Students and Postdocs: We want to hear your voices and see your faces!

Bruno da Rocha Azevedo at the 2014 COMPASS Open Forum. Photo by James McWilliams

Bruno da Rocha Azevedo starting the icebreaker activity at the 2014 COMPASS Open Forum. Photo by James McWilliams

The 2015 COMPASS Open Forum is ready for you in San Diego!


It sounds like a long time ago: in the beginning of 2013, a small group of students and postdocs received a congratulatory email from ASCB that would change the way our scientific society interacts with students and postdocs. We were selected to be members of a committee to represent student and postdoc interests in the ASCB. With a lot of energy, votes, and Google Hangouts, the Committee for Postdocs and Students (COMPASS) was founded and quickly got to work. Subcommittees were created to prepare students and postdocs for their careers and to communicate cell biology to society and among ASCB members, especially our student and postdocs.


In 2013, during the ASCB Annual Meeting (AM) in New Orleans, COMPASS had its first Open Forum. We were rookies, carrying the successes of our first enterprises throughout the year, and organizing events for the AM. We were certain of our objective: helping to prepare students and postdocs as successful scientists. We presented our ideas in a small room to few attendees. Great discussions happened, and some people attending that Open Forum eventually became COMPASS members later on. Much of the advice heard in New Orleans helped to improve COMPASS.


COMPASS was one year old in 2014. We had the first turnover of members, and our projects expanded. During the AM in Philadelphia, the second Open Forum was quite different: a bigger room, many more people in attendance, and great energy and discussion. People that were there will remember the fun icebreaker and all the yellow post-its, which represented the issues students and postdocs face during their career development. The range of topics in these yellow post-its was incredible—from postdoc stipends to diversity in the workforce—covering a wide range of the issues that are on our minds, every day. As happened in New Orleans, some of the faces from the Open Forum in Philly turned into COMPASS members.


Students and postdocs enjoyed the icebreaker activity at the 2014 COMPASS Open Forum. Photo by James McWilliams

Students and postdocs enjoyed the icebreaker activity at the 2014 COMPASS Open Forum. Photo by James McWilliams

COMPASS is now two years old, going on three, and our third COMPASS Open Forum, in the beautiful winter weather of San Diego, is scheduled for Monday, December 14, in Room 33C, from 10:00 am – 11:00 am. Once again, we want to make this event as dynamic as possible. At the same time, after three years it is a good time to show what we did, and what still needs to be done. So, the yellow post-its from Philly will be back. We will let you—student and postdocs—judge whether some of the wishes of students and postdocs were accomplished. It will allow us to have a good discussion of what COMPASS still needs to do and to improve our goals of creating programming and resources for career training and development, increasing science advocacy and outreach, increasing the visibility of our perspectives inside ASCB, and fostering connections among student and postdocs of the ASCB.


We look forward to seeing you and hearing what you have to say in San Diego at our Open Forum. Many people have been discussing the future of the scientific enterprise, and your voice is important as well. In addition, COMPASS members will have a light blue ribbon on their badges, so if you see a COMPASS member talk to him/her anytime. They will be ready to tell you about all the good things we try our best to do, and we are very open to suggestions!


Once again, COMPASS Open Forum—Monday December 14, Room 33C, 10:00am – 11:00 am. See you there!

About the Author:

Bruno Da Rocha-Azevedo is currently a Senior Staff Scientist in the Department of Biophysics at UT Southwestern Medical Center. Bruno studies the spatiotemporal dynamics of endothelial cell receptors using single molecule imaging. Bruno was one of the founding members of COMPASS, where he has a member (2013-2016), outreach subcommittee chair (2013-2015) and COMPASS co-chair (2015-2016). Bruno also recently volunteered on the ASCB 5-year strategic plan, helping on creating the guidelines for further democratizing the society by ensuring leadership and decision making reflect the broad range of the membership and their interests and priorities E-mail: Twitter: @brunodra

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