Where can you find professional development opportunities? It is remarkably difficult to search for professional development opportunities, particularly affordable ones. So, to help you get started, we have put together a list of workshops and programs, as well as a list of professional development conferences, that may be of interest to you. That being said, we can provide some strategies to find other avenues to get you the training and info you’re looking for.

Look local

Some professional development opportunities are expensive, even if your institution or department is chipping in. You can avoid a lot of the travel and housing cost by looking for opportunities that are local. Of course, your institution likely offers workshops and seminars — don’t dismiss these. Even if they’re not quite what you’re looking for, they will let you network with people who are interested in the topic and perhaps know of other opportunities. Other institutions in your area will also offer professional development, although some of it will likely be restricted to people affiliated with the institution. Still, it can’t hurt to ask — and perhaps you have a colleague at the institution who can make a case for your participation.

Search the internet

If there’s a particular topic you’d like to learn more about (grant-writing, research with undergrads, pedagogical strategies, etc) — do an internet search of the topic and “workshop” or “conference.” It may find that there are abundant affordable opportunities out there. Even if this isn’t the case, it will likely help you identify some experts in the topic. You can contact these experts and ask whether they can recommend affordable professional development opportunities for you.

Look to professional organizations

A number of professional organizations offer some PD (see our list below!). ASCB offers a number of professional development programs for researchers and educators: the FRED program provides mentoring for early-career faculty wanting to write grants; the Mentoring in Active Learning and Teaching (MALT) program offers mentored experiences to educators at all stages to learn from experienced teachers how to develop effective and engaging teaching practices . The American Society for Microbiology (ASM) has made a name for itself in offering a number of high-quality professional development programs for faculty interested in evidence-based undergraduate science education (it is not restricted to microbiology). The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB) also offers a number of different professional development programs on a wide range of topics, from grant writing to undergraduate science education and others. Some other organizations that offer great professional development include (this list is not comprehensive): Association of American Colleges and Universities – AAC&U (they offer Project Kaleidoscope for STEM training, as well as more general professional development); Quality Education for Minorities – QEM (they offer a variety of workshops and colloquia for faculty at minority-serving institutions, and they are usually free); Society for Advancement of Hispanics/Chicanos and Native Americans in Science – SACNAS (they offer a highly-regarded leadership program and a national conference that is all PD).

Ask in your network

In these days of social media, your network is likely quite broad. Go ahead and ask people whether they know of good opportunities for professional development. Also, don’t forget to ask people in your department and at your institution — they may know about an opportunity that has been shown to be very helpful for people at your institution.   As we continue to launch the renovated Career Development website, we will be adding to this list. If you know of resources or opportunities that should be represented here, please feel free to email me at sblatch@ascb.org.
When Offered Professional Development Workshops and Programs Web Links
Summer start (applications due in spring) Faculty Research and Education Development (FRED) program (through ASCB) – year-long mentored partnership for early-career faculty to improve grant-writing success Link
June (apply by end of April) ASBMB Grant Writing Workshop – several day grant-writing workshop for postdocs and early career faculty Link
Each program year starts in April/May (applications due by Jan) Biology Scholars Program (Requires ASM membership; travel grants are available): Promote engagement in the scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL) and lead the life science professional societies in new ways of practicing undergraduate teaching and mentoring in the discipline. A continuum of three independent, yet intertwined, yearlong residencies: the Assessment, Research, and Transitions Residencies. Each residency is a yearlong commitment and includes two face-to-face meetings, online “homework” assignments, and specialized peer mentoring. Link
Summer (Applications due by late Jan) PKal Summer Leadership Institute for STEM Faculty – five-day intensive Institute for early and mid-career STEM faculty – provides theory and practice required to manage the politics of transforming undergrad STEM education at your institution. Link
July; apply early SACNAS Leadership Program – affords unparalleled leadership training for postdocs, junior & mid-career faculty, and professionals Link
Various Genomics Education Partnership (GEP) – (from Wash U) – workshops help faculty develop opportunities for undergrads to do genomics research – covers travel and local costs (become a “community member” first) Link
Various DNA Learning Center training workshops for College and HS educators – Many of these are free – better understand how to bring hands-on investigative molecular science into a course lab Link
Various ASBMB Concept-Driven Teaching Strategies in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology workshops – bring together people with expertise in concept inventory development, science education research and student assessment to develop a resource library of tools for biochemistry and molecular biology educators Link
Anytime – all online Online Workshops from Partnership for Undergraduate Life Sciences Education (PULSE), community of scientists dedicated to department-level implementation of Vision and Change recommendations for improving undergrad science education Link
Various Massive open online courses (MOOCs) on various academic and professional development topics are offered through Coursera, edX, and other providers – these are almost always free (you don’t need the certificate for anything). Search the catalogs for your topic of interest to see if anything is offered Coursera or EdX or others (see table on Wikipedia)
When Offered Professional Development Meetings Web Links
Oct SACNAS National Conference – showcases cutting-edge science and features mentoring and training sessions for students and scientists at all levels; specifically tailored to support undergrad and grad students, postdocs, and career professionals at each transition stage of their career Link
Dec ASCB Annual Meeting – offers grant writing seminar, onsite career coaching and CV review, academic and nonacademic career panels, mentoring roundtables, and more (in the context of the full society meeting) Link
Typically May (2016 is Feb, in Philly) “Understanding Interventions That Broaden Participation in Research Careers” – annual conference and community with resources for understanding how to identify and implement “what works” for supporting minority science education at many educational levels Link
Various The PULSE community has a great calendar of external conferences and programs around improving undergrad science ed Link
Various PKal Regional Meetings — 1-2x per year in each region, provide pedagogical professional development opportunities for all STEM faculty Link
Nov PKal National Meeting Link
  Version updates:
  • Initially published 06/28/2015
  • Updated on 7/20/2015 to add information on MALT, local meeting support, and the ASCB Annual Meeting