PHutures – 100 Alumni Voices »

Larry McGrath

“Encourage more people with PhDs in the humanities and social sciences to translate their methodological skill sets beyond their domain expertise into resources that bring value to companies.”

Krieger School of Arts & Sciences

Humanities Center, PhD 2014

Senior Researcher at Amazon Prime Video

Larry‘s Podcast Episode

In this episode, we discuss what led Larry to pivot from pursuing a career in academia to exploring opportunities in business, how he was able to translate his formal skills as a humanist and social scientist into roles in consulting, Facebook/Meta, and Amazon, and his advice for preparing yourself for the possibility of a career in industry by being intentional about how you pursue your doctoral training.

Learn More About Larry‘s Story

At Peking University International Hospital, I (left) led a team of American researchers observing stroke treatments on behalf of Janssen Pharmaceuticals. Their ethnographic study explored cultural differences in brain imaging, patient care, and medical authority, which helped the company deploy new thrombolytic drugs in European and Asian neurology clinics. It was my first post-academic project following the publication of my book, Making Spirit Matter: Psychology, Neurology, and Selfhood in Modern France. I was convinced that technology and life science organizations need the insights of Anthropology and History.

Standing outside the Amazon Spheres in Seattle, I lead user research for Sports at the company. I took over the role in 2022 because I not only wanted to do fun work; my aim was also to bring the Humanities and Social Studies to the study of community representation, social bonding, and athletic grace—values at the core of fandom. Developing sports products tailored to a broad spectrum of fans depends on close attention to people’s motivations for caring about NFL games, college basketball, or even New Zealand cricket. As the team grows, I continue to draw on critical research methods aimed at deeply understanding what makes customers tick.