Non-traditional Careers

Welcome to MCB Philip Andrew Helig!

Hear from Science Assistant Philip Andrew Helig

What is your educational background?

I graduated from the University of Mary Washington with a Bachelor’s of Science. While there, I majored in Biology and minored in Chemistry.

What is your position? When did you start working in MCB?

I started working as a Science Assistant in June of 2015. As a Science Assistant, I do special projects for the division, assist Principal Investigators during proposal submission, translate some of the more complicated science into plain language, and assist with the MCB Blog posts.

What attracted you to work for NSF?

Last year, I had the opportunity to work as an intern in the Division of Environmental Biology and MCB. This prior experience at NSF led me to apply for the position of Science Assistant. I knew this job was perfect for me because of my science background and my love for the subject. I also knew that this would be an amazing networking opportunity, with an abundance of science professionals available for me to talk to about a possible future in science. I really liked the people that I worked with at NSF.

What have you learned so far from your position?

In my previous appointments at NSF, I was in charge of organizing and retiring files. That experience greatly strengthened my organizational skills.

Though I was somewhat comfortable with my writing abilities when at school, it wasn’t until I started working here as a Science Assistant that I really started to feel confident. Being surrounded by people who are so passionate about science has reinforced my love for science. My interest in biology and biochemistry has grown significantly since I started working in MCB.


Welcome to MCB Arvin Tahami!

Hear from Arvin Tahami, the newest member of the MCB Division.

What is your educational background?

I have a masters degree in Biotechnology from California State University, San Marcos.

What is your position? When did you start working in MCB?

I started two weeks ago as a Presidential Management Fellow. I work as a Biologist in MCB.

The Presidential Management Fellowship program is led by the Office of Personnel Management to recruit recent graduates from graduate programs into federal service. Recently OPM has added an additional STEM track designed specifically for recent graduates with a background in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. My appointment is in the PMF STEM track.

What attracted you to work for NSF?

Scientists working on important projects to advance our basic understanding of science rely on funding from organizations like the NSF to carry out their work. My role at the NSF allows me the unique privilege to play a part in making sure that our nation’s top scientists, working on worthy projects with the potential to have the highest impact, can apply to the NSF for the funding they need.

What have you learned in the first two weeks of your position?

I am very excited to be a part of MCB. Everybody here is very passionate about our mission. So far I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to observe a couple proposal panel reviews. It has been very fascinating watching scientists debate the merits of each proposal being reviewed. Peer review is central to the advancement of science. Using this process to evaluate funding proposals is very fitting with the foundation’s mission. I’ve learned a great deal about how review panels evaluate proposals by watching them in action.