Careers to support diversity in science efforts

1/16/2018 1:17:28 PM

January is National Mentoring Month, which is a good time to reflect on the importance of effective mentoring in the sciences. We all have a responsibility to support the career advancement of the scientists around us, by being a peer mentor to our colleagues or taking a proactive mentoring approach with students. It’s also important for your own professional development to learn mentoring skills. (And if you’re interested, you can check out this Lab Manager article I wrote on the value of mentorship in the scientific field for useful tips and resources from mentoring experts, or this personal blog post on how to get more mentoring experience.)  

Strong mentoring relationships especially are critical for the success of scientists from underrepresented backgrounds. Previously on the careers blog, I featured diversity-support programs and resources that help scientists from underrepresented groups pursue an academic-career track. But what about the behind-the-scenes people who run these programs? There is a definite need for compassionate people to staff these programs, from academic coaches and career advisers to program coordinators and directors. If you have a passion for advocating for diversity in the STEM fields, you might consider a career focused on academic-support services to make a lasting impact.

Here are just a few thoughts on where to start doing a job search in this field:  

First, decide the level of students across the academic spectrum you want to work with and your personal goal for doing so. For example, do you want to run outreach programs for middle- or high-school students that will pique their interest in STEM careers? Or is your passion for supporting the professional development of graduate or postgraduate researchers to prepare them for biomedical research careers?  

Second, get familiar with relevant diversity-based programs that already exist and may hire in the future. Here is a list of some of the federal agencies involved with increasing workforce and STEM diversity, along with links to their websites listing related initiatives and funded projects. This information can then be a source of keywords for job searches and/or a contact directory to further research programs in geographic locations of interest.  

And below is a weekly jobs roundup to give you a sampling of the type of positions available. These positions were found by paying attention to jobs posted via my Twitter network and searches on other academic job boards. As far as key terms, it was more difficult to narrow down searches using words such as “diversity” because many jobs have a diversity statement appended to the posting (which is a good thing), and thus required more specific searches using program names (e.g., TRIO) or filtering results to categories like “administrative support.”  

Most of the following jobs are affiliated with university-based or federally funded programs, but a number of similar positions exist outside academia across nonprofits and industry, which I will return to in future posts. While these jobs specifically focus on diversity-enrichment programs, keep in mind that working with other types of academic-support programs also provides an opportunity to advocate for and create an environment that is diverse and inclusive with respect to all students.  

Weekly Jobs Roundup  

  • The American Association for the Advancement of Science is hiring a community-engagement manager to coordinate communications efforts for the NSF INCLUDES Open Forum, as part of an overarching initiative aimed at broadening participation in the STEM fields by underrepresented groups. Minimum qualifications include a master’s degree in a science, communications or education field and three to five years of strategic-communications experience. The application deadline is Feb. 10.  
  • Several medical schools are recruiting program managers for diversity and inclusion, including the Sackler Institute at the NYU School of Medicine and the School of Medicine at Boston University. These positions will lead efforts to promote the recruitment and retention of underrepresented students in the graduate programs and create a supportive community. See the postings for details on qualifications, but both positions generally require a minimum of a bachelor’s degree and a few years of relevant experience. No application deadlines are provided.  
  • Brown University is hiring a part-time program coordinator to provide administrative support for its NIH-funded Initiative to Maximize Student Development program. The NIH IMSD program aims to increase the participation of underrepresented groups in graduate studies within the biomedical and behavioral sciences. Minimum qualifications include an associate’s degree and two to three years of relevant experience. No application deadline is provided.  
  • Several universities have open positions to support McNair Scholars Programs, including an assistant director located at Hunter College within the City University of New York (deadline of March 5) and a program coordinator and advisor at Cornell University (no deadline given). The McNair Scholars Program is one of the TRIO programs and designed to prepare qualified undergraduates from underrepresented groups for doctoral studies in all disciplines. See the postings for details on qualifications, which differ for each position.  
  • The University of Wisconsin-Whitewater is seeking an executive director of pre-college programs to oversee the administration of a number of programs that prepare students for successful transition to college, including TRIO programs (e.g., Upward Bound Math and Science). Minimum qualifications include a master’s degree and five years of experience with academic-support programs. Applications received by Feb. 16 will receive full consideration.  

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

Resolve to a career in science policy

1/8/2018 1:15:41 PM

Ready to make some changes in the New Year? (No, I’m not talking about resolving to wash your lab coat at least once a year or to stop using paper towels as an improvised lab notebook). If you really want to have an impact this year, consider a career in science policy.  

In the past year, there has been a renewed focus on science advocacy in response to a new administration that devalues the role of science in society. And the outcry has been impressive, as evidenced by the March for Science to the creation of political-action committees dedicated to getting scientists elected to office. There is a need for scientists like you who use evidence- and science-based (yeah, try to censor that) information to create impactful policies that benefit society.  

But what exactly is science policy? Refer to this ASBMB Today article from former ASBMB science-policy fellow Geoffrey Hunt for a good description. In my own words, science policy refers to informed decision-making that sets policies for the benefit of both scientists and society. Areas of applicability include establishing higher-education and workforce policies that promote the careers of scientists; applying science outcomes to develop legislation that addresses societal and environmental issues; and informing the future direction of research and proper funding allocation.  

So, how do you get more experience in policy? As I mentioned in a previous post on volunteering in science, you can volunteer your time on a science-advisory board or get involved with a grassroots-advocacy network. Here are a few ideas on how to get involved with policy in your field of interest. The ASBMB also maintains a page of advocacy-related coalition partners and other society websites that may have relevant information posted.  

  • The Society for Neuroscience is seeking early-career scientists to join its Early Career Policy Ambassadors Program. Participants get experience in publicly advocating for science and leading grassroots campaigns. Applicants must be a member of the SfN and either be an undergraduate student performing neuroscience research, a graduate student, or within 10 years of having completed a Ph.D. or M.D. Applications are due Jan. 19.  
  • The ASBMB Public Affairs Advisory Committee has big plans for 2018, including the development of an advocacy externship program to provide training opportunities for members who want to get more involved with science policy. There are other opportunities to get engaged as well, including an annual Capitol Hill Day and participating in pop-up campaigns. Stay tuned to the ASBMB Policy Blotter blog and the recently launched Pipettes and Politics podcast for more details.  
  • At the federal level, a number of government agencies solicit open calls for scientists to join advisory councils or provide input on the direction of funding and science initiatives, commonly referred to as “requests for information”. These opportunities often are posted on the Federal Register. RFIs also are posted on State and local governments have similar opportunities, so check out the respective websites for more information.  

Another good route to get more experience in the science-policy world is to do a paid fellowship or internship. Here are some opportunities I ran across this week.  

  • Harvard University’s Center for the Environment is recruiting for the Environmental Fellows Program. Fellows will work toward addressing complex environmental challenges and creating transdisciplinary connections, including linkages to policy domains. Applicants must be within four years of receiving a Ph.D. (or other applicable terminal degree) and have secured a faculty mentor. The application deadline is Jan. 17.  
  • The Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment at Princeton University invites applications for its Distinguished Postdoctoral Fellowship program. Fellows will research innovative technology, economic and policy solutions to energy and environmental issues. Applicants must be within three years of receiving a Ph.D. and preferably work with a faculty mentor to prepare the research plan. Applications are due Feb. 15.  
  • The American Association for the Advancement of Science hosts an annual Science and Technology Fellowship program. Fellows are embedded across various branches of the federal government in Washington D.C. to provide scientific expertise to the policymaking process. Applicants must have a terminal degree in their field of expertise. The application system will open on May 1.  
  • The American Association for University Women hires paid interns each semester and in the summer to work in its public policy and government relations department. Preference is for applicants in their junior or senior year of college or graduate students with a strong interest in learning about the policymaking process. See the website for details on how to apply.  

How else can you stay updated on policy issues and job opportunities? Here are some science-policy resources to add to your reading list.  

  • The American Institute of Physics maintains the FYI policy news and resource center with weekly updates on federal science policy and an opportunities section with job and fellowship postings. You can subscribe to the newsletter as well.  
  • Also, former ASBMB careers blogger Diedre Ribbens previously featured science-policy jobs here on the careers blog, and it’s worth checking out to give you more ideas on the types of jobs that are out there.  

Bonus job posting. The American Institute of Biological Sciences is hiring a public policy manager to direct the organization’s science-policy and communications initiatives. Applicants must have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree (with an advanced degree preferred but not required) and five years of relevant experience. Applications will be reviewed starting Jan. 5 and on a continuing basis until the position is filled.

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

Rock your year-end science accomplishments

12/29/2017 2:16:50 PM

As the year comes to a close, we are getting a little sentimental here at the ASBMB Careers Blog (reaches for a box of tissues). This has been a year of transitions, as we bid farewell to the ever-talented and founding careers blogger Diedre Ribbens and brought on a new blogger (yours truly).    

But transition periods, like the end of the year, are a perfect time for introspection to take stock of what all you have achieved and let the world know about it. For example, check out this popular thread on Twitter by Adam J. Kurtz that encourages folks to post their top-three, year-end accomplishments.  

Most importantly, Adam points out that you decide what counts as accomplishments. This is a critical piece to understand how you define success for yourself. For example, it may be the number of research publications or how many students you helped mentor in the lab. This information also is useful for thinking about what type of work really matters to you in a future career, and further communicating the impact of your work to others in application materials and interviews.  

For me personally, this careers blog would be in my top-three accomplishments for 2017 (besides retaining my sanity in this political climate and while successfully transitioning my teenager to college life; hey, it’s the little things that matter). Science is about the people behind the lab bench, too — telling their career stories to inspire others and helping early-career professionals find their pathways toward satisfying careers.  

I especially have enjoyed all the new relationships made through this blog and connecting people to the resources they need to be successful in their job searches. In fact, I have heard from at least one person who applied for a job posted here and who has been shortlisted for the interview process. And for me, that’s the definition of success.    

In looking back on what we have accomplished this year on the careers blog, here are five of the most-read posts that were published in 2017 for your reading list.  

1. Summertime lab fun: From exploring life in extreme environments to understanding the complexities of the hidden brain, participating in summer undergraduate research is a great way to learn new skills and see what research life is all about (and it can pay, too). This post includes many resources to find summer-research opportunities, with application deadlines approaching soon through early in the spring semester.  

2. Biostatistics research jobsIn this post, Diedre highlights jobs in the biostatistics field, from entry-level to more experienced positions, across a range of industry and nonprofit organizations focused on health and personalized-medicine outcomes. She also provides some insight on skills needed to qualify for work in this area.   

3. Building a portfolio career in science communicationsIn my first post on the ASBMB Careers Blog, I outline ways to get started in a science-communications career. This information is applicable to anyone looking to build a portfolio in the #scicomm or #sciart fields (or just getting more experience communicating science in general). Also be sure to check out these previous posts on #sciart careers and careers in technical writing. The latter post features Diedre’s own successful transition from Ph.D. to medical writer with useful advice on breaking into this field.

4. Faculty jobs outside academiaIf you’re interested in a faculty-career track, you may want to read this post that reviews the many faculty jobs existing outside academia, including positions at the National Institutes of Health and nonprofit research institutes and hospitals. You also may be interested in reading these related posts on finding faculty jobs and diversity-support programs for academic careers.

5. Consider a job in biodefenseIn this post, Diedre writes about a number of scientist positions with private contractors in the biodefense arena. She additionally outlines some key initialisms to know in the field. Also check out these related posts about career paths focused on biosurveillance and public health and combating antibiotic-resistance.    

But that’s enough about us because we really want to know about you. What did you accomplish in science in 2017? Whether it is a new science breakthrough or overcoming a challenge such as an illness to persist in your science career, ASBMB wants to hear from you.  

You can contribute your career story or insights by writing for the ASBMB Today magazine, or submit member news and updates to have your accomplishments shared with the science community. (FYI, late-breaking abstracts for the 2018 Annual Meeting are not due until Feb. 27, so it’s not too late to showcase your hard work there, too.)  

And in this competitive job market, it is important to increase your online visibility and raise your professional profile wherever possible (believe me, your future employers will do a search for you online). Besides the fact that you deserve to be recognized for what you have accomplished. So do yourself (and your career) a favor: Take credit for all the amazing work you have done this past year and share your story with others.  

Bonus job posting: And if you are interested in telling more in-depth science stories that matter, check out these journalism fellowships available through the environmental-news outlet Grist (deadline Jan. 5) and the Google News Lab Fellowship program (deadline Jan. 15). 

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