#SciArt careers

11/17/2017 4:41:04 PM

Are the margins of your lab notebook filled with intricate sketches of biological specimens or molecular structures? Do you spend hours at the microscope trying to capture the perfect image for your own aesthetic pleasure? If you answered “yes” to these questions, you may be interested in knowing more about #sciart career paths.

Historically, science and art had been considered diametrically opposed at either end of the academic spectrum. But, as scientists, we know this line is blurred and rightfully so. The use of visual elements enhances our communication efforts by making the science more eye-catching and comprehensible for a broader audience. And the natural world around us is a masterpiece in its own right.

Scientific artists are needed in a broad range of career paths, including research communications, science education, scientific publishing, etc. So, how do you get started in #sciart? Here are a few general ideas. And future posts will delve into more details about specific niche careers (e.g., medical illustration and data visualization).

  • Start building a portfolio of your work — technical graphs and figures, presentations, educational materials, etc. that you have developed.
  • Gain as much experience as possible in multimedia/graphics design and software by using your research as the subject matter. For example, volunteer to be your lab’s guru for bio-imaging applications. Take the lead on designing a visual abstract for your next publication, or create a digital animation to explain a complex topic to students.
  • Take courses and workshops whenever possible. Many university IT departments offer free classes on various software applications (e.g., Adobe products). There also are online resources, such as Canva, offering free modules on the fundamentals of visual-design principles (h/t to Kirstin Roundy, who shared this resource with me).
  • Get engaged with the #scicomm and #sciart communities. For example, the Twitter accounts @iamscicomm and @iamsciart are hosted by different science-communications professionals every week. The host shares “pro tips” on effective communications and design, and the discussion often includes career-related information.
  • Reach out to #sciart professionals to learn about their career paths. For example, I contacted last week’s @iamscicomm host, Tami Tolpa (@tolpastudios), a freelance science illustrator, to ask about career resources. She shared an amazing amount of information relevant for anyone interested in being a science or medical illustrator (to be featured later). In addition, I learned she has co-designed an online course in visual communications for scientists.  

Below is a sampling of job postings I found this week, each with a focus in graphics and visual design, to give you an idea of the types of careers out there. All of these positions involve digital or visual science storytelling but for different target audiences and purposes (e.g., engaging the general public in science education, showcasing work to attract potential donors).

Job titles for such positions greatly vary, so get a feel for what’s out there to help define keywords for future job searches. For example, some keywords I used in searches included “medical/science illustration,” “graphics design,” “communications specialist” and “visual information specialist,” plus an additional scientific discipline keyword (e.g., “biology”).

You also will note that many of these positions state a degree in graphics/communications is required. Therefore, I recommend you reach out and inquire as to whether a scientist with a strong graphics background will be considered. I am assuming this would be the case, but you never know who actually is sitting behind the desk at the other end checking off those qualification boxes.

Finally, I ran across a number of jobs (not included here) looking for applicants who could serve as one-stop shops for all-things communications related. If you can combine expertise in both writing and graphics design (but no pressure), you’ll likely be even more competitive in the job market. 

Feel free to reach out with any other career resources to feature in an upcoming post on this topic. And if you have any #sciart-sy work of your own that you would like to show off to the ASBMB community, directly contact Public Outreach Manager Danielle Snowflack on Twitter or by email.


Weekly jobs roundup

  • Science Systems and Applications Inc. is hiring a digital Earth science storyteller to work at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. This person will create visually driven stories and multimedia products for the NASA Earth Observatory website. Required qualifications include a bachelor’s degree in the earth or physical sciences or communications field with two years of relevant experience, or a master’s degree. No application deadline is posted.
  • NOVA at WGBH in Boston is hiring for several positions, including a digital editor, digital associate producer and outreach coordinator to work on its award-winning science television series and related digital and education products. Check out the job descriptions for details on qualifications, but no position requires more than a general bachelor’s degree. No application deadlines are posted. (H/t to ASBMB public outreach committee member Ana Zambrana, who alerted me to these postings via Twitter.)
  • The American Association for the Advancement of Science is seeking a graphics editor to join the digital media design team at its office in Washington, D.C. The graphics editor will develop data visualizations and technical figures for several scientific journals, along with digital interactive pieces. Stated qualifications include a bachelor’s degree in graphics design or similar field and three to five years of experience in data visualizations. The application deadline is Nov. 26.
  • The San Francisco Bay area-based biotechnology company Zymergen is looking for a visual storytelling expert to serve as a presentation specialist for its executive team and directors. Qualifications include a bachelor’s degree in graphics design (or equivalent work experience) and five to seven years of experience in visual communications. A portfolio is required. No application deadline is posted.
  • The Field Museum in Chicago is hiring a digital interactives producer to create hands-on experiences for visitors at current and upcoming exhibits. The qualifications listed focus on the skills (e.g., application development, 3-D modeling software) needed to be successful in this position, instead of a formal education requirement. No application deadline is posted.  
  • The Pacific Science Center in Seattle is hiring a part-time exhibit graphics designer to produce effective visual components for print and digital exhibit materials. The qualifications for this position also focus on skills and experience in graphics design and theory, rather than an education requirement. No application deadline is posted.
  • Jefferson, an academic medical center that includes Thomas Jefferson University and Jefferson Health, in Philadelphia is recruiting for a visual communications specialist to create multimedia products that showcase its research and work. Qualifications include a bachelor’s degree in a related communications fields and experience preferred in video production and other digital-media techniques. No application deadline is posted.
  • The California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, Calif., is hiring an art director to oversee the design of visuals for digital and print products that highlight the impact of Caltech research. Qualifications include a general bachelor’s degree and four years of experience in design and production. No application deadline is posted.

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

Careers blog recap and annual meeting reminders

11/10/2017 12:02:23 PM

This post marks my two-month blog-iversary here at the ASBMB Careers Blog. I thought this would be a good opportunity to compile some of my recent posts in one place, along with other ASBMB-related articles that contain useful information on science-career resources and opportunities, for your reading pleasure.  

Here are my first two months of posts broken down my job category. Each of these posts features job-search strategies tailored for specific career interests.

Science-communication careers Academic-career track Biomedical-career paths Here are some other recent ASBMB-related articles with career information that may be of interest. In the coming weeks, I will be expanding upon many of these topics, from finding careers in science art to science policy, so stay tuned.

And while you’re catching up on some old posts, don’t forget that abstracts for the 2018 ASBMB Annual Meeting are due Dec. 7, with travel award and childcare grant applications due Dec. 14. You must submit an abstract as the first/presenting author by the abstract deadline in order to be eligible for travel awards.

Please note that ASBMB student members, ASBMB affiliate members and nonmembers must get regular ASBMB members or regular members of other Experimental Biology host societies to sponsor their abstracts. A list of host societies can be found on this website. If you are in need of a sponsor, you might check out the ASBMB member directory to find eligible members at your institution or elsewhere. If you still can’t find an appropriate sponsor, send a message to ASBMB here.

Overall, I can’t emphasize enough the value in attending conferences for your professional and career development. I can post job openings for you all day long, but the truth is that most jobs are found through networking. The annual meeting provides many opportunities to network (e.g., special events and mixers) and attend professional-development workshops (e.g., how to write a C.V.). In addition, it’s important to share your research to bolster your professional profile, gain communication skills and get feedback from the scientific community.

That being said, conferences may be cost prohibitive or it may be difficult to justify taking time off from the lab. In addition to ASBMB travel awards, there are a number of other ways to defray travel costs. I have written about funding sources for attending scientific meetings in an old blog post, which may give you some alternative options. Additionally if you need to sell your supervisor on meeting attendance, you may want to read a Lab Manager article I wrote on the topic for ideas (e.g., bringing back information to the lab on a specific topic or lab technique to share).

If you need help brainstorming funding sources or ways to convince your PI to let you go to a meeting, feel free to post a question in the comments below or reach out on Twitter. I’m more than happy to help if I can.

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

Neuroscience career and training opportunities

11/3/2017 1:37:29 PM

The annual Neuroscience 2017 conference is being held this year from Nov. 11–15 in Washington, D.C. This meeting brings together some of the greatest minds from around the world who are focused on unraveling the complexities of the brain and nervous system. The conference aims to promote collaborations, share new science developments and support the career development of scientists. Conferences (whether you are attending or not) also yield valuable information to guide development of a comprehensive but focused job-search strategy. I thought I’d lead you through a mind-mapping exercise to show my thought process in researching career and training opportunities for this week’s post.  


First off, I looked at the Society for Neuroscience, which primarily organizes the Neuroscience 2017 conference. The SfN has a number of career and training resources available on its website in the NeuroJobs Career Center section. These resources include a publicly viewable NeuroJobs board with 379 job postings currently listed. The society also sponsors many individual awards and fellowships to advance the careers of young scientists. You can filter through this info in more detail to see what’s relevant.


If you are attending the Neuroscience 2017 conference, take advantage of all the useful career resources and workshops available. There are sessions on topics that range from grant-writing skills to career transitions in industry. The conference organizers have made available a handy online meeting planner tool or mobile app to plan your itinerary in advance.


Here are some more conference features to check out:

  • The conference will feature the on-site NeuroJobs Career Center every day. Any attendee can apply for or schedule interviews with employers present. A listing of jobs already included for the career fair can be found on the NeuroJobs board, with 45 positions listed as of now. However, attendees also can post open positions on-site, so be sure to check for updated info on a regular basis. (FYI, you can read my ASBMB Today article “Quick Guide to Career Fairs” for tips on how to prep.)
  • Also schedule time at the conference to visit the Exhibit Hall. There will be more than 700 exhibitors, including professional societies, vendors, publishers, educational institutions and more. Besides scoring free conference swag, you can find out about graduate and training programs, fellowships available, industry trends, etc. (BTW, be sure to stop by booth #613 and say hello to The Journal of Biological Chemistry and ASBMB crew!)

Don’t forget to check out social media, especially the hashtag #SfN17 on Twitter, to see what people are talking about in advance of the conference, network with others when you get there or catch up on what you are missing out on if you can’t make it. With this hashtag, I found a number of faculty members who will be at the conference and who have tweeted that they are looking for postdocs and grad students to join their labs. Even if you can’t be at the conference, you can get in touch with them separately.

Here are a few of those folks that I just ran across:

  • Karla Kaun (@karlakaun) of Brown University is looking for a postdoc to work on a collaborative project studying how behavior and development change chromatin and gene regulation.
  • Tim Mosca (@drosophilosophy) of Jefferson University is recruiting for several graduate student and postdoc positions to work on research related to how synaptic organization affects behavior.
  • Benjamin Saunders (@bensaunders) of the University of Minnesota is searching for researchers to join a new lab next summer in the area of motivational circuits and addiction.
  • Eran Dayan (@eran11) of the University of North Carolina School of Medicine is seeking a postdoc to work on neuroimaging and data-science applications.

Another good source of information is the list of conference sponsors to find organizations and companies that are invested in neuroscience research and may have job openings or other training opportunities.

Here are a few of the industry sponsors that I selected at random to research a little further.

  • The global pharmaceutical company Sanofi is hiring for several positions in the area of neuroscience in the northeastern U.S. region, including a postdoctoral fellow to research the role of lysosomal dysfunctions in neurodegenerative diseases and several medical science liaisons to educate healthcare professionals on neurology-related products.
  • The global healthcare company Novartis has a number of open positions in the area of neuroscience, ranging in function from marketing/sales and product management to drug-safety assessment and bench research. The research positions mostly are located in Cambridge, Mass., and have varying education requirements from bachelor’s to Ph.D. degrees.  

Lastly, I want to review some of the many resources available through the National Institutes of Health in the neuroscience field. There are lots of good career resources, but this information is scattered across several institutes and programs, so here’s my attempt to review some of this info in one place for you.


The NIH Blueprint for Neuroscience Research is a collaborative framework of the NIH centers, offices and institutes that support neuroscience research. The website contains updates on research and funding programs, training and resources, etc.

Here are some relevant resources and new programs to know about.  

  • The Neuroscience Information Framework is an online portal to search for all things related to neuroscience information. I did a search for the keyword “fellowship,” which yielded 118 results. This information can be used to find more organizations that offer fellowships, awards, job boards, etc. (Note: Some of the links in the search results may be outdated, but you can go directly to the organization’s website and see what opportunities are available.)
  • Recently, NIH announced the Blueprint Diversity Specialized Predoctoral to Postdoctoral Advancement in Neuroscience (D-SPAN) Award (F99/K00). This grant will provide funding for neuroscience Ph.D. students from underrepresented groups to transition from graduate school to postdoctoral positions. A total of six years of funding may be provided, along with career-development support. Applications are due Dec. 13. While not required, an applicant may submit a letter of intent to the program manager by Nov. 13, which may be useful to get early feedback. Read the details, including a summary of a Twitter chat hosted by @NINDSDiversity, at the website.
  • The BRAIN Initiative is a collaborative public–private partnership led by the NIH and launched in 2013 to advance the understanding of the human brain. The website maintains updated information on new funding opportunities and recent awards. Staying updated on who is getting funding is a good way to identify potential labs that may have job openings. Here is an example.
  • The initiative recently announced awards for neuroethics research projects. One awardee is Gabriel Lázaro–Muñoz at the Baylor College of Medicine, who will be investigating ethical issues related to the use of adaptive deep-brain stimulation treatments. He tweeted out that his lab is now looking for a postdoc to work on this project. You can contact Lázaro–Muñoz by email ( or on Twitter (@GLMbioethics) for more information on how to apply.
  • Neuroscience@NIH represents the expansive neuroscience research program going on within the NIH across 11 institutes and more than 150 labs. The website contains a jobs and training section that includes links to current postdoctoral research openings and research training opportunities.

Ok, is your brain fried yet? (Yep, mine too.) But seriously, job searching can be super stressful, and it’s important to keep your brain healthy and happy during this process. Having a strategy and breaking down tasks into manageable chunks of time can alleviate some of this anxiety for sure. As always, feel free to reach out with any career-related questions or to share resources.


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