taking control of your scientific career building towards independence and beyond l.
Skip this Video
Loading SlideShow in 5 Seconds..
Taking Control of Your Scientific Career: Building Towards Independence and Beyond… PowerPoint Presentation
Download Presentation
Taking Control of Your Scientific Career: Building Towards Independence and Beyond…

Loading in 2 Seconds...

play fullscreen
1 / 62

Taking Control of Your Scientific Career: Building Towards Independence and Beyond… - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

  • Uploaded on

Taking Control of Your Scientific Career: Building Towards Independence and Beyond… Biotechnology Pharmaceutical research Science Journalism Technical Writing Research Administration Technology Transfer Patent Law Investment Analysis Management Consulting Federal Science Policy

I am the owner, or an agent authorized to act on behalf of the owner, of the copyrighted work described.
Download Presentation

Taking Control of Your Scientific Career: Building Towards Independence and Beyond…

An Image/Link below is provided (as is) to download presentation

Download Policy: Content on the Website is provided to you AS IS for your information and personal use and may not be sold / licensed / shared on other websites without getting consent from its author.While downloading, if for some reason you are not able to download a presentation, the publisher may have deleted the file from their server.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - E N D - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Presentation Transcript
acknowledge multiple career options

Pharmaceutical research

Science Journalism

Technical Writing

Research Administration

Technology Transfer

Patent Law

Investment Analysis

Management Consulting

Federal Science Policy

Technical Services

Quality Control

Investor Relationships

Secondary School Teaching

Community College Teaching

Corporate Communications

Regulatory Affairs


Acknowledge Multiple Career Options
scientific super heroes are needed to solve

Scientific Super Heroesare needed to solve…



Avian Flu

Alzheimer's disease



Obesity epidemic

Global Warming

scientific super heroes
Great Science

Great Career

Scientific Super Heroes

To empower your scientific career,

consider the qualities that comprise

both great science and a great career

Qualities of Great Science





Opens new directions for future studies

Intellectually satisfying

Qualities of a Great Career



Builds upon experience


Source of enjoyment


so how might a fledgling scientific super hero combine great science with a great career
So how might a fledgling scientific Super Hero combineGreat Science with a Great Career?

“Idealistic, impractical….”

job description of a scientific super hero
Job Description of a Scientific Super Hero
  • Wanted:

A highly motivated, self-directed, high integrity individual passionate about biomedical research.

This individual requires very little sleep, is willing to work long hours to complete complex experiments, and is willing to accept limited pay while in training.

Willing to work with others to achieve

research objectives (teamwork essential) and

communicate results in both written and

oral forms.

Can climb tall buildings in a single leap.

why academia
Why Academia?
  • Passion for education
  • Passion for independent research (achieving an intellectual depth within a field)
  • Desire for flexibility
  • Commitment to furthering knowledge
  • Desire to do something new/different (charting your own course)
  • Perverse desire to get told you are not good enough (by reviewers, advisors, committee members) on a regular basis
how academia start with a plan a but always be willing to change it switch to plan b

HOW Academia? Start with a Plan A (but always be willing to change it)- switch to Plan B!

Graduate Student/PDF

(Highly motivated but clueless!)

What interests you the most?

What do you want out of your career?

Where do you want to be?

-What kind of institution do you want to work in?

What kind of job do you want to have

(how much ambition?)

When do I start? NOW!

planning your scientific career

Planning Your Scientific Career

  • Passionate
  • with a feeling for the work
  • -willing to drive the work at the expense of other things
  • -willing to stretch your intellect


Highly motivated

planning your scientific career13

Planning Your Scientific Career



  • - Accepts responsibility and ownership
  • Understands one can’t do everything
  • - comfort in the driver’s seat
  • The Buck stops here!
planning your scientific career14

Planning Your Scientific Career



  • - Intense and self-directed
  • Capable of prioritizing
  • Can get inside the heart of a problem
planning your scientific career16

Planning Your Scientific Career


Honest and Fair

  • - High standards of professional integrity
  • can take/give criticism constructively
  • Can take the higher ground
planning your scientific career17

Planning Your Scientific Career

-Not willing to accept current limitations

-Willing to persevere to reach goals

-demand excellence of yourself and others

-VERY strong backbone and VERY thick-skinned




“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan "press on" has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race” Calvin Coolidge

empowering your scientific career

Empowering Your Scientific Career



-Values team work

-Works well with others

-Willing (Happy!) to share credit

empowering your scientific career21

Empowering Your Scientific Career


Effective Communicator

-Communicates the results of research in a scholarly and professional manner

-Equally good at writing and talking

-can be concise and simple in communication

(KISS principle)

empowering your scientific career22

Empowering Your Scientific Career


Calculated Risk Taker

- Willing to try to leap tall buildings

with the correct equipment and rehearsals

-Willing to listen to advice!

-Willing to seize opportunities

do you have the right stuff
Do you Have the Right Stuff?
  • Highly motivated
  • Independent
  • Focused
  • Honest and Fair
  • Determined (stubborn! Persistent!)
  • Collaborative
  • Effective Communicator
  • Calculated risk taker
  • Capable of learning by your mistakes!
  • Can take brutal criticism
  • GREAT sense of humour!

If not, academic Science will be hard for you

with great powers comes great responsibility

“With great powers, comes great responsibility”

Responsibility to yourself, your family and your scientific community to plan your journey

Spiderman (and others)


So you’ve just received a phone call from Donald Trump…

You’ve been hired to produce a new TV series..

The Apprentice: New PI! (Reality Television meets Scientific Career Survival)


The Apprentice: New PI!

As the producer, what new knowledge and expertisewould be helpful to ensure a successful transitionfrom trainee to independent investigator?

What skills are needed for a career in science

and what challenges might help provide experience

1 networking

It is important to develop a wide range of individuals to assist you with finding resources, information and serve as trusted colleagues


Create a plan for

You/your team to network

with senior colleagues

and peers

(local committees, conferences, professional societies, the web)

#1 Networking
networking to create a personal support team
Networking to Create a Personal Support Team

Main Mentor


Cheer Leader




Political Strategist

Role Models

Learning partners

2 mentoring

Good mentoring can be the single difference between success and failure


Identify and develop a plan for you to be mentored in your institution and outside of your current institution

#2: Mentoring
  • How do I find a Mentor?
  • - Institutional programs
  • professional society programs
  • Your friends/colleagues


Mentors can be the key to your career success



  • A mentor can…
  • Provide you with

seasoned advice (career/science decisions)

  • Keep you on track
  • Provide you with

confidence (emotional support)

  • Assist you with

networking (career opportunities)


nas embraced concept of mentors
NAS embraced Concept of Mentors

Advisers: people with career experience willing to share their knowledge

Supporters: people who give emotional and moral encouragement and teach you emotional intelligence

Tutors: people who teach, and give specific feedback on one’s performance

Masters: trainers of apprentices - setting the bar for problem solving

Sponsors: sources of info and aid about development opportunities

Models: setting the bar for identity, of the kind of person one would like to be as an academic scientist

mentoring and mental health
Mentoring and Mental Health

There are some very special challenges for certain students/PDFs and some student/PDF – adviser pairings. We all need to note, keep an eye on others, and take some responsibility here!

3 peer reviewed publications

Research is not complete until published in a peer-reviewed journal. High quality papers help to establish one as an “expert” in a scientific field


Find papers you really like, and papers you really, really don’t.

- learn what makes a good paper flow

- learn the process to publish high impact

- high/low impact - what is the difference?

- are you willing to take the risk to aim high?

#3 Peer-reviewed Publications
4 peer reviewed grants

Research can not be performed without money. Money relies on successful peer review. Selling your story is critical! Grant writing is cathartic, inspiring and painful



You/your team will develop a hypothesis and a series of specific aims for a pilot research award proposal

How do you formulate a research question?

• How do you articulate your research problem?

• How do you approach a literature review?

• How do you use your literature review to build the structure of your argument?

#4 Peer-reviewed Grants

Strategy: Attend workshops to learn about grant writing


- Hit the web (lots of sites to help; templates, advice from agencies)

- Closely examine grant applications from successful grantees

- Have experienced grantees (reviewers) critique your application

- Be willing to change yourself, your projects, your career.

understand some of the people reviewing your grants will be complete idiots
Understand:Some of the people reviewing your grants will be complete Idiots!!!

“I don’t understand why the applicant is proposing a new proteomic approach to identify novel secreted factors that stimulate this extent of regeneration, when they could simply assay all the known trophic factors”

“This proposal could generate data that would provide a breakthrough in the field. Then again, the data could be uninterpretable”

“The approaches are innovative and build on previous expertise this lab has applied to other questions; this is both a strength and a weakness.”

“This grant is clearly written, highly innovative and has the potential to have a high impact on the field of CNS regeneration, if I only believed the cells they are working with are actually olfactory ensheathing cells”


1999:“Dr. Roskams seems to be the Don Quixote of science”

“Impractical, idealistic”

2006:”Dr. Roskams is an outstanding investigator recognized internationally for her work in the developing nervous system, especially her studies of the cellular interactions that regulate the cell dynamics so critical for producing and maintaining a functional olfactory epithelium. She has a passion for this area of research necessary to drive the conceptual innovation and ground-breaking approaches exemplified in this proposal. Only a few other investigators around the world are studying in-depth aspects of the same questions posed here and none match the qualifications of Dr. Roskams for pursuing these questions.”

5 manage resources

Execution of research projects requires planning for human resources (people hiring and management), time management (juggling, prioritizing) and fiscal responsibility (book-keeping)


You/Your team must manage a budget of $200,000 and complete a research project, including hiring and training of laboratory personnel in a 3-year time frame

#5 Manage Resources
6 team work

Collaboration and teams of investigators from multiple disciplines is required for many advances in biomedical research


The contacts you make now you will carry with you. Talk to others in your lab/adjacent labs to learn new areas or techniques.

- (Conferences!).

- The interface between disciplines is the future of scientific research

#6 Team Work


Identify resources

to help you learn

how to manage a

research project



- “At the Helm” (CSHL)

- CIHR New PI Workshops

7 leadership

Leading a research program requires vision and skills to engage others in your passion for biomedical research


Take a leadership position in your home institution to improve communication of scientific research or collaboration in your community

(how comfortable are you doing this?)

#7 Leadership

LEADERSHIP: My team is in place; how do I maintain my perfect little lab world?

Get OUT THERE! You are the role model and motivator

-assess individual needs and adjust your supervision accordingly

This is YOUR LAB: You must provide a philosophical and practical framework

for the lab to grow into. Decide what type of lab culture you want (format for lab notebooks? Flexible hours? Music?)

Communication is key: have group meetings, no matter how painful.

Demonstrate by example that honesty, integrity, courtesy and professionalism

are part of your lab philosophy

Learn from watching: how do other successful scientists manage their labs,

their lives, negotiate jobs, the tenure-and-promotion process? ASK THEM!!!!

Be a good colleague: cultivate scientific collaborations and relationships (networking again!)

8 other career options

Multiple career options are available for today’s biomedical investigator


-Try other careers on for size (mentally)

- Research what each entails (network! Use your mentors!)

- Make a list of what you do or don’t want in the future. What best fits?

- Work on planning your career moves to achieve that, whilst keeping options open

#8 OtherCareer Options
9 professional development

Career success requires many professional skills that are beyond the bench and/or bedside techniques


Your must develop a list of interpersonal skills required for success (see earlier!) and find how to receive training to improve your confidence with these skills

(choice of graduate/PDF lab, Dept of your first position)

#9 Professional Development
10 personal development

Life success requires dedication, sacrifice, compromise and planning ahead (and a partner willing to understand your career demands and work with you)


- prioritize what you want the most and when

work with your partner to plan careers ahead

Children? When? Where? How?

Balance (hobbies!) in the face of single-minded career dedication (single being the operative term)

#10 Personal Development

IF you want to excel, you can’t have it all! (Sorry! The Rolling Stones were right…..)

the apprentice the next pi
The Apprentice: The Next PI
  • #1 Networking
  • #2 Mentoring
  • #3 Writing (Grants and papers)
  • #4 Research Ideas
  • #5 Manage Resources
  • #6 Team Work/collaboration
  • #7 Career Options
  • #8 Professional Development
  • #9 Leadership
  • #10 Personal Development

The same characteristics that make you successful in business make you successful in science!


So, I have what it takes! Now what do I do?


  • - Find the SMARTEST people to work for in the BEST institutions (do your background research)
  • Find the NICEST people to work for (do your background Research)
  • Find the labs asking the questions that fascinate you the most AND develop your skill-set (be AMBITIOUS)
  • - Find people who are ambitious (track record)
  • - Find people who are good mentors (track record)
  • Find people who are well-funded
  • Find people who are good collaborators (opens up your network and expertise)
  • Find someone you get along with!!

What if I mess up (bad experience)?

  • - Talk to mentors to help plan an exit strategy
  • - Rely on your network to discuss it
  • - WORK HARD at what you are doing (you’re going to need letters of ref from someone!)
  • Many people do > 1 PDF
  • What happened won’t shape your future, but how you handle it, and how productive you become afterwards, definitely will
  • Try to maintain your sense of self
  • Consider whether you contributed to the situation (learn from it!)

There are always graceful ways out (without giving up)

what if i don t have what it takes
What if I don’t Have What it Takes?
  • Assess strengths, weaknesses and choose alternate path - there are many valuable ones (listed earlier)!
  • Choose to operate at a less intense level in Science
  • Choose to work within a team that values you and allows you room to grow
  • Choose to step back and reassess what you really DO want (is it your ideal or someone else’s?)
  • Don’t throw away your experience - your journey is unique and others have much to learn from you
a special challenge women scientists
A Special Challenge: Women Scientists
  • At some point, you will be discriminated against (jobs, grants, speaking at conferences). Sometimes it is not obvious,sometimes it is by other women, but it is always there. MEN: Take Note!
  • At some point, you will realize you are not in the old boys club, but the young girls club is WAY better dressed!
  • ALWAYS, there will be extra demands on your time (“tokens” on committees, female students looking for guidance, not to mention children....) CHOOSE WISELY!
  • At some point you will decide either to quit or do something about making it better. I recommend the latter! We have so much to offer science, and we deserve it!

The good news is, we are superb multi-taskers, intuitive, collaborative, and usually non-threatening to alpha males (who usually like to collaborate with us)

balancing career and family
Balancing Career and Family
  • An understanding partner makes all the difference in your success
  • There is no “ideal” time for pregnancy if you are a woman. If you want to have children in your life, just do it and you’ll prioritize and figure out how to balance and achieve. If you wait for an ideal time, you’ll lose out.
  • If you are a man, you still have to work with your partner to achieve your own balance (not produce a “single parent with spouse”)
  • Find a work environment (as a grad student, PDF, Jr faculty) that is supportive of your home demands and will still support your career
  • Find an Institution that has official policies on tenure clock stoppage, parental leave, great daycare, sympathetic leadership
  • (Good News: CANADA/UBC is a far better place to be for these issues)

Applying for Positions

  • What do you want out of your career (teaching/research)?
  • Where do you want to be (geographically)?(public schools? Lifestyle? Money?)
  • -What kind of institution do you want to work in (UBC? Saskatoon? Harvard?)
  • What kind of job do you want to have (PI, Res Assoc, Teaching?)
  • How much ambition do you have?
  • -What is your timeline? How flexible is this? When will you pull the plug?
  • -Get Your CV Together
  • Formulate your Research Plan (discuss with your advisor)
  • -Line up your letters of reference (carefully)
  • Use your network/mentors to find out who’s recruiting
  • Scan every hiring website and apply for jobs that are even close (don’t limit yourself)
  • Accept interviews (even if they are in less-than-favored locations); practice makes perfect

What is your Plan B?


What We Look for in Job Searches

Publications: At least two first authorships in high impact journals (Cell Press, Nature group) as PDF (16 authors don’t count!)

(Has this person learned how to aim high and achieve it?)

Grants: Evidence of Independent funding and awards

(competitiveness, track record, ability to attract external funds -> will be around for a while and not be a liability)

Letters: VERY Important. Address all characteristics covered earlier

(Does this person have what it takes? Team player? Would I trust them? Would I want them to be my colleague/collaborator?)

Research Plan: What I plan on researching for the next 5-10 yrs

(Can they articulate their research plan or did their previous advisor write their fellowship? Do their future interests compliment ours? Are they thinking outside the box? Are they doing the same thing as their advisor/previous graduates of that lab? Can we learn from them? What will/can they teach?)

what if i get a job offer
What if I get a Job Offer?



-Teaching duties/timing



-Core support (Admin?)

-Core support (equipment)

-Moving costs

-Housing allowances

What is Fair?

-What do you reasonably need?

(network/mentors will help)

-Approach Sr colleagues and ask!

-Talk with recent hires and ask!

-Don’t believe everything you’re told by chairs or Deans!

- Don’t ask for more than you reasonably need to get going!

Then, make friends in your new world as fast as you can!!!

we work in a whole new world
We Work in a Whole New World

Your role in charting your training/career is HUGE!

  • What characteristics we need to be Superhero Scientists
  • How we acquire those characteristics/training that aren’t innate
  • How to use our self-learning to decide the best career path
  • How to network and find people (mentors) to help train us
  • How we decide to find our way to do Good science Vs. GREAT Science
  • How to plan ahead and set reasonable expectations (ourselves and others)
  • How to try to find balance (Career Success+Life Success = Happiness)
  • Academic Science is now a Social Endeavour - teamwork is essential
  • How to deal with disappointment (assemble your support network)
  • How to MOVE ON, be a Mentor and help the next generation do all of this!!



Get Help Everywhere You Can!!

HHMIpublications:(http://www.hhmi.org/resources/scientists.html) including: Making the Right Moves

CSHL Manuals: At the Helm (for you!), At the Bench (for new lab people)

National Academy of Sciences publications: (http://lab.nap.edu/) including:

Adviser, Teacher, Role Model, Friend: On Being a Mentor to Students in Science and Engineering

Careers in Science and Engineering:A Student Planning Guide to Grad School and Beyond

On Being a Scientist:Responsible Conduct in Research, Second Edition

Beyond Bias and Barriers: Fulfilling the Potential of Women in Academic Science and Engineering

i did

People Who Shared Slides with Me: Brenda Andrews, Gabrielle Boullianne (U of T), Joan Lakoski (VP Academic, U. Pitt), CSHL Press.

People Who believe(d) in Me: My support Network - FAMILY (Phil Hieter) and kids (Breeshey and Dylan); Science FRIENDS - Margarete Heck (Univ of Edinburgh), Marie Filbin (NYU), Mary Lucero (U. Utah), Freda Miller (Univ of Toronto), Maria Klawe (ex-UBC, now Harvey Mudd President), Lynn Raymond (UBC), Diane Snow (U. Kentucky), Linda Barlow (U. Colorado)

People Who have Inspired (Mentored) Me: Mary Bunge (Miami), Michael Smith (formerly UBC), Rick Huganir and David Linden (JHU), David Danner (NIH), Shirley Tighlman (Princeton), Wolf Tetzlaff, Vanessa Auld, Linda Matsuuchi, Tim O’Connor, Phil Hieter, Bill Milsom (UBC), Jerry Silver (Case Western), Charlie Greer (Yale), Indira Samarakasera (formerly UBC)

People Who Collaborate(d) with Me: Don Nicholson (Merck), Wolf Tetzlaff, Os Steward (UC Irvine), Mark Tuszynski (UCSD), Marie Filbin, Gord Fishell (NYU), Jane Johnson (U. Texas), Nat Heintz and Todd Anthony (Rockefeller),Mary Lucero (Utah), Frank Margolis (U. Maryland), etc…..

people who put up with me
People Who Put Up with Me!

(and also inspire me)