Diversity support programs for academic careers

10/20/2017 1:46:46 PM

The past two weeks I have focused on where to find faculty job postings, both within and outside of the academe. As the ASBMB is committed to increasing diversity in the sciences, I also wanted to share some resources that provide extra support for scientists from underrepresented groups who are interested in academic careers. 

My overall career advice is to ask for help when you need it; take advantage of free resources and programs; and build a support network. For example, first look at what resources (e.g., training workshops, travel funds) are available at your institution through various departments, such as the office of postdoctoral affairs, graduate office, career center, etc. Also, your institution will maintain a list of registered student organizations that you can check for local chapters of science societies and other groups of interest to find peer-mentoring support. 

Here are some thoughts on other resources that may be useful for your career development. 

Professional science societies offer support programs to prepare early-career scientists, including programs designed for underrepresented minorities and underserved populations, for transitioning to faculty positions through advanced skills training and funding opportunities to present at meetings. Here are a few programs through the ASBMB to know about. 

  • The ASBMB hosts each summer the Interactive Mentoring Activities for Grantsmanship Enhancement grant-writing workshop, through which participants get real-time feedback on their grant proposals and access to post-workshop mentoring opportunities. Check back later this fall for info on how to apply for the next one.

  • The ASBMB Minority Affairs Committee offers travel awards to the ASBMB annual meeting for underrepresented graduate students in the biomedical sciences. Each applicant must submit a first-author abstract by the Dec. 7 deadline. Be sure to check out next month’s ASBMB Today magazine for details about an option for travel awardees to be paired with a mentor at the meeting. (FYI, there’s also a number of other travel awards, including a childcare grant available for parents.)  

Additionally, there are diversity-focused professional science societies and conferences that serve specific populations and have their own professional-development and mentoring programs, travel grants and job boards. These groups are a good way to connect with other scientists who are facing similar issues and find mentors who understand your needs. Here’s a short, but not all-inclusive, list of some of the groups out there that you might want to join.  

*The ASBMB is at the SACNAS 2017 conference this week and will be at ABRCMS in November. Be sure to stop by and say hello! (And check out Squire Booker’s recent commentary in the ASBMB Today on how ABRCMS is making a difference to increase participation of underrepresented minorities in the biomedical sciences.)  

There are a number of community-support and mentoring programs focused on advancing the careers of diverse scientists in higher education and the biomedical sciences. Here are a few programs that I have run across.  

  • There’s a new Slack group called Future PI that brings together an informal network of scientists who are interested in faculty jobs. Activities include peer-mentoring groups to help each other edit application materials. You can join the group by sending a direct message on Twitter to the group organizers.

  • The National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity offers a number of training opportunities related to grant writing, navigating the academic job market and more. Services are free for scientists affiliated with institutions that subscribe to the center, and individual subscription options are available.

  • The National Research Mentoring Network, a National Institutes of Health-funded program that focuses on increasing diversity in the biomedical sciences, provides a number of free services, including a virtual-mentoring network and grant-writing coaching groups. You can sign up for a myNRMN account on the website.

  • is a Web portal run by Alberto Roca that features a wealth of information related to the minority-postdoc experience, including listings of diversity postdoctoral fellowship opportunities and job postings. You also can submit your CV for inclusion in a doctoral directory that academic institutions can request for recruiting purposes.     

There also are job boards* that aim to increase diversity in higher education and other job sectors. Some of these sites have useful blog posts on issues related to helping candidates get hired into faculty positions, in addition to regular job-board features (e.g., setting up alerts and submitting a resume). Here are a few sites out there. 

*Note: I have not verified the validity of some of these sites; that is to say, whether they do anything toward promoting diversity beyond adding “diversity” in the site name. So, be sure to research further, and always be skeptical if anyone asks you for a placement fee.  

When looking for faculty positions, consider focusing on institutions that have a demonstrable commitment to a diverse faculty base. You can research this information by informally talking to your networks and making connections with faculty members at other institutions who can share their experiences.

Here are a few other ideas on things to look for.   

  • Institutions that have received funding from the NSFADVANCE program work to increase representation of women in the STEM disciplines and may have better practices in place for the recruitment and hiring of diverse applicants. For example, check out these faculty job postings in the department of chemistry at Purdue University. You’ll notice that the university explicitly states its affiliation as an ADVANCE institution, commitment to diversity and requirement for applicants to address how they will promote diversity and inclusion as a faculty member. A full listing of institutions that have received NSF ADVANCE funding can be found on the program’s Web portal.

  • You also might consider a visiting professorship position to get more experience at the faculty level. A number of institutions offer diversity scholar programs to bring in new perspectives to the campus community. For example, the Office of Diversity and Equity at the University of Kansas is recruiting applicants for the Langston Hughes Visiting Professorship. The university is looking to increase the number of applicants in STEM-related fields. Visiting professors have the opportunity to teach, engage in research and deliver a campus-wide symposium, in addition to mentoring support. Interested candidates are encouraged to contact the chair of the department of most relevance (or a faculty member closely aligned with your research to advocate for you), as a nomination is required. H/t to Brian D. Ackley ( for sharing this opportunity, and feel free to contact him with any questions.  

Donna Kridelbaugh is the ASBMB careers blogger. Connect with her on Twitter (@science_mentor) or at her website ( 

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