The Importance of Elections in Scientific Societies (including ASCB)

The opinions presented in this piece represent the authors’ opinions and do not reflect either COMPASS or ASCB official opinions.

It's time to vote at ASCB! Photo by Cle0patra.

It’s time to vote at ASCB! Photo by Cle0patra.

It is election time at ASCB!

Every year a new President-Elect and four new Council members are elected. Together with the past and current president, secretary and treasurer (each elected once every three years), and eight incumbent Council members (each with three year terms), their decisions will have an impact on your society’s future.

The ASCB voting system is straightforward: you access the ballot online, where you can see the biosketches of the candidates (which are always amazing) and a short personal statement from each explaining their plans and vision for the future of the ASCB.

And here is where the importance of an election comes in for trainees. Graduate students and postdocs compose 38% percent of ASCB’s membership. We are an important piece of the scientific enterprise and the future of cell biology. We are committed to the beautiful and valuable science we produce, and are committed to make the science always better. Plus, we graduate students and postdocs are also concerned about the future of the scientific enterprise—funding is short, academic positions are few, pay is low, and institutions rarely prepare students and postdocs for out-of-academia jobs.

Postdocs and students are not just contemplating a shrinking enterprise, we are seriously concerned. Our future postdocs and job positions are in jeopardy. But, in the midst of our apprehension, we are producing exciting science. And we want to produce more—but we also need to be concerned and act about our future at the same time.

In recent years the ASCB leadership has stepped up regarding these concerns. The creation of COMPASS, the career center and career panels during the annual meeting, the ASCB KGI biotech course, and the COMPASS Blog have brought student and postdocs concerns into the limelight at ASCB. ASCB is taking a central position in tackling the crisis in academia with the help of the senior leadership and us, the students and postdocs.

We believe that the next ASCB President and the new Council members should share the concerns we have, and work with us, the postdocs and grad students, to tackle the issues while maintaining the amazing science being done.

We hope that postdocs vote, thinking about what you want ASCB to be for you. We advise you to carefully read the candidates’ statements and future goals. We believe ASCB can keep its amazing role of conducting high-level scientific discussion in its annual meetings, courses, and journals as well as its amazing career development, education, science policy, minorities, and international affairs endeavors.
Voting is ON right now and finishes on APRIL 30th. You need to be a member to vote. Members received the ballot by email (check your SPAM box if you didn’t). The future of ASCB is in your hands. Make sure it’s heading in the direction you want.

About the Author:

Paul T. Mungai, PhD, is the Science Officer in the Office of UNESCO Affairs at the U.S. Department of State where he uses his scientist training daily to inform policy regarding U.S. engagement in UNESCO science programs. He also serves as a member of COMPASS and is a 2014-15 Fellow in the AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellowship Program. The views expressed in this article are the employee’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of the U.S. Department of State or the U.S. Government. Email:
Gary McDowell is Executive Director of The Future of Research, Inc. (, a nonprofit organization seeking to champion, engage and empower early career researchers with evidence-based resources to help them make improvements to the research enterprise. He is a COMPASS alumnus.
Bruno Da Rocha-Azevedo is 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. He was one of the founding members of COMPASS, and co-chair during 2015-2016. Bruno was the founder and co-chair of the Task Force on LGBTQ+ Diversity and currently is a member. Bruno also 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
Hashem is a Postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Dr. Melanie H. Cobb, studying regulation and interactions of WNK protein family members. Email:
Scott Wilkinson is currently a postdoctoral fellow in Adam Sowalsky's lab at the National Cancer Institute studying mechanisms of prostate cancer resistance. He earned his PhD in 2016 with Adam Marcus at Emory University, studying the role of LKB1 in regulating actin dynamics and cellular polarization. Scott's passions revolve around teaching and community outreach, having taught numerous courses and conducting several community outreach events during his graduate work.

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