Advocating for Science Symposium Travel Awardee Alex Erwin: Dear Scientist, you are the best spokesperson for science. Here’s how to be effective.

Advocating for Science Symposium Travel Awardee Alex Erwin: Dear Scientist, you are the best spokesperson for science. Here’s how to be effective.

This is a guest post written by Advocating for Science Travel Awardee, Alex Erwin:     Even though most of us are happily pursuing what we love, that doesn’t mean that we aren’t frustrated with certain aspects of the scientific enterprise. Concerns about research funding, graduate and postdoctoral training, and how to improve relations between science and the public are prevalent. We often share our our frustrations with peers but we do ourselves a great disservice by not communicating our issues beyond colleagues. This is wherescience advocacy comes in. To make improvements to the science endeavor, we have to effectively communicate with the people who have the power to make changes. It’s important to remember that scientists aren’t a special interest group, but scientists do have the best understanding of what is at stake if science isn’t supported. Depending on the issue you’re trying to address, relevant decision makers may be your department head, university administrators, local legislators, or representatives at the national level. It’s also important to remember that anyone you meet day-to-day is a fellow constituent and taxpayer, making their opinion influential to decision-makers. This last September, there was a symposium dedicated specifically to science advocacy. The Advocating for Science Symposium was held on the MIT campus and was a joint effort by two non-profits consisting of early career scientists, The Future of Research and Academics for the Future of Science, and the MIT Graduate Student Council. Because being a graduate student in Kansas limits my exposure to these kinds of resources, I was especially eager for the opportunity to attend a meeting like this so I could bring...
Advocating for Science Symposium Travel Awardee Adriana Bankston: Advocating for Science Meeting Highlights

Advocating for Science Symposium Travel Awardee Adriana Bankston: Advocating for Science Meeting Highlights

This is a guest post written by Advocating for Science Travel Awardee, Adriana Bankston:     The “Advocating for Science” symposium and workshop took place at MIT on September 16-17, 2016. The meeting was co-organized by the Future of Research and Academics for the Future of Science organizations, together with the MIT Graduate Student Council. I was fortunate enough to be one of six people to be awarded a travel scholarship to attend this meeting. The ability to voice my opinions and questions about science advocacy, as well as brainstorm with other junior scientists on how we can better advocate for science was very exciting. I thus left the meeting fueled with great excitement and drive to improve the scientific enterprise, and I am very grateful for this opportunity.                                   The meeting began with introductions from the organizers, which included Gary McDowell (Future of Research), Christin Glorioso (Academics for the Future of Science) and Daniel Curtis (MIT Graduate Student Council). The goal of the Future of Research organization is to represent junior scientists, through grassroots advocacy, to promote systemic change to the way we do science. Some key points from Gary McDowell’s talk which stood out are: 1) Learning how to advocate is very important for getting junior voices heard 2) We need a scientific enterprise, not just an academic one. How we can better imagine a scientific enterprise in which people are using their scientific passion to benefit society, rather than just benefiting an academic system?   The Academics for the Future...
Advocating for Science Symposium Travel Awardee Holly Hamilton: Advocating for a Brighter Future of Research

Advocating for Science Symposium Travel Awardee Holly Hamilton: Advocating for a Brighter Future of Research

  This is a guest post written by Advocating for Science Travel Awardee, Holly Hamilton:     Path Towards Advocacy My journey to science advocacy began with a few wobbly steps of self-exploration. I voluntarily started to help evaluate trainee needs at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Smithville, TX. The main needs were for career development and a stronger sense of community. Meeting these needs with professional development workshops, social hours, and one-on-one meeting with trainees helped me to see my path forward. I realized that I wanted to direct trainees towards satisfying careers. The feeling I got from helping students see more appealing “alternative” career options was something like a lightning storm of serotonin in my head that led to pleasant tingling feelings on my scalp. This was in stark contrast to the mind-numbing boredom I had typically felt during scientific talks. With that disparity I realized that academic research was not for me. Helping others recognize their strengths, fill skill gaps, and identify jobs that were personally fulfilling was my thing. After that I think I just assumed everyone would be just as excited about trainees getting into satisfying careers. Current Attitudes in Academia Instead I ran into an invisible barrier preventing people from exploring life outside of academia. It wasn’t a barrier created by a few chromogens, but rather an attitude maintained by most academics. Along with this vague discontent with career exploration there were more defined concerns and assumptions as follows. “If we drastically decrease the number of students and postdocs working in labs, then the biomedical research enterprise will collapse.”...
Advocating for Science Symposium Travel Awardee Tess Eidem: Exploring the Changing Landscape of  the Scientific Enterprise

Advocating for Science Symposium Travel Awardee Tess Eidem: Exploring the Changing Landscape of the Scientific Enterprise

This is a guest post written by Advocating for Science Travel Awardee, Tess Eidem:     Tess Eidem, Ph.D. is a Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA) Postdoctoral Fellow in the Goodrich-Kugel Laboratory in the Chemistry and Biochemistry Department. Tess has a passion for science communication and outreach and was recently awarded a travel grant to attend the Advocating for Science Symposium at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where participants discussed the challenges faced by scientists and alternative paths one can pursue with a Ph.D.    “The first question people ask is, ‘What do you do?’ A good way to answer that as a scientist is to say, ‘I work for you.’” –Ben Corb, Director of Public Affairs of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB).     In September, I had the privilege to attend the Advocating for Science Symposium held at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where I heard Mr. Corb’s and other science advocates’ message on how to use our diverse skills to move science forward. The mission of the two-day symposium was to: Provide valuable advocacy resources to young investigators (grad students and postdocs) Identify obstacles faced by the scientific community Establish a plan of action to overcome those obstacles The symposium consisted of workshops and interactive panels with policy leaders and communicators designed to help scientists distill their message for a lay audience and explore alternative career paths in science communication, policy, and media. The program also featured a keynote presentation by Dr. Rush Holt, former Congressman and CEO of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Many of these...
Meeting Report: The Advocating for Science Symposium in Boston 2016

Meeting Report: The Advocating for Science Symposium in Boston 2016

On September 16th and 17th 2016, the Advocating for Science Symposium and Workshop was held at MIT, organized by the Future of Research, Academics for the Future of Science, and the MIT Graduate Student Council.   The purpose of the meeting was to give an opportunity to those with a passion for advocating for science to develop their advocacy skills, meet like-minded junior scientists and develop focused efforts together to effect positive change. The meeting attracted attendees not only from the Boston area, but further afield, including travel awardees Elisa van der Plas (Netherlands), Sridhar Vedachalam (Baltimore), Tess Eidem (Colorado), Adriana Bankston (Kentucky), Holly Hamilton (Colorado) and Alex Erwin (Kansas).     The symposium session on Friday evening included talks and a panel discussion, to discuss issues the scientific enterprise faces, strategies used by current advocates to effect change, and examples of past successes and failures. The first talks (which can be viewed here) were from Gary McDowell, Executive Director of Future of Research (slides here), and Christin Glorioso, co-founder of Academics for the Future of Science (slides here), discussing their advocacy efforts involving systemic issues with the scientific enterprise, and funding for junior researchers, respectively. This was followed by a panel discussion (which you can view here) with a group of current policy experts: Kate Stoll, Senior Policy Advisor at the MIT Washington Office; Ben Corb, Director of Public Affairs for the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology; Adam Fegan, Director of the Early Career Scientist Segment at AAAS; and Marnie Gelbart, Director of Programs at pgEd. Finally, the keynote address (which you can view here) was given by Rush Holt, CEO of AAAS and...
Less than a week til FoR Calgary meeting

Less than a week til FoR Calgary meeting

In association with the University of Calgary Postdoctoral Association, the Future of Research Canada Alberta Workshop will be held next week on Monday September 26th from 1pm – 5pm at the Foothills Campus.   The keynote will be given by Dr. Pamela Valentine of Alberta Innovates Health Solutions and the afternoon will include breakout workshops similar to brainstorm improvements to the research enterprise.   There is still time to register here.  ...