Examining Administrative Research Data to Track Postdoc Career Outcomes: a Talk by Dr. Nancy Calvin-Naylor

Examining Administrative Research Data to Track Postdoc Career Outcomes: a Talk by Dr. Nancy Calvin-Naylor

This is a guest post by Future of Research policy activist, Adriana Bankston, who moderated this plenary session at the 2017 NPA meeting.   Postdoctoral scholars make up a large segment of the biomedical workforce, and tracking their career trajectories is imperative for providing them with the most appropriate training. This information would also facilitate current postdocs to connect with former trainees who transitioned into various career paths, and thus develop a network of professionals to have as a resource throughout their careers.   Despite the importance of tracking postdoctoral career outcomes, data on this topic are difficult to obtain, and the best methods for data collection are still being debated in the scientific community. The speakers in one of the plenary sessions at the 2017 National Postdoctoral Association Annual Meeting entitled “Data driven approaches to tracking postdocs,” attempted to address some of these issues. One of the main speakers in this session was Dr. Nancy Calvin-Naylor, Managing Director at the Institute for Research on Innovation & Science (IRIS) at the University of Michigan.   What is the recent state of the biomedical research workforce? Dr. Nancy Calvin-Naylor’s talk entitled “Examining Administrative Research Data to Track Postdoc Career Outcomes” began with the traditional definition of the postdoc experience as an apprenticeship for an independent academic research career. However, she pointed out that fewer academic research positions exist than the number of graduate students and postdocs, and trainees are now pursuing a variety of different career paths. Although a variety of approaches have been taken to their track career outcomes to date, there are still a lot of unknowns (shown...
Join in on Tuesday May 16th: The 2nd Homo scientificus europaeus Meeting

Join in on Tuesday May 16th: The 2nd Homo scientificus europaeus Meeting

  On May 16th the 2nd Homo scientificus europaeus Meeting, “A pan-European Scientists’ Community: Promoting an Open Science in an Open World“, will be taking place in Barcelona, Spain. Its aim is to foster the creation of a pan-European community fostering greater interaction between science and society. In the morning, representatives of grassroots associations and organizers of various European “March for Science” marches will discuss national initiatives, and their convergence. The afternoon will focus on the concept of Science Open to Society and will conclude with a general debate on how to proceed for promoting an Open Science in an Open World. Executive Director Gary McDowell will be speaking remotely as part of the final session.   You can watch the event live on the YouTube feed here....
The NIH grant cap

The NIH grant cap

  The National Institutes of Health have proposed a cap on the level of funding that individual investigators can be awarded from NIH. In “New NIH Approach to Grant Funding Aimed at Optimizing Stewardship of Taxpayer Dollars“, NIH Director Francis Collins announced the move in an attempt to redress imbalances with funding, and to particularly focus on early- and mid-career investigators. Indeed, as the post states: “While we have made progress in reversing the decline in grant funding to early-career investigators through various programs and policies, the percentage of NIH awards that support this group remains flat. Unfortunately, gains for early-career investigators have been offset by a decline in the percentage of NIH awards that support mid-career investigators. The only group for which the percentage of grant funding is increasing is late-career investigators.” Further information is described in Michael Lauer’s Open Mike blog post on the subject.   What’s up with the early- and mid-career investigators? Not funding rates, and that’s the issue. As Michael Lauer recently discussed at the National Academy of Sciences, the NIH recently intervened to attempt to halt the declining funding rates of early-career investigators, and while they were successful in stabilizing the level of funding of early career investigators, as the success of the senior investigator pool continued to increase, mid-career investigators now started to see a downturn:       Why would NIH want to introduce this cap? 10% of NIH investigators receive 40% of the funding. This may not seem like a problem to those who feel the best science should be rewarded, but the problem is inherent in defining what the best science is,...
Rigor and Reproducibility One Year Later: How Has the Biomedical Community Responded? A Workshop at the 2017 AAAS Meeting

Rigor and Reproducibility One Year Later: How Has the Biomedical Community Responded? A Workshop at the 2017 AAAS Meeting

This is a guest post by Future of Research policy activist, Adriana Bankston.     The AAAS meeting is a useful platform in which to discuss many important issues plaguing science today. Fundamental to the integrity of the scientific enterprise is being able to perform rigorous experiments at the bench, and successfully reproducing research findings. To this end, the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) has implemented Rigor and Reproducibility guidelines, which represent fundamental changes to the grant application and review process. These guidelines went into effect on January 25, 2016. A session at the 2017 AAAS meeting entitled “Rigor and Reproducibility One Year Later: How Has the Biomedical Community Responded?” explored the feedback received from both the NIH and the research community following these guidelines, and discussed how to best implement them to achieve both increased rates of reproducibility and dramatic returns on research funding investments.   The session was moderated by Leonard Freedman from Global Biological Standards Institute (GBSI), a non-profit organization dedicated to enhancing the credibility, reproducibility, and translatability of biomedical research through best practices and standards. One of their initiatives, Reproducibility2020, aims to significantly improve the quality of preclinical biological research by the year 2020. The session featured Michael Lauer from the National Institutes of Health and William Kaelin from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute as speakers, and Judith Kimble from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, also a member of the steering committee for Rescuing Biomedical Research, as the discussant.   Michael Lauer on p-hacking and cognitive biases Michael Lauer began his talk by discussing the John Ioannidis paper from 2005 entitled “Why Most Published Research...
The Most Important Experiment: Your Career – an Interview with Dr. Joerg Schlatterer

The Most Important Experiment: Your Career – an Interview with Dr. Joerg Schlatterer

This is a guest post by Future of Research policy activist Adriana Bankston. On February 14, 2017, Dr. Joerg Schlatterer gave a talk to the Career Research Advancement Focused Training (CRAFT) seminar series at the University of Louisville entitled “The Most Important Experiment: Your Career”. Following his talk, he graciously agreed to give an interview for the non-profit organization Future of Research, in which he expressed his views on graduate education and career development for trainees.     What is your name and current position? My name is Joerg Schlatterer. I am the manager of the Graduate and Postdoctoral Scholars Office in the Education Division of the American Chemical Society.   How has your research progressed overtime? My research focused on chemistry, biochemistry, and biophysics of nucleic acids. As a chemistry student in Berlin/Germany, I synthesized initiator nucleotides for in vitro selection of RNA enzymes (ribozymes). As a Ph.D. student in Heidelberg, I generated artificial Diels-Alderase ribozymes, which supported the RNA World hypothesis. As a postdoc at the National High Magnetic Field laboratory in Florida, I learned how to solve RNA structures using solution NMR techniques. I added a third element to my research skill portfolio when I joined the Albert Einstein College of Medicine (Einstein)/New York, first as a postdoc and then as an instructor. I learned how to determine folding pathways of large RNAs using time-resolved hydroxyl radical footprinting approaches. I achieved my research goal of mastering all three pillars of RNA research:  generation of artificial ribozymes, examination of RNA structure, and determination of RNA folding pathways.   Tell us about the career development part of your...
Navigating the Shifting Academic Research Landscape: Advice for the Junior Scientist

Navigating the Shifting Academic Research Landscape: Advice for the Junior Scientist

This is a guest post from Samantha Jones, a PhD student in the Biomedical Sciences program at the University of California San Diego. Procuring a tenure-track faculty position in academic scientific research is becoming an elusive dream for an ever-increasing number of junior candidates.  With the current percentage of successful faculty applicants hovering just above 15%, the majority of those with a Ph.D. in the biomedical sciences are considering alternative career paths, regardless of their training. A new generation of scientists is questioning the usefulness of traditional, often referred to as “fossilized,” training approaches, which do little to prepare those hoping to pursue a career outside of academia.  Some mentors are attempting to facilitate the cultivation of both hard skills (rational drug design, informatics) and soft skills (networking, team management, marketing) that are valuable to the private sector, a place where most young scientists often lack the confidence to maneuver. In the case of students and postdoctoral researchers who choose to maintain an academic research career trajectory, this style of interdisciplinary training can prove equally beneficial by establishing bridges to biotech industry-mediated collaborations and funding opportunities. UCSD professor Dr. Gene Yeo employs a highly adaptive mentoring strategy, combining training in computational biology, stem cell technology, neuroscience and bioengineering to forge collaborations with clinics, drug developers and software engineers.  Yeo’s trainees are as likely to start careers in biotechnology or data science as they are to obtain academic professorships.  This mentoring style stems from Yeo’s own very interdisciplinary training, which has made him among the most successful young scientists in the RNA field.   Yeo has a considerably “bilingual” background among...
Marching for a change in the culture of science

Marching for a change in the culture of science

This is a guest post by Future of Research policy activist Adriana Bankston.   I never thought I would participate in an event like this. For me and my family, science had always been a part of our lives, our work, and a way to earn a living. I never thought that I would march for science, but at the same time I was excited to stand up for something that had been such a big part of my life. And to an extent, I knew that I wanted to be a part of this historical day.   The March for Science also made me think more deeply about my role in improving the scientific enterprise. A few months ago, I wrote this post stating that I was marching to preserve science as a top priority and to give a voice to junior scientists in the process. While these goals are supremely important, I didn’t quite realize the magnitude of my role in the process until closer to the date of the march.   Since the Louisville March for Science (combined with the People’s Climate March) wasn’t until April 23rd, I was able to follow all the other marches from around the world the day before. I was so happy to see the entire world supporting science! It was quite impressive. I tried to follow as many of the marches as I could on Twitter, while watching the D.C. march online at the same time.   The day before the Louisville march, I realized that, having left the bench over 6 months ago, I had forgotten how much I...
Tips for transitioning into a non-research career

Tips for transitioning into a non-research career

This article was originally published on the Careers blog and is shared here with the permission from the American Society for Microbiology. The link to the original article is found here. This article was written by policy activist Adriana Bankston. Many trainees are transitioning into non-research careers. Navigating this transition can be tricky, as the available resources are still scarce and fairly inconsistent in universities across the U.S. Various companies are offering uniform career advice to their clients in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM). One of these very well respected companies, STEM Career Services, is a full service career counseling and job placement company. Their general mission is to help trainees start and sustain a career outside of academia. Dr. Josh Henkin, founder of STEM Career Services, has given numerous career workshops at national meetings. At the 2017 AAAS meeting in Boston, MA, Dr. Henkin held a workshop entitled “Transitioning into a Non-Academic Career,” which was very well attended and successful. The goal of the workshop was to explore the skills and best practices for trainees to transition out of academia. Below we summarize and highlight the main points from this session. Develop a strategic approach: What is the best approach to job searching? In the “traditional” approach, trainees typically start looking for jobs towards the end of their training (which is too late), and are oftentimes not aware of what they are passionate about, or how their skills match desired positions. Alternatively, the “strategic” approach is focused on accumulating relevant experiences (internships, part-time jobs, volunteer work, committee participation) early on. This is critical in learning what you...
So…You Want To Do A Postdoc? Talk by Executive Director at University of Michigan

So…You Want To Do A Postdoc? Talk by Executive Director at University of Michigan

On April 27 2017, Executive Director Gary McDowell gave a talk to graduate students at the University of Michigan, “So…You Want To Do A Postdoc?” The talk presents some data about the postdoc position to provide context for discussing some barriers junior scientists face, and some advice on things to consider. This talk doesn’t aim to be a comprehensive resource, but rather to provoke thought and reflection, and challenge some basic assumptions people may have about the postdoc position.   The talk is available here on YouTube, and the slide deck is available here at F1000Research in the Future of Research Channel. After downloading the PDF of the slide deck it should be possible to click on the links to access the resources and citations mentioned.   A note on the data presented: the talk includes a very preliminary analysis using publicly-available data from the University of Michigan. It is hard to draw concrete conclusions from the data about salaries, but is used to highlight the difficulties in finding out salary info that potential postdocs may face; to challenge the assumption that all postdocs are paid on a defined scale (usually assumed to be the NIH NRSA stipend scale); and to demonstrate that a wide range of salaries can be found, and that postdocs need to ensure they are advocating for themselves in potential negotiations for positions....
March for Science: FoR Events and Partners

March for Science: FoR Events and Partners

  The March for Science is nearly upon us! As partners of the march in DC, as well as several satellite marches, we wanted to pass along info about events and logistics. There are over 500 Marches worldwide, so even if you aren’t near any of the marches mentioned below, you can find info on all of them at the . If you are interested in participating in a March but are not sure where the closest march is, visit the March for Science March information page, where you can find the March nearest you, and sign up.   Information about marching in general We have just published a post, “How international scientists can advocate, and how U.S. scientists can support them” with information on marching and advocacy, with further resources, to provide information to try to address concerns and questions people may have about marching. Please contact info [at] futureofresearch.org with questions/comments.     March partners and events Future of Research is officially partnered with the march in Washington DC, and with the satellite marches in Minnesota, Chicago, and Louisville. We will be participating directly in events at the DC March (a Teach-in) and the San Francisco March (on a panel) as detailed below!   March for Science DC Event Details: https://www.marchforscience.com/event-details     Future of Research Teach-in: Juan Pablo Ruiz of Labmosphere, also a lead organizer of a FoR meeting currently being planned in Maryland on mentoring in academia, will be leading a Teach-in, “Challenges in becoming a scientist”, discussing real actions to be taken in advocating for junior scientists. Register here! See also the Facebook event here.    ...