It’s been a quiet few weeks from us as we continue to wrap up a number of things. The report from the National Academies on the future of the next generation of the biomedical workforce, which BoD President Jessica Polka, Advisory Board member Paula Stephan and myself were all on, is about to head to the printers and finally be sent to NIH this month. We also have a number of papers in press/submitted/in preparation; and we have some exciting projects being developed on the basis of meetings held in the last few months which some of you may have attended that we are excited to get under way! Stay tuned!


One project will be based on discussions from the recent ASAPbio peer review meeting (you can see a summary here) which was organized by Jessica Polka, and attended by BoD former and current members Becki Lijek and Teon Brooks, myself, and advisory board members Chris Pickett and Vitek Tracz. It transpired that there was a massive disconnect between the experience of junior researchers, who may write peer reviews, and have those peer reviews signed and submitted in someone else’s name, versus the insistence by members of the senior community that this couldn’t possibly be happening. This is not an unusual disconnect – I notice this lack of awareness of what actually happens in academia frequently in my work – but everyone agreed that “ghostwriting” of peer review reports should not be happening, and I’m excited to be welcoming Becki back to help us lead a project on tackling this issue. This also ties neatly into our efforts to start getting more ECRs into leadership positions in organizations (the “Who’s On Board?” project discussed in our Boston meeting in Fall 2017) which we hope to launch very soon! For more on peer review, you can see Genetic’s peer review training initiative, my post on the role of early career researchers in peer review and a discussion about preprint journal clubs.


As always, we are looking for volunteers to help with these, and other initiatives. Please do spread the word, and get in touch, and I’ll try to get back to you ASAP.


In the meantime, there has been a lot going on, and there are a lot of exciting meetings and opportunities coming up that I’ve highlighted below. I actually do not travel again til mid-April, which is very unusual, but please get in touch with any questions, or let me know if you happen to be in the Bay Area!




ACTION OF THE MONTH: Report your postdoc salaries (and PhD stipends)!


You may have been following along with our ongoing postdoc salary efforts, such as our page and preprint reporting postdoc salary data. If so, one of the limitations you will have noticed is that we are only able to get data from public institutions in a standard manner through Freedom of Information Act requests; and even then, we often receive not total salaries, but what is paid through the institution (i.e. if a postdoc is paid directly on a fellowship, we see salaries of $0, or low amounts if the stipend is supplemented).


Therefore, in an effort to not only gather data more widely about postdoc salaries, but also to ensure that data collection effort results in greater transparency about postdoc salaries, we have joined forces with the team behind Personal Finances for PhDs (who have given advice on the Hello PhD podcast about taxes and most recently retirement savings), and who also run the site Thousand of PhD stipends have been reported on their site – and furthermore, we know of institutions using this data to benchmark their own PhD stipends. Therefore they have developed – a site where you can enter your annual salary as a postdoc from the present back to 2013.


The site aims to make the discussion about salaries more transparent, and also by working together we hope to eventually be able to make use of salary data from the site to assist in our analysis. For institutions in the U.S., there is the option to fill in demographic data, which will NOT be posted along with the individual data entries, but will instead be used to generate aggregate data to answer some of the questions we have been looking to ask with our data collection efforts already – for example, how does visa status affect salary? Do the preliminary findings in our preprint that there are predicted regional gender disparities in salaries also hold true for self-reported data?


Our data-sharing agreement is on the basis that data which can allow identification of personal information on the individual level will not be released, to protect those who do choose to provide optional data. We may never reach sufficient numbers of responses to report on some of these elements but we prefer that some questions go unanswered rather than risk endangering those who report their data.


The form also asks information about available benefits, and whether you successfully negotiated your salary level, and  provides space for text comments for any further information you wish to give. We hope you’ll enjoy sharing and looking through the data, and thanks in advance – we’d really appreciate it if you pass this along to any early career researchers you know.


Please feel free to get in touch with any questions and concerns you may have – we’ll work on an FAQ section ASAP!



Career outcome tracking for PhDs and postdocs



I told you in the last newsletter about a number of groups, including Rescuing Biomedical Research and the Coalition for Next Generation Life Sciences (CNGLS), pushing efforts towards making institutions keep track of where their graduate student and postdoc alumnae go. CNGLS is a coalition of ten institutions committed to releasing various pieces of data about their populations over the next 2 years. We have set up a new page on our website, “Tracking Career Outcomes at Institutions” to keep track of this effort, collate all the data and provide further information in this area going forward, to help potential graduate students and postdocs alike. Please let us know what you think, and share it with undergraduates, graduate students and postdocs alike. 

The first set of data was released in February – viewable here – and includes:

  • admissions;
  • enrollment; and
  • time to degree data for PhD students, at a minimum, for each institution.

You can see the CNGLS website and read their coauthored piece in Science on the rationale behind this move.

We’re trying to encourage more institutions to sign up to this initiative – if you know of any who are interested, please let me know!


Upcoming Meetings

Women in STEM academia initiative

Open to anyone in the Chicago area:

Facebook event


Join us and become part of a supportive community for Chicago women in Academia and STEM!

NUPF would like to invite you to a special event that focuses on addressing inequalities facing women in STEM and academia, building a community to promote gender equity, and identifying solutions for the prioritization of work and lifestyle. This event is for everyone, students, postdocs, staff and faculty from Northwestern and other institutions whatever your gender identity is!


  • Discuss the unique challenges facing women in STEM at Northwestern and nation-wide.
  • Build a community of local women in STEM and academia to promote gender equity through varied interactive sessions.
  • Get to know ways to improve your work/life balance (maternity leave, parental support, child care, elder care, etc).
  • Find out how to address inequalities at the workplace (sexual harassment, discriminitation, wages discrepancies).
  • Learn from the life lessons and successful stories of our guest speakers who are leaders in their respective fields.
  • Cultivate leadership skills and mentor-mentee relationships with the invited speakers.
  • Learn about the missions of our partner organizations and upcoming local events at our exhibitors’ booths.


12:00 pm: Opening address.

12:05-12:30 pm: Northwestern University benefits-specific information session.

12:30-1:00 pm: Lunch (Food/drinks provided).

1 pm-1:45 pm: “How to address inequalities faced by women in STEM and Academia”, Geri R. Donenberg,  PhDVice Chair of Research Dept of Medicine, and Director of the Center for Dissemination and Implementation Science, UIC.

2:00-2:45 pm: Keynote presentation, Dr. Carol Tamminga M.D.Professor & Chairman, Dept Psychiatry, UT Southwestern.

2:45-3:30 pm: Talks by women leaders in STEM. Participating speakers:

  • Vicky Kalogera, PhD, Linzer Distinguished University Professor in Physics and Astronomy, Northwestern University and Director of CIERA, Center for Interdisciplinary Exploration and Research in Astrophysics.
  • Jennifer Cole, PhD, Assistant Chair of Chemical and Biological Engineering, Associate Director of Northwestern Center for Engineering Education Research.
  • Nancy Schwarz, PhDDepartment of Pediatrics, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, The University of Chicago, Director, Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Center.

3:30-3:45 pm: Coffee break.

3:45-4:15 pm: Talk, Teresa Woodruff, PhD, Dean and Associate Provost for Graduate Education,The Graduate School, Northwestern University.

4:15-5:15 pm: Panel discussion on women’s leadership in STEM with previous speakers.

5:15-7:00 pm: Networking event (Appetizers/drinks served).

Attendees will be able to directly interact with the speakers and discuss mentoring in a small group setting during the round-table networking reception.

March 15th 2018, 12:00 pm – 7:00 pm

Conference room L South,
Prentice Women’s Hospital, 250 E Superior St




The State of Women in Biomedical Sciences: A Call to Action

March 19, 2018 from 2-6 pm

Behrakis Auditorium, Tufts University, 150 Harrison Avenue, Boston, MA

The goal of the symposium is raise awareness of the challenges facing women biomedical scientists in academia and industry, and to discuss ways to promote equal opportunities for women and men. The format will be four talks followed by a panel where all four speakers will take questions from the audience. A reception will follow the panel to give everyone a chance to meet the speakers and to network.

Here are our speakers and their topics:

Nancy Hopkins, PhD, Professor, MIT

We’ve come a long way – but not far enough

Vicki Lundblad, PhD, Professor, Salk Institute

Women scientists need to tell their stories

Joanne Kamens, PhD, Executive Director, Addgene     

Implicit Bias – Tactics for Change

Judge Nancy Gertner, (Retired), Professor, Harvard Law School

In Defense of Women: Stories from a Lifelong Advocate

Thy symposium is open to the public and free of charge.  Be sure to register at as seating is limited.

We think this symposium will address an issue of broad impact at a time when women are feeling more encouraged to speak up about their concerns, and we hope that it will inspire efforts from both scientists and administrators to insure greater gender equity in biomedical science.



The MIT Better Science Ideathon

23 April 2018: 

The first MIT Better Science Ideathon brings together teams of people involved in scientific research – including students, researchers, policy makers, publishers, and funders – to explore how the process of science can be improved. There will be a focus on how open science can accelerate scientific progress through fostering collaboration and reproducibility and by reducing the barriers to learning. See more information here.



March for Science and March for Science Summit 

The 2nd Annual Marches for Science will take place on Saturday, April 14, 2018: “We will march again and raise our voices to remind officials that we will hold them accountable for passing equitable, evidence-based policies that serve all people and all communities.” Marches will take place in DC and may be taking place in your local area.

Also, in Chicago on July 6-8, 2018 the SIGNS (Science | Government, Institutions & Society) Summit will take place. SIGNS is a network-wide meeting for supporters, organizers, and participants in the March for Science movement to share knowledge, build community, and develop their skills as advocates and educators. They are currently soliciting submissions for session proposals here.

(I am on the advisory council for the meeting – please do get in touch with me also if you want to know more.)



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

We invite you to participate in the New England Future Faculty Workshop for Underrepresented Groups in STEM Fields (NE-FFW) on the Northeastern University campus in Boston, Massachusetts on July 10, 2018.  The NE-FFW is designed specifically for underrepresented minorities and 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 Underrepresented Groups in STEM Fields, go to:

To participate in the NE-FFW, there are several steps interested people need to take:

  1.     Apply online by May 1, 2018.
  1.     Submit a 300 word statement about why they want to participate
  1.     Submit a CV
  1.     Submit a diversity statement (1 page or less)
  1.     Await notification of acceptance on May 16, 2018
  1.     Confirm participation in workshop by paying a $50 registration fee by June 1, 2018





From GSA:

Learn to peer review with one-on-one mentoring from GENETICS editors

Dear colleagues,

We’re now recruiting senior graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and junior faculty to take part in a pilot peer review training program.

Peer-reviewers are vital to science. Yet early career scientists in our field rarely receive formal training in how to be a good reviewer.

This uneven training means we’re often failing to prepare the next generation of reviewers. But it also means many students and postdocs miss the chance to develop skills central to their success in science: understanding the mindset and expectations of peer reviewers and editors, critical thinking, evaluating research, and providing constructive feedback on scientific projects not directly related to their own.

The GENETICS Editorial Board and the GSA Publications Committee are addressing this deficiency with a program that gives early career GSA members real-world peer review experience. Participants will receive training and one-on-one mentoring in peer review from GENETICS editors, while reviewing manuscripts submitted to GENETICS that are within their areas of interest and expertise.

We invite applications from GSA members who are senior graduate students and those within seven years of receiving their PhD degree. Applicants from anywhere in the world are encouraged to apply. We particularly welcome applications from members who lack opportunities to receive peer review training in their home labs or departments. We are seeking applicants able to review manuscripts for any of the journal sections.

Applications are due April 14, 2018.

Learn more about the program in Mark’s blog post “Learning to Peer Review.

Questions? E-mail:




The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology is now accepting applications for our annual Student/Postdoc Hill Day!

Every year, the ASBMB brings trainees from across the country to meet with their Congressional leaders in Washington, D.C. This fully-funded opportunity gives trainees the chance to help promote scientific research by directly interacting with policymakers. The deadline to apply is Feb. 26. The event will be April 11-13.

YOU can significantly affect the debate over the importance of research funding. Congressional leaders look forward to meeting with residents from their district and rely upon input from their constituents when making decisions. In describing your research, you can highlight the importance and successes of your research, discuss the impact of federally funded research on human health and establish a personal connection with your representative and his/her staff.

Arriving on Wednesday, April 11, participants will take part in an orientation session focused on the federal budget process and communicating with members of Congress. On Thursday, April 12, participants will travel to Capitol Hill to meet with members of Congress, before departing on Friday, April 13. In exchange for your time and efforts, we provide transportation, lodging and meals during your stay in Washington, D.C.

If you are an undergraduate, graduate student or postdoc interested in this opportunity, please fill out and submit a Hill Day application form. If you are a PI with trainees who may be interested in the ASBMB Hill Day, we would appreciate you passing this letter on.

If you have any questions, please contact ASBMB Science Policy Analyst André Porter. Applicants will be notified the second week of March if they will be invited to participate.

Apply now



We’re looking for a couple of folks who are passionate about Open and enthusiastic about advocacy to provide support (a few hours a week) for two major areas of our work — the Right to Research Coalition and our Open Education program.

More details on the responsibilities, selection criteria, and how to apply, can be found on our website:

The deadline for applying is 5pm (EDT) on Friday, February 16, however, we’ll keep the position open until it’s filled.

Got a question? Reach out to Shawn Daugherty, Director of Operations, at



Lasker Foundation Essay Contest

The Lasker Foundation, home of America’s premier biomedical research prize, announces its 2018 Student Essay Contest!

The topic of the 2018 Essay Contest is: How can social media help build trust in science and the research enterprise? Essays must be 800 words or less, written in English, and submitted by Friday, March 30, 2018. Essays are evaluated based upon the innovation of the ideas and proposals and how well these ideas are conveyed.

First-place award is $10,000 and an expense-paid trip to New York City to meet the 2018 Lasker Award winners (on September 21, 2018). Second- and third-place prizes are $5000 and $2500, respectively. All monetary prizes are to be used towards educational expenses.

Medical school students, interns, residents, and fellows; doctoral students and postdoctoral fellows in biomedical research; graduate students in public health programs; and graduate students in other health professions programs are eligible to apply.






eLife Innovation Sprint (Cambridge, UK)

There’s lots to do to improve accessibility to biomedical research and to bring the power of the web and modern technologies, including AI, to scientific research and discovery. Would you be able to help?

In association with Mozilla Global Sprint 2018, eLife is hosting a two-day sprint to challenge members of the community to prototype new ideas that bring cutting-edge technology to open research communication.

We invite you — whether researcher, developer, designer, data scientist or technologist — to apply today to participate in the eLife Innovation Sprint on May 10-11 in Cambridge, UK. Find out more (including info on travel support and participation guidelines) at:

Applications will remain open until 9am GMT on Monday March 5. We aim to communicate final decisions by March 23.

At eLife, we’re working to accelerate discovery in the life sciences by improving the way researchers share their latest findings. We’re a non-profit supported by research funders and led by scientists. We believe in transparency, reproducibility and openness in science. As part of our work, we develop open-source technologies to support the online communication of outstanding work in the life sciences.

I would be happy to answer any questions; and FAQs are posted at





From Union of Concerned Scientists:

Balancing Your Career and Advocacy online training: We hope you can apply the guidance and resources as you navigate the balance between your careers and being engaged science advocates!

Below are some resources to support you on your science advocacy path:

Other pieces of interest