JHSPH Alumni Profiles

Lily Raines, PhD

Photo of Dr. Raines Dr. Lily Raines completed her PhD at Johns Hopkins in the Biochemistry, Cellular and Molecular Biology program in the department of Biophysics and Biophysical Chemistry. Before starting at JHU, she received her Bachelor’s in Science from Eckerd College in Biochemistry. During her graduate work, Dr. Raines was a Science Outreach Intern at the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB) as part of the Biomedical Careers Initiative program at Hopkins. She also served as the Course Director for the Effective Science Communication course in the School of Medicine. After completing her work at Hopkins, Dr. Raines started at the American Chemical Society as a Global Projects Manager of International Activities. She currently works at the American Chemical Society as the Manager of the Office of Science Outreach.

What are your responsibilities at your current position?

I manage a small team in charge of domestic and international science outreach programs. Our team works on two large principally domestic outreach campaigns (National Chemistry Week, Chemists Celebrate Earth Week); one international outreach program and an associated train-the-trainer workshop (the Chemistry Festival); a program helping scientists go into schools with hands-on activities (Kids and Chemistry); and the Chemistry Olympiad.

What was your transition like from being in academia into being a Science Outreach professional at ACS?

Pretty smooth. I knew what I signed up for in a general sense after completing my internship at the ASBMB. I looked forward to the strategic aspect of designing new and expanding existing programs. The international aspect was something I didn’t plan for but now I love the lens it gives me for all our programs.

How do you feel your training prepared you for this career – in content knowledge or in technical skill, compared to content or skills you learned on the job?

Time management is one of the most useful things gained from my training at Hopkins used in my daily work, as we have various programs and competing priorities with limited budgets. Similarly, the ability to look at program data, analyze, and decide how that informs your next steps come naturally after working in a lab. The content knowledge is helpful as I help bridge the gap between our scientist volunteers and our staff. My experience writing grants is useful as I defend the budgets for our programs.

When and why did you choose this career path? Did you know you wanted to go down this career path when you were in graduate school?

When I started graduate school, I was certain that I was going to be a professor at a primarily undergraduate institution. Around year 3 or 4 I did some reflecting about what the key elements were of my ideal future career. It is important to me to help science as an enterprise, and through our programs and training of our wonderful volunteers I feel I can have an exponential impact.

How did you find your position at ACS?

Through LinkedIn. I knew I wanted to work at a scientific professional society, so I looked for positions and found my first job listed as “Global Outreach Coordinator.” It’s been great working at ACS ever since.

Are there any additional courses or work experiences you would recommend outside of your formal training for someone pursuing a career in your field?

The best thing to do is volunteer in outreach, or whatever field you’re interested in pursuing, and try to assume a leadership role. You need to “walk the walk” and make sure your resume has something that proves your passionate and dedicated to a given career path.

Can you speak a little bit about your experience as an intern at ASBMB and contributed to your preparation for this career path?

The single biggest thing was that it showed me a career in science outreach was possible. I had assumed it would just be a hobby alongside my “real” career, and I am glad I was able to learn otherwise.

What is the next step in your career? Where do you see yourself professionally in 5 to 10 years?

In the more near future, I’d like to continue to progress through management at the American Chemical Society. I would eventually like to become an executive director of a science focused non-profit, but I’ll confess I’m not sure how many years it takes to reach that level.

Broadly, what are the typical salary ranges for various levels in this field?

Starting salaries seem to be around $60,000/year in Washington, D.C.

What are some of the non-salary benefits or compensation available in your field, and what do those look like working for a professional society?

As I am no longer tethered to a lab bench I am able to take advantage of flexible work policies. I am able to work from home on Fridays, which is a nice break from my commute to D.C., and I have many colleagues who have a compressed work week schedule. I have a rare position that includes a lot of international travel – I think I won the lottery here!

For someone interested in your career path what other jobs would you suggest researching?

Look for positions at professional societies, charitable foundations, and even university communications offices.

Is there any part of your career path that is only available to U.S. Citizens? Does your company support visas for international scientists?

This career path is not limited to U.S. citizens, although I imagine most positions would be based in major cities such as Washington, D.C.

Can you suggest some ways a student could obtain experience/exposure to figure out if a career in your field is right for them?

Volunteer! There are plenty of great groups around Hopkins who are doing important outreach in the community. Even if you don’t want to pursue outreach full time, volunteering is a great way to give back to your community and can be a nice change of pace from bench work.