s Office of Technology Transfer, then rejoining the WARF licensing team back in Madison. As you can imagine, such a varied background leads to an interesting story. Below, Mark shares some of his thoughts on his current job, and how despite the many seemingly convoluted turns, he’s managed to find a great fit for himself in technology transfer.

Conducted and contributed by Brian | June 2013

“A lot of people have helped me out along the way. I was always surprised at how much people were willing to help out along the way and the karma in the world, as you help people out as well; you want those networks to be established - your coworkers or your friends. It’s not that it’s a quid pro quo, but really that karma comes back around."

Listen to the conversation podcast below (player should appear shortly).

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Featured songs: "Cruel" by St. Vincent and "A Letter from Home" by Ulrich Schnauss

Conversation Highlights

Peering into the World of Technology Transfer – Where Business, Law, and Science Meet. Are you fascinated by technology and innovation? Have you heard the words 'intellectual property' or 'technology licensing' in recent conversations, but wonder how it applies to academic research? Would you like to learn more about the space where business, law, and science overlap? Mark Staudt Ph.D. stops by ThePostdocWay mobile studio to tell us how his varied background, broad interests, and professional network directly contributed to his success as a licensing associate in the field of technology transfer.

“Through that time in grad school was where I really realized for me, the bench wasn’t where I wanted to be any longer. That’s when I started to explore different options.”

“Now I work in a world that combines some of those, it’s the confluence of business, law, science, and research.”

“I wasn’t the type of person who necessarily had that one thing – like I always wanted to be a PI, or I always wanted to be a doctor or a fireman. That was never there for me.”

“As I moved on toward approaching my dissertation I did have open conversations with my boss.”

“[After my Ph.D.] I was able to get an internship at WARF and that’s what really got my foot in the door and got things rolling.”

“Having some kind of foot in the door, whether it is volunteer or internship, really speaks volumes.”

“The minute you have that vocabulary, you gain credibility.”

“[If you change career paths.] In a sense you have to be prepared to take a step back before you can move forward. It [a Ph.D.] does pay dividends later because you approach problems, information, and acquisition of knowledge much differently. I think if you are willing to take that little bit of a hit people often find that they can then accelerate their [new] career path quicker than others without that experience through their graduate career.”

[Advice for transitioning to tech transfer] “You can approach the job from any of the three disciplines, at least conceptually, business, law, or science. But I think that science is the most common background because people feel that that might be the hardest one to pick up if you haven’t had exposure to it. Often I see the offices; they’ll hire people with science backgrounds and then teach them the business they need.”

“In some sense the jack-of-all trades doesn’t have the same value in our society.”

“A varied background really helps you here. Being able to speak to a lot of different groups and a lot of different types of technologies are important.”