COMPASS: Who are we?

COMPASS, or Committee for Postdocs and Students, are a group composed of graduate students and postdocs who represent the interests of trainees within ASCB. Our committee members come from institutes and universities all around the world! For example, Gaia, a co-author of this post, did her undergraduate studies in Cambridge (UK), PhD at King’s College London (also in the UK), and is currently a postdoc at Duke University. The other co-author, Ashley, was an undergrad at UC San Diego and is currently a PhD student at UT Southwestern in Dallas.

Our central goal as a committee is to offer opportunities and support for young scientists who work in any field related to cell biology. We aim to do so in a few different ways:

  • We help young scientists build their future by creating resources and programs that address their training and career development needs.
  • We foster new connections between young scientists within ASCB to promote a sense of community.
  • We are the voice of graduate students and postdocs within ASCB, making our perspectives count and our opinions heard.
  • We create opportunities for young scientists to engage with the public and policymakers through outreach and advocacy opportunities.

If you’re attending the 2018 ASCB/EMBO meeting in San Diego, be sure to check out the COMPASS Open Forum. It’s a great opportunity to meet current and former COMPASS members, network with other trainees, and voice any opinions or concerns you may have regarding the trainee experience.

What we do

To achieve our goals, each COMPASS member is part of one or more subcommittees. Each subcommittee works on different aspects of trainee development.

  • Communications Subcommittee

That’s us! Both Gaia and Ashley are Co-Chairs of the Communications subcommittee, an awesome team of COMPASS members who are passionate about science communication and writing. The Communications subcommittee communicates through the COMPASS Points Blog, where we reach out to (and hopefully entertain) all young scientists interested in cell biology (whether they are ASCB members or not). The blog is a great resource for information on ASCB activities relevant for trainees, useful ideas for career building, opportunities for networking, and wisdom on life as a young cell biologist. The blog is not just for COMPASS members! We welcome posts from everybody in the cell biology community! If you are interested in blogging for us, please do get in touch! The Communications Subcommittee is also organizing a Science Writing workshop at the Annual Meeting in San Diego.  If you are able to attend, make sure to add that event to your conference schedule!

  • Outreach Subcommittee

The outreach committee offers young ASCB members ways to reach out to society at large and engage the general public with their work. In addition to being a great way to give back to the community, outreach is becoming an increasingly popular way for scientists to source new streams of funding (as well as justify funding  received from the government and, indirectly, from the taxpayer). The Outreach Committee looks for ways to keep our scientific community strong by taking care of the future generation of scientists – by reaching out to students and inspiring them to consider a career in STEM. This subcommittee offers Outreach Grants to our members to engage in outreach activities.  If you are an ASCB member, make sure to check out the link above! Past awardees include the Young Scientist Program, CaresBio and Developing Future Biologists.

  • Career Subcommittee

The career subcommittee aims to promote interactions between non-academic scientific professionals and young scientists, and to provide more opportunities for students and postdocs to evaluate and pursue careers that are right for them, whether in academia or in non-academic settings. The Career subcommittee highlights many of these non-academic career opportunities by posting career perspectives from scientists in non-traditional careers page of  COMPASS Careers Perspectives .The Career subcommittee is also very active in organizing career development activities for the Annual Meeting (have you checked out your options to attend ASCBEMBO2018 yet?), such as recruiting speakers for career panels and organizing  professional development workshops and career coaching.

How to get involved

If you are a graduate student or postdoc interested in joining COMPASS, check out this link for more information on how to apply to be a COMPASS Associate Member. If you are unable to join the committee, but would like to help ASCB trainees, there are other ways to get involved! For example, you can apply for COMPASS Outreach Grants, contribute to the COMPASS blog (contact us at, and join our Facebook page to share resources with other ASCB trainees.



About the Author:

Gaia obtained her PhD from King's College, London working on melanoma cell plasticity and how it affects metastasis and patient survival. She has since moved to the United States, where she is currently a lecturing fellow at Duke University. Her work focuses on understanding how breast cancer metastasizes to the bone and manipulates the tumor micro-environment. She loves writing about science and communicating her passion for all things biology. You can find more of her writing here:
Ashley is a postdoctoral researcher in the lab of Sandra Schmid at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. She is investigating the mechanisms of focal adhesion turnover by clathrin-mediated endocytosis. Email: Twitter: @alakoduk