Challenges faced by international scholars in the U.S.

Challenges faced by international scholars in the U.S.

This post was written by FoR BoD member Dr. Adriana Bankston.     International scientists make up a large portion of the U.S. biomedical workforce. While conducting research in the U.S., however, they are faced with many obstacles, many of which are related to visa and fellowship restrictions. In addition, another challenge can be advocating for science during public events. We have previously discussed some of these aspects in a blog post on public advocacy, a workshop at the 2017 ASCB meeting, and a talk at the University of Southern California. With these efforts, Future of Research aims to gather information about the challenges faced by this population and suggest potential ways to overcome them. In addition, we encourage other groups to have conversations around this crucial topic which can greatly affect the biomedical enterprise as a whole.   A session at the 2018 NPA meeting (summarized in this Twitter thread) sought to more deeply address multiple types of barriers encountered by international scholars in the U.S. These include cultural, funding and immigration challenges. This information was also presented in a recent myPostdoc Monthly webinar from the NPA. Below, we detail some of the major conclusions from this session.   Cultural challenges Cultural challenges can come in the form of both cultural adjustment (such as feeling homesick during the U.S. holiday season) and cultural intelligence (including xenophobia, language differences and work style differences in various countries). These factors can lead to an unwelcoming environment for international scholars in the U.S. To overcome these challenges, both the community and individuals themselves need to contribute to celebrating these differences. This section...
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...
Come in person or watch the webcast for: “Bold Visions for the Future of Science” and “Perspectives on Postdoctoral Researchers”

Come in person or watch the webcast for: “Bold Visions for the Future of Science” and “Perspectives on Postdoctoral Researchers”

  For more information, see our Action of the Month   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. You can join in in person/watch live THIS THURSDAY 14th September, 1:30-5:15pm Pacific Time.   From the NASEM Board on Higher Education and Workforce: Thursday, September 14, 2017 1:30 pm – 5:15 pm PDT University of California, San Francisco Genentech Hall Auditorium* 600 16th Street San Francisco, CA *Please note that meeting space is limited. A webcast will also be available. This public session of the fourth meeting for the Next Generation Researchers Initiative will feature distinguished scientists, physicians, industry leaders, and scholars who will discuss the barriers and opportunities facing the next generation of independent researchers in the biomedical and behavioral sciences. Particular emphasis will be on hearing postdoctoral perspectives and envisioning the future of research. This meeting will feature and be moderated by: Chair Alan Leshner, PhD, Chief Executive Officer Emeritus, American Association for the Advancement of Science; Chair Ron Daniels, President, the Johns Hopkins University   Register Here for the In-Person Meeting Register Here for the Webcast   Draft Agenda: 1:30 p.m. – 1:35 p.m. Opening Remarks by Host Keith Yamamoto 1:30 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. Panel I: Bold Visions for the Future of Science Panelists will share their vision on how changes to today’s system of graduate education and early research careers can ensure a future research enterprise that fosters innovation, promotes equity and inclusion, and advances U.S. national interests. Chair Alan Leshner, PhD, Chief Executive Officer Emeritus, American Association for the Advancement of...

Administration moves to end DACA; action to support those affected.

The U.S. administration has announced moves to end DACA, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, by March 5th.   In a previous post, “How international scientists can advocate, and how U.S. scientists can support them“, we pointed out that there are many “DREAMERs” (undocumented immigrants as defined in the proposed Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act in the U.S., a subset of whom come under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Executive Order) who are in STEM. Indeed, surveys and other data suggest that 28% of DREAMERs are pursuing a STEM degree in the U.S.   If you are looking for ways to get involved with supporting those affected by the move, defenddaca.com is live with actions you can take. United We Dream is having a community call to process this evening: Text DACAcall to 877877 for English Text LaLlamada to 877877 for Spanish   As a group promoting a more inclusive and diverse research culture, we recognize the value that DREAMERs are currently contributing to this country both in and out of STEM fields. Indeed, we ourselves are made of internationals who have found a home in the U.S. and contributed to advancement in our fields, and stand in solidarity with those affected by these proposed changes.  ...
Perspectives on changing science from the 2nd Homo scientificus europaeus Meeting

Perspectives on changing science from the 2nd Homo scientificus europaeus Meeting

This is a guest post by Future of Research policy activist, Adriana Bankston.   Being part of Future of Research, I often wonder whether the issues we are facing in the scientific system in the U.S. also exist elsewhere in the world. Although I grew up in Eastern Europe, most of my research experiences have been in laboratories across the U.S. This has definitely given me a great variety of experiences and perspectives. But, as I’ve recently witnessed in the March for Science events, science is indeed global and most likely we all face the same issues and can learn from each other.   Very recently, I had the great chance of remotely attending the 2nd Homo scientificus europaeus Meeting, entitled “A pan-European Scientists’ Community: Promoting an Open Science in an Open World“, which took place in Barcelona, Spain, and was introduced here. The main goal of this meeting was to foster the creation of a large pan-European community of citizen-scientists supporting the new social contract between science and society. The meeting was divided into 3 areas: 1) initiatives from grassroots organizations and organizers of various European “March for Science” marches; 2) a discussion of citizen science projects/engaging the public with science and 3) open science and broader issues in the scientific enterprise. The Future of Research Executive Director Gary McDowell gave a brief talk and participated in the debate in the final session.   Common themes emerged throughout this meeting, which are great reminders of how science is done or should be done in the future, not just in Europe, but everywhere in the world. To some extent,...
How international scientists can advocate, and how U.S. scientists can support them

How international scientists can advocate, and how U.S. scientists can support them

This is a post by the Executive Director that will appear in various forms due to distinct editorial styles across platforms (see the ASCB post here). This post can and will be updated with clarifications and extra information upon request (please contact info [at] futureofresearch.org), to develop a resource page after post-publication peer review of this post. Please consider this a work in progress! The information provided is not legal advice, but is merely a general resource to help identify further sources of information. We hope to build this into a useful and developing resource.   Thanks to @Doctor_PMS for the photo above, from the Rally to Stand up for Science at the 2017 American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) meeting in Boston.   Many scientists are currently looking to become more politically engaged or to advocate for science/scientists in various ways – by marching for science, contacting elected representatives or attending town halls.   As someone in the U.S. on a Green Card I wondered what I can and cannot do in practical terms to advocate for science. There’s some concern among international scientists like myself about their safety when advocating for their cause. This could be a significant barrier to effective science advocacy, given that a large proportion (52%) of all biomedical scientists in the U.S. are foreign-born, according to 2014 U.S. Census data. In addition, there are many “DREAMERs” (undocumented immigrants as defined in the proposed Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act in the U.S., a subset of whom come under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Executive Order) who are in STEM....