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Doctoral-Level Professionals

Solving the nation’s most critical challenges requires creative thinking and unique perspectives. That’s why doctoral-level engineers, researchers, and scientists are vital members of APL’s teams.

Academia or Industry?

Doctoral graduates face this question throughout their careers. Some fear that pursuing a career outside academia means sacrificing intellectual independence for the financial security of an industry job. At APL, staff members with doctorates enjoy the best of both worlds.

As a university affiliated research center, APL is a not-for-profit, independent research organization, unencumbered by corporate shareholders and free from competition with private corporations. APL supports critical national security and scientific challenges by providing independent, objective research and technical expertise to the U.S. government. To deliver critical contributions to critical challenges, it is vital that APL’s highly skilled technical staff includes the unique perspectives of doctoral-level scientists and engineers.

The rewarding and challenging work at APL spans a wide range of career areas, from electrical engineering to neuroscience. APL’s full-time and postdoctoral career opportunities allow our staff members to pursue their research passions, even outside of their day jobs.

Research and Collaboration Opportunities

APL’s culture of innovation and support of lifelong learning encourage staff members to explore their academic interests and creative ideas. Research opportunities include our Independent Research and Development (IRAD) program, which gives individuals the opportunity to pursue their ideas for solving problems or developing concepts. Any staff member can submit an IRAD proposal and, if selected, receive funding to conduct the research.

Beyond independent research, doctoral-level staff members also enjoy collaboration opportunities within Johns Hopkins University. With our Sabbatical Fellow and Professorship Program, staff members with joint appointments in other JHU divisions can receive paid sabbatical time to work with JHU faculty and students on research and teaching projects. Our connection with JHU also supports teaching opportunities for APL staff: JHU’s Engineering for Professionals graduate program offers weekday evening classes online and on-site at APL, making it convenient for our staff members to pursue adjunct faculty teaching positions.

Meet Our PhDs

Rodney Singleton

Ph.D., Electrical Engineering
Michigan State University

“What I like is that [the work] is technically challenging. I am able to get up every day on a project that will rack my brain. That’s what I love and that’s what I signed up for.”

Christine Zgrabik

Ph.D., Applied Physics
Harvard University

“One of the things that was really important to me was knowing the work I was doing was going to make a difference somewhere. I love that every day is different.”

Xiomara Calderón-Colón

Ph.D., Materials Science
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

“This organization has provided me the opportunity to give back to servicemen and women, to the community, and to the nation. At APL, I have further developed my growth as an individual, scientist, researcher, and professional.”

Grace Hwang

Ph.D., Biophysics
Brandeis University, Massachusetts

“APL is a special place because it values innovation across the board without regard for conventional swim lanes. Staff members strive for excellence and camaraderie; politics is secondary or tertiary. I think people at APL want to be awesome and are fueled by their respective passions. Altruism comes to mind as well. People are not in it for publications and name recognition. Mission trumps the individual.”

Harvey Ko

Ph.D., Electronic Engineering
Drexel University, Pennsylvania

“After 43 years at the Lab, staff members at APL stand out to me because of their contagious integrity. They understand the Laboratory’s commitment to national security by sustaining personal commitment, personal sacrifice, and teamwork.”

Morgana Trexler

Ph.D., Materials Science and Engineering
Georgia Institute of Technology

“I am continually surprised by the breadth of expertise that can be found around the Lab. It seems that no matter what expertise is needed when writing a proposal or building a project team, it can almost always be found somewhere. From experts in light scattering in the cornea, to flexible electronics, to photochromic pigments and self-assembling nanomaterials, it seems like we can always bring the right people together to solve critical challenges for the nation.”