Future of Research's Origins

The first Future of Research conference was held in Boston in October of 2014.

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Outcomes of FOR

We published the proceedings and outcomes of our first FOR meeting in 2014.

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Our latest blog posts

Science Policy in our New Administration: Challenges Facing Early Career Researchers

In the week before he was sworn in as the 46th President of the United States, then President-elect Biden took the unprecedented step of elevating the director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) to a cabinet level position. In doing so, Biden demonstrated his commitment to ensuring science is an integral part of his administration and to robustly invest in America’s scientific research enterprise. In a open letter to his chosen nominee, Geneticist Dr. Eric Lander, Biden posed the following questions: “How can we address stresses on academic research labs and promote creative models for federal research support? How can we reimagine and transform STEM education, empowering teachers and deploying technology to enhance the educational experience? How can we ensure the United States will remain a magnet for the best and brightest minds throughout the world?” These questions are at the core of Future of Research’s mission. In order to heed President Biden’s call to action to address the stresses on America’s research institutions and labs, we must give a voice to the individuals who underpin the entire scientific research enterprise: early career researchers (ECRs). ECRs such as graduate students and postdoctoral researchers are critical to addressing each of the issues currently facing the future of the scientific research enterprise: Lack of Effective Mentorship–The cultural climate at institutions that conduct STEM research, and thus the success of the research enterprise, is deeply tied to the quality of mentorship available. ECRs face numerous stressors as part of their jobs, many of which can be addressed by recentering training and mentorship as core to the mission of STEM...

FoR Statement on President Trump’s Executive Order on Immigration

Dear Future of Research Community, America’s leadership in biomedical research is dependent on our ability to recruit and retain the best talent not only domestically but also from around the world. Immigrants are a key driver of U.S. scientific and technological innovation and economic prosperity. Currently, more than 50% of the STEM workforce is foreign-born. Yet, new grave dangers threaten the nature of the scientific enterprise, including our ability to foster a flexible environment, creativity, and scientific innovation for researchers that come from all over the world. The work of Future of Research (FoR) has been, and always will be, focused on creating a sustainable, equitable, and inclusive system of academic training. We aim to create an environment where everyone feels safe, included, and valued not just for their scientific contributions, but for who they are. Therefore FoR does not support any efforts to turn away foreign talent when we know it is critical for the U.S. to remain on the leading edge of biomedical research discovery. On June 22, 2020, President Trump signed an executive order titled “Proclamation Suspending Entry of Aliens Who Present a Risk to the U.S. Labor Market Following the Coronavirus Outbreak” which will expire on December 31, 2020 (link to EO). The order suspends entry for individuals under the H-1B, H-2B, J-1, and L-1 visa programs. The executive order not only goes against the very foundation of the U.S. but will also have disastrous effects on our economy, healthcare & scientific advancements. It also follows a series of additional executive orders targeting the international workforce, which creates a volatile work environment for the research...

Police Brutality, Racism, and the killing of Black civilians

Dear Future of Research Community, At a time when there is a continued need for as much collective grieving as there is for concrete actions, writing a statement can feel hollow. When so many in the Black community, on a regular basis, decry the systemic, state-sanctioned violence against them, writing a statement today can feel like social media virtue signaling. When so many corporations are writing statements while likewise continuing to employ discriminatory and racist practices, writing a statement can feel empty. When institutions are quick to assert support for the Black community but just as quickly decry the violence against property before decrying the undeniable violence and escalation of police against Black, unarmed civilians, words feel diluted of meaning. Nevertheless, words and language do have power, as much when they ring true as when they are used to manipulate and distract. Therefore, speaking up when others remain visibly silent in the face of injustice is the bare minimum and the first of many important steps in bringing about the radical restoration and transformation so desperately needed in our country. As early career researchers working to dismantle systems of inequity, we know all too well that there is no “right” way to protest. We also know that speaking truth to power is always met with resistance and requests for placation and patience. We wish to make it clear that we fully support all forms of protest from the Black community, and condemn the continued and escalating racist, systemic use of force by the police against those asserting their right to autonomy and safety. The work of Future of Research...

(How) do we value early career researchers in academia?

by Adriana Bankston INTRODUCTION Academia often does not value those who are in the research enterprise, thus begging the question of why, how we can change that, and who is responsible for it. We each have a responsibility of ensuring that we are not losing academic talent, and stepping in to intervene when our fellow scientists are struggling in the system. Since a large part of improving the system comes down to making the individuals within it feel valued, it is important to consider how to measure that value and consequences that might result from undervaluing people in the system. In December 2018, there was a tweet by Maren Wood on an article related to the value of someone’s work outside of academia, which included the quote “Suddenly, my work mattered” (from Loriel Anderson @LorielAnderson). This statement prompted the question of why it is that former academics always feel more valued outside of academia, and what that means for the research enterprise itself. This reply as a tweet, stating why people feel more valued outside of academia (screenshot below) elicited a number of interesting responses, which prompted this blog post.  The idea of how we can show the value of scientists is really important; however, it is also very concerning that the contributions of early career researchers (ECRs) (and likely also other groups) aren’t valued in academia. This likely contributes to the loss of talent we are seeing in academic research, in which the best and brightest choose to use these talents elsewhere. Granted, research is not for everyone and there may be those who realize this early on...

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 meeting on foreign influences highlights federal agency urgency without clarity

On Wednesday, the United States Senate Finance Committee met to discuss Foreign Threats to Taxpayer – Funded Research: Oversight Opportunities and Policy Solutions. The webpage includes a video of the session (which begins approximately 30 mins in) and written testimonies from panelists in attendance. We are preparing a statement to submit to the Committee as part of the testimony – if you have points you would like us to raise or would like to provide input, please contact info@futureofresearch.org   The hearing sought to discuss, particularly with responsive federal agencies, four main issues related to taxpayer research as laid out by the Committee Chair, Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA): 1) the failure to disclose receipt of foreign contributions 2) espionage – or in the words of Senator Grassley, “some researchers are spies”; 3) vetting of researchers – that the federal government does not vet researchers, and neither do institutions; and 4) integrity – addressing the discovery that some peer reviewers have shared confidential grant information.   Testimony in the first panel was heard from representatives of Health and Human Services, including the National Institutes of Health, and the Department of Homeland Security, to answer “does the government have the capability to detect and counter these threats?” and discuss legislative and policy solutions to address the issue. Senator Grassley pointed out that the Counterintelligence unit at the FBI had declined to attend and had not explained why. A second panel consisted of a representative from the academic community.   We attempted to capture the discussion in a series of tweets, but some key points appeared to emerge. China, Iran and Russia were...