Mark Thompson

USC Dana and David Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences
USC Viterbi School of Engineering
Mark Thompson
Photo by Steve Cohn Photography

For many of us, myself included, the decision to go to graduate school is an easy one. After 16 years of school, why not a few more and finish things off with a PhD? The problem comes at the end of graduate school, when there isn’t an “automatic” path to take anymore. You are faced with a great many choices and do not have the information to help you choose the best path for you. Should I consider a career in academics, industry, or at a national lab? How about starting my own company? Am I capable of excelling in any of these careers? This is where my graduate and postdoctoral advisors changed my life in many ways. They helped me understand what each job would be like, what would be expected of me, and what I needed to do to get ready for and land the job I really wanted. They have also been there since I took up my independent career, whenever I needed to get advice or asked them to act as a sounding board. I am where I am today in large part due to the mentoring I got as a graduate student, postdoc, and young professor. This award is a great honor for me. I always hoped that I could help my students and postdocs in the same way that I was helped by my mentors so many years ago. It is exciting to watch my students move into their own careers and grow to become the independent scientists and engineers that they are. If I can help them on that path, it is a privilege to do so.