Today at ASCB Meeting: Helping the Next Generation of Researchers: Navigating the Challenges and Answering the Call for Change

Today at the American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB)/European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO) Meeting, the session “Helping the Next Generation of Researchers: Navigating the Challenges and Answering the Call for Change” will discuss the Next Generation Researchers Initiative, with copies of the National Academies “Breaking Through” report available. The session will run 2:00pm – 2:50pm PST in Theater 4. Dr. Sue Biggins (Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center), Dr. MariaElena Zavala (California State University, Northridge) and Dr. Christopher Pickett (Rescuing Biomedical Research) will be discussing various aspects: Dr. Christopher Pickett will describe the current landscape of issues facing the next generation of researchers, and the context for the National Academies report, “Breaking Through”. Dr. Sue Biggins will discuss issues with peer review, particularly in study sections, that affect early career researchers. Dr. MariaElena Zavala will discuss “Training Beyond the Bench: Becoming Independent”, including what may be missing in the typical postdoc experience....
Putting mentoring at the heart of academia #FoRmentors #GivingTuesday

Putting mentoring at the heart of academia #FoRmentors #GivingTuesday

Image by Lipofsky: Future of Research members at our first summit in Boston in 2014   Academia is reaching a critical turning point, where effective and positive mentoring is more necessary than ever before. A slew of recommendations, reports and surveys are showing that recognition for good mentoring and appropriate responses to poor mentoring (or even egregious behavior) are currently not up to par with the standards of excellence required to sustain the research enterprise. Most importantly,  early career researchers are recognizing this deficit, and demanding change. Failure to effect this change will cause the research enterprise to lose or squander talent.   There are a number of striking problems that can be traced back to a lack of mentoring focus by departments, institutions and funding agencies:   ⅓ of those who start biology PhDs in the U.S. do not complete them. Sexual harassment in U.S. academia is at a rate second only to the military. For foreign postdocs, precarious visa situations are being exploited to make them work more, for less. There are postdocs facing barriers to taking their own research projects with them when they leave a lab under someone else’s “mentorship”. Retention of underrepresented populations in research is hindered by a focus on diversity in numbers, rather than on generating more inclusive and welcoming environments with culturally-appropriate mentoring.   However, there is also increasing recognition of the need to center mentoring in the research enterprise: The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (NASEM) are currently carrying out a study, with a report due next Fall, on The Science of Mentoring in STEMM; The NASEM sexual...
National Postdoc Appreciation Week 2018 is this week!

National Postdoc Appreciation Week 2018 is this week!

Today marks the beginning of the ninth annual celebration of National Postdoc Appreciation Week (NPAW): September 17-21, 2018. You can find out more about events taking place for NPAW at the National Postdoc Association’s website here and you can follow #NPAW2018 to find out more about postdocs online.   Future of Research members are taking part in events for #NPAW2018 across the country on Monday and Tuesday – we hope to see some of you in person or online! We will be sharing our resources for postdocs, and discussing the state of the postdoc position, throughout the week:   Dr. Adriana Bankston is at the University of Southern California: “Monday, September 17 Components of a Successful Postdoc with Dr. Adriana Bankston (Future of Research) 9:00 a.m. -10:20 a.m. UPC Waite Phillips Hall (WPH) room 207 (2nd floor) Baked goods and coffee will be provided. Postdoctoral researchers are critical to the future of science. Fair pay, opportunities for meaningful leadership positions, and access to positive mentoring are critical factors of a successful postdoc experience. These factors are also likely to influence the decisions of postdocs on which institutions they will choose for conducting independent research, as well as whether to remain in academe or pursue other career paths. Read more.”   Dr. Gary McDowell is at Washington University in St. Louis: “Monday, September 17 Advocacy Workshop with Future of Research and the WashU Postdoc Society Executive Council 9:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. Medical Campus What are the issues and barriers postdocs face at WashU? How can individual postdocs fix problems? What role does the WashU Postdoc Society have in affecting change? Gary McDowell, Ph.D., executive director of The Future...
Future of Research – Questioning the Status Quo at SIGNS Summit 2018

Future of Research – Questioning the Status Quo at SIGNS Summit 2018

This is a post by Dr. Adriana Bankston.   Future of Research participated in the S|GNS (Science | Government, Institutions & Society) Summit held in Chicago, IL, from July 6-8, 2018. This was an amazing event bringing together members of communities that rarely interact but are deeply invested in the future of science in society. There were many great presentations and discussions revolving around the three focus areas of the event: science advocacy, education & outreach, and community organizing. If you would to review the @FORsymp tweets from the event, please look up #SIGNS2018.   The workshop given by Future of Research (Adriana Bankston, Harinder Grewal, Dean Procter, Gary McDowell) was entitled “Questioning the Status Quo: Re-imagining Pathways, Structures, and Incentives in Scientific Careers” and in the science advocacy category. The workshop description from the program is below.       Prior to the workshop, we initially prepared a slide deck designed to focus on recommendations for change in the scientific enterprise, leading to the formation of FoR as a nonprofit, and discussions of the 2016 FoR meeting on Advocating for Science where we learned about views of the academic community around science advocacy. However, upon attending the S|GNS Summit and gaining a better understanding of the audience, we refocused the talk on how FoR seeks to empower early career researchers through grassroots movements. We then guided the group discussions around ways in scientists can achieve change and how the S|GNS Summit community can support their advocacy efforts towards improving society.   This workshop structure resulted in a great discussion around the three main questions. The participants were PhD...
The postdoctoral experience and ways to effect change in science from a series of recent talks and workshops

The postdoctoral experience and ways to effect change in science from a series of recent talks and workshops

A reflective piece by Dr. Adriana Bankston   I’ve had a long standing interest in how current problems in science affect early career scientists, in particular the postdoctoral population. In spring 2018, I was invited to several universities to talk about some of these issues and hear from trainees about their academic experiences: University of Southern California (USC) (on postdocs and international researchers); Scripps Institution of Oceanography (Scripps Science Policy Discussion Group – studying policy for science); and University of California San Diego (UCSD) (Science Policy, Advocacy, and Communication (SciPAC) Group – advocating for an improved scientific enterprise). Below, I combined information obtained from these talks and workshops into general themes and conclusions.   Note #1: Although some of these ideas were only debated at particular universities, they are larger systemic issues we have previously encountered across other U.S. institutions.   Note #2: The responses below are recorded from the opinions of trainees from various universities, and do not necessarily represent the views of Future of Research as an organization.   WHAT DO POSTDOCS EXPERIENCE IN ACADEMIA TODAY?   Loneliness: Some direct quotes were that “postdocs work too much [feel guilty not doing so], are sad, and [are] not making friends.” Postdocs generally don’t know who other postdocs are in their building, and international postdocs feel very lonely [due to the large size of the campus].   Inadequate training: Postdocs and graduate students aren’t being trained adequately for their level – for example, PIs train postdocs like graduate students and vice versa. Also, mentors seem to be more flexible with the schedule of graduate students [in terms of going...
Registration now open for Boston 2017 Meeting: Expanding Leadership roles for Early Career Researchers #FORLeads

Registration now open for Boston 2017 Meeting: Expanding Leadership roles for Early Career Researchers #FORLeads

  Get Early Career Researchers a Seat at the Table!   Register NOW here   The 2017 Boston FoR meeting will take place at Boston University November 17-18. Check out the conference page here for more info!   Background and symposium goals Future of Research, a nationwide grassroots advocacy group comprised of Early Career Researchers (ECRs) including graduate students, postdoctoral scholars, industry scientists and junior faculty is hosting a 1-and-a-half day symposium focused on training ECRs to develop skills to self-advocate for their training and career development needs.  The goal of this symposium is to promote the inclusion of early career scientists in leadership positions to ensure their representation during decision-making conversations that affect the future of the scientific enterprise.   Conversations about getting ECR advocates a seat at the table are important for giving the early career population a voice in science, in particular as they are the most diverse population within academia in terms of race, gender, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status. There are greater barriers faced by members of underrepresented groups in the struggle to be heard by those in positions of power. Recognizing this fact, we seek to include a diverse and inclusive representation of race, ethnicity, disability status, gender identity and sexual orientation in our invitation/selection of meeting speakers and participants. The efforts taken to make sure that our organization is diverse and inclusive, and can speak to as much of the community as possible, are central also to our efforts in preparing symposia.         Participants at the 2016 “Advocating for Science” Symposium in Boston. Photo by Alina Chan   Symposium format This symposium, hosted at...