Alumna Launches Science Mentor Consulting to Showcase Talents of Young Scientists


Donna KridelbaughSoutheast Missouri State University alumna Donna Kridelbaugh of Oak Ridge, Tennessee, recently founded her own business to showcase the talents of young scientists as they advance on their career paths.

“I was motivated by my frustrations with the lack of career mentoring support in the sciences and watching talented people scramble for the next job without strategically planning for the next step in their career,” Donna explains.

Donna started her business, Science Mentor Consulting, to provide writing, editing, and career matchmaking services for early-career scientists. Her role as an image consultant is to help develop a marketing plan to showcase their accomplishments and make their work more visible to hiring managers. Services include social media management, edits of application and fellowship materials, development of feature articles and award packages, and coaching on networking strategies. She says there is a diversity issue in the sciences, and she wants to help keep talented people in the science pipeline by supporting them through transition periods as they advance in their careers.

Most of her business involves technical writing and editing for research institutes and non-profit organizations. Her career goals are centered on business development to build a strong client base and a successful track record, including a desire to obtain more training (e.g., grant-writing certificate) to gain additional skills and credentials.

Donna also serves on the Environmental Quality Advisory Board for the City of Oak Ridge, Tennessee. The board advises city officials about issues that may impact the environmental quality of the local region and to promote sustainability initiatives. Her responsibilities include monthly board meetings and work sessions in addition to volunteering on special projects where needed based on subject matter expertise.

Donna graduated with a Bachelor of Science in biology, a Bachelor of Arts in chemistry, and a minor in environmental studies from Southeast in 2003.

She chose Southeast because of its affordability and academics.

“As a young single parent, I never even considered that college was an option for me. Luckily, my incredible high school counselor, Ms. Bratton, realized that I qualified for a Regents’ Scholarship and urged me to apply for admission. If it wasn’t for her and the generous support from the Board of Regents and other funds like the Chemistry Alumni Scholarship, I honestly believe that I would not be a college graduate today. I am forever grateful for having the educational opportunity to attend Southeast,” Donna says.

At Southeast, she received both rigorous academic training and invaluable experiential learning through undergraduate research and teaching opportunities.

“My education taught me not only how to speak and read science but also how to actually do science. I am a hands-on learner, so these experiences outside the classroom prepared me well for graduate school and beyond,” Donna shares about her training at Southeast.

After graduating from Southeast, she continued her education at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, receiving a Master of Science in microbiology in 2006.

Donna volunteers to promote science and science education, including outreach work with students and judging science competitions. She is an avid blogger on career development topics for scientists with a focus on the self-mentoring process. In addition, she refers to herself as “a hippie scientist” because she enjoys hiking, participating in environmental projects like cleanups, and engaging the public with science.

For career advice, Donna can be reached at her blog or social media. Visit her website at http://ScienceMentor.Me.

To Southeast students, she offers some advice.

“Figure out how to align your skills, interests and values to find a career that you love,” Donna advises. “A friend of mine once received advice from a mentor who told him, ‘Find something you enjoy doing and make that your hobby. Find something you are good at and make it your career.’ I think this is the worst career advice that I have ever heard. The two concepts are not mutually exclusive and everyone deserves to find a satisfying career that they are good at and enjoy.

“Importantly, you have to chase your own definition of success – not what your family, friends or professors think you should be doing. Your career is not at the fate of others. We all have different life goals and take diverging paths to get there. It can be easy to fall prey to the mental trap of comparing yourself to others, but you can only focus on yourself, keep moving forward, and always strive to improve.”