Building Community and Finding Opportunity at BioBash 2023

Sometimes a scientist’s most important discovery is one that takes place outside of a lab. For example, the discovery of what kind of scientist they truly want to be. This kind of breakthrough can be made at events like the one that took place at the Danforth Center this fall: BioBash.

Hosted by the Center’s Committee for Scientific Training and Mentoring (CSTM), this annual job fair, career conference, and networking opportunity brings together scientists from across the region to meet up and learn about all the different paths one can take in their field. For one afternoon, the attendees of this year’s BioBash got to make connections, get inspired, and ultimately discover how to take their careers to new heights.

Check out the highlight reel from this year’s BioBash!

Communicating Their Findings

The event kicked off with a panel featuring scientists from the local innovation ecosystem who discussed the diverse trajectories of their careers and imparted useful advice to the audience. Some of these lessons included: manage your priorities, know what drives you, and as one panelist, Dr. Jagdeep Kaur, said, “learn to lead by influence.”

BioBash 2023’s career panel featured four accomplished scientists who told stories, answered questions, and discussed the lessons they’ve learned from their unique journeys. From left to right: moderator Katie Murphy, PhD; Doug Allen, PhD; Mary Fernandes, PhD; Lary Gilbertson, PhD; Jagdeep Kaur, PhD.

Moderating this discussion was Danforth Center Director of Phenotyping and Principal Investigator Katie Murphy, PhD, who, just one year prior, was a winner of BioBash 2022’s poster session — an example of the impactful opportunities that make BioBash unique.

I really like that the Danforth Center is opening this event to the broader 39 North community. It shows that we are all collaborative and we are all working together.”

Blaire Bacher, PhD
Scientific Operations Lead and Molecular Lead, Solis Agrosciences


Pitch Perfect

This year’s BioBash offered guests a different way to compete for prizes while also showcasing their skills and passions. It was called the Career Pitch Contest. Here, five early-career scientists took to the stage to give a quick overview of their life and ambitions—essentially a personal elevator pitch that can be deployed in networking situations and job interviews. Once the presenters had finished presenting, it was then up to the audience to vote on their favorite and decide who would walk away with a $500 award to assist them in their careers.

The winners of the BioBash 2023 Career Pitch Contest. The scientists’ presentations were the audience favorites, and the three received $500 prize to assist them in their careers. From left to right: Hui Li, PhD, Trent VanHawkins, Dhananjay Gotarkar, PhD.

One of the three winners was Dhananjay Gotarkar, a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Missouri-Columbia, who participated in the contest to help him in his transition from was academia to industry. With the help of his prize money, he hopes to attend more events like BioBash in the future. “It’s a great platform for people to explore what they want to do in their career,” he said. “The organizers did a tremendous job.”

Mix and Match

Finally, the time came for the job fair and networking mixer, where the attendees got to sip drinks, sample hors d'oeuvres, stock up on swag, and socialize with peers and recruiters from around the innovation ecosystem. And while some may have left BioBash having discovered the job that suits them best, there were benefits to be had by all who simply made a new acquaintance. “It’s all about networking, gaining knowledge from other people,” said Kavita Chechani, who recently joined Plastomics, Inc. as a research associate. “In the bio field, you work under the hood under all the time. You never get to know the people to your left and right. But when you come here, you enjoy, you talk to people, you know what other people are doing. So it’s a very good event.”

Photos from BioBash 2023


By nurturing scientific talent here in St. Louis through events like BioBash, the Danforth Center is working to both strengthen our region and improve our world. By donating to the Danforth Center’s Impact Fund, you can help create more life-changing opportunities for the scientific leaders of tomorrow. Give today.

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