Entrepreneurship professor brings extensive STEM knowledge, experience

VarnArsdale chair of the School of Business Judith Albers has shared her knowledge of entrepreneurship to the students here at Geneseo since 2013. Though Albers obtained a degree in chemistry, her varied range of passions and interests allowed her to pursue many different career paths, from analyses to teaching to entrepreneurship.

Originally from Rochester, Albers moved to North Carolina in 1974 to obtain her bachelor’s degree in chemistry at Duke University. After graduating, Albers moved to Minnesota, where she worked as a product development chemist at 3M. After a year in the workforce, Albers decided to continue her education and obtained her PhD in chemistry from Brandeis University in 1979.

Following her graduation from Brandeis University, Albers was unsure whether she wanted to further pursue her education or go into the industry. During the 1980s, entrepreneurship wasn’t well known, and therefore not considered by Albers.

“Entrepreneurship wasn’t available and it really wasn’t something that was being talked about,” Albers said.

Returning once again to academics, Albers accomplished her post-doctorate in chemistry at Princeton University. Albers decided that she wanted to go into something exciting that would pique her interest afterward, but was unsure of what field she wanted to work in.

After some research, Albers decided to go to Washington D.C., where she got a job as a defense analyst working for the Navy. In this position she analyzed data along with 200 other PhDs in statistics, engineering and math.

“It was something that sounded unique and interesting,” Albers said. “I also got the chance to live in Washington D.C. As a defense analyst, you get to do exciting things and get deployed in interesting places in the world, but you get to do it as a civilian.”

Albers worked for two years on a Pentagon assignment, where she became the first woman deployed out of the country to Italy from the Center for Naval Analyses. Albers spent two years in Naples. During her free time, she traveled all over the Mediterranean and Europe.

“[It was] one of the best experiences of my life,” Albers said. “It was really just wonderful.”

Upon returning to the United States, Albers’ husband was deployed to Maine, where she worked as a chemistry professor at Bates College for one year before returning to Rochester.

While doing research and asking people how she could connect her passions with a career, Albers decided to go into technology transfer, which involves applying scientific research skills into real world environments. This led to Albers working with the Trillium Group, where she became the co-manager of the University Technology Seed Fund.

After joining Excell Partners—a state-supported seed fund—Albers founded the Pre-Seed Workshop in 2004, which was an efficient two-and-a-half-day workshop that worked with university technologies. Rochester Institute of Technology, Cornell University, Syracuse University and every other major university in New York all picked up Albers’ program.

While the Pre-Seed Workshop remained successful, by 2013 the constant traveling had become difficult, so Albers decided to apply for the entrepreneurship professor opening at Geneseo.

“I had some hesitations about undergraduates and liberal arts due to my extensive studies at larger universities,” Albers said. “But, it was just a very appealing prospect.”

Albers turned her Pre-Seed Workshop into a class at Geneseo and introduced entrepreneurship to Geneseo students. Since Albers joined Geneseo, the program has found high levels of success and popularity. Many students go on to participate in the incubator program over the summer.

In addition to being a well-known professor in Geneseo’s School of Business, Albers is a pioneer as the school’s first entrepreneurship professor. With her diverse background, Albers demonstrates that entrepreneurship is for anyone and teaches skills that can be used in any field, for any major. Her varied careers and experience solidify her standing as an incredibly educated, inspiring and kind person whose presence is immensely valued in the Geneseo community.