Theatre of people listening to a panel of presenters having a discussion

Career Paths in Academia Virtual Event

Careers in academia are very rewarding, and although a typical career path in academia often leads to a university teaching position, there are many other paths within academia, such as:

  • Lecturer at a liberal arts college
  • Research position at an academic lab
  • Science outreach at a university or institute
  • Hybrid teaching/research positions such as Perimeter's PSI Fellows

On Thursday, May 20, The Career Trajectories Group invites members of our PI Community, including: PhD students, postdoctoral researchers, PSI students and other interested residents to learn about the career paths of several PI alumni working in academia. Some of the topics that will be covered include: the often unexpected joys of teaching, what it’s like to be a physicist working at a liberal arts college, switching from theoretical work to experimental work, and equity, diversity, and inclusion in physics. Each speaker will spend roughly 15 minutes sharing their own story and perspective, followed by 15 minutes of Q and A. There will be a chat session with the speakers at 1:00 for current PI residents.


Event Schedule

  • 10:30 AM: David Tong (former PSI lecturer, now Professor at Cambridge)
  • 11:00 AM: Miriam Diamond (former PSI student, now faculty at U of T, Arthur B. McDonald Institute)
  • 11:30 AM: Brian Shuve (former PI postdoc, now faculty at Harvey Mudd College)
  • 12:00 PM: Beatrice Bonga (former PI postdoc, now faculty at Radboud University)
  • 12:30 PM: Theo Johnson-Freyd (former PI postdoc, now assoc. faculty at PI and Dalhousie University)


Speaker Profiles

David Tong
David Tong is a theoretical physicist at the University of Cambridge and a fellow of Trinity College. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Wales, Swansea and held postdoc positions in Mumbai, London, New York and, finally, MIT. His work has touched on various aspects of quantum field theory, from cosmology to condensed matter. He is known for his freely available lecture notes which cover much of theoretical physics, from Newtonian mechanics through to more advanced topics like string theory and the quantum Hall effect.

Miriam Diamond
Miriam Diamond is presently an Assistant Professor in the Physics Department at the University of Toronto, and a faculty member of the Arthur B. McDonald Canadian Astroparticle Physics Research Institute.  Her primary area of research is in dark matter and neutrinos.  Miriam became an Assistant Professor after completing a year as a Research Associate with SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory from 2017-2018 and a PhD in High Energy Particle Physics from University of Toronto in 2017.   Prior to her PhD Miriam was a Perimeter Institute PSI alumnus from 2013, and her career path shows how someone can start off training to be a theorist and end up doing experimental work.

Brian Shuve
After receiving a PhD in theoretical particle physics from Harvard University, Shuve became a postdoctoral researcher and lecturer at the Perimeter Institute. He went on to conduct research at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory at Stanford University and later joined the faculty at Harvey Mudd College as an Assistant Professor. Harvey Mudd College is an undergraduate-only institution specialising in science and engineering, while emphasizing a broad liberal-arts education for all its students. Harvey Mudd produces more graduates that go on to PhD work than any other undergraduate-only college in the U.S., and second only to Caltech when all institutions are counted (MIT is third). Shuve is continuing his research into the early universe based on discoveries made at high-energy colliders such as SLAC and CERN.

Béatrice Bonga
Béatrice Bonga exemplifies a path traditionally followed in academic research.  Upon completion of her undergraduate degrees in physics and psychology, she got her master’s degree in Theoretical Physics from Utrecht University in the Netherlands. Next, she pursued a PhD in Gravitational Radiation at Pennsylvania State University in the US from 2012-2017.  From there Dr. Bonga traveled to Ontario to take up a Postdoctoral research position at Perimeter Institute from 2017-2019.  Béatrice moved back to the Netherlands to work as Assistant Professor position at Radboud University in early 2020 where she presently resides as a researcher.  Her current area of research focuses on foundational questions in general relativity and predictions for future gravitational-wave observatories.  In addition to a busy teaching and lecture schedule, Béatrice is actively involved in outreach activities including guest lecturing and acting as a science advisor for Perimeter Institute on areas including: black holes, teaching strategies, and climate change.  For a list of publications and recent seminars and conferences, please visit her website.

Theo Johnson-Freyd
In his current position with Dalhousie University as Assistant Professor of Mathematics and as Associate Faculty at Perimeter Institute. Theo shares his research in the area of homotopical physics, the interplay between mathematical physics and higher algebra between both institutions. Prior to this he spent four years as a Senior Postdoctoral Fellow at Perimeter Institute and from 2013-2016 was an NSF Postdoc and Boas Assistant Professor at Northwestern University. Johnson-Freyd received his PhD in Mathematics from Berkeley in 2013. Theo is committed to supporting and growing the practices of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion in science and demonstrates his support by only attending conferences where panel representation is diverse and inclusive.