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 Travel Scholarships – Part 5: Interview with Sridhar Vedachalam

Advocating for Science Travel Scholarships – Part 5: Interview with Sridhar Vedachalam

The “Advocating for Science” symposium and workshop is taking place at MIT September 16-17, 2016, to enable junior scientists to advocate for science. The purpose of the meeting is 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. To try to extend this meeting beyond the Boston area, we recently put out an application call for travel scholarships for attendees from further afield. Following interviews with our Kansas City Area Life Sciences Institute Travel Award Recipient, Alex Erwin, and Advocating for Science Travel recipients Holly Hamilton, Katherine Simeon, Adriana Bankston, and Tess Eidem, here is our next interview with Sridhar Vedachalam:     Sridhar Vedachalam is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Johns Hopkins Water Institute at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. His research is centered on water and wastewater infrastructure issues including assessment, planning, financing, use, and regulation. He is particularly interested in understanding how individuals and municipalities make decisions on water infrastructure. Sri received his PhD in Environmental Science and MS in Mechanical Engineering and Environmental Economics, all from The Ohio State University.   Tell us a little about your career path so far and what you are currently working on. I have had a convoluted path to where I am today. After my undergraduate degree in Mechanical Engineering, I worked for a year at India’s largest construction firm. I came to The Ohio State University for an MS in Mechanical Engineering, and during that time got involved in student advocacy and community activism. These engagements got me interested...
Advocating for Science Travel Scholarships – Part 4: Interview with Tess Eidem

Advocating for Science Travel Scholarships – Part 4: Interview with Tess Eidem

The “Advocating for Science” symposium and workshop is taking place at MIT September 16-17, 2016, to enable junior scientists to advocate for science. The purpose of the meeting is 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. To try to extend this meeting beyond the Boston area, we recently put out an application call for travel scholarships for attendees from further afield. Following interviews with our Kansas City Area Life Sciences Institute Travel Award Recipient, Alex Erwin, and Advocating for Science Travel recipients Holly Hamilton, Katherine Simeon, and Adriana Bankston, here is our next interview with Tess Eidem:     Tell us a little about your career path so far and what you are currently working on. I have always been curious about the world around me, and science has given me the methods, tools, and logic to tinker with and test my curiosities. As an undergrad at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, I had several great opportunities to participate in a wide variety of research. With the outdoors as my laboratory, I spent time scouring the prairie documenting and studying beetles and birds, and as a member of the Nebraska Institutional Development Award Program (IDeA) Networks of Biomedical Research Excellence (INBRE) Program, I was able to work in biomedical research labs investigating tiny molecules within the cell. These experiences got me thinking like a scientist, and I wanted more. Continuing on that quest, I concentrated on the molecular level as a graduate student under the mentorship of Dr. Paul Dunman...
Advocating for Science Travel Scholarships – Part 3: Interview with Adriana Bankston

Advocating for Science Travel Scholarships – Part 3: Interview with Adriana Bankston

The “Advocating for Science” symposium and workshop is taking place at MIT September 16-17, 2016, to enable junior scientists to advocate for science. The purpose of the meeting is 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. To try to extend this meeting beyond the Boston area, we recently put out an application call for travel scholarships for attendees from further afield. Following interviews with our Kansas City Area Life Sciences Institute Travel Award Recipient, Alex Erwin, and Advocating for Science Travel recipients Holly Hamilton, and Katherine Simeon, here is our next interview with Adriana Bankston:     Tell us a little about your career path so far and what you are currently working on. I obtained my PhD in Biochemistry, Cell and Developmental Biology from Emory University, where I worked in the laboratory of Dr. Grace K. Pavlath. My PhD studies showed the N-BAR domain protein, Bin3, is a novel regulator of skeletal muscle growth and repair. My current postdoctoral work in the laboratory of Dr. Ashok Kumar at the University of Louisville is focused on investigating the role of long non-coding RNAs in TWEAK-mediated skeletal muscle atrophy.   How did you get interested in advocacy work/science policy? During my postdoctoral years, I realized that my initial goal of becoming a PI was not the ideal career path for me. I searched for opportunities at the University of Louisville to learn more about other career paths. Realizing that such opportunities were few, in April 2014, I co-founded the Career Research Advancement Focused Training (CRAFT) seminar series,...
Advocating for Science Travel Scholarships – Part 2: Interview with Katherine Simeon

Advocating for Science Travel Scholarships – Part 2: Interview with Katherine Simeon

The “Advocating for Science” symposium and workshop is taking place at MIT September 16-17, 2016, to enable junior scientists to advocate for science. The purpose of the meeting is 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. To try to extend this meeting beyond the Boston area, we recently put out an application call for travel scholarships for attendees from further afield. Following interviews with our Kansas City Area Life Sciences Institute Travel Award Recipient, Alex Erwin, and our first Advocating for Science Travel recipient Holly Hamilton, here is our next recipient, Katherine Simeon:   I am a third year PhD student in Communication Sciences & Disorders at Northwestern University. As a cognitive scientist, I am interested in how language, perception, and cognition are interconnected. Currently, I study language processing in difficult listening conditions and how this varies for individuals with hearing loss. I am also passionate about science outreach and communication. Tell us a little about your career path so far and what you are currently working on. While studying Cognitive Science and Linguistics as an undergrad at Johns Hopkins University, I fell in love with language development and processing. Through undergraduate research assistantships, I investigated many questions: from how children process sentences to how adults discriminate different speech sounds. Outside of the lab, I worked with different clinical populations: I volunteered at a school for children with autism and worked as an assistant at an aphasia center. These experiences sparked my interest in atypical language development. I entered graduate school determined to combine my research experience with my interest...
Advocating for Science Travel Scholarships – Part 1: Interview with Holly Hamilton

Advocating for Science Travel Scholarships – Part 1: Interview with Holly Hamilton

The “Advocating for Science” symposium and workshop is taking place at MIT September 16-17, 2016, to enable junior scientists to advocate for science. The purpose of the meeting is 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.   To try to extend this meeting beyond the Boston area, we recently put out an application call for travel scholarships for attendees from further afield, which has now closed. We are very excited to announce that in addition to our Kansas City Area Life Sciences Institute Travel Award Recipient, Alex Erwin, we have been able to award five Advocating for Science Travel Scholarships! Over a series of blogposts, we’ll be sharing an interview with each of them.   The first post in this series is an interview with Holly Hamilton, who will be joining us from Texas:   I received my Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences from Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX. I then completed a two-year postdoctoral fellowship with The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Smithville, TX. I certainly learned a great deal about molecular biology, genetics, and moving small clear liquids with great precision. However I learned far more about persistence in the face of nearly certain failure, interpersonal skills, and how to stay motivated when performing difficult tasks to achieve long-term goals. I am a passionate and possibly very annoying person who can never leave well-enough alone. I improve my surroundings, wherever they may be. To that end, I founded a Trainee Association along with other postdocs and students....