Follow #MentoringFutureSci on Twitter Friday June 14th to keep up with our Mentoring meeting

Follow #MentoringFutureSci on Twitter Friday June 14th to keep up with our Mentoring meeting

FoR Chicago 2019: Mentoring Future Scientists The importance that departments and institutions attach to supporting good mentorship, and providing mechanisms for accountability and addressing poor mentorship, have become an issue of intense scrutiny for early career researchers. Our meeting is imminent on June 14th 2019! We are dedicated to greater prioritization of mentoring practices in departments and at institutions, and hope to make progress at the meeting to push this forward. Follow #MentoringFutureSci on Twitter to keep up with the meeting!   Schedule – NOTE ALL TIMES IN CENTRAL TIME: Meeting Schedule June 14th, 2019 9:00 – 9:20 Opening remarks to frame need, background, and desired goals Gary McDowell, FoR and Dr. Kathryn Milligan-Myhre, Assistant Professor for the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Alaska Anchorage 9:30 – 10:45 Framing Big Picture Needs, and Areas for Improvement Early Career Researchers: Dr. Susanna Harris,  The PhDepression LLC (https://www.thephdepression.com/) Departments: Dr. Kathryn Milligan-Myhre, Assistant Professor for the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Alaska Anchorage 11:00 – 11:30 Reconvene for discussion of outcomes from ECR, Departmental, and Satellite workshops 11:30 – 12:00 Keynote Presentation Dr. Melissa McDaniels, Senior Advisor to the Dean for Research Mentoring, Graduate School and Postdoctoral Office, Michigan State University; Investigator, Center for the Improvement of Mentored Experiences in Research; Co-Director, Master Facilitator Initiative, National Research Mentoring Network Lunch 1:20 – 2:30 Defining Excellence Tiers for Various Mentoring Domains Dr. Danika Khong and Dr. Elizabeth Wu, Scismic 2:30 – 3:30 Reconvene as a large group for discussion...
U.S. Senate Finance Committee Hearing on Foreign Influences in Research: Wednesday June 5th 9.45am Eastern

U.S. Senate Finance Committee Hearing on Foreign Influences in Research: Wednesday June 5th 9.45am Eastern

On Wednesday June 5th at 9.45am Eastern, the U.S. Senate Finance Committee will hold a hearing on “Foreign Threats to Taxpayer – Funded Research: Oversight Opportunities and Policy Solutions“.   This is part of the growing discussion about threats to research from foreign nations. NIH and institutions that it funds have recently come under scrutiny for their attempts to deal with these concerns, and the recent removal of five ethnicially Chinese researchers from 2 institutions (see “Chinese American scientists uneasy amid crackdown on foreign influence” in Nature from June 3).   You can watch the proceedings here or follow the @FORsymp twitter account which will tweet about it using #foreignresearch – we will also post a summary of the discussion (details of the schedule are at the end of this post).   Future of Research will then submit a statement for the record for the committee – if you have anything you would like us to highlight or discuss, or bring to our attention, please email info@futureofresearch.org   The Federation of American Scientists is facilitating submission of statements to the committee for the record: “To help the debate during the hearing be balanced, the Congressional Science Policy Initiative at FAS is submitting testimonials from the science community to the Committee regarding the critical contributions of foreign-born researchers to US competitiveness. We will also submit the testimonials we’ve received for the record. If you wish to also submit a statement for the record, email it to us, and we will get it to the Committee.” Note the guidance on submitting a statement: “Any individual or organization wanting to present their...
Please help us in responding to an NIH request for information on inclusion at institutions

Please help us in responding to an NIH request for information on inclusion at institutions

The Board of Directors at Future of Research has been preparing a response to the Request for Information (RFI): Institutional Accountability to Promote Inclusive Excellence (Notice Number: NOT-RM-19-001) issued recently by the National Institutes of Health, and due by June 14th 2019. However we are looking for additional input from those wishing to help us with their thoughts and critiques.   We are looking for help not only in the form of others submitting comments, but also in helping to craft our response. In promoting the call for responses, we experienced a great deal of frustration from the community – which we share – about the constant discussion about such issues without any concrete actions. We’d like to try to give voice to those frustrations, and channel it into some concrete push for action, if possible.   Therefore we have placed out draft response to questions below; we plan to do more work on preparing a final response for next week. We would be extremely grateful for any criticism you have – you can comments on this post, on social media, or email info@futureofresearch.org, and we are happy to give voice to frustrations you have, particularly if you would not feel comfortable making such comments yourself. Ultimately we hope to provide information that compels NIH to ultimately take action, and particularly to recognize the power that it has to compel institutions to do so.   In summary, NIH is looking for the following information: “Information Requested NIH seeks input from key extramural community stakeholders, including academic institutional leadership, biomedical faculty, and interested members of the public on strategies to...
Future of Research issues response to NIH RFI on need for an Administrative Data Enclave

Future of Research issues response to NIH RFI on need for an Administrative Data Enclave

The NIH recently issued a request for information (RFI) seeking input on the need for an administrative data enclave. The RFI is here and a blogpost related to the RFI is here. Given the lack of information about the NIH-funded workforce, and particularly the non-investigator workforce it supports, we have submitted a response, detailed below the text for the RFI copied below. RFI Purpose The National Institutes of Health (NIH), Office of the Director, Office of Extramural Research (OER) issues this Request for Information (RFI) to gauge interest in NIH expending funds to develop, host, and maintain a secure environment (data enclave) that would allow approved research organizations-controlled access to structured, de-identifiable NIH administrative and scientific information not made available to the public. (NOT-OD-19-085) Background The NIH is committed to transparency about its research investments and currently makes grant award information available to stakeholders (e.g. grantee institutions, researchers, professional organizations, the public) through web-based self-service tools. Currently RePORTER provides the public a searchable public repository of NIH-funded projects, and ExPORTER provides bulk files on funded projects for download. These tools contain non-sensitive information on NIH funded projects, including the institutions and principal investigators funded by NIH, with project abstracts and basic administrative data on those grant awards. In recent years NIH has noted an increasing demand for access to sensitive information collected via the grants process. Such data includes information on peer review outcomes, progress reports, as well as, demographic information such as age range, sex/gender, race and ethnicity of individuals listed in NIH grant applications, etc. A recent report released by the Advisory Committee to the NIH Director...
FoR Chicago 2019: Mentoring Future Scientists – Join us locally or remotely to help departments focus on mentoring

FoR Chicago 2019: Mentoring Future Scientists – Join us locally or remotely to help departments focus on mentoring

If you follow academic discussions on Twitter, you may have caught sight of a discussion recently about grad school experiences prompted by Dr Kathryn Milligan-Myhre at the University of Alaska:   For those of you who had/are now having a difficult time in grad school, what support was/is lacking? If you don’t feel comfortable posting from your handle, PM me, I will post for you. — Dr. Kat Milligan-Myhre (@Napaaqtuk) March 24, 2019 What followed was a long thread of experiences and messages received by Dr. Milligan-Myhre detailing a multitude of problems including stories of power-imbalances, and departmental or institutional inaction. Stories such as these are familiar to us over at Future of Research; it’s part of the motivation behind our efforts. Having fostered this dicussion, Dr. Milligan-Myhre then posed the question to departmental staff and faculty:   Faculty/GS dept people: These stories are heartbreaking, but an accurate picture of grad school for many of our students. Next step: What are YOU going to do to make grad school experiences better for students? https://t.co/DPK8u7GqEj — Dr. Kat Milligan-Myhre (@Napaaqtuk) March 29, 2019 If you’ve been following our work over the last few months, you may be aware that FoR is organizing the Mentoring Future Scientists meeting (primarily in Chicago, but facilitating remote participation through satellite meetings) to bring together graduate students, postdocs, junior faculty and departmental leaders and representatives, to discuss what departments can do to prioritize attention to mentoring.   The importance that departments and institutions attach to supporting good mentorship, and providing mechanisms for accountability and addressing poor mentorship, have become an issue of intense scrutiny for...
Achieving independence in research career transitions

Achieving independence in research career transitions

On March 13th 2019, FoR ED Gary McDowell led a workshop, “Training Transitions: Pathways to Independence in Research” at the University of California Irvine School of Biological Sciences.   What does “independence” mean for graduate students and postdoctoral researchers? The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine study for The Next Generation Researchers Initiative (of which FoR ED Dr. Gary McDowell and FoR President Dr. Jessica Polka were members) took the definition of independence from a previous 2005 Academies study, Bridges to Independence:   “The definition of ‘independence’ as a researcher in a tenure-track faculty position who has received his or her first R01 research project grant is outdated… …we define an ‘independent investigator’ as one who enjoys independence of thought… …In addition, the committee has affirmed the interconnectedness of scientific research and research training. Mentoring and research training cannot be separated from scientific research for anyone in postdoctoral- or graduate student- positions and should not be considered as separate objectives.””   The barriers that early career researchers (undergraduates, graduate students, postdocs and junior faculty) may face in establishing themselves as independent scholars are a topic of increasing discussion, in an ever more hypercompetitive academic environment. For example, a major issue for postdocs is the tension between being supported from research project grants, fulfilling the aims of someone else’s research project, rather than being in the ideal postdoc position of developing their own research project and goals, and learning how to lead a project, with mentorship from another investigator. This is just one example of the conflict that has arisen between fostering academic scholarship, and providing the labor for...