A doctorate in biology is preparation to do more than just bench work, said Lyric Jorgenson, a PhD who now works as Science Policy Advisor and Analyst at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). "It's a degree in logic," she contends. Logic and problem solving, an interest in politics, combined with the ability to write for different audiences are essential skills for PhDs looking to make the leap into science policy.
"Active-learning interventions," in which passive lectures are replaced with interactive activities, moving lecture materials to homework and outside readings, have been shown by STEM education researchers in recent years to be strikingly effective, but a new study published on September 2 in CBE—Life Sciences Education, published by ASCB, reveals that this strategy is especially powerful for black and first-generation college students. An active-learning strategy in an introductory biology course halved the black-white achievement gap and significantly improved the outcome for first-generation college students compared with students in a lecture-based class.
Throughout my PhD years, I have worked passionately on the issue of "Women in Science." Becoming the president of the Graduate Women in Science Organization (GWIS) at Florida State University gave me an opportunity to work on building connections between young professional women and those who were already well advanced in their careers. During GWIS meetings, we discuss the challenges faced by women in science and talk about personal experiences.
The secret is out. There is life beyond the lab or the classroom for someone with a PhD in molecular biology, especially in the biotech and pharmaceutical industry. And yet many of these business careers have little to do directly with bench expertise but instead call on doctoral level training in analysis, planning, and communication. Those are the key skills that serve Jason Huhn and Danielle Haney, recent PhD graduates who are happily pursuing fast-paced, well-paid office-based careers as consultants.
It isn't your imagination. The recent ups and downs in biomedical research funding have made for turbulent times in academic laboratories across the US. Jennifer Couzin-Frankel points out in her overview article to an imaginatively reported "News Focus" section last week in Science on the work force and funding crisis in biomedical science that the NIH budget doubled between 1998 and 2003 from around $14 billion to $27 billion but remained essentially flat for the next five years. The 2009 federal stimulus package created a bump in spending of an additional $10.4 billion but the "regular" NIH budget continued to lose altitude as inflation ate away at the actual value of flat funding. Then came last year's heart-stopping federal shutdown and the sickening 5% across the board sequester nose dive. The net result is that the number of R01 principal investigators (PI) has remained virtually static over the last 13 years: NIH funded 20,458 PIs in 2000 and 21,511 PIs in 2013.
It may sound like a spam subject line but you can change the trajectory of your career in a few short weeks. If it sounds too good to be true, consider one of the numerous short-term courses, internships, and fellowships in outside-the-lab science careers that can give you a look at a whole new career track.
Aside from Google Hangouts and Skype, it was the first time I'd been on video since my friend caught me singing to Spice Girls several years ago. I'd picked a high pressure venue for my return to video—the ASCB Annual Meeting in New Orleans. I was scheduled to give a short talk on Monday about scientists and social media. On Sunday though, I found myself in a small room in the convention center for a previously unscheduled coaching session on video with Susan Tomai, founder of Oratorio, a DC-based company offering media and presentation training.
Now that you have an established research career with a good number of publications under your belt, should you have a professional profile on Wikipedia? You may be thinking that this would be a great way to bump up your ratings in a Google search, and you would be correct. A Wikipedia page is typically ranked in one of the top five sites returned in a routine search. Officially launched in 2001, Wikipedia averages 460 million visits per month and has an international audience for its 27.8 million articles in 286 languages.1
Is there life after graduate school? For doctoral students and postdocs who've been wondering what their future lab life could be like outside academia, say in the biotech industry, here's a chance to get a taste and some intensive training in a free-to-the-student 12-day MBA-style, case-based course. ASCB and the Keck Graduate Institute (KGI), with generous funding from EMD Millipore, have teamed up to offer "Managing Science in the Biotech Industry: An Intensive Course for Students and Postdocs" to 40 postdocs and graduate ASCB members this June in Claremont, CA.
The Kanawha River cuts through Charleston, West Virginia, on its way north to join the Ohio. On this brilliant October morning, the sun is quickly burning off the fog filling the river bottoms and setting the golden dome on the state capitol ablaze. It is the perfect fall Saturday for tossing a football or raking leaves. And yet 70 grad students, postdocs, and biology faculty turn up at the West Virginia University (WVU) Robert C. Byrd Health Sciences Center to hear and talk about cell biology.