Needed: Flexible Mentors in Science

Needed: Flexible Mentors in Science

This post originally appeared on the GCC Carpe Careers blog published on the Inside Higher Ed website on May 1, 2017. Re-posting with permission from Inside Higher Ed. Adriana Bankston provides advice for how research scientists can positively influence the personal and professional development of the trainees who work in their labs. I’ve written a lot of articles about what junior scientists can do to navigate their own career transitions, but I would now like to urge mentors to help and support them in those endeavors. In a recent Open Forum discussion on graduate education at the American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting, it became clear that research faculty are key to the future of science. They have the single most important influence on a trainee’s personal and professional development. Recognizing the needs of your trainees, and how they may differ depending on each person’s goals, is crucial to ensuring success — both during training and later in your trainees’ lives. Below, I would like to offer some specific advice on being a flexible mentor in science today. Train the trainees. This point seems obvious, yet it is often overlooked, given that the culture of academe is based on the number of high-impact publications in which one’s research is published. Mentors thus rightly demand this from trainees so that they can stay afloat in science today. But let’s not forget that before they can publish something of value from your lab, trainees first need to be trained in how to perform high-quality research. Remember that the ability of your trainees to go out into the world and...
Tracking Postdoc Trends and Outcomes at the NIH: a Talk by Dr. P. Kay Lund

Tracking Postdoc Trends and Outcomes at the NIH: a Talk by Dr. P. Kay Lund

This is a guest post by Future of Research policy activist, Adriana Bankston, who moderated this plenary session at the 2017 NPA meeting.   In a recent post, we summarized the talk given by Dr. Nancy Calvin-Naylor in one of the plenary sessions at the 2017 National Postdoctoral Association Annual Meeting entitled “Data driven approaches to tracking postdocs.” The second of the two main speakers in this session was Dr. P. Kay Lund, Director of the Division of Biomedical Research Workforce (DBRW) at the National Institutes of Health.   What is the mission of the DBRW? Dr. P. Kay Lund began her talk entitled “Tracking postdoc trends and outcomes at the NIH” by describing the mission and structure of the Division of Biomedical Research Workforce (DBRW). The mission of the DBRW is develop, maintain, enhance and assess NIH policies and programs that support innovative research training, career development and diversity of the biomedical research workforce. To achieve these goals DBRW advises trans-NIH on policy and programs for training and career development, and conducts research and economic analyses related to biomedical research workforce and the associated career options and labor market.   NIH trends in training of postdoctoral researchers and early faculty One of the goals of the DBRW is to examine the trends in training and career development support for postdoctorates and early faculty according to NIH data from 1998-2015. For training purposes, the number of postdoctoral training grant appointments slightly decreased since 2011, whereas the number of individual fellowships remained relatively the same. In terms of career development, there has been an increase in individual career development awards...
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...
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,...
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...
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.    ...