In Conversation with Vania Cao

November 24, 2020 by Promit Ray

The following post features an interview with Vania Cao; neuroscientist, author, artist, singer and founder of Free the PhD (FTP). FTP is a career transition platform helping PhDs pursue a fruitful career and professional life after they graduate. Chetana joins me in interviewing Vania about her multifaceted career, her transition to academia as a successful business professional, and her desire to give back to fellow PhDs.

Careers within and outside of academia are an often discussed topic, particularly in the context of graduate studies. FTP, Vania’s brainchild, is a rapidly growing career transition platform helping PhDs fully explore positions outside of academia. In this discussion, she tells us about her PhD experience and what inspired her to pursue a career in industry. She also tells us about the importance of an academic community and a healthy mindset while looking to transition and explore one’s full potential as an academic. We talk about the importance of versatility and confidence in exploring options within and outside of academia, a case in point being her experience with modeling.

Vania Cao speaks to amicable scientists about her versatile experiences in academia that have now shaped her professional life. She tells us about her passion projects, Free the PhD, and what led her to building a platform for the community.

Here is a link to Vania’s experience in a pageant gown referenced in the interview. We hope you enjoy the interview, please stay tuned for more to come!

Post written by Promit Ray

Promit Ray is a passionate chemistry graduate with a love for scientific writing. He is passionate about observing and learning from patterns in data and greatly enjoys explaining complicated science simply. He is currently at the end of his PhD in computational chemistry at the University of Bonn, Germany following a masters degree from Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research, India. A materials scientist by training, he writes on demystifying scientific concepts, careers, and life in the sciences, and generally aims to involve the community in popular science. Always happy to chat about science communication and new projects, he can be reached at


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