Jobs for Alcohol Awareness Month

4/26/2018 5:38:35 PM

Here at the ASBMB, we are observing Alcohol Awareness Month during the month of April. This health observance was founded by the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse to raise public awareness and understanding of alcoholism and remove the associated stigma to encourage people to seek treatment.     

While, as a culture, we may think of drinking as a normal part of having fun or relaxing, the detrimental health effects of alcohol abuse and addiction are in fact quite sobering. Alcohol remains the most abused addictive substance and the third leading preventable cause of death in the U.S. Thus, it is a major public-health concern of utmost importance for the biomedical community to focus efforts on.  

Here is a weekly jobs roundup that highlights a number of career options focused on the science of alcohol and substance abuse. A range of career opportunities exist in this area, from basic research into the physiological effects of alcohol consumption to the development of new therapeutics that treat alcohol addiction. And be sure to check out this collection of ASBMB-related journal news for recent research findings related to the biomedical implications of alcohol use.  

Weekly jobs roundup  

  • The Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences at Boston University is hiring both a research technician and senior research technician to work in support of a research study on developing strategies that reduce drug abuse. The technicians will perform behavioral experiments with a rodent model. Minimum qualifications include one year of experience for the research technician, and a bachelor’s degree (master’s preferred) for the senior position. See the job posting for additional qualifications desired. No application deadlines are provided.  
  • The University of Colorado’s Center for Health and Addiction: Neuroscience, Genes and Environment is seeking a professional research assistant for studies related to the linkages between health and risk behaviors (e.g., alcohol consumption). The person will assist with the collection and processing of biological samples from human subjects. Minimum qualifications include a bachelor’s degree in psychology, neuroscience, life sciences or a related field. The posting notes this a good job for a recent graduate interested in getting more research experience and/or planning to enter a graduate program. No application deadline is provided.  
  • The Addiction Recovery Research Center within the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute in Roanoke, Va., is hiring research assistants and coordinators to work on studies related to the behavioral and physiological effects of addictive substances and related treatment options. One research area is the use of remote alcohol monitoring for abstinence programs. Minimum qualifications include a bachelor’s degree in psychology, biology, neuroscience or a related field. See the job posting for additional qualifications for both types of positions. From the posting, it sounds as though multiple positions are being hired for. Review of applications begins May 17.  
  • The St. Louis College of Pharmacy is recruiting a postdoctoral research associate to work on efforts to develop novel compounds that target opioid receptors to treat human diseases (e.g., alcohol addiction). Research will involve both characterizing the physiological role of these receptors and synthesizing drugs targeted toward them. Minimum qualifications include a Ph.D. in organic or medicinal chemistry or a related field. No application deadline is provided.  
  • The Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor, Maine, is hiring a postdoctoral associate in systems and quantitative genetics. The research will focus on understanding the heritable factors related to behavioral traits with a focus on alcohol and substance-abuse disorders. Minimum qualifications include a Ph.D. in the biological, behavioral or computational sciences, with a preference for an applicant with a strong background in quantitative analysis, genomics and genetics. No application deadline is provided.  
  • The LSU Health Sciences Center’s Stanley S. Scott Cancer Center in New Orleans is looking for a postdoctoral researcher to study alcohol carcinogenesis using animal models. Minimum qualifications include a Ph.D. in the basic or medical sciences and one year of postdoc research experience. No posting date or application deadline is provided, so you may want to reach out to the PI listed in the job announcement to check that the position is still open.  
  • Ripple Effect Communications Inc. is seeking a science officer to manage the Department of Defense’s Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program, which is located in Ft. Detrick, Md. The person should have a specialization in an area of biomedical research, which could include alcohol and substance-abuse research among others. Minimum qualifications include a Ph.D. or master’s degree in a relevant discipline and three years of experience in grant management or a minimum of five years of biomedical research experience. No application deadline is provided.  
  • Alkermes Inc., a global biopharmaceutical company specializing in diseases of the central nervous system that includes addiction, is in need of a product manager at its R&D center in Waltham, Mass. The position involves primary responsibility for marketing the injectable pharmacotherapy Vivitrol® for alcohol-dependence treatment. Minimum qualifications include five years of product-management experience in industry. No application deadline is listed. A number of other open positions also are available, which includes roles that range from clinical research scientist to medical science liaison.  
  • Rescue, a behavior-change marketing company focused on public-health issues (e.g., alcohol prevention), is hiring a director of research. The position can be located in San Diego or Washington, D.C. The firm is engaged in various research efforts that include formative-research services for public-health agencies and methodologies for promoting positive behavioral changes among peer groups. See the job posting for details on qualifications required. No application deadline is provided.    

Author’s note: If you or someone you care about may be struggling with alcohol dependence or overuse, know that there are lots of resources available out there to find help. For example, the National Institute of Alcohol and Alcoholism has an online self-assessment tool to assess one’s drinking habits and this treatment navigator to find evidence-based treatment options.  

Donna Kridelbaugh is a contributor to the ASBMB Careers Blog. She holds an advanced degree in microbiology and is a former lab manager.  

Stay updated on new posts by following the ASBMB on social media  or click “follow” on this blog (must be a member and signed in). Also, be sure to check out the  ASBMB Job Board  for even more job listings.

Defining your own professional identity outside academia

4/20/2018 5:01:36 PM

An interview with Adriana Bankston,
science-policy researcher and advocate for junior scientists

Many of you are familiar with Adriana Bankston as a contributing writer for the ASBMB Today magazine and from her important science-policy work with the nonprofit organization Future of Research, where she advocates for fair postdoc pay and academic transparency. This week, we wanted to highlight Adriana’s own career transition into science policy and see what advice she has for others interested in embarking on this journey. (Note: Adriana also will be live tweeting from the ASBMB Annual Meeting in San Diego this week. Be sure to follow her on Twitter [ @AdrianaBankston] and connect with meeting attendees via the other social-media channels.)  

  Adriana Bankston
Adriana Bankston representing Future of Research at the 2017 March for Science.


Finding a career passion for science policy and advocacy 

You may say that Adriana Bankston was destined for a science career, having been born into a lineage of academic researchers. So, it was only natural that she would go to grad school and follow that tradition. In 2013, she completed a Ph.D. in biochemistry, cell and developmental biology from Emory University and went on to pursue postdoctoral research at the University of Louisville. However, she discovered early on in her postdoctoral training that an academic career was not for her. This set her on a mission to define what her own career in science should look like.  

During this career exploration, she started to think about the factors that were important to her in a future career and discovered that science policy/advocacy was a good fit. Adriana explains, “I knew that I wanted to make an impact and affect a large number of people at the same time. In addition, my experiences in academia motivated me to advocate for better training and policies affecting early-career scientists.”  

Additionally, early on in her postdoc, she attended a National Postdoctoral Association meeting where she had an opportunity to debate postdoc issues, and this further piqued her interest in postdoc advocacy. She comments, “That was fascinating to me; I never knew that you could study the postdoc position, and it felt like an area where I could make a difference. So, I considered a career that would more broadly focus on improving the environment for early career scientists.”


Gaining skills for a career transition through strategic volunteering 

In order to gain the skills needed for such a career transition, Adriana has taken a strategic approach to volunteering. She says, “Given that I wasn’t trained in a lot of things that I wish I knew while I was in academia, I’ve had to acquire them through volunteering activities. But at the same time, these activities helped me figure out what my career interests and passions really were.”  

Therefore, Adriana has sought out volunteer activities to gain skills in key areas needed for science advocacy, such as project-management and communication skills. She adds, “I also purposely looked for things that were out of my comfort zone, such as participating in and leading conference calls and talking to people on the phone whom I had never met before for an informational interview or another purpose.” Her volunteer work has included organizing career-development workshops and research symposia, developing postdoc career resources and serving on various committees and boards for organizations that support junior scientists.  

Of note, Adriana contributed through Future of Research to a policy study investigating the compliance of academic institutions with a federal labor law that concerned fair pay for postdoctoral researchers. This experience affirmed her new career direction. She notes, “To my surprise, this became a really interesting and exciting topic, and remains the most fascinating and rewarding research I’ve ever done. At some point during this process, advocacy on behalf of postdocs and studying postdoc policies became intertwined and led to the larger goal of wanting to empower postdocs themselves to effect change in the academic system.”


Overcoming challenges related to leaving academia 

Along the way, Adriana has faced a number of challenges during this career transition, such as the lack of a clear “roadmap” to pursuing a career outside of academia and the accompanying social isolation once removed from the academic community. As she notes, “Having been at the bench for so many years, I was somewhat used to having a mentor I could go to for advice and peers whom I could talk to on a daily basis who were in close proximity. But once I was out of academia, I felt very much on my own in having to discover what I wanted to do and find ways to accomplish them.”  

This isolation also has been augmented by parenting obligations and her recent geographic relocation to the San Diego area. To address this, Adriana has done a remarkable job creating an expansive network of like-minded, science policy and advocacy professionals whom she can learn from and collaborate on projects with. She does this through a comprehensive networking strategy that includes participating in events (e.g., presenting policy research) on both a national and local scale, being active in nonprofit organizations that align with her career goals, proactively reaching out to talk to or meet with others who have shared interests, and staying visible online through social media.  

But overall, Adriana comments that one of the biggest challenges has been grappling with defining her new professional identity. She says, “The hardest thing about this transition has been figuring out where I belong and what defines me now that I am no longer at the bench, which, in retrospect, I may have let define me a bit too much.” She frequently thinks more broadly about the type of professional community she wants to be a part of long term in order to help focus her job search and networking strategy.  

Despite these challenges, Adriana has remained focused on her career goals and finds motivation through a supportive network of people who encourage and promote her; and also, from knowing that she has now found a satisfying career direction that is both professionally and personally fulfilling. She also comments, “Going from the academic environment, which I knew after a while was not for me, to having the freedom of exploring and pursuing what I actually wanted to do with my life has been very liberating.”


Advice for other scientists transitioning out of academia 

Adriana also shared some great advice for other early-career scientists looking to transition out of academia. In summary, she suggests learning about career paths as early as possible in your science training; engaging in activities outside of the lab to explore careers and gain new skills; and building a solid support network of mentors and peers. Importantly, she says, “Don’t be shy. If you want to truly make headway in your career transition, you need to be proactive and bold, and put yourself out there in ways that you never did before. That will allow you to discover new aspects about yourself, and ultimately, to choose the career path that fits you best.”  

Adriana also advises to carefully consider input from others but to ultimately make your own career decisions. She explains, “I try not to be influenced too much by other people’s opinions, and just do what feels right. People will always have opinions, and you just have to do what’s right for you, so try to figure out what that is. My gut feeling tells me that I am heading down the right path, so I just try to keep moving forward and stay positive.” And finally, she says, career directions change over time, so know that you are never really stuck in one specific path, and you also should seek to cultivate other options along the way.


Recommended resources and reading 

Adriana also is a prolific writer on science-policy and career-related topics. Here are links to some articles she has written that may be useful for your own career needs. A full list of resources and articles can be found on her portfolio website.

Author’s note: For other relevant advice on this topic, check out these recent ASBMB Careers Blog posts on giving and receiving through volunteer work and resolving to a career in science policy

Donna Kridelbaugh is a contributor to the ASBMB Careers Blog. She holds an advanced degree in microbiology and is a former lab manager.  

Stay updated on new posts by following the  ASBMB on social media  or click “follow” on this blog (must be a member and signed in). Also, be sure to check out the  ASBMB Job Board  for even more job listings.

Career resources in scientific visualization

4/13/2018 5:05:48 PM

Q&A with Tami Tolpa, medical illustrator extraordinaire 

Previously on the careers blog, we introduced you to medical illustrator Tami Tolpa ( @tolpastudios) in an introductory post on #sciart careers. I met Tami during her week hosting the @iamscicomm Twitter account last fall. What caught my attention is her streamlined and simplified approach to designing visuals and genuine interest in teaching scientists how to become better visual communicators. In fact, she and a colleague have designed an online course in visual communications for scientists in this area (more about that below).    

 Tami Tolpa

Tami is an experienced freelance medical illustrator and owner of Tolpa Studios, who specializes in the design of graphics, illustrations and animations for the biomedical sciences. She has an M.F.A. in medical illustration from the Rochester Institute of Technology, holds undergraduate degrees in both studio art and environmental studies and is a fellow of the Association of Medical Illustrators. For more details on her background and to see samples of her work, check out her website or Clarafi career profile.  

For this week, we reached back out to Tami to see what advice and resources she recommends for others interested in pursuing a career in scientific visualization and illustration. Here are her responses.  

Can you briefly describe what kinds of careers
exist in the field of scientific visualizations?

There are many opportunities for people trained in scientific visualization! Historically, we were called scientific or medical illustrators, and worked in hospitals, academic research centers, medical-publishing companies, medical-legal businesses and as freelance illustrators for a variety of clients. As markets have shifted and science has changed, new and different opportunities have been created. Artists now work in areas that include 3-D modeling and animation, infographics, data visualization, interactive media, educational games and apps, user-experience (UX) design, augmented or virtual reality, product design, surgical simulation, and in some exciting areas where computers and biomedical science intersect. I believe this expansion will continue and hope the ways that artists can contribute to science communication will continue to be explored.  

What attributes and background would make
this a good career choice for someone?

You don’t enter this career without a genuine love of science! And you also should have a passion for design and bringing clarity to visual communications. Scientific visualizers need to be detail-oriented as well as able to grasp the bigger picture. They need to be comfortable talking to scientists, asking questions and having their creative efforts judged throughout the iterative process required to arrive at a final piece. Plus, they have to have a sense of adventure! Jobs aren’t as straightforward or easy to find as they can be in other fields.  

Is a degree in fine arts required, and what
are the benefits of doing an accredited program?

This is a complicated question. I can think of situations where a degree isn’t necessary, but it ultimately depends on who’s doing the hiring. As with any career, the right experience and connections can get you an interview. Many people come to this career through avenues other than a formal medical illustration program. But most do have backgrounds in both science and the visual arts, and many do go through a formal degree program. There are real benefits to attending a program. Upon matriculation, graduates have an immediate group of colleagues and mentors, many of whom can be very important throughout their careers. Graduates take business courses to learn how to find work and what to charge, receive instruction in the latest software and learn about the history of the profession. I have an M.F.A in medical illustration because I didn’t know any other way to get to where I wanted to be. Back then, there weren’t as many ways to find clients, to promote yourself and to connect with other like-minded artists. It’s different now. Regardless of whether you attend a formal program or get informal training and develop a portfolio on your own, you need to stay nimble and keep up on the latest trends and tools and best practices to be employable in this field.  

What formal education programs do you suggest people look into?

The Association of Medical Illustrators (AMI) is a great resource. There’s information about the four graduate programs that are AMI-accredited on its website. There are a few other programs not listed there as well.

What types of informal training programs and opportunities exist in this field?

Both the Association of Medical Illustrators and the Guild of Natural Science Illustrators hold conferences where attendees can take workshops and engage in other continuing-education activities. You don’t have to be a member to take a workshop, though the AMI does offer student and associate memberships for people interested in this career, and they’d love to have more scientists and people from adjacent disciplines as members. AMI members also have access to job postings, an online community, webinars and continuing-education credits. There are several categories of membership that you can see on the website, and there is a lot of information available on the site even if you’re a visitor and not a member. Additionally, Clarafi is a website that offers distance learning in the form of tutorials that focus primarily on software tools for molecular visualizations. The site offers subscriptions as well as individual course purchases. My colleague, Betsy Palay, and I also have co-developed an online course called “ S.P.A.R.K. | Five strategies for the visual communication of science”, which offers an introduction to core concepts of visual communication specifically for science.  

What motivated you to create an online course
in visual communications for scientists?

The course was designed for scientists who are already making (or want to make) their own figures for publications, presentations or other science-communication efforts. There aren’t a lot of ways for scientists to get this training, and yet, scientists are the ones making most of the scientific images today. We understand that many people are simply not able to take a break from their research to attend a formal graduate program in visual communication. S.P.A.R.K. is not a software course, because we know that there are many software packages out there, and people are going to use the ones they have access to or that they’re comfortable with. Instead, S.P.A.R.K. is a systematic approach to creating a science picture, and draws from principles of design, fine arts and cognitive science. The principles we teach apply to all types of images, and we’ve packaged them into a five-step process that’s easy to follow. It was our hope to pass on the best practices that we’ve learned and developed to scientists and other people making their own visuals. It’s also a great intro course for people interested in entering the profession, who can’t attend a formal graduate program.

Author’s note: I had the opportunity to review the S.P.A.R.K. course and highly recommend it for scientists who are looking to improve their visual-design skills. As I stated in my review of the course, I think scientists really will appreciate the process-driven approach that consistently can be applied to the design of any visual, along with the useful handouts that guide you through the process. The course works best if you have a specific figure or other visual in mind that you need help in further developing from concept to finished product.

How have you had the most success in finding projects
to work on as a freelancer?

For me, it's always been about relationships. I began my career as an in-house medical illustrator and worked for small biomedical media companies before I started my own business. I stay in contact with the people I've worked with in the past, because if and when they move on to other companies, I want them to think of me when a project comes across their desk. That’s how it works for freelancers. Once you’ve worked for a while, people start to recommend you and introduce you to other people. It takes effort to stay in touch, but I enjoy doing it because I genuinely like my former co-workers and clients! And I love talking to scientists and really anyone who has found themselves working in the area where science and art overlap.  

Are there any job boards or search tips to share with others?

The AMI has a weekly email that advertises jobs, which is just one benefit of membership. I sometimes see jobs pop up on other sites, but it’s pretty rare. It can be tricky to search for jobs in this field. Sometimes we’re called “medical illustrators", “scientific illustrators" or “biomedical visualizers.” Often graphic-design and data-visualization jobs fit these skills and interests. People in the field are starting to get involved in virtual reality, so any place that does medical or scientific VR may also employ us.  

Weekly jobs roundup

Here is a short roundup of jobs available in the area of scientific illustration. These jobs were found using some of the keywords that Tami suggested above and searching a generic job board. Of note, many general science-communication jobs also list out experience with Adobe Illustrator software as a job qualification, so searches using the term “illustrator” will yield wide results and more specific keywords may be needed. However, this also points out the fact that if you enjoy both writing and visual design then there are many jobs available that need a general science communicator to do both. For more search tips, see the previous post on #sciart careers. Finally, you also can check out Tami Tolpa’s resume on her website that lists out companies she worked for before starting her own business.

  • The Allen Institute for Cell Science (Seattle, Wash.) is hiring a UX designer to join the Animated Cell team. The nonprofit biomedical research center is focused on understanding the organizational complexities of human cells through imaging the internal architecture of cells. The person will lead efforts for the design of the institute’s scientific visualization web products. Minimum qualifications include a bachelor’s degree in computer science, information management or related field and four years of relevant experience. No application deadline is provided. (H/t to Tami Tolpa for sharing this job posting.)  
  • WebMD is hiring for several positions in the area of scientific visualizations, including an associate graphics editor and UX/digital manager. Both of these positions are located in New York City. See the job postings for details on qualifications. No application deadlines are provided.  
  • The Center for Children’s Surgery within the School of Medicine at the University of Colorado–Denver is recruiting for a medical animator to develop visual media to educate patients and for research and teaching purposes. Minimum qualifications include a bachelor’s degree in medical/biological illustration, computer animation or related field and five years of experience in 3-D animation techniques. No application deadline is provided.  
  • The Society for Neuroscience(Washington, D.C.) is seeking a production coordinator to oversee the publication of both online and print content for the website Minimum qualifications include a bachelor’s degree in science, business or communications area and two years of relevant experience. No application deadline is provided.  
  • The biotech company 10x Genomics is hiring a scientific illustrator in its Pleasanton, Calif., location to produce visual content for technical documents and presentation materials. Minimum qualifications include a degree in a relevant science field and two years of illustrative experience. No application deadline is provided. 

Donna Kridelbaugh is a contributor to the ASBMB Careers Blog. She holds an advanced degree in microbiology and is a former lab manager.  

Stay updated on new posts by following the ASBMB on social media or click “follow” on this blog (must be a member and signed in). Also, be sure to check out the ASBMB Job Board for even more job listings.