Taking Control of Your Scientific Career:Building Towards Independence and Beyond…
Biotechnology Pharmaceutical research Science Journalism Technical Writing Research Administration Technology Transfer Patent Law Investment Analysis Management Consulting Federal Science Policy Technical Services Quality Control Investor Relationships Secondary School Teaching Community College Teaching Corporate Communications Regulatory Affairs Entrepreneurship Acknowledge Multiple Career Options
Scientific Super Heroesare needed to solve… Depression Poverty Avian Flu Alzheimer's disease Cancer HIV Obesity epidemic Global Warming
Great Science Great Career Scientific Super Heroes To empower your scientific career, consider the qualities that comprise both great science and a great career
Qualities of Great Science Impact Pioneering Insightful Creative Opens new directions for future studies Intellectually satisfying
Qualities of a Great Career Challenging Impact Builds upon experience Flexible Source of enjoyment Dynamic
So how might a fledgling scientific Super Hero combineGreat Science with a Great Career? “Idealistic, impractical….”
Job Description of a Scientific Super Hero • Wanted: A highly motivated, self-directed, high integrity individual passionate about biomedical research. This individual requires very little sleep, is willing to work long hours to complete complex experiments, and is willing to accept limited pay while in training. Willing to work with others to achieve research objectives (teamwork essential) and communicate results in both written and oral forms. Can climb tall buildings in a single leap.
Why Academia? • Passion for education • Passion for independent research (achieving an intellectual depth within a field) • Desire for flexibility • Commitment to furthering knowledge • Desire to do something new/different (charting your own course) • Perverse desire to get told you are not good enough (by reviewers, advisors, committee members) on a regular basis
HOW Academia? Start with a Plan A (but always be willing to change it)- switch to Plan B! Graduate Student/PDF (Highly motivated but clueless!) What interests you the most? What do you want out of your career? Where do you want to be? -What kind of institution do you want to work in? What kind of job do you want to have (how much ambition?) When do I start? NOW!
Planning Your Scientific Career • Passionate • with a feeling for the work • -willing to drive the work at the expense of other things • -willing to stretch your intellect Characteristic: Highly motivated
Planning Your Scientific Career Characteristic: Independent • - Accepts responsibility and ownership • Understands one can’t do everything • - comfort in the driver’s seat • The Buck stops here!
Planning Your Scientific Career Characteristic: Focused • - Intense and self-directed • Capable of prioritizing • Can get inside the heart of a problem
Planning Your Scientific Career Characteristic: Honest and Fair • - High standards of professional integrity • can take/give criticism constructively • Can take the higher ground
Planning Your Scientific Career -Not willing to accept current limitations -Willing to persevere to reach goals -demand excellence of yourself and others -VERY strong backbone and VERY thick-skinned Characteristic: Determined
“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan "press on" has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race” Calvin Coolidge
Empowering Your Scientific Career Characteristic: Collaborative -Values team work -Works well with others -Willing (Happy!) to share credit
Empowering Your Scientific Career Characteristic: Effective Communicator -Communicates the results of research in a scholarly and professional manner -Equally good at writing and talking -can be concise and simple in communication (KISS principle)
Empowering Your Scientific Career Characteristic: Calculated Risk Taker - Willing to try to leap tall buildings with the correct equipment and rehearsals -Willing to listen to advice! -Willing to seize opportunities
Do you Have the Right Stuff? • Highly motivated • Independent • Focused • Honest and Fair • Determined (stubborn! Persistent!) • Collaborative • Effective Communicator • Calculated risk taker • Capable of learning by your mistakes! • Can take brutal criticism • GREAT sense of humour! If not, academic Science will be hard for you
“With great powers, comes great responsibility” Responsibility to yourself, your family and your scientific community to plan your journey Spiderman (and others)
So you’ve just received a phone call from Donald Trump… You’ve been hired to produce a new TV series.. The Apprentice: New PI! (Reality Television meets Scientific Career Survival)
The Apprentice: New PI! As the producer, what new knowledge and expertisewould be helpful to ensure a successful transitionfrom trainee to independent investigator? What skills are needed for a career in science and what challenges might help provide experience
Issue: It is important to develop a wide range of individuals to assist you with finding resources, information and serve as trusted colleagues Challenge: Create a plan for You/your team to network with senior colleagues and peers (local committees, conferences, professional societies, the web) #1 Networking
Networking to Create a Personal Support Team Main Mentor (supervisor?) Cheer Leader Me (ntee) Experts Political Strategist Role Models Learning partners
Issue: Good mentoring can be the single difference between success and failure Challenge: Identify and develop a plan for you to be mentored in your institution and outside of your current institution #2: Mentoring • How do I find a Mentor? • - Institutional programs • professional society programs • Your friends/colleagues
Mentors Mentors can be the key to your career success
Mentors • A mentor can… • Provide you with seasoned advice (career/science decisions) • Keep you on track • Provide you with confidence (emotional support) • Assist you with networking (career opportunities) -BUT THEY CAN’T GIVE YOU ESSENTIAL SOCIAL OR INTELLECTUAL SKILLS YOU MIGHT NOT HAVE
NAS embraced Concept of Mentors Advisers: people with career experience willing to share their knowledge Supporters: people who give emotional and moral encouragement and teach you emotional intelligence Tutors: people who teach, and give specific feedback on one’s performance Masters: trainers of apprentices - setting the bar for problem solving Sponsors: sources of info and aid about development opportunities Models: setting the bar for identity, of the kind of person one would like to be as an academic scientist
Mentoring and Mental Health There are some very special challenges for certain students/PDFs and some student/PDF – adviser pairings. We all need to note, keep an eye on others, and take some responsibility here!
Issue: Research is not complete until published in a peer-reviewed journal. High quality papers help to establish one as an “expert” in a scientific field Challenge: Find papers you really like, and papers you really, really don’t. - learn what makes a good paper flow - learn the process to publish high impact - high/low impact - what is the difference? - are you willing to take the risk to aim high? #3 Peer-reviewed Publications
Issue: Research can not be performed without money. Money relies on successful peer review. Selling your story is critical! Grant writing is cathartic, inspiring and painful (BUT NOT AS PAINFUL AS WHAT COMES NEXT!) Challenge: You/your team will develop a hypothesis and a series of specific aims for a pilot research award proposal How do you formulate a research question? • How do you articulate your research problem? • How do you approach a literature review? • How do you use your literature review to build the structure of your argument? #4 Peer-reviewed Grants
Strategy: Attend workshops to learn about grant writing http://www.med.ubc.ca/research/grant_administration_development/Research_Grant_Mentorship.htm - Hit the web (lots of sites to help; templates, advice from agencies) - Closely examine grant applications from successful grantees - Have experienced grantees (reviewers) critique your application - Be willing to change yourself, your projects, your career.
Understand:Some of the people reviewing your grants will be complete Idiots!!! “I don’t understand why the applicant is proposing a new proteomic approach to identify novel secreted factors that stimulate this extent of regeneration, when they could simply assay all the known trophic factors” “This proposal could generate data that would provide a breakthrough in the field. Then again, the data could be uninterpretable” “The approaches are innovative and build on previous expertise this lab has applied to other questions; this is both a strength and a weakness.” “This grant is clearly written, highly innovative and has the potential to have a high impact on the field of CNS regeneration, if I only believed the cells they are working with are actually olfactory ensheathing cells”
1999:“Dr. Roskams seems to be the Don Quixote of science” “Impractical, idealistic” 2006:”Dr. Roskams is an outstanding investigator recognized internationally for her work in the developing nervous system, especially her studies of the cellular interactions that regulate the cell dynamics so critical for producing and maintaining a functional olfactory epithelium. She has a passion for this area of research necessary to drive the conceptual innovation and ground-breaking approaches exemplified in this proposal. Only a few other investigators around the world are studying in-depth aspects of the same questions posed here and none match the qualifications of Dr. Roskams for pursuing these questions.”
Issue: Execution of research projects requires planning for human resources (people hiring and management), time management (juggling, prioritizing) and fiscal responsibility (book-keeping) Challenge: You/Your team must manage a budget of $200,000 and complete a research project, including hiring and training of laboratory personnel in a 3-year time frame #5 Manage Resources
Issue: Collaboration and teams of investigators from multiple disciplines is required for many advances in biomedical research Challenge: The contacts you make now you will carry with you. Talk to others in your lab/adjacent labs to learn new areas or techniques. - (Conferences!). - The interface between disciplines is the future of scientific research #6 Team Work
Strategy: Identify resources to help you learn how to manage a research project www.hhmi.org/ Labmanagement - “At the Helm” (CSHL) - CIHR New PI Workshops
Issue: Leading a research program requires vision and skills to engage others in your passion for biomedical research Challenge: Take a leadership position in your home institution to improve communication of scientific research or collaboration in your community (how comfortable are you doing this?) #7 Leadership
LEADERSHIP: My team is in place; how do I maintain my perfect little lab world? Get OUT THERE! You are the role model and motivator -assess individual needs and adjust your supervision accordingly This is YOUR LAB: You must provide a philosophical and practical framework for the lab to grow into. Decide what type of lab culture you want (format for lab notebooks? Flexible hours? Music?) Communication is key: have group meetings, no matter how painful. Demonstrate by example that honesty, integrity, courtesy and professionalism are part of your lab philosophy Learn from watching: how do other successful scientists manage their labs, their lives, negotiate jobs, the tenure-and-promotion process? ASK THEM!!!! Be a good colleague: cultivate scientific collaborations and relationships (networking again!)
Issue: Multiple career options are available for today’s biomedical investigator Challenge: -Try other careers on for size (mentally) - Research what each entails (network! Use your mentors!) - Make a list of what you do or don’t want in the future. What best fits? - Work on planning your career moves to achieve that, whilst keeping options open #8 OtherCareer Options
Strategy: Encourage career exploration to prepare for the future
Issue: Career success requires many professional skills that are beyond the bench and/or bedside techniques Challenge: Your must develop a list of interpersonal skills required for success (see earlier!) and find how to receive training to improve your confidence with these skills (choice of graduate/PDF lab, Dept of your first position) #9 Professional Development
Issue: Life success requires dedication, sacrifice, compromise and planning ahead (and a partner willing to understand your career demands and work with you) Challenge: - prioritize what you want the most and when work with your partner to plan careers ahead Children? When? Where? How? Balance (hobbies!) in the face of single-minded career dedication (single being the operative term) #10 Personal Development IF you want to excel, you can’t have it all! (Sorry! The Rolling Stones were right…..)
The Apprentice: The Next PI • #1 Networking • #2 Mentoring • #3 Writing (Grants and papers) • #4 Research Ideas • #5 Manage Resources • #6 Team Work/collaboration • #7 Career Options • #8 Professional Development • #9 Leadership • #10 Personal Development The same characteristics that make you successful in business make you successful in science!