Effects of DACA on members of the STEM community

Effects of DACA on members of the STEM community

This is a guest post by Future of Research board member, Sarah Wong.   Future of Research has issued a statement condemning the attacks on DACA and expressing our commitment to diversity in STEM. FoR interviewed several members of the STEM community to understand more about the effects of DACA on this population. They described the barriers they have faced while in the US and their fears in the face of the DACA repeal. Finally, they discussed how the scientific community can help support them.   Karina Meneses, a math major at the University of California San Diego, arrived in the USA from Mexico at age 11. She recalled her childhood experience as an illegal immigrant: “I have faced financial hardship: my parents and I lived in a single room for years and have been on the brink of being homeless if not for people who were willing to lend a hand and let us stay with them. There have been times when we relied on the Church for food. And of course, this isn’t because my parents are lazy but because it is very hard to find a stable job when you’re undocumented”. Despite these hardships, she managed to graduate at the top of her high school class. She is now in her final year at UCSD, and plans to attend graduate school.   Meneses stressed that DACA recipients face more financial hardships in college than US citizens, as many are ineligible for certain scholarships or paid research programs. This sentiment was shared by Francisco J. López-Flores, a Senior Leave Analyst at UCLA Health, who was “part of...
Registration now open for Boston 2017 Meeting: Expanding Leadership roles for Early Career Researchers #FORLeads

Registration now open for Boston 2017 Meeting: Expanding Leadership roles for Early Career Researchers #FORLeads

  Get Early Career Researchers a Seat at the Table!   Register NOW here   The 2017 Boston FoR meeting will take place at Boston University November 17-18. Check out the conference page here for more info!   Background and symposium goals Future of Research, a nationwide grassroots advocacy group comprised of Early Career Researchers (ECRs) including graduate students, postdoctoral scholars, industry scientists and junior faculty is hosting a 1-and-a-half day symposium focused on training ECRs to develop skills to self-advocate for their training and career development needs.  The goal of this symposium is to promote the inclusion of early career scientists in leadership positions to ensure their representation during decision-making conversations that affect the future of the scientific enterprise.   Conversations about getting ECR advocates a seat at the table are important for giving the early career population a voice in science, in particular as they are the most diverse population within academia in terms of race, gender, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status. There are greater barriers faced by members of underrepresented groups in the struggle to be heard by those in positions of power. Recognizing this fact, we seek to include a diverse and inclusive representation of race, ethnicity, disability status, gender identity and sexual orientation in our invitation/selection of meeting speakers and participants. The efforts taken to make sure that our organization is diverse and inclusive, and can speak to as much of the community as possible, are central also to our efforts in preparing symposia.         Participants at the 2016 “Advocating for Science” Symposium in Boston. Photo by Alina Chan   Symposium format This symposium, hosted at...
Mentoring: Catalyzing the Next Generation of Scientists webinar with Union of Concerned Scientists

Mentoring: Catalyzing the Next Generation of Scientists webinar with Union of Concerned Scientists

Scientists today are increasingly needed in advocacy and policy efforts, as well as conducting research, securing funding, and teaching classes, and we need to ensure that we foster all of this in the next generation of scientists. How can you ensure that you develop a working mentor-mentee relationship in the sciences, to further academic, advocacy and policy goals? Following on from our mentoring tweetchat and meeting at College Park (stay tuned for our write-up of the event), in collaboration with The Science Network at the Union of Concerned Scientists we invite you to a webinar featuring mentor/mentee pair Sandra Schmid and Ashley Lakoduk from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center who will offer strategies and resources that are currently available to mentors. Mentoring: Catalyzing the Next Generation of Scientists Date: Thursday, October 12 Time: 2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. EDT / 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. PDT Register for the Webinar Today...
FoR public statement on the “Next Generation Researchers Initiative” study at the National Academies

FoR public statement on the “Next Generation Researchers Initiative” study at the National Academies

The Board of Future of Research has submitted the following to the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine study, the “Next Generation Researchers Initiative”. As Executive Director Gary McDowell and President Jessica Polka are both members of the study committee, they recused themselves from drafting this statement:   Future of Research advocates for training early career researchers to be successful in independent research careers, and the long-term sustainment of such careers. As an organization, we provide opportunities for and encourage early career researchers to speak up about issues they have experienced within the scientific system, while also collecting and analyzing data to identify ways the system should change to better fit their career preparation needs.   The Next Generation Researchers Initiative study by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, brings much of our own concerns to light in terms of the barriers encountered by researchers when transitioning into independent research careers. One of the biggest barriers is the lack of career guidance and support needed to prepare them for successfully transitioning into a variety of research intensive roles within and outside of academia. The Committee could make a positive impact by gathering data on what researchers in these fields need (including longitudinal studies) and encouraging universities and research institutes to implement career development programs to help them in this transition.   More broadly exposing early career researchers to multiple types of research experiences could be achieved by internships and other programs at the university level, enabling them to become better prepared for research intensive careers. We recommend the Committee discuss how mentors can encourage trainees to...
How should we mentor junior scientists? Reflections from a Twitter chat

How should we mentor junior scientists? Reflections from a Twitter chat

This is a guest post by Future of Research board member, Adriana Bankston.   Mentoring junior scientists is one of the most important aspects of academia. Effective mentoring can help young, inexperienced scientists develop into confident, independent and valuable contributors to science and society. Typically, we think of mentors as being faculty members in an academic setting. They are in a position to shape how trainees develop in academia, which is a great responsibility. To a large extent, therefore, culture change begins with the faculty.   On the other hand, not all faculty are effective mentors. In an academic culture dominated by hypercompetition, mentoring might be less emphasized as compared to publication. However, producing trained scientists should be the goal of academia, which is why mentoring is critical to the entire enterprise.   Providing effective mentoring to graduate students and postdocs typically requires a large amount of time and effort, constructive feedback, and a well-defined long-term strategy. It also takes flexibility and adaptability to the needs and goals of the mentee, which is sometimes overshadowed the needs of faculty.   Also, anyone can be a mentor – not just the faculty. Graduate students often mentor undergraduates for an entire summer or a semester in the lab, and postdocs can teach graduate students new concepts and valuable research practices within the lab. Therefore, all of these efforts count as mentoring, and should be properly incentivized and rewarded in academia.   Some of the ideas outlined above, as well as many other great ideas on the topic of mentoring, have emerged during a productive and informative Twitter chat discussion. The event...
Postdocs React to the FLSA Fiasco – Part 2

Postdocs React to the FLSA Fiasco – Part 2

This is a guest post by Future of Research board member, Adriana Bankston. It is the second of two posts (the first post can be found here). Our paper on the effect of the FLSA on postdoc salaries has now been updated here, with analysis of how the injunction and collapse of the updates to the FLSA affected postdocs. Comments to the Department of Labor on a new set of updates were submitted by both the National and UAW5810 branch of the Union of Auto Workers, specifically addressing postdocs.   As stated in the previous post, Future of Research has been tracking the national compliance of institutions with the FLSA ruling both before and after the injunction. Unfortunately, some institutions, including MSU, chose to cancel salary raises for their postdocs, causing a great deal of chaos and confusion. To find out how postdocs in this situation felt, in this second blog post, we spoke with postdocs at MSU whose salaries were cancelled following the injunction.   The effects of cancelling salary raises   Michigan State University (MSU) was one of the institutions where postdoctoral salary raises were cancelled. A common thread among MSU postdocs we interviewed, who wished to remain anonymous, was feeling underappreciated. One MSU postdoc states having had “a constant feeling of being under-appreciated, over-worked, professionally frustrated, and constantly pulling the thrown-in-towel out of the ‘screw-academia’ pile” for the past two years. Postdocs at MSU stated that the initial FLSA ruling gave them a bit of hope. It gave one postdoc the impression that “these past months waiting for a decision to be made were worth it” and made...

How to help those affected by Hurricane Maria

With thanks to Daniel Colon-Ramos from Ciencia Puerto Rico, we want to share with you ways you can help those affected by Hurricane Maria, in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands.   Members of our community have been directly and indirectly impacted by the devastation caused by Maria. Many people have loved ones and collaborators who are in the midst of the crisis. Hurricane Maria has left 3.5 million people without power in the archipelago of Puerto Rico in a massive humanitarian crisis. Almost all of the population have no power and 75% don’t have water service at home; according to the Pentagon, 44% don’t have access to drinking water. Approximately 80% of the population do not have access to communication services, as landlines, cell towers and internet access are severely affected.   CenadoresPR and CienciaPR have collected and vetted ways of helping those affected, and kindly shared this information with us: If people need to find information about family, friends or community in Puerto Rico, email the Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration (PRFAA) at maria1@prfaa.pr.gov or contact them at 202-800-3133 or 202-800-3134. Another organization providing assistance to PRFAA is the Puerto Rico Family Institute at 212-414-7895. Google has also activated its Google Person Finder The American Red Cross has a  Safe and Well page, where survivors can register and post messages, and loved ones can search for registrants. Those worried about missing friends or relatives with a serious health condition are encouraged to call the Red Cross at 1-800-733-2767, so volunteers on the ground can follow-up.   They have also collected and vetted ways of aiding recovery: Donations to...
FoR public statement on “Revitalizing Graduate STEM Education for the 21st Century”

FoR public statement on “Revitalizing Graduate STEM Education for the 21st Century”

  Today (September 22nd) is the *last day* to submit comments to the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine study, “Revitalizing Graduate STEM Education for the 21st Century”. Click here to find out how you can submit today and make yourself heard. The Board of Directors of Future of Research has submitted the following statement:   Graduate students are an investment in the future of science, and therefore are in the best shape to guide the future of the scientific enterprise. However, they are not equipped with the necessary resources to succeed within the current scientific climate, in particular as it relates to their transition into productive, independent careers, either within or outside academia, on a long-term basis. Even well-meaning academic mentors are not always aware of these needs or are unable to help trainees in their lab transition into careers outside academia. This is particularly important given that the majority of trainees will be employed in non-academic careers (National Science Foundation n.d.); that 80% of U.S. biomedical PhDs are currently pursuing postdoctoral training (Sauermann and Roach 2016; Kahn and Ginther 2017); and that the number of biomedical PhDs in the U.S. labor market exceeds the number of jobs requiring biomedical PhDs (Mason et al. 2016). Many graduate students may not have the opportunity to improve their training due to limited professional development resources at the university level.   There is a definite need for more offerings from various stakeholders for helping scientists become more prepared for particular careers. Online courses could be useful, but the Committee could further discuss the means by which institutions and mentors can...
ONE WEEK LEFT to submit comments to Committee on Revitalizing Graduate STEM Education for the 21st Century

ONE WEEK LEFT to submit comments to Committee on Revitalizing Graduate STEM Education for the 21st Century

Two studies, currently underway at the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine, are soliciting public input as part of their process, and they need to hear from you. ONE of the studies has only ONE WEEK LEFT for you to submit input.   The Committee on Revitalizing Graduate STEM Education for the 21st Century invites public input here on its Discussion Document and Call for Community Input through September 22, 2017.   See our action page at http://futureofresearch.org/nasfeedback/ for more info....
FoR College Park meeting on Mentoring in STEM: registration closes NOON EASTERN SEPTEMBER 15TH

FoR College Park meeting on Mentoring in STEM: registration closes NOON EASTERN SEPTEMBER 15TH

*REGISTRATION for the Ethical and Inspiring Mentorship in STEM Meeting will CLOSE AT NOON ET SEPTEMBER 15TH*   Register here – remember, registration refunds will be available at the registration desk, breakfast and lunch will be included. UMD College Park is just off the Green Line.   The great speakers we have lined up, plus the series of workshops to tackle how to center mentoring into academia, are going to make for an exciting meeting with lots of discussion – check out the #MentoringFutureSci tweetchat from Sep 12th on Twitter to see some of the issues we want to address!...