Preparing Tomorrow’s Leaders for Science

Applications Due Now

Download Application (Word)

Apply by May 1, 2020.

Watch a video about the benefits and value of PTLS with Loriana Sekarski

PTLS is about (in the words of the participants)

  • Transforming yourself into being a confident and competent professional who can effectively lead teams.
  • Boosting your resume by demonstrating skills employers expect – that’s why Monsanto/Bayer has funded PTLS for more than five years and being a participant is a selling point when interviewing.
  • Getting exclusive access to PTLS alumni in jobs nationwide that feel an immediate connection to you being part of the same program.
  • Getting to practice and receive feedback on your soft skills (e.g., facilitating, planning, influencing, collaborating, leading people) vs. just learning about them.
  • Collaborating and building friendships with other grad students, making school less isolating.
  • Achieving stretch goals as a result of peer accountability.
  • Getting a more intimate look at companies so you build a network and figure out what you really want to do (academia or industry).
  • Learning to interview confidently and being more effective in the job search.
  • Realizing your strengths based on what others say around you, and how to use them to be more effective both in grad school and beyond.
  • Learning how to influence others and get people on teams to work better together.
  • Getting to know like-minded people from different fields.

PTLS is transformational. It works because it isn’t just a class – it is a collection of experiences and opportunities that are unique to this two-semester program which starts each fall. Like an athlete, you’ll have a personal coach to help you. You will be part of a strong team and a tradition. And you will achieve goals with them you hadn’t considered before. You will become more intentional and focused on achieving what is important to you.

We are now recruiting and selecting our 2020-21 team. There are 15 slots that will be filled by grad students and/or post docs ready to improve themselves and help their teammates as well. Complete the application below or reach out to for more information.

Here’s what a few business executives said about the program:

“The students’ soft skills were WAY above average. Mizzou has great students and this program makes them better.”

“I didn’t think that you could teach people to be leaders. They either are or aren’t. But, PTLS has completely changed my mind about that.”

How to apply

PTLS Application 2020 First Round (Word)

2020 PTLS Application Is Due April 1, 2020.

Program overview

Students learn by working through issues they will encounter on the job – learning to plan and execute, lead discussions, and have hard conversations. Students learn by working through issues they will encounter on the job – learning to plan and execute, lead discussions, and have hard conversations.

This program has been proven to be effective because it is not a typical class but an immersion experience where participants are treated as professionals, working in small groups which become support teams for personal growth. All aspects of the program are interwoven for reinforcement of development and learning. There is personal one-on-one coaching and access to leaders most students don’t receive. Training is unique and professional assessments are used in the process. You get help solving current challenges and with building skills to prepare for future opportunities. It is a unique opportunity for those who want to take their performance to the next level.

PTLS is a two-part series:

  • Foundational PTLS will prepare students with basic critical skills expected by any employer, be it academia or a business. Students will meet two hours per week starting at 8 a.m. (most likely on Tuesday). There will be no class during some weeks and some sessions may be a bit shorter/longer if needed for the experience. One-on-one coaching sessions and small group meetings will be conducted based on the student’s schedules.
  • Advanced PTLS, held during spring semester, will be focused on preparing students for positions in industry. The emphasis will be on further refinement of communication and soft skills. While some time will be spent on campus, there will also be a day at Bayer. One-on-one coaching will continue this semester.

The program will feature:

  • Practice-oriented training with hands-on experiences, groups projects and mobile learning
  • Feedback based on a peer review and on-going coaching sessions to improve personal performance
  • Experiences with industry leaders including site visits, mentoring and networking functions

Benefits of the program

Students who complete this elite program will have a competitive advantage over their peers nationwide because they will know how to:

  • Present themselves professionally and confidently
  • Influence others, work collaboratively and lead teams
  • Deal with conflict and have hard conversations with confidence
  • Write and present effectively
  • Be comfortable networking and building a network
  • Lead meetings
  • Manage a project
  • Interview with confidence and identify a “best fit” position
Student at tableIndividuals have a personal leadership coach throughout the year

After PTLS, students will also understand:

  • How businesses operate (academic researchers regularly work with businesses)
  • How the commercialization and regulatory processes work
  • How to think strategically and globally
  • What are the critical issues facing businesses and the industry
  • How to think about problems from a business perspective

Students can list PTLS on their resumes and it will also appear on their transcripts. CAFNR will educate employers on what PTLS entails, so that they will be seeking out these graduates.


The 2020-2021 program is for master’s and PhD students and post docs in biochemistry, bioengineering, bioinformatics, computer science, food science, engineering, mathematics, social science and plant science, or who have a faculty advisor in IPG. Other disciplines may be included upon special invitation or request. Preference will be given to those students who have completed one year of coursework by September 1, 2020. Foundational PTLS is a pre-requisite for Advanced PTLS.

Students engage in hearty discussions with scientists and leaders in industry.

Students will be selected for this program based on leadership potential, desire to participate, openness to coaching and ability to contribute to others’ experience by actively sharing in the program. We are also striving to achieve a diverse class. For 2020-21, we are seeking students who have significant potential post-MU and want to be a part of this elite experience.

How to apply

You can apply by completing the application at the top of this page and emailing it to Your advisor will need to email a note of support and recommendation to Loriana Sekarski as well. Qualified applicants will be interviewed for a position in the program.

How to nominate

Faculty members and advisors can nominate a student by sending the student’s name, email and a brief explanation of why the student should be considered to:

Loriana will follow up with nominated students on the full application process.


Contact Loriana Sekarski, President, BONSAI™,, 314-540-6114