Annual Meeting

Workshops and professional-development programming abound at Discover BMB 2024

Kirsten F. Block
Nov. 7, 2023

The heartbeat of every scientific conference is professional development. From the myriad scientific sessions to learn about —and to present—the latest research in a given field of study to the countless opportunities to meet and network with current and future collaborators, indeed, every component of a conference can be viewed as one form of professional development or another.

Beyond the science and the networking, a full conference professional-development experience is rounded out with a plethora of workshops to meet the various interests and needs of attendees.

Largely driven by individual American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology members who submitted workshop proposals and the work of various ASBMB committees, the workshop schedule for Discover BMB in San Antonio in March offers a broad array of content to support a range of career stages and concerns.

Every day of the meeting features different sessions and topics, but collectively they all can be distilled to a few central themes encountered time and again across one’s career journey.

Whether you are looking to figure out that next career step or to be more effective in the career you already have, there’s a workshop for you.

Looking at the STEM ecosystem through a DEAI lens

Attendees of Discover BMB in Seattle earlier this year interact during a session.
Attendees of Discover BMB in Seattle earlier this year interact during a session.

Faculty development to intentionally serve Latino students

Workshop leader: José A. Rodríguez–Martínez, University of Puerto Rico Río Piedras

Want to learn how to better support Latino students and faculty at your institution? This session hosted by the ASBMB Public Affairs Advisory Committee and Maximizing Access Committee together with Excelencia in Education will explore equity-centered faculty development and examine how these efforts promote inclusive learning environments in which Latino students can thrive. A human spectrogram activity kicks off this interactive workshop and leads into facilitated discussions to learn what works and generate ideas and best practices.

LGBTQ+ awareness training

Workshop leader: Representatives from Fiesta Youth, a local organization that serves LGBTQIA+ teens, young adults (through age 22) and their allies.

In this exciting collaboration between Fiesta Youth and the ASBMB Maximizing Access Committee, attendees will learn from certified instructors on topics such as confronting implicit bias, stereotypes and preconceived ideas of the LGBTQ+ community. With an emphasis on core vocabulary, current terminology, inclusive language, the process of coming out and how not to out people, this session aims to showcase what it means to be an ally in and outside the workplace and build safer communities.

Navigating the academic job market as an LGBTQIA+ scientist: Challenges and opportunities

Workshop leaders: Ben Myers, University of Utah, and Itay Budin, University of California, San Diego

This session features a safe space to talk about the unique experience of navigating an academic job search as a member of the LGBTQIA+ community. Find camaraderie, explore the logistics of being out during the faculty search process, and get tips from two assistant professors with recent personal experience in the job market. In this highly interactive workshop, participants will learn how to recognize unconscious biases among faculty search committees and departmental hiring committees and develop strategies to manage and reduce them.

Figuring out the career you want and how to get there

Attendees of Discover BMB in Seattle earlier this year interact during a session.
Don't miss one-on-one mentoring at Discover BMB in March in San Antonio.

Twists, turns and Ph.D.: Navigating the realities of today’s Ph.D. job market

Workshop leader: Nathan Vanderford, University of Kentucky

Perhaps you’ve attended career panels and narrowed down the type of career path you want to pursue, but now what? If you’re not sure what to expect when you finish your Ph.D. and enter the job market, this highly relevant discussion on the realities of the Ph.D. job market may be just the ticket. Join this session to learn strategies for preparing for the many possible jobs you can pursue and walk away with an action plan to set you up for job searching success.

Owning your career

Workshop leader: Erica Gobrogge, Van Andel Institute

It can be challenging to take charge of your career when life pulls you in so many different directions. It helps to take a step back and reflect on your career goals — and what you need to achieve those goals. This highly interactive workshop will provide practical and actionable strategies for setting and achieving long-term career goals, including how to identify short-term goals that support your long-term plans and how to advocate for your professional-development needs to achieve success.

Driving CAR statements into your résumé

Workshop leader: Reinhart Reithmeier, University of Toronto

If you’re trying to catch the eye of a noncademic employer, including challenge–action–result, or CAR, statements on your résumé is key. These statements highlight the challenges faced, actions used to address the problem and the measurable outcomes and solutions that resulted. During this interactive workshop, participants will work in groups to compose CAR statements that are relevant to Ph.D. studies by focusing on research, communication, teamwork and leadership.

From the bench to the ballot: How to run for office

Workshop leader: Sarah Smaga, 314 Action

Ever considered running for office or using your STEM background to influence change in your community? This session will help you translate your experience and passion into a position where you can make positive change. Learn from professional political staff as you practice identifying policymaking bodies relevant to issues you care about and crafting pitches to take into the community. Attendees will leave with a clear understanding of how to pursue an elected or appointed government position and ways to support STEM candidates running for office across the country.

Unlocking your career success through networking and mentorship — a workshop for the BMB education community at all career levels

Workshop leaders: Corina Maeder, Trinity University, and Maha Zewail–Foote, Southwestern University

Ready to up your game when it comes to networking and mentorship? In this workshop, you’ll learn about key elements for expanding your network and how to use your network effectively to advance your career goals. Find out why mentoring and networking can be especially critical for women and people of color, learn the key differences between networking and mentorship relationships and how to cultivate both, get practical strategies for finding potential mentors or mentees and share your own experiences in a safe and supportive space.

Supporting education and training starts with supporting the professional development of educators and trainers

Discover BMB workshops are organized by ASBMB members and partners.
Discover BMB workshops are organized by ASBMB members and partners.

Active learning communities in biochemistry

Workshop leaders: Bonnie Hall, Grand View University, and Michael Wolyniak, Hampden–Sydney College

Consider this workshop a one-stop shop for those looking to incorporate active learning into their curricula but may not know where to start. Through a combination of short presentations and speed networking with leadership from six national networks focused on enhancing active learning experiences, attendees will identify strategies to adopt existing curricula from one or more of the participating communities into their classroom. Each participating community also offers opportunities to get involved in designing new curricula for broader use within that community. Find the right fit for your course!

Designing writing assignments to improve student learning and simplify the feedback process for instructors

Workshop leader: Karin Musier–Forsyth, The Ohio State University

Are you frustrated about writing assignments? In this workshop, experts in writing and science will unlock the secret to designing writing assignments that make clear requests of graduate and undergraduate students and are easy to evaluate. We’ll focus on the “transparency in teaching and learning,” or TILT, method for designing and assessing assignments. Plus, you’ll have a chance to practice what you learn by working with other participants to design an effective writing assignment for a course you teach.

Integrating inclusive, evidence-based practices into your training programs and mentorship to support career development

Workshop leader: Cynthia Fuhrmann, University of Massachusetts Chan Medical School

A lack of inclusive and equitable support for career development has been linked to the mental health crisis in graduate education and to the loss of individuals from historically marginalized groups from science. Let’s explore strategies for training programs and faculty mentors to better support students and postdocs in their career exploration, career planning and use of individual development plans. We will also discuss evidence-based approaches — especially practices that enhance inclusivity and equity — being used in educational models that are part of the ASBMB-supported Professional Development Hub Collection “Foundations of Career Exploration for Ph.D. Scientists.”

Meeting students where they are: Inspiring curiosity and confidence in scientific literacy

Workshop leader: Keith Miller, University of Mount Union

One of the most daunting tasks for developing scientists is reading and communicating about primary scientific literature. In this interactive workshop, you will design effective scientific literature assignments and learn how scaffolding these assignments within a course and across a curriculum can help undergraduate and graduate students gain the ability to read, communicate and critique scientific papers. We’ll emphasize opportunities that move students from passive to active engagement.

Augmenting your scientific growth

Discover BMB workshops are organized by ASBMB members and partners.

Designing and conducting multidisciplinary studies on membrane protein structure and folding

Workshop leader: Elka R. Georgieva, Texas Tech University

Membrane proteins are a hot topic, but studying their structure and folding often requires a multidisciplinary approach. Hear about multidisciplinary and collaborative research successes from leading membrane protein scientists as you explore methods used to study membrane proteins, learn how to design studies that incorporate multiple techniques and get tips on establishing collaborations. This workshop aims to foster information exchange and cultivate collaboration among membrane protein researchers at any career stage.

Easing into BMB coding in your research or classroom

Workshop leader: Paul Craig, Rochester Institute of Technology

Simply being familiar with Microsoft Office and Google Drive is no longer enough for many of today’s biochemistry and molecular biology positions. Emerging researchers need to be comfortable with coding and be able to effectively analyze complex sequences and numerical data sets. This workshop for coding newbies will introduce you to data analysis using Python in Jupyter Labs, a powerful yet easy-to-learn coding environment. Be sure to bring your laptop to code along with facilitators and other attendees.

Exploring biomolecular structures with NCBI’s iCn3D

Workshop leader: Alexa M. Salsbury, National Institutes of Health, National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information

Seeking biomolecular structure in your research? Come learn about iCn3D, a free web-based 3D structure viewer and interactive structural analysis software. During this workshop, you’ll gain insights into various aspects of biomolecular structures and work in small groups to explore and solve a selected problem using iCn3D with guidance from National Center for Biotechnology Information experts. The workshop will focus on practical ways to apply NCBI's extensive resources for research and education.

Success in scientific publishing

Workshop leaders: Members of the ASBMB publications team

This workshop is designed to give attendees an inside look at what goes into taking your research from idea to published manuscript. With expert advice on data acquisition and presentation, promoting your findings to the scientific community and wordsmithing to make your story clear and compelling, this interactive workshop is meant to give authors a competitive advantage in today’s publishing landscape while maintaining the integrity of the scientific record.

Something for just about everyone

With the variety of topics covered in the workshops offered at Discover BMB, there is a relevant session for just about everyone. Now is the time to start planning your agenda so you don’t miss out on these opportunities for growth. We hope you’ll make time to take in one or more of the workshops or short courses while you’re in San Antonio, and we can’t wait to hear how these sessions enrich your meeting experience.

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Kirsten F. Block

Kirsten F. Block is director of education, professional development and outreach at the ASBMB.

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