College Park 2017

Ethical and Inspiring Mentorship in STEMM



Join us to discuss ethical, effective, and inspiring mentorship




The symposium has four goals:

  1. To recognize and discuss the issues surrounding mentoring in STEM fields.
  2. To discuss effective mentorship and advocacy techniques at all levels: PhD, Postdoc, Faculty
  3. To provide a platform to connect like-minded young scientists who wish to effect change at their own institutions at the grassroots level.
  4. To inspire participants to practice effective mentorship practices and promote these skillsets to their peers and colleagues at their own institutions.


Among the many roles that scientists play, mentoring younger scientists is one which researchers are rarely trained for. In the current STEM research environment, where lack of funding is but one of the systemic issues faced by young scientists, the roles, responsibilities, and career trajectories are changing. Organizations such as Future of Research and Rescuing Biomedical Research have been formed in recent years to address systemic issues facing academic research. Others, such as the National Mentoring Research Network, have arisen to address the training needs of those who wish to remain in academia but receive no formal training in how to supervise and mentor students. Still, there are gaps in the cultural awareness and value of being an inspiring leader, promoting a positive work environment, and in having happy, mentally fit employees. Where other industries recognize these benefits, academic culture lags.

But all of these issues are intertwined, and lead to the pessimism and learned helplessness found in many young researchers regarding their careers across the nation and the world. Because system, training, and culture all intersect to provide a scientist’s well-being and productivity, Labmosphere and Future of Research are holding a conference in collaboration with UMD-College Park to discuss current mentorship practices and the way in which they could be improved upon.

This whole day conference will take place at the end of National Postdoc Appreciation week (September 21st). It will consist of three speakers with break-out sessions in between the talks, as well as a mentorship panel at the end followed by discussion and a networking reception.



Register HERE


Registration is $10 for UMD Attendees and $15 for non-UMD Attendees. Registration can be reimbursed upon request.

Meeting Info

Proposed Workshops

(This list subject to change in the coming weeks)


Effective Mentorship Practices Distilled (Facilitator: (UMD/NRMN Faculty))


While there might not be enough time in one workshop to run through the entire training that organizations such as NRMN put on, distilling the effective practices as well as providing lists of resources that can be tapped into by those currently mentoring or looking to do so in the future will provide a useful platform for discussion.


Mentorship across the industry/academia divide (Facilitator: Will Olds; Proteintech)


Most STEM trainees earn their education and degree in an academic environment from mentors and supervisors who have undergone the “academic” path. With the number of students seeking career pathways outside of academia increasing, how can traditional mentors provide guidance in other career paths, or how can those outside of academia mentor those training within it?


Local Advocacy and Organization (Facilitator: Gary McDowell; Future of Research)


What are the issues that students and Postdocs find most pressing regarding mentorship? How can FoR and other organizations provide guidance and advocacy for these students at the grassroots levels, and how can students and Postdocs themselves organize to provide such representation?


Support Networks: Dealing with Mental Health Issues as Mentees and Mentors

(Facilitator: Juan Pablo Ruiz; Labmosphere)


Though potentially uncomfortable to talk about, the reality is that situations on both sides, both as mentee and mentor, can take a turn for the worst. This module will cover the basics of techniques such as Nonviolent Communication for preventing from situations from arising, as well as discuss ways in which students can seek help and protection when faced with difficult situations they find themselves seemingly alone in. Given the time, Peer Support Networks and Active Listening skills will also be discussed.

Location and Tentative Schedule


All events, save for the networking reception, will be held at the University of Maryland, College Park Campus. The reception will tentatively be held at the Milkboy Arthouse, subject to confirmation from the venue.

Thursday September 21, 2017

Adele Stamp Student Union

3972 Campus Drive

College Park, MD 20142

Tentative schedule:

8:00 – 9:00 AM

Event Registration and continental breakfast served in main auditorium

9:00 AM – 10: 30 AM

9:00 AM Opening remarks (Gary McDowell (FoR) and Juan Pablo Ruiz (Labmosphere))

9:30 AM First Speaker (UMD-Faculty and NRMN Core faculty (TBD))

10:15 AM Questions and first talk wrap-up

10:30 AM – 12:00 PM

Break-out Sessions for workshops:

Effective Mentorship Practices Distilled

Local Advocacy

12:00 PM – 1:00 PM

Networking lunch in main auditorium

1:00 PM – 2:30 PM

             1:00 PM Second Talk (Rescuing Biomedical Research: Hypercompetitivity and Mentoring)

             1:45 PM Keynote Speaker (Dr. Stephen Thomas: Mentoring and URM in STEM)

2:45 PM – 4:00 PM

             Break-out Sessions for second round of workshops:

Mentorship across the industry/academia divide

Support Networks

4:00 PM – 5:30 PM

             Workshop wrap-up and mentoring panel

Panelists to be selected from nominations from participating institutions

5:45 PM – 6:00 PM

             Transfer to Milkboy Arthouse for Reception

6:00 PM  –  8:00 PM

             Final remarks by organizers and networking reception

Picture of UMD – College Park Campus


This meeting is supported by an ASCB Early Career Meeting Grant.

About FoR

Future of Research (FoR) is a nonprofit representing junior scientists, through grassroots advocacy, to promote positive systemic change to the way we do science. To achieve this, FoR stands by three pillars of engagement – advocating for increased investment in young scientists, increased transparency in the scientific enterprise, and increased connectivity between young and established scientists. We help junior scientists organize conferences to discuss how to create and sustain an optimal scientific enterprise. We then translate these promising solutions towards a reality, working with and advocating to institutions, science societies, federal agencies and senior scientists to effect change – and to ensure the voices of those who will be scientists of the future are heard.

FoR wants to champion, engage and empower early career scientists with evidence-based resources to improve the scientific research endeavor.

FoR started as a group of early career researchers in the Boston area invested in improving the scientific endeavor. In the Fall of 2014 we held our first postdoc-organized two-day event, which focused on inclusive exploration of issues affecting the future of science. Ultimately, through panel discussions and workshops we developed recommendations for moving toward an equitable, sustainable research enterprise. The outcomes of the interactive workshops were presented in an F1000Research paper, “Shaping the Future of Research: a perspective from junior scientists”.

Following our initial success in Boston, our published guide to organizing a symposium has inspired fellow postdocs around the country, in San Francisco, New York and Chicago, to join our efforts to advocate for young scientists and a bright future of science research (see, “Revitalizing biomedical research: recommendations from the Future of Research Chicago Symposium”). These achievements over the past two years led to Future of Research postdocs being awarded as the “People of the Year” by Science Careers in 2015. Most recently, representatives from the now national movement formed a nonprofit organization and were awarded a grant by the Open Philanthropy Project to begin full-time operations.


About Labmosphere

Labmosphere was founded a year ago as a blog, resource, and set of tools to advocate for mental health and life satisfaction in the academic sciences. After taking a course in Peer Support Training at the University of Oxford, graduate student Juan Pablo Ruiz began to notice the increase in pessimism regarding PhD’s, postdocs, and junior faculty with respect to their trajectories in science.

After a follow-up online course in positive psychology, Juan Pablo realized that organizations worldwide are recognizing and acknowledging the data and evidence that happier, stress-free employees who feel motivated and valued are more productive and creative.

Juan decided to found Labmosphere as a site where like-minded young scientists who cared about changing the culture of science could exchange ideas and advocate for better working cultures and systems. The site is open to all blog submissions, and has tools for people to share their anonymous stories, both good and bad, and thus find solidarity in what can be a stressful and difficult graduate school experience for those who find themselves in toxic lab environments.


About UMD GSG and OPA

UMD Graduate Student Government (GSG)

The  UMD Graduate Student Government is a student organization that represents the 10,000 graduate students on the College Park campus, including Graduate Research and Teaching Assistants. GSG advocates for the support of graduate students throughout their academic career. As “peers in training” graduate students learn but also teach and perform research on this campus. Because of this it is vital to create a pipeline of leadership and core competencies around mentorship within the graduate population.


The Office of Postdoctoral Affairs (OPA) – The Graduate School

OPA was established in May 2016 to provide the University’s postdoctoral community with information, training, mentoring, and services in support of career development.

In collaboration with other various units across campus, OPA creates programming and informational resources as it relates to postdoctoral education, mentorship, professional development and networking support activities for the community. Additionally the OPA Program Director provides advice for incoming and current postdoctoral researchers, departments, and faculty on university postdoctoral policies and resources.  OPA also works with the National Postdoctoral Association, National Research Mentoring Network, and Big Ten Academic Alliance to keep current on national and discipline trends, compliance, regulations, guidelines and to expand our postdoctoral researchers’ opportunities across the country.