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....
New England Future Faculty Workshop for Women in STEM Fields (NE-FFW)

New England Future Faculty Workshop for Women in STEM Fields (NE-FFW)

For the attention of women in STEM who are postdoctoral scholars and PhD students – we have received this call for applications to this workshop:   “We would like to invite women in STEM who are postdoctoral scholars and PhD students to participate in the New England Future Faculty Workshop for Women in STEM Fields (NE-FFW) on the Northeastern University campus in Boston, Massachusetts on August 10, 2017.  The NE-FFW is designed specifically for women in STEM fields who are late-stage PhD students and postdoctoral scholars and interested in an academic career.   The NE-FFW is focused on the academic job search.  The format of the one-day workshop includes faculty-led interactive discussions and peer-to-peer interactions.  Workshop topics include:  Finding Your Institutional Fit, Standing Out in the Interview, Reviewing CVs, Developing a Research Statement, Negotiating the Job Offer, and more.  To learn more about the New England Future Faculty Workshop for Women in STEM Fields, go to: http://www.northeastern.edu/advance/recruitment/future-faculty-workshop/   To participate in the NE-FFW, there are several steps interested people need to take: Apply by May 26th online here. Submit a 300 word statement about why they want to participate Submit their CV Accepted applicants will be notified by June 5th Confirm their participation by paying a $25 registration fee by July 1, 2017and uploading a research statement   This unique opportunity is one they will not want to miss.   Warm regards, NE-FWW Planning Committee   Northeastern University: Penny Beuning, Associate Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology Jan Rinehart, Executive Director ADVANCE Office of Faculty Development Kathleen Kenney, Assistant Director ADVANCE Office of Faculty Development Hillary Hadley, Postdoctoral Research Associate,...
What Career Awareness and Development Resources Are There for Junior Scientists? A Workshop at the 2016 ASCB meeting

What Career Awareness and Development Resources Are There for Junior Scientists? A Workshop at the 2016 ASCB meeting

This is a guest post by Future of Research policy activist, Adriana Bankston.   Introduction Career development for junior scientists remains one of the most important issues in the biomedical research enterprise. Since the perceived notion is that the role of junior scientists is to drive science forward by working at the bench, training them for career success may not be a top priority. However, recent statistics state that only 10% of trainees go on to have a faculty position (Table 3–18 in (National Science Foundation, 2014)). Therefore, training graduate students and postdocs for success in non-research careers beyond the bench must be a major focus of the enterprise. While many U.S. institutions have developed very useful career development programming in this regard, the career training landscape for junior scientists is still inconsistent across the country and may also be lacking important components to help academics transition into non-research careers.   Improving career training for junior scientists can only be achieved if we know what they need from the system. Traditionally, although this is beginning to change, junior scientists haven’t had a strong voice in the matter. At Future of Research, we want to help junior scientists transition into their desired career paths, while giving them a voice in the process. In our workshops, we asked trainees about which career resources they are currently using/finding useful, and what resources they would like to have for career success. We plan to use this information to create a resource on our website, which we hope will be useful towards improving career training for junior scientists.      Previous career workshops In...
Postdoctoral salaries at Rutgers: an analysis, in the wake of the Fair Labor Standards Act turmoil

Postdoctoral salaries at Rutgers: an analysis, in the wake of the Fair Labor Standards Act turmoil

In the wake of the injunction against updates to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which affected postdoctoral researchers, a number of institutions initially indicating that they would raise salaries to comply with the new minimum have reversed their plans to do so. One such institution was Rutgers University, in New Jersey. As described in this post and this post from Rutgers Postdoc Association, the institution claimed “the court ruling prohibit[s] implementation at this time of the proposed regulations.” This has not prevented other institutions from raising salaries, including the NIH, which has raised its NRSA postdoc stipend levels despite the injunction against the FLSA updates. Indeed, Rutgers (like many institutions) has previously tied its salary levels for postdocs to the NIH NRSA stipend levels. Postdocs at Rutgers are now being encouraged to sign a petition, asking the institution to resume its plans to raise postdoctoral salaries.   As part of the progression of our FLSA and postdocs resource, we have begun requesting all individual postdoctoral salaries from public institutions, using Freedom of Information requests, to see what postdocs in the U.S. are actually being paid. To help provide data to put the Rutgers Postdoc Association petition into context, here we summarize briefly an analysis of the data we received from Rutgers of all individual postdoctoral salaries as of Dec 1st 2016. The trends and data presented here are consistent amongst a number of datasets we have from various institutions.     There is a four-fold difference between the lowest and highest postdoctoral salaries. There are 542 postdoctoral associates or fellows in the dataset from Rutgers University. The average postdoc salary is $47,620.69. The median postdoc salary...
Future of Research statement on immigration Executive Order, and commitment to future work

Future of Research statement on immigration Executive Order, and commitment to future work

FoR’s mission is to improve the scientific research enterprise. We promote grassroots advocacy amongst junior researchers to discuss the problems they perceive with science, and possible solutions to fix them. We then work on making these solutions a reality, working with and advocating to institutions, scientific societies, federal agencies and senior scientists to effect change – and to speak as a voice of junior researchers. We also seek to empower junior researchers by collecting data about academia and scientific training, and make the data available to help them make rational decisions when figuring out how best to use their passion for science to benefit society.   This mission applies to problems like postdoc salaries and the recent Fair Labor Standards Act fiasco. It also applies to problems like the President’s Executive Order banning nationals of Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Libya, Yemen and Somalia from entering the U.S. for at least the next 90 days, and how we as a scientific community respond to them.   A huge number of junior researchers in the U.S. are not U.S. citizens. Two-thirds of postdoctoral researchers are estimated to be foreign nationals, and the majority of those are estimated to be on temporary visas such as J-1 or H-1B visas. Considering just one of the seven affected countries, there were more than 10,000 Iranian students alone in the U.S. in 2013-14, and 1,364 Iranian scholars at U.S. institutions.   This Executive Order prevents these scientists from re-entering the country if they leave, or entering if they are currently outside. It prevents scientists from traveling to and from conferences.   But these actions not...
The Next Generation Researchers Initiative at the National Academies: New Study Begins

The Next Generation Researchers Initiative at the National Academies: New Study Begins

A new study commenced work at the start of 2017: the “Next Generation Researchers Initiative,” directed by the Board on Higher Education and Workforce at the National Academies of Science Engineering and Medicine.   The study originated in a bill introduced by Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), and has been mandated by Congress in both the 2016 Department of Health and Human Services Appropriations Act and the 21st Century Cures Act. The study is aimed at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), members of Congress, institutional administrators and faculty, industry, foundations and professional associations: specifically, to the Office of the Director at NIH, the Committee on Health, Education Labor and Pensions and the Committee on Appropriations of the Senate, and the Committee on Energy and Commerce and the Committee on Appropriations of the House of Representatives.   The project scope is (taken from the National Academies Current Projects page):   “An ad hoc committee overseen by the Board on Higher Education and Workforce (BHEW), in collaboration with COSEMPUP, BOSE, and HMD, will conduct a study that examines the policy and programmatic steps that the nation can undertake to ensure the successful launch and sustainment of careers among the next generation of researchers in the biomedical and behavioral sciences, including the full range of health sciences supported by the NIH. The study will examine evidence-based programs and policies that can reduce barriers to, and create more opportunities for, successful transitions to independent research careers. It will also examine factors that influence the stability and sustainability of the early stages of independent research careers. The study will include: • An evaluation of the barriers that...