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...

On our ninth day of #FoRmentors, Juan Pablo Ruiz discusses leaving biomedicine to become a mentorship academic

This is part of a series of blog posts explaining our push for centering mentoring in academia. We are organizing a meeting in Chicago in June 2019 to take action – you can learn more about the effort here. Donate to our mentoring effort! This is a guest post by a member of the FoR Board of Directors, Juan Pablo Ruiz. I became interested in the systems in which we train scientists early on in my PhD. While I was lucky to find myself with supervisors who did not perpetuate abusive or egregious behaviors and were supportive of my passions and interests, I also found myself working really closely with colleagues who were in abusive environments where they were continually harassed and taken advantage of. My biggest frustration (and anger), came when I realized not only how institutionalized and prevalent these toxic behaviors were, but how indifferent those at my department were towards the issue. Those with the power to do so, while aware of the problems, were unwilling to step in and put an end to the behaviors, despite having had various folks make official complaints and knowing all trainees from that lab had either left academic science or scientific careers altogether. The psychology term to describe the attitude I found at the institute was “learned helplessness,” where not a single person, at any level, thought they had a power to bring about change. Through a Peer Support training program at Oxford, in which I was trained to offer mental health support to other students at my college, I also realized the degree to which my colleagues were...
Be Bold

Be Bold

This is a guest post by FoR Advisory Board member, Dr. Christopher Pickett. On Thursday, the Advisory Council to the Director of the National Institutes of Health discussed the formation of a new working group on sexual harassment in NIH-funded labs. Well after the start of the nationwide #MeToo reckoning, the landmark National Academies study on sexual harassment in academia, biomedical leaders being recognized for their work on harassment issues in labs, the formation of a new working group on the issue is, to put it mildly, underwhelming. More than two years ago, NIH leadership clearly stated the agency would “identify the steps necessary to end [sexual harassment] in all NIH-supported research workplaces and scientific meetings.” They were going to “gather as much data as possible to more fully understand the nature and extent of sexual harassment among scientists,” and to “work with governmental, academic and private-sector colleagues” and “determine what levers are already available to influential stakeholders” to mitigate harassment. NIH leadership promised that action would happen within “weeks to months.” Where are the data collected? Where is the evidence of partnerships or the public identification of levers the agency can use to stop harassment in NIH-funded labs? The lack of any clear follow up to this article and the continual dodges and deflections on harassment issues by members of NIH leadership are a significant part of the frustration and rage the community feels with the NIH on this issue. The other part of this frustration is the sense that we know what will happen with the new working group: There will be a good showing of public...