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Advice and Resources
for Scientists from
Science Careers
2009 edition
This booklet is brought to you by the AAAS/Science Business Ofce
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Masterlng our Ph.u.: Mentors, Leadershlp,
and Communlty Pctriric Ccslir, 8crt NccrJcn
7 Masterlng our Ph.u.: Preparlng for our Post-Ph.u. Career
8crt NccrJcn, Pctriric Ccslir
10 Crad School Campus vlslts /chr k. 8crrhcrJt
MAkKFTlhC 0ukSFLF: Cvs, kFSuMFS, Ahu hFTw0kKlhC
1 Toollng up: kesume kocket Sclence 2007 0cviJ C. /crscr
18 wrltlng a wlnnlng Cover Letter /chr k. 8crrhcrJt
21 F-Persona hon Crata: Strateglzlng our 0nllne Persona Pctcr Fiskc
25 Tlps for Publlshlng ln Sclentlfc }ournals kctrirc kclrcr
29 Faculty Posltlons: Seeklng the Skllls for a Successful
Career ln Academla Fnnc hitt
CkAFTlhC Ah lhuuSTk CAkFFk
35 Toollng up: Three Categorles of kules 0cviJ C. /crscr
39 Transferable Skllls and Portable Careers Christic AsrhwcrJcr
0pportunltles: More School! Pctcr Fiskc
h0hTkAulTl0hAL CAkFFkS
7 A Matter of Pollcy 8ricr vcstc
50 worklng as a Medlcal wrlter Scrch wcbb
5 Masterlng our Ph.u.: A Career ln Management Consultlng
8crt NccrJcn, Pctriric Ccslir
ulvFkSlT lSSuFS lh SClFhCF
58 Famlly Trallblazers Suscr CciJcs
61 hurturlng women Sclentlsts /ill u. AJcns
66 0penlng uoors for Sclentlsts wlth ulsabllltles lcurc 8crcttc
72 Maklng the Leap to lndependence lrcrc S. lcvirc
77 Managlng Sclentlsts kcryr hcJc
page chapter

3 Alcr l. lcshrcr, CF0, AAAS lhTk0
2008 by The American Association for the Advancement of Science. All rights reserved.
Thls booklet ls also avallable onllne at]careerbaslcspdf
Christina Kakeyannis, Ph0
Forest kesources,
0regon State university
zcc-zcc; AAAS Fellow
at the u.S. Environmental
Protection Agency in the
0ffice of Environmental
Policy Innovation,
Evaluation Support 0ivision
howan evaluation officer
at the hational Fish and
wildlife Foundation in
washington, 0C
Lnhoncing Public Pclicy,
AJvoncing Scicncc Corccrs
Make a 0iIIerence. Relp give science a greater voice in
washington, 0C! Since 1;, AAAS Fellows have applied
their skills to federal decision-making processes that
affect people in the u.S. and around the world,
while learning first-hand about the
government and policymaking.
|ein the ketwerk. Year-long
fellowships are available in the u.S.
Congress and federal agencies.
Applicants must hold a Ph0 or
equivalent doctoral-level degree in
any behavioralJsocial, biological,
medicalJhealth, or physical science,
or any engineering discipline.
Individuals with a master's degree
in engineering and
three years of post-
degree professional
experience also
may apply. Federal
employees are not eligible
and u.S. citizenship is required.
App|y. The application deadline
for the AAAS Fellowships is
1 0ecember. Fellowships are
awarded in the spring and begin in
September. Stipends range from
approximately $;c,ccc to $z,ccc.
Nctc: AJJiticnol jcllcwships orc
ovoiloblc thrcugh opprcximotcly
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lnJiviJuols orc cnccurogcJ tc
opply with AAAS os wcll os with ony
scicntijic sccictics jcr which thcy quolijy.
Full details at: Ie||ewships.aaas.erg
AAA' '\II!\I & 1I\I!CIC\Y
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oday's sclentlsts have many lntrlgulng opportunltles for career paths,
and the purpose of thls book ls to offer advlce and guldance that can
add vltal skllls to your formal educatlon, wherever your |ourney leads.
Any |ob search career track, whether ln academla, lndustry, government,
or nonproft organlzatlons, always beglns wlth the baslcs. The artlcles ln
thls book cover Cv wrltlng that opens doors and lntervlewlng technlques
that result ln offers, how to wrlte grant proposals and fnd fundlng sources,
connectlng through networklng, speclfc strategles for underrepresented
mlnorltles and women, movlng up to lab management, navlgatlng the
publlshlng maze, and other valuable lnformatlon.
Sricrrc, one of the most prestlglous and hlghly clted sclentlfc |ournals ln
the world, and AAAS, the world's largest multldlsclpllnary soclety for sclence-
related professlonals, are dedlcated to helplng gulde quallfed sclentlsts
to meanlngful careers at all stages. Sricrrc publlshes speclal lnternatlonal
careers features detalllng new opportunltles ln varlous countrles and reglons.
The AAAS Center for Careers ln Sclence & Technology (]
careercenter), a collaboratlon of our departments and affllated
organlzatlons, offers a wlde range of career development optlons, lncludlng
fellowshlps and lnternshlps, as well as llnks to our programs and partners.
The artlcles throughout the book have been carefully selected from AAAS's, the most comprehenslve lnternatlonal resource for |ob
postlngs, career development tools, and llnks to the Mlnorlty Sclentlsts
hetwork, Crantshet and other Sricrrc resources. The freely accesslble slte
also offers lnformatlon about career outreach forums and courses held ln
locatlons across the unlted States and Furope.
Tralnlng and retalnlng a superb S&T work force ls a top prlorlty for AAAS.
we work to advance sclence by advanclng the careers of sclentlsts who serve
global soclety. we hope you fnd thls book to be a valuable resource.
Alan l. Leshner
Fxecutlve Publlsher, Sricrrc

Masterin our Ph.0.: Mentors, Leadership,

and Community
8y Patrlcla Cosllng, 8art hoordam-Flrst publlshed August 31, 2007
ne of the best thlngs you can do at the start of your sclentlfc
career ls fnd a mentor. A wlse and carlng mentor can mean the
dlfference between wanderlng around almlessly and strldlng pur-
posefully down the path of academlc llfe and beyond.
8ut don't you already have a mentor, you may wonder! won't your
research advlser play that role! Perhaps, but mentors and advlsers aren't
usually the same thlng. For one thlng, an advlser dlrects, a mentor guldes.
lf your research advlser ls a natural mentor and ls wllllng to take on that
role ln your llfe-and lf that relatlonshlp works for you-count yourself
lucky. hot every graduate student ls fortunate to have such readlly avall-
able guldance and counsel from a more senlor person. So, chances are
you'll need to look beyond your lab to fnd a good mentor. what should you
look for, whom should you ask, and how can you help your advlser-and
yourself-be a good mentor!
1. findin our Way]smart
Mining Ier Ce|d: 0ehning Mentership
8efore you start looklng around, you frst need to take stock of what a good
mentor ls and what you hope to get out of the relatlonshlp. A good mentor
has many characterlstlcs but must frst and foremost care about your profes-
slonal development and have an lnterest ln guldlng younger sclentlsts as they
move through thelr careers.
Thls sounds tlme-consumlng, and lt can be. why would anyone want to take
tlme out of a busy schedule to mentor you! lt's not all about "taklng" on your
part. Many good mentors cherlsh the role of guldlng younger colleagues.
They galn somethlng by glvlng back to the communlty of professlonals from
whlch they themselves were nurtured. how that they've moved up ln thelr
careers, these sclentlsts belleve lt's tlme to help others make the trek to
the summlt.
Mentorshlp ls a lot about experlence and wlsdom. So lt goes wlthout saylng
that a good mentor wlll be someone who ls further along on the career path
than you are. 8efore approachlng another person and asklng hlm or her to act
as your mentor, however, you need to thlnk carefully about the klnd of person
and professlonal you wlsh to emulate. 0n a more speclfc level, ls there some-
one whose career cholces you admlre! who has a great work]llfe balance or
ls partlcularly good at gettlng work publlshed ln top-tler |ournals!
lmportantly, a good mentor should have no ulterlor motlve ln helplng you
(beyond the lntrlnslc satlsfactlon that mentorshlp provldes). he should be
able to help you meet your own goals (not follow hls own agenda) by provld-
lng you wlth support and guldance, modellng successful behavlor, lntroduc-
lng you to a strong network, and helplng you ldentlfy your strengths and
weaknesses as a sclentlst and a person.
Cheesing a Menter
when chooslng a mentor, you'll need to be honest about your own needs and
what you thlnk a mentor can do for you. uo you want your mentor to offer you
regular advlce on how to negotlate graduate school and your career beyond!
how speclfc or general do you want thls advlce to be, and how much of a
tlme commltment wlll you requlre! uo you want your mentor to offer you de-
talled career and networklng advlce! 0r are you |ust looklng for someone who
ls a good llstener and can act as a soundlng board when you fnd yourself on
shaky ground!
lf your research advlser ls also your mentor, you may want to establlsh clear
goals for your relatlonshlp as both a Ph.u. student and a mentee. For ex-
ample, you may want to meet on a regular basls |ust to dlscuss lssues outslde
your research. A good, comfortable relatlonshlp wlth your advlser, as well as
a certaln amount of personal chemlstry, wlll be key for the mentor]mentee
relatlonshlp to fourlsh.
8ut what lf your research advlser lsn't able or lsn't wllllng to act as your
mentor! lf you fnd yourself ln thls sltuatlon, you need to take the lnltlatlve
and fnd someone else. The frst place to start ls your own lab. how about a
postdoc or even a fellow Ph.u. candldate who has more experlence than you
ln the lab! lf no one ln your lab ls a sultable candldate, someone else ln your
department may be. Some lnstltutes even have a mentor program ln place for
those who are unable to fnd a mentor for themselves. Fven lf such a program
ls ln place, however, you'll stlll have to do some work. Mentor]mentee rela-
tlonshlps are largely personal, so lt's lmportant to have a mentor
for whom you have great respect and warm personal regard.
lf you do look outslde your lab, be sensltlve to posslble rlval-
rles or polltlcs between research groups. Fven wlthln the same
lnstltutlon, many lab heads are ln competltlon wlth each other for
fundlng, lab space, and equlpment. ou won't want to rlsk anger-
lng your advlser by seeklng guldance from a dlrect competltor. The
same ls true lf you conslder posslble mentors ln your feld at other
lnstltutlons, you may collaborate wlth them on some pro|ects, but
they could stlll be seen as a competlng lab.
when you've ldentlfed one or two lndlvlduals who could act as
your mentor, lt's up to you to approach them. Some people may
feel fattered that you've asked for thelr guldance. 0thers wlll turn
you down out of fear that mentorlng wlll take too much tlme, or
that you wlll become overly dependent on them for all your decl-
slons. uon't be hurt lf your preferred mentor turns you down. lt's
most llkely not personal, so be graclous and move on to someone
else sultable.
0nce someone agrees to be your mentor, hold up your end of
the relatlonshlp by respectlng your mentor's tlme and professlonal
responslbllltles. ou and your mentor should declde how to move
forward and how much lnteractlon you wlll have. Perhaps you'll
meet over lunch once a month or touch base regularly vla e-mall,
or your mentor wlll be avallable whenever you have a speclfc ls-
sue. whatever you declde, remember that your mentor's role ls to
provlde you wlth professlonal guldance and to help you develop
lndependence, not to hold your hand every step of the way.
Werking with What eu've Cet
what do you do lf you try all these thlngs but fall to fnd a sultable
mentor! ou may want to take a second look at your supervlsor.
Fven lf he or she seems less than wllllng, thlnk of ways you can
help your supervlsor become a (better) mentor. Start by maklng
an appolntment to talk about your needs. kecognlze that tlme ls ln
short supply and make lt clear that you don't lntend to add to an
overly long to-do llst. 8ut be up front about your needs. ls lt regular
dlscusslons you're after, an open-door pollcy, or |ust open llnes of
communlcatlon so you feel you can go to your supervlsor when you
need a blt of guldance and support!
Fncourage your supervlsor to lnvolve you ln group meetlngs and
dlscusslons, and state that you are wllllng to do whatever extra
thlngs need to be done to learn and grow ln your feld. volunteer to
glve a presentatlon to the department, or offer to spend tlme wlth
a vlsltlng sclentlst as a way to expand your network. when lt comes
tlme to wrlte your frst paper, offer to wrlte the frst draft and meet
wlth your supervlsor for comments and suggestlons.
ou and
your mentor
declde how
to move
forward and
how much
you wlll
you'll meet
over lunch
once a
month or
touch base
vla e-mall,
or your
mentor wlll
be avallable
whenever you
have a speclfc
Chapter 1
0eve|ep a Cemmunity eI Peers-and eceme a Menter eurse|I
Professlonal success doesn't begln and end wlth havlng a mentor. our tlme
ln graduate school ls an excellent chance to strengthen your professlonal
and soclal networks and create a communlty of your peers. Some of these
professlonal relatlonshlps wlll develop lnto llfelong frlendshlps and be a
source of support throughout your professlonal llfe.
8e a leader among your peers. Partlclpate ln group meetlngs and encour-
age quleter members to speak up. lf you don't already have one, start a
|ournal club ln your group and lnvlte others ln your department to |oln. Set up
soclal actlvltles or team-bulldlng actlvltles to help strengthen relatlonshlps
outslde the lab.
As you move up the lab food chaln, become a mentor yourself by offerlng to
supervlse an undergraduate's research pro|ect. 0ffer to teach when posslble
or provlde tutorlng sesslons for undergraduates lnterested ln pursulng an
advanced degree.
As you progress through your career, you'll fnd that the mentorlng you
recelved as a graduate student and postdoc and the networks you developed
as a young sclentlst wlll provlde both a frm foundatlon and a strong scaffold-
lng for your career to grow. when the tlme comes for you to mentor others
|ust startlng out, use your lnslghts and hard-earned wlsdom to glve |unlor
colleagues a boost. lt's also another way of glvlng back and saylng thank you
for the help you recelved early ln your career.
Masterin our Ph.0.: Preparin for our
Post-Ph.0. Career
8y 8art hoordam, Patrlcla Cosllng- Flrst publlshed February 22, 2008
mong the most dlffcult declslons durlng your Ph.u. ls what to do
when you're fnlshed. ou're probably famlllar wlth the "typlcal" ca-
reer track: Ph.u., postdoc, then a cllmb through the academlc ranks of
asslstant, assoclate, and full professorshlp. Any other path ls often looked
upon wlth derlslon by peers, as though leavlng academla means you can't
handle the academlc track.
8ut thls "move up or move out" attltude ls a purely academlc perspectlve.
unlversltles don't |ust traln new professors, they prepare people to contrlb-
ute to soclety ln many ways. ln the hetherlands, for example, 60 percent of
Ph.u.s leave unlverslty rlght away to take |obs ln corporate, not-for-proft, or
government organlzatlons.
Most of the remalnlng 0 percent contlnue thelr academlc careers as post-
doctoral fellows. 8ut wlthln fve years of graduatlng, half of those wlll wander
off the academlc campus. The plcture ls the same ln other western countrles.
So, your career ls llkely to take you outslde the hallowed halls of academla.
Cet used to the ldea.
As you move toward the last months of your Ph.u., conslder the
full range of employment optlons. what you do dlrectly after gradu-
atlon wlll have a ma|or lmpact on your professlonal progresslon.
Fvaluatlng all the optlons ls a lot of work, so allow tlme to do lt
properly and start well ln advance.
we suggest spllttlng the |ob-search process lnto two parts.
Flrst, declde whlch type of |ob appeals to you most. Then start the
appllcatlon process, whlch typlcally takes several months. ou
should start evaluatlng your optlons at least six months before
you graduate.
What Rea||y Makes eu 1ick?
our educatlon puts you ln a posltlon to fnd a |ob that not only
pays the bllls but also provldes satlsfactlon. To dlscover what type
of |ob wlll do the trlck, analyze what you most en|oyed whlle work-
lng as a Ph.u. student. was lt worklng ln a team of enthuslastlc
young people explorlng unknown (sclentlfc) terrltorles or worklng
to solve a tough problem! 0r perhaps you were most exclted by
the challenge of masterlng partlcular technlcal skllls, learnlng the
multldlsclpllnary aspects of your pro|ect, or teachlng. Maybe you
were most enthuslastlc about the lmpact your results have (or are
llkely to have) on soclety.
At frst glance, you may conclude that your partlcular research
toplc makes you want to get out of bed ln the mornlng. 8ut after
more careful conslderatlon, you're llkely to reallze that narrower
aspects of your pro|ect are more lmportant than the toplc ltself. Ask
close frlends what they see as your strengths, frlends can often see
what you were best at and what gave you the most satlsfactlon,
even when you can't see lt yourself.
Map 0ut eur 0ptiens
Somehow you need to make sense of all the posslbllltles-yes,
there are lots of them-and dlscover whlch path ls rlght for you.
A declslon tree wlll glve you an overvlew and help you sort out
your long llst of optlons lnto a shorter llst of opportunltles worth
pursulng further. Ask around the lab to fnd out what types of |obs
prevlous generatlons of students have chosen.
whlle growlng your own declslon tree, you may notlce that
branches you lntultlvely lgnored (e.g., worklng for the government)
have lnterestlng subcategorles (for lnstance, worklng at the
patent offce). Maybe you're certaln you want to be a bench
researcher but thought you'd need to stay ln academla. ln fact, an
accurate declslon tree often lncludes research opportunltles ln the
academlc, lndustrlal, and not-for-proft sectors, dependlng on your
research area.
xp|ere the Unknewn
So now you know what makes you tlck and have a map of optlons,
but you may have only a vague ldea of what some of those |obs
entall. So explore the less famlllar optlons on your declslon tree. lf
Fvaluatlng all
the optlons
ls a lot of
work, so allow
tlme to do lt
properly and
start well
ln advance.]smart
Chapter 1
you're conslderlng a |ob ln lndustry but don't know much about lt, vlslt one or
two companles to get a feel for the culture and galn a sense of whether you
would en|oy worklng ln such a place. Thls research wlll allow you to base your
declslon on your own observatlons rather than those of your colleagues. Such
"lnformatlonal lntervlews" are also great ways to add valuable people to your
network. (Shameless plug: ou mlght also search Sricrrc Careers for artlcles
about types of |obs that you aren't as famlllar wlth.)
Leverage eur Bidden ketwerk
our network ls a great asset ln the |ob search, but do you even have a
network! ou do, even lf you don't reallze lt. Many Ph.u. students have
graduated from your lnstltute ln the past, and your supervlsor and other staff
members wlll most llkely know how to fnd them. These people wlll be happy
to dlscuss thelr current and past employment, especlally lf you offer to buy
them lunch.
0eub|e-check eur 0ecisien
lt may take a whlle, but lt ls hoped that your research on the |ob market wlll
reveal a dlrectlon ln whlch you want to head. uouble-check thls declslon by
talklng to frlends, relatlves, and close colleagues. Sometlmes people who
know you have remarkable lnslght lnto what wlll work for you and what won't.
So ask around but keep ln mlnd that some professors may not llke the ldea
of havlng thelr star students stray from thelr own exemplary career paths,
they mlght be blased agalnst |obs outslde academla. People worklng outslde
unlversltles have llved ln both worlds long enough to |udge the dlfference. et
many people who have left academla are llke reformed smokers, pro-lndustry
to the polnt of tedlum. So talk to Ph.u.s worklng ln every sector that you're
lnterested ln, then make up your own mlnd.
0e eu Want the |eb?
ou've been offered a |ob. Congratulatlons! 8ut durlng the |ob search, you
may have become so anxlous about gettlng a |ob that you lost slght of
whether you really want the posltlon that's offered. So go back to your decl-
slon tree and to the llst of thlngs that were really lmportant to you. Conslder
whether you wlll en|oy worklng for thls employer, taklng full account of your
lnteractlons wlth the people you met durlng the lntervlew.
Tempted to say "no"! There ls no need to take the frst |ob you are offered,
but there ls a llmlt to how often you can say no.
eur 0irectien ts ket Carved in 5tene
lf, after worklng for a whlle, you feel that you are on the wrong track, conslder
swltchlng to a dlfferent branch of the career tree. There ls moblllty among the
varlous sectors, so don't feel llke you're trapped lf you're unhappy. whlle you
restart the |ob search, make the most of your current |ob by learnlng new,
practlcal, and transferable skllls.
As a sclentlst, you are used to tackllng complex problems ln a systematlc
way. Flndlng a |ob ls a complex process requlrlng a serlous commltment of
tlme and smarts. lt ls worth maklng the effort to start well before your thesls
defense to klck your post-Ph.u. career lnto hlgh gear.
0rad 5chool Campus visits
8y }ohn K. 8orchardt- Flrst publlshed May 30, 2008
ary Supalo vlslted fve campuses before decldlng to attend
Pennsylvanla State (Penn State) unlverslty ln State College
to study chemlstry. Some of what he learned mlght have
been learned from a webslte or a phone call but not all. "The bot-
tom llne was the research opportunltles," he says. "l felt confdent
that l could fnd a nlche ln any of three or four research groups"
at Penn State. "There were also opportunltles for cooperatlve
research wlth other research groups. Flnally, the department was
more lnformal than other departments l vlslted. l en|oyed the
relaxed atmosphere."
0n-campus lntervlews are rarely requlred for graduate-school
admlsslon, but campus vlslts are common. }ames Faublon, chalr
of the department of anthropology at klce unlverslty ln houston,
Texas, estlmates that about half of hls department's current gradu-
ate students vlslted before decldlng to attend klce. At other lnstltu-
tlons and ln other felds, the numbers seem to be even hlgher.
Campus vlslts allow students llke Supalo to learn thlngs about the
department and lnstltutlon that mlght not be obvlous from the
unlverslty's marketlng materlals, such as |ust how lt feels to be on
campus. Campus vlslts also provlde an early opportunlty to make a
good lmpresslon on faculty members and admlnlstrators.
Chereegraphed er tmprevised
Several departments at horthwestern unlverslty ln Fvanston, ll-
llnols, set aslde certaln days for campus vlslts and plan those vlslts
out carefully. horthwestern's chemlstry department, for example,
schedules grad-student vlslts on three weekends ln March. "Fach
student vlsltlng the chemlstry department can schedule fve vlslts
wlth faculty members," says }onathan Maendel, graduate program
asslstant for horthwestern's chemlstry department.
The approach of klce's earth sclences department runs more
toward the ad hoc, helplng prospectlve graduate students schedule
vlslts on an lndlvldual basls. "we wlll help them customlze vlslts
to thelr lnterests and asslst ln schedullng vlslts wlth partlcular
professors," says Sandra Flechslg, department coordlnator for
klce's earth sclences department.
Preparatien ts Key te 5uccess
0ne key to a successful vlslt ls chooslng whlch schools to apply
to. There's no polnt ln golng to the trouble for a department that
doesn't have at least a couple of professors you mlght llke to work
wlth. lf you haven't even thought about thls yet, conslder taklng a
year off to work or travel.]smart
Chapter 1
0nce those declslons are made, "start preparlng early" for your vlslt "and
make contact wlth faculty members whose research lnterests you and wlth
graduate school admlnlstrators" at least two weeks ahead, Flechslg says.
More advance notlce ls even better, Faublon advlses. Plan your vlslt wlth the
chalr of the department's graduate admlsslons commlttee or call the maln
department offce, someone there wlll make sure you get hooked up wlth the
rlght people.
Allow at least a day for your vlslt. Avold summer and break-week vlslts
because faculty members are more llkely to be away then and because lt's
hard to assess how well you ft ln when so many students are away. Check
conference schedules so you don't vlslt when key faculty members wlll be
conferenclng. lf there's a conference that week that's llkely to be attended by
key faculty members, go to the conference and meet them there lnstead.
Prepare we||. A student who arrlves wlth llttle speclfc knowledge of
the graduate program or lts faculty "ls bound to make a bad lmpres-
slon," Faublon warns. Fven lf you've already been admltted, maklng
a good lmpresslon ls lmportant. "Flnanclal ald ls more llkely to be of-
fered to students lf they have learned about the graduate program, are
motlvated, and have a prepared llst of questlons," says Carl walnscott,
asslstant dlrector for recrultment to the Craduate School of Marquette
unlverslty ln Mllwaukee, wlsconsln. And professors are more llkely to
want to work wlth lncomlng students who seem well prepared.
0uring the visit
uress neatly. Although some students wear buslness sults, most dress casu-
ally ln neat, button-down shlrts or blouses and slacks. "Avold T-shlrts and
|eans," advlses Flechslg. wear comfortable shoes because you could be do-
lng a lot of walklng durlng department and campus tours.
"when meetlng professors, ask questlons related to your own research
lnterests," Maendel advlses. here's where you deploy those questlons you
prepared before your vlslt-but also llsten well and do your best to engage ln
lntelllgent, spontaneous conversatlon.
uon't forget to talk wlth current graduate students. Such dlscusslons can
help you "develop an understandlng of the department's culture to declde
lf lt ls a place you would be comfortable studylng and worklng," observes
Maendel. Crad-student conversatlons are also an ldeal opportunlty to fnd
out what lt's really llke to work wlth the professors you've targeted, Maendel
says. Some researchers want thelr students ln the lab for long hours, others
care only that you get the work done. Flnally, a few professors have a reputa-
tlon for belng especlally dlffcult to work wlth for women, say, or gay men.
ou want to know these thlngs before you make a commltment, and frank
conversatlons wlth a few graduate students are your best opportunltles to
learn them.
Also tour other lmportant places on campus you expect to use,
such as the student unlon, graduate student houslng, student
health care facllltles, and dlnlng halls. For some people, exerclse ls
a key to malntalnlng sanlty durlng graduate school. lf you're one of
those, make sure the lnstltutlon's facllltles measure up.
lf you haven't done so already, now's the tlme to track down ln-
formatlon on fellowshlps and asslstantshlps, teachlng expectatlons
and support, employment opportunltles for your spouse, and any
other detalls that are llkely to have a posltlve or negatlve effect on
your declslon or your graduate school experlence.
financing the 1rip
For many, vlsltlng a graduate school ls an expenslve, long-dlstance
trlp, but some graduate departments wlll offset at least some of
your expenses. horthwestern's chemlstry department "wlll refund
up to $oo ln travel expenses," Maendel says. 0ther horthwestern
departments are wllllng to relmburse dlfferent amounts. klce's
earth sclences department wlll pay all travel expenses for domestlc
students who already have been admltted to the graduate program.
klce also has "funds avallable to brlng to campus those students
resldlng ln the unlted States . whom we are most lnterested ln
admlttlng" but "before we extend formal admlttance offers to
them," Faublon notes.
Students admltted to a graduate program at 0hlo State
unlverslty ln Columbus can apply for relmbursement of travel
expenses up to $zo but only lf they have recelved a unlverslty
fellowshlp or been nomlnated for a graduate school or graduate
enrlchment fellowshlp. The unlverslty of washlngton, Seattle, wlll
pay for campus vlslts but only lf the unlverslty's travel offce makes
your travel arrangements.
Werth the Bass|e
"vlsltlng a campus once you've been accepted, especlally lf you
vlslt wlth a group of slmllarly graduate-school bound students,
can help students fgure out what lt would be llke to be a graduate
student at a partlcular lnstltutlon," wrltes a professor who has
advlsed many such students. "The only downslde to these vlslts ls
that they often requlre mlsslng some classes durlng one's senlor
year, |ust as thesls deadllnes are startlng to loom. 8ut they are
worth the hassles assoclated wlth travel. l would not recommend
attendlng graduate school at a place wlthout vlsltlng frst."]smart
Chapter 1
Additiena| Artic|es 0n|ine
Informational Interviewin: 0ettin Information ou Can 0se]career_magazlne]prevlous_lssues]
1oolin 0p: 1he Wall]10.1126]sclence.caredlt.a0700120
ho, ou're hot an Impostor]10.1126]sclence.caredlt.a0800025
1he Postdoc fxperience: hot Always What ou fxpect]10.1126]sclence.opms.r0800058
Returnin to Academia]10.1126]sclence.caredlt.a0700012
Reclaimin Life from Work]10.1126]sclence.caredlt.a0700176
0pportunities: readth versus 0epth]10.1126]sclence.caredlt.a0700032
1he 0raduate 5chool Application]career_magazlne]prevlous_lssues]
1his booklet is also available online at sciencecareers.orJcareerbasicspdf
1oolin 0p: Resume Rocket 5cience 2007
8y uavld C. }ensen- Flrst publlshed }anuary 19, 2007
ots of artlcles and books have been wrltten about resumes and Cvs,
lncludlng prevlous pleces on Sricrrc Careers (see the further readlng
sectlon below). l generally avold thls toplc, ln fact, l haven't glven a
slngle "Cv workshop" ln two decades of presentatlons about sclence-ca-
reer lssues.
why! lt ls often a no-man's-land of bad career advlce, wlth no agreement
on anythlng and books full of lnformatlon that doesn't work for sclentlsts.
Should lt be a one-page resume or a multlpage Cv for that lndustry |ob
appllcatlon! 0ne advlser tells you that only one- or two-page resumes work
for company managers, whereas another tells you that you wlll do best to
slmply modlfy your academlc Cv by addlng an "0b|ectlve Statement" to the
top. ln each and every "," you wlll fnd "A's" that fall lnto a dozen dlfferent
camps, edltorlallzlng on thelr preferences and how they would structure lt
lf lt were thelr document. Someone who cares about wrltlng the perfect Cv
2. Marketin ourself: Cvs,
Resumes, and hetworkin]smart
or resume wlll fnd enough dlscrepancy to keep the resume pro|ect golng for
months. Thereln lles the problem: There's no such thlng as the perfect Cv.
So, glven my retlcence about pursulng thls toplc, why have l declded to
take lt on now! l couldn't stay away when l saw the passlon ln the responses
to a recent thread on the AAAS Sricrrc Careers Forum that takes on thls sub-
|ect. 8esldes, l have more than two decades worth of experlence ln looklng
at what most people agree ls the rlght document, the lndustry Cv. Let's
dlssect one!
5heu|d eu Care Abeut Writing the PerIect Resume er Cv?
l may sound unorthodox when l say that you really don't need to be cll thct
concerned about wrltlng the perfect Cv or resume. lf you are lnterested ln an
lndustry |ob, you want your Cv to open doors as lt gets routed from person to
person lnslde an organlzatlon. 8ut you also want lt to represent you accu-
rately when you make a good networklng connectlon.
lndustry managers are used to looklng at documents that aren't perfect. l'll
take a ccJ resume or Cv over a perfect one any day of the week because the
good one can be done ln a short tlme, allowlng plenty of tlme for network-
lng-lndlsputably the slngle most lmportant step ln a |ob search-whereas
wrltlng the perfect document could take you ( crJ your Cv or resume) out of
clrculatlon for months.
Thls column uses advlce gleaned through dozens of lntervlews conducted
ln }anuary 2007 wlth hlrlng managers, human resources executlves, recrult-
ers, and consultants worklng ln many dlfferent sclence-related nlches. As
expected, l came across dlfferlng oplnlons-some of my sources contradlct
each other-but enough common threads emerged to glve the reader plenty
of confdence that the Cv or resume wlll do lts |ob and not embarrass you.
And that's exactly what you want lt to do.
Cv er Resume? 1he first ig Area eI CenIusien
uon't get befuddled by the "resume vs. Cv" questlon. A resume ls |ust a really
short Cv, wlth a lot more self-promotlon than a Cv would dare lnclude. lt's
somethlng you would use lf you were looklng for a sales |ob. A CF0 mlght use
a one-pager when looklng for her own |ob. lt's more llke a really blg buslness
card, wlth |ust enough sentences about the last great accompllshment to
hook the reader.
lf you are a sclentlst looklng to get your frst |ob ln lndustry, you should
generally send what we'll refer to from thls polnt on as an "lndustry Cv."
Thls document has elements of both a resume and a Cv. lt needs to attract
lnterest and accurately descrlbe what you can do for the employer. 8ut lt's
not the same thlng as an academlc Cv, whlch ls an exhaustlve, nonselectlve
rehashlng of everythlng you've every done ln your llfe-every publlcatlon,
every presentatlon, every tlme you ever went to the bathroom. 0kay, |ust
klddlng on that last polnt.
Cantankereus tssues-and 5eme Areas eI Agreement
The blggest area of dlfferlng oplnlon seems to lle ln the recommended length
for an lndustry Cv. Academlc Cvs can run 10 pages or more for a sclentlst wlth
a decade of experlence. Although everyone l lntervlewed agreed that thls aca-
demlc length would be lnapproprlate for lndustry, hlrlng managers
have varylng oplnlons about how much they want to see from
thelr appllcants:
"l'd recommend no more than two pages," sald Ken Kodllla,
vlce presldent of manufacturlng at heogen Corporatlon (Lan
slng, Mlchlgan), "but more lmportantly, l thlnk that formattlng
are crltlcal."
"Two or three pages would be 0K, |ust don't send me a too-
long academlc verslon. lf you have 10 or 12 publlshed papers,
|ust llst the three or four most lmportant ones," says ur. 8urt
Fnsley, an entrepreneur and angel lnvestor who has launched
several companles, and who earned hls strlpes at Amgen.
"l llke to see three or four pages of lnformatlon that ls
relevant to the |ob at hand, plus an appended publlcatlons
llst," sald one dlrector of research at a large pharmaceutl-
cal company who wlshed to remaln anonymous. "lt's not
all that dlfferent from an academlc Cv, but please don't
forget the personal contact lnformatlon at the top-home
address, phone, and even cell phone."
My own recommendatlon has always been to wrlte thls
document as succlnctly as posslble. The average length for an
lndustry Cv for someone comlng out of a postdoc and golng lnto
lndustry ls three or four pages, lncludlng publlcatlons, and l
don't thlnk any of my contacts, even those above, would have
lssues wlth a well-wrltten and nlcely formatted three-pager that
lncludes publlcatlons.
MediIying eur Academic Cv te Werk As an tndustry Cv
Some experts recommend trashlng your academlc Cv and startlng
fresh wlth a few new ldeas of how to present themselves. 0thers
say that you can slmply update and lmprove lt, focuslng on the
followlng categorles:
Centact inIermatien. As mentloned above, make lt clear how to
connect wlth you ln your personal tlme. "Put lt ln bold text. h]k
tells us that we can't contact you at your place of work, so you wlll
need to have home address and phone there for thls purpose,"
sald one of my anonymous pharma contacts.
5ummary. l found conslderable reslstance to leadlng off the Cv
wlth a statement of your career ob|ectlves. Thls really took me
by surprlse. That brlef paragraph below the contact lnformatlon
ls very commonplace ( l.e., "Seeklng a responslble posltlon ln an
lndustry lab dolng cancer research.") 8ut l found that most hlrlng
managers belleve that a "summary" statement ls preferable.
"l llke to see resumes that start off wlth a summary of what they
brlng to the table," sald uonna ulmke, senlor dlrector of human
resources at human Cenome Sclences (kockvllle, Maryland). Pat
Abbott, prlnclpal consultant at venture Forward Partners, a 8oston
Cet a summary
up front,
to descrlbe
your area of
speclalty and
a few of your
and then fll
out the detall
ln the work
Chapter 2
blotech consultlng frm, agrees wlth uonna. "Cet a summary statement up
front, to descrlbe your area of speclalty and a few of your quallfcatlons, and
then fll out the detall ln the work experlence paragraphs below."
ducatien. }lm Calvln, vlce presldent at 0n Asslgnment]Lab Support (Prlnc-
eton, hew }ersey), says, "Make sure your educatlonal lnformatlon ls easlly
declpherable and that lt can be gleaned wlthln the frst few seconds of vlew-
lng the resume, whlch means up front lnstead of after the Fxperlence sectlon.
Also, lt helps to have the Ph.u. followlng your name at the top-you've
earned lt." There was wlde agreement on thls one.
PreIessiena| experience. unlversally, hlrlng managers and human resources
people want to see your work experlence llsted ln reverse chronologlcal
order. hever, ever get lnto those alternatlve layouts you see wrltten about ln
books for the lay publlc. "l sometlmes see all these great thlngs that some-
one has accompllshed, but wlthout the speclfc detall of where and when
they have done those thlngs," sald uon 8ergmann, senlor vlce presldent at
Tenglon, lnc., ln Klng of Prussla, Pennsylvanla. 8ergmann ls referrlng to the
"functlonal style" resume so often descrlbed ln resume books. lt ls clear from
everyone l spoke wlth, and from my own experlence, that you veer from thls
reverse chronologlcal order only at your own perll.
Pub|icatiens. here's another area where you'll fnd a great varlety of oplnlon.
lndustry managers, ln general, are far less concerned about seelng every one
of your publlcatlons than the academlc hlrlng commlttee you were trylng to
lmpress when you put together your academlc Cv. l agree wlth 8urt Fnsley,
who sald that only your most lmportant publlcatlons need be present. The
goal ls to conserve space and keep lt short and readable. ou can always add,
"Full publlcatlons llst sent upon request."
uavld 8omzer, a former Sricrrc Careers columnlst and a senlor h]k profes-
slonal, remlnded me that an lndustry Cv "doesn't focus excluslvely on technl-
cal knowledge. our technlcal knowledge, educatlon, thesls toplc, and publl-
catlons sectlons are] usually just thc prirc of entry for belng consldered." ln
an lndustry Cv, 8omzer says, there's a subtle polnt-of-vlew dlfference. More
on 8omzer's polnt ln thls artlcle's closlng sectlon.
5ki||s and techniques. Many people lnclude an area llke thls on thelr lndustry
Cv, and there ls nothlng wrong wlth lt unless you go overboard. "Sure, l
want to know what skllls you have, but l want an honest assessment. lf l see
that you are 'skllled' ln 50 dlfferent technlques, l know wlth some degree of
certalnty that you are belng a blt lenlent wlth the word 'skllled.' lf you can
do a technlque rlght now wlthout any help, then you are skllled ln lt," sald
frequent forum contrlbutor Ken Flanagan of Cenentech about thls toplc area.
Most of my hlrlng-manager frlends llke to see skllls ln evldence on the Cv,
but they cautlon me that lt can palnt you lnto a box, so you should adapt
your skllls and technlques sectlon to the |ob you are applylng to. 8etter yet,
lncorporate thls skllls lnformatlon lnto the brlef descrlptlons you glve of the
work lnvolved ln each |ob llstlng.
emzer's '5ubt|e Peint-eI-vew' 5hiIt
Cives eur 0ecument Mere Punch
Farller ln thls plece, l descrlbed a resume as havlng a great deal
more self-promotlon ln lt than a Cv. The same ls true of the lndus-
try Cv, whlch alms to grab a blt of that promotlon and focus lt on
the employer's needs. ou certalnly don't want to put out a Cv that
makes you look llke a sales rep candldate (unless that's the klnd
of |ob you are applylng for!), but you must conslder the document
you've prepared from the vlewpolnt of the reader. The lndustry Cv
needs to answer-or allow the person readlng lt to answer for hlm
or herself-questlons llke these: what can thls person do to help
us solve the problems we are faclng! wlll thls person brlng a set of
skllls and abllltles that mesh wlth what we have now!
ln closlng, let me pass along the advlce of an lndustry hlrlng
manager, frlend, and advlser:
A ncJicrrc Cv (stylistirclly, rct with rcspcrt tc ycur crtucl cxpcr-
tisc crJ crrcnplishncrts| crJ c lct cj rctwcrkir is ucrcrtccJ
tc ct ycu c jcb. A sturrir Cv crJ rc rctwcrkir is cquivclcrt tc
plcyir lcttc.-Kevln Foley, Ph.u.
Writin a Winnin Cover Letter
8y }ohn K. 8orchardt- Flrst publlshed March 10, 2006

our currlculum vltae cover letter ls both an lntroductlon

and a sales pltch. "lt should show what sets thls lndlvldual
apart from all others," advlses professor }effrey Stansbury,
chalr of the faculty search commlttee at the uepartment of Cra-
nlofaclal 8lology of the unlverslty of Colorado School of uentlst-
ry ln uenver. Llke any good sales pltch, your cover letter should
motlvate the customer to learn more about the product-ln thls
case, you.
A good cover letter, llke a good sales pltch, has several char-
acterlstlcs. Flrst, llke a good doctor, lt does no harm, lt avolds
maklng a negatlve lmpresslon. Second, lt demonstrates that the
product sults the consumer's-your future employer's-speclfc
needs. Thlrd, lt assures the customer that the quallty of the
product (you!) ls superb. Accompllshlng all thls ls easler sald than
done. So how do you wrlte a cover letter that wlll do you |ustlce
and earn an lntervlew! Flrst you need a plan.
1he 0bjective
"A successful candldate lmpresses the commlttee rlght off wlth
the cover letter and makes the commlttee members actually want
The lndustry
Cv needs
to answer
llke these:
what can thls
person do to
help us solve
the problems
we are faclng!
wlll thls
person brlng
a set of skllls
and abllltles
that mesh wlth
what we
have now!]smart
Chapter 2
to dlg through the Cv and recommendatlon letters to pull out the detalls
that start to valldate the posltlve clalms," says Stansbury. "lt also provldes
a gllmpse lnto the appllcant's personallty and glves some guldance as to
whether or not they can communlcate ln an organlzed, effectlve way."
0ne of the most lmportant |obs of any good sales pltch ls to avold dolng
harm. Some cover letters, says kobert horvltz, chalr of MlT's 8lology uepart-
ment search commlttee, may lnadvertently convey negatlve lmpresslons of a
candldate, especlally lf they "look sloppy or lndlcate an lnablllty to commu-
nlcate ln Fngllsh." "These thlngs can klll someone's chances," adds Kenton
whltmlre, chalr of the Chemlstry uepartment at klce unlverslty ln
houston, Texas.
horvltz adds that cover letters "should be neat and professlonal" and ft
on one page. whltmlre would allow appllcants a blt more room, the letter,
he says, should be "no longer than one to two pages." To keep lt short, "the
cover letter should not reproduce the lnformatlon ln the Cv, publlcatlons llst,
or other documents provlded," says whltmlre, "but lt should be used as a ve-
hlcle to hlghllght those thlngs that the candldate belleves wlll make hlm]her
a good match for the posltlon at hand."
1he Match
An effectlve cover letter doesn't |ust emphaslze your best qualltles, lt also
shows how well those qualltles are llkely to mesh wlth the open posltlon.
"Appllcants should begln by readlng advertlsements for faculty posltlons
carefully and be sure that thelr background and goals are approprlate for the
posltlon ln questlon. ou lose credlblllty lf you can't make a case that you ft
the ad," says whltmlre."lf the cover letter ls to be effectlve, lt must defnltely
be tallored to the partlcular lnstltutlon."
"There's no excuse for not wrltlng a cover letter that shows how your educa-
tlon, experlence, and lnterests ft wlth what the lnstltutlon ls seeklng," warns
}ulla Mlller vlck, co-author of the ArcJcnir /cb Sccrrh hcrJbcck (unlverslty
of Pennsylvanla Press, }uly 2001). "hot dolng thls would refect lazlness," ob-
serves horvltz. At best, adds vlck, "a form letter or one that ls generlc doesn't
accompllsh much and leaves how the appllcatlon ls revlewed completely up
to the revlewlng commlttee." At worst, a generlc cover letter can make you
seem undeslrable.
"whlle many people applylng for academlc posltlons tend to thlnk that the
revlew process ls an evaluatlon of thelr prevlous work-how good ls lt!-the
lssue that ls as lmportant ls the match," says whltmlre. "how wlll thls person
ft ln here! The former ls necessary, but the declslon to lntervlew wlll often be
made upon research area or some other measure of ft to the department's
needs at that moment ln tlme."
8egln by learnlng about the department ln general and the open posltlon
ln partlcular. uepartment websltes are a good startlng polnt, but don't stop
there, go beyond the publlc lnformatlon and seek a sense of perspectlve. "lt
ls best lf candldates speak wlth thelr advlsers]mentors to get some feel for
the lnstltutlon where they wlsh to apply," whltmlre suggests. Close senlor
colleagues can serve the same purpose. kead beyond the |ob ad and fgure
out what they're really looklng for.
0nce you've got a fx on the lnstltutlon, the department, and the
open posltlon, ask yourself what abllltles or speclal qualltles a
candldate needs to excel ln that posltlon. Then determlne whlch of
your quallfcatlons and accompllshments wlll partlcularly lnterest
thls department. Thlnk about your research plans, past research
accompllshments, speclal pro|ects, and prevlous employment.
what evldence can you put forward that your background
and plans prepare you well for thls openlng! how well do your
research lnterests match those descrlbed ln the advertlsement!
how well wlll they complement the work of the current faculty!
how wlll your presence there make the department better! All thls
lnformatlon wlll determlne what to emphaslze ln your cover letter.
Writing the edy eI the Letter
our research accompllshments and plans should constltute the
body of your cover letter for a research unlverslty posltlon. At
lnstltutlons where teachlng ls the prlmary emphasls, your prlmary
focus should be your teachlng experlence, phllosophy, and
goals-and the sultablllty of your research program to a teachlng-
focused envlronment.
"An outllne of plans for teachlng and research needs to be
speclfc to be meanlngful," says Stansbury. Focus on your most
lmportant two or three examples of proposed research pro|ects
and lnnovatlve teachlng plans such as developlng novel courses.
These examples should change from one cover letter to another as
you customlze your letters for dlfferent |obs.
1he 0pening
After the body of your cover letter has been drafted, you come to
the most crltlcal step: wrltlng an attentlon-gettlng lntroductlon.
Salespeople call thls "havlng a handle." our handle ls what you
offer that makes you especlally well quallfed for a partlcular
faculty openlng. For example, summarlzlng how well your research
lnterests match those the department advertlsed provldes an ef-
fectlve letter openlng.
The openlng paragraph should be short but more than |ust one
sentence. After you've captured the reader's attentlon wlth the
handle, clearly but brlefy summarlze your most lmportant-and
relevant-quallfcatlons. Anythlng less than a sharp focus, and
your readers wlll qulckly lose lnterest and move on to the next
manlla folder.
C|esing the Letter
Fnd your letter declslvely. uon't let lt meander to an lndefnlte
or weak close. A strong close pro|ects an lmage of you as an as-
sertlve, confdent, and declslve person. lt never hurts to close by
requestlng an lntervlew.]smart
Chapter 2
Make your cover letter an example of your best wrltlng by edltlng lt carefully.
lt must be easy to read. Focus and clarlty of expresslon ln your letter lmply
focus and clarlty of thought-very deslrable qualltles ln a faculty member.
Then return to the crltlcal lssue-whether your research lnterests, other
quallfcatlons, and personallty meet the search commlttee's requlrements.
Anythlng that doesn't accentuate the match should be ruthlessly deleted.
Then set your letter aslde for a day or two before edltlng lt agaln. The
detachment you galn from thls short break wlll help you see what you've
wrltten more clearly. uetachment makes lt easler to determlne whether your
paragraphs fow smoothly from one to the next. The loglc that seemed so
obvlous when you were wrltlng may seem much less so a day or two later.
Carefully revlew both your cover letter and Cv to be sure the lnformatlon ln
them ls perfectly conslstent. 0ften, a commlttee won't bother to try to resolve
any dlscrepancles they fnd, they'll |ust move on to the next appllcatlon.
Flnally, whltmlre advlses, "8e sure to have your cover letter revlewed by
someone who] can be trusted and who has experlence. 0ften, gettlng a
second oplnlon about how somethlng sounds to the reader-l.e., what
they got from readlng the letter, not what you lntended ln wrltlng lt-can
be very valuable."
f-Persona hon 0rata: 5trateizin
our 0nline Persona
8y Peter Flske- Flrst publlshed }uly 25, 2008
bout three years ago, l was slttlng at my desk at work, mlndlng my
own buslness, when l got an e-mall from a colleague lnvltlng me to
|oln Llnkedln. "what ls thls Llnkedln thlng anyway," l asked myself,
"some sort of pyramld scam!" l thought hlghly of the person who sent me
the lnvltatlon, so l went to the Llnkedln webslte to see what lt was about. At
the tlme, l dldn't see how lt would help me, so l dldn't |oln.
A few months later, a summer lntern who was worklng wlth me sent an
e-mall lnvltlng me to |oln hls Llnkedln network. when l falled to respond after
a few days, he confronted me. l admltted that l was not uslng the servlce.
"l have spent years developlng a professlonal reputatlon and bulldlng a
network of colleagues and frlends," l told hlm. "why would l want to show all
that off to the rest of the world!"
More lnvltatlons came ln. Fventually, one came from a very senlor execu-
tlve l regarded very hlghly. l could not refuse hls lnvltatlon. l had no clue how
a tool such as Llnkedln (or Facebook , or other soclal]buslness networklng
sltes) would help me. l was now commltted to fndlng out.
eur -persena: tt's Mere 1han |ust Linkedtn
Fven lf you refuse to slgn up for any soclal-networklng sltes, there
ls lnformatlon about you on the lnternet. Are you famlllar wlth the
term "vanlty Coogle"! lf not, search onllne for lt, then search for
your name. lt's lnterestlng what comes up, lsn't lt! Thls ls your e-
persona: the record of yourself as preserved and presented on the
web. Fvery employer conslderlng hlrlng you wlll llkely search on-
llne for your name. l do lt wlth everyone who makes my shortllsts.
0nllne soclal-networklng sltes can be a part of your e-persona,
and unllke the lnternet as a whole, you can control what ls ln your
profle on these sltes. For thls reason alone, actlvely managlng
your e-persona through use of an onllne soclal network ls a good
ldea. Llke a well-composed resume or cover letter, a well-con-
structed e-persona refects a measure of thoughtfulness, profes-
slonallsm, and competence. whether lt's a personal webslte or
your Llnkedln or Facebook profle, puttlng forward a consclously
concelved professlonal lmage can't hurt.
The corollary ls also true: Sophomorlc, sarcastlc, or lnapproprl-
ate materlal can be a lastlng llablllty. Many storles clrculate about
employers who checked out a prospectlve employee's Facebook
page only to fnd embarrasslng photos and comments.
1hree Ceed Uses (and 0ne Rea||y ad 0ne) Ier 0n|ine
5ecia|-ketwerking 5ites
|ob searches: ou can use onllne soclal-networklng sltes ln a
number of valuable ways for your |ob search. ou can fnd con-
tacts ln companles or organlzatlons that lnterest you through your
network of frlends and colleagues (and the people they know).
ou can research people ln these companles and learn about thelr
lnterests and backgrounds (a good way to prepare for lntervlews).
ou can also fnd people through your frlends' networks who
may be sultable for an lnformatlonal lntervlew, lnformatlonal
lntervlews can be a powerful means of lnvestlgatlng careers and
employers that lnterest you--and slgnallng your lnterest ln them.
PreIessiena| netwerking: Fven when you are rct looklng for a |ob,
you can use onllne soclal-networklng sltes to scan for opportunl-
tles. Connectlng wlth people ln dlfferent organlzatlons and under-
standlng who knows whom wlthln your network are very powerful
assets for professlonal advancement. l've found lt lnterestlng to
observe how my network connects to those of my frlends and have
dlscovered several lndependent mutual acqualntances. ln a few
cases, thls unexpected llnk has led to new opportunltles. Many
soclal-networklng sltes have an array of functlons and features
that allow you to search for people: past frlends and colleagues,
people who do lnterestlng work at lnterestlng companles, and so
on. Some of these sltes allow you to post and respond to ques-
tlons, get recommendatlons, or get lntroduced to other experts.
wlth people ln
and under-
standlng who
knows whom
wlthln your
network are
very power-
ful assets for
Chapter 2
5ecia| netwerking: 0nllne tools can help you fnd new and old frlends and
get connected to fun thlngs that have nothlng to do wlth work. From the
formal ( to the lnformal (, to Facebook, there are
numerous ways to fnd others wlth blzarre and obscure lnterests slmllar
to yours. Staylng connected to your classmates and alums from your past
schools could be especlally valuable, there's no clear dlstlnctlon, after all,
between your personal and professlonal networks. For forelgn natlonal grad
students and postdocs, thls may be partlcularly lmportant: our expatrlate
communlty can be a powerful and hlghly motlvated resource network for you.
Facebook allows users to very easlly set up affnlty groups of people wlth
slmllar lnterests.
Ce||ecting Links and friends Ier the 5ake eI Bigh
kumbers (Bint: A ad tdea)
Fven wlth a clear ldea of what you hope to accompllsh wlth these soclal-
networklng tools, lt's easy to mlsuse or overuse them. l have come across
profles of folks on Facebook who clalm to have more than 500 frlends and
folks on Llnkedln wlth 500-plus contacts, l suspect thelr defnltlon of "frlend"
ls more elastlc than mlne. lf you llnked to every slngle person who ever gave
you a buslness card, you probably could, over tlme, accumulate 500-plus
llnks. 8ut how many of these people would remember you! And does thls
large but undlfferentlated llst of llnks do anythlng more for you than provlde
the world wlth a copy of your address book!
So, whom should you lnclude on your llst of llnks or of frlends! lf the
person called you at work, would you take hls or her call! lf so, then he or
she probably would be approprlate for your Llnkedln network. lf thls person
called you on Frlday evenlng, would you take hls or her call! lf so, accept thelr
offer of Facebook frlendshlp. uo you send out Chrlstmas cards to 500 people
every year!
lt ls okay to "dellnk" people from your network lf you dlscover that the con-
tact ls not valuable or ls never used, most sltes make the "dellnklng" process
lnvlslble to the other party. Fxperts recommend that you perlodlcally cull your
llst of contacts and throw out the ones who aren't actlve.
1he Warm Centact A|ways Wins
The power and sheer multltude of web-based networklng tools underscores
a fundamental fact: our real network, not a bunch of names ln the Frlends
column of Facebook, ls your most lmportant professlonal and personal asset.
our network wlll be the source of your future employment, many of your
future frlends and colleagues, and, qulte often, your spouse.
0nllne tools expand the ways you can connect to others, but they cannot
substltute for face-to-face encounters. whether ln an lnformatlonal lntervlew,
a professlonal mlxer, or a soclal gatherlng, personal contact lmparts
momentum to your |ob search and professlonal llfe. lf you have a cholce
between addlng fve more connectlons to your Llnkedln llst or golng out to
lunch wlth a member of your network, choose lunch.
Additiena| Artic|es 0n|ine
1oolin 0p: 0efyin 0ravity]10.1126]sclence.caredlt.a080012
1oolin 0p: 0n Readhunters]10.1126]sclence.caredlt.a0800058
1oolin 0p: Put 5ome Muscle Into our Marketin Materials]10.1126]sclence.caredlt.a0800026
Maximizin Productivity and Reconition, Part 2: Collaboration
and hetworkin]10.1126]sclence.caredlt.a0800016
1oolin 0p: heotiatin oot Camp]career_magazlne]prevlous_
1he 0readed Phone Interview]career_magazlne]prevlous_
1he Real 0eal vs. Well-0iled: Who 0ets the 0ffer?]career_magazlne]prevlous_
1his booklet is also available online at sciencecareers.orJ
1ips for Publishin in 5cientic |ournals
8y Katrlna Kelner- Flrst publlshed Aprll 6, 2007
strlng of lmpresslve publlcatlons can propel a young sclentlst to the
next academlc stage, whereas an lnsuffclent publlcatlon record can
derall a career. Publlcatlons are the maln way sclentlsts publlclze thelr
work, and ultlmately, lt ls by thelr papers that they wlll be |udged.
So what makes a good paper! The most fundamental lngredlent ls excellent
research. work wlth the best sclentlsts you can, ln the best lab you can fnd.
ou wlll absorb the most about dolng excellent sclence lf you are surrounded
by lt durlng your tralnlng. Then make sure that the questlons you lnvestlgate
are lmportant and of lnterest to others ln the feld. As an edltor at Sricrrc,
l see that the most successful papers are those that present lnnovatlve re-
search. 8ut the best papers also present thelr story ln a clear and loglcal way.
The thlnklng behlnd the paper ls clear, so the wrltlng ls clear. wrltlng research
papers wlth all these qualltles can requlre a blt of strateglc thlnklng, practlce,
and know-how.
3. 5kills for the Academic
Cheese a Ceed nvirenment Ier Pub|ishing
0ne of the slgns you should look at when chooslng a lab for
your thesls or postdoc ls the group's publlcatlon record. Look for
conslstent output of good publlcatlons, because thls wlll tell you
that the lab ls run well and that the lab head manages research
pro|ects successfully. ulfferent members of the lab should also
be llsted as frst authors, because thls wlll show that pro|ects and
credlt are dlstrlbuted. Make sure that the papers are ln |ournals
ln whlch you would want to publlsh. Then read the papers to fnd
out about the wrltlng skllls of the lab's sclentlsts. Are the papers
clearly wrltten! uld they convlnce you of the lmportance of dolng
the experlments! Can you easlly tell what the lmportant conclu-
slons are!
The best way for you to learn to wrlte frst-class papers ls by get-
tlng as much practlce as posslble. 8efore decldlng what lab to |oln,
as you examlne the facllltles and fnd out what lt ls llke to be part
of the team, also make sure to ask about the wrltlng process. uo
postdocs or graduate students get to wrlte the frst draft! uo they
get valuable lnput from the head of the lab and other colleagues!
0r does the head of the lab |ust wrlte the paper and show lt to the
student or postdoc, whlch wlll not be so useful to them!
1hink in figures
0nce you are worklng ln your new lab and produclng data at full
speed, you have to |udge when you have enough data to wrlte a
paper. wrlte too soon, and you may be wastlng your tlme. walt too
long, and you rlsk gettlng scooped. Stop and wrlte when the data
are suffclent to tell a story that ls complete and makes sense. The
key ls to constantly keep the paper ln mlnd whlle you are perform-
lng the experlments. Thlnk about the fgures that can already go
lnto the paper and the lnformatlon they wlll contaln. The reader
must come to the same concluslons you have solely on the basls
of your results. So ask yourself whether, after grasplng the results
presented ln your fgures, the reader wlll be led to the correct
overall concluslon. what convlnclng experlment mlght be mlsslng!
Are there alternatlve explanatlons! lf so, what data wlll you need
to collect to ellmlnate that other posslblllty! 8efore performlng a
new experlment, always ask yourself how lt wlll contrlbute to the
loglc of the publlcatlon.
As you are lmmersed ln the detalls of your work, lt may be
dlffcult to remaln ob|ectlve and see the holes. Test your reason-
lng on colleagues by asklng them whether you told a loglcal and
convlnclng story after glvlng a talk from your assembled fgures,
for example.
Cheese an Apprepriate |eurna|
Almlng your paper at the most approprlate |ournal can save much
effort and reveal your results to the world sooner. The so-called
top |ournals value novelty and unexpected fndlngs, but other
|ournals may be more lnterested ln careful, extenslve analyses of
ln the eyes
of your
edltors and
quallty of
the paper
you send
ln dlrectly
refects the
quallty of
the sclence
behlnd lt.]smart
Chapter 3
for the
crltlcal (e.g., blologlcal) processes. Survey the varlous |ournals and see where
your work would ft best. Cet advlce from colleagues and others ln the feld
who have experlence as authors, revlewers, and |ournal edltors. lt may be
temptlng to send your paper to a top |ournal even lf your results are not of
the hlghest novelty or broadest lnterest. 8ut you can save tlme and reduce
your frustratlon lf you send lt to the approprlate |ournal frst lnstead of walt-
lng untll lt's re|ected by a top |ournal.
5ubmit a Bigh-qua|ity Paper
ln the eyes of your readers-edltors and revlewers lncluded-the quallty of
the paper you send ln dlrectly refects the quallty of the sclence behlnd lt. A
careless approach to wrltlng can undermlne the most metlculous experlment.
lt ls thus crltlcal that the paper be free of careless errors, especlally ln the
data. Check and recheck that all lnformatlon ls conslstent, that the lmages
and graphs represent what you say they represent. Agaln, fgures are your
best ally to convey your story, so make them easy to understand. Fach fgure
should make only one or a few related polnts, and together they should make
all the paper's lmportant polnts ln an easy-to-grasp manner. Put as much
lnformatlon about the data and the condltlons of the experlment dlrectly on
the fgure as you can. The fgure legend ls lmportant, but the less the reader
has to refer back and forth to lt, the better.
uo not neglect the form. lt ls crltlcal that the paper ls wrltten clearly and
that lt contalns no spelllng or grammatlcal errors, and that the loglc ls crlsp
and clean. Show your paper to your most crltlcal frlends and colleagues and
take thelr advlce serlously. Also make sure that all authors have seen and
approved the submlsslon!
Be|p nsure 1hat the Review Precess Cees 5meeth|y
}ournals can be run by professlonal edltorlal staff (such as Sricrrc, whlch re-
celves about 12,000 submlsslons per year) or by academlcs who take on the
role of edltor for a defned perlod of tlme. 8oth types of edltors send papers
out to peer revlewers-worklng sclentlsts who evaluate your paper for ac-
curacy, loglc, and sclentlfc lnterest. Some |ournals (such as Sricrrc) have an
lnltlal screenlng step ln whlch papers unllkely to make lt through the revlew
process are re|ected. Sricrrc edltors make these lnltlal screenlng declslons
wlth advlce from the 8oard of kevlewlng Fdltors, a group of more than 100
worklng sclentlsts.
kevlewers are chosen by the edltor on the basls of thelr expertlse ln the
feld, often utlllzlng extenslve databases assembled by the |ournal and the
edltor's knowledge of the area. Some sclentlsts are better revlewers than oth-
ers-they are more crltlcal and thorough, a fact that qulckly becomes known
to edltors. The revlew process can take anywhere from a few days to several
weeks. After revlew, the edltor makes a declslon about publlcatlon, taklng
lnto account all of the feedback he or she has recelved. The edltorlal goals of
the |ournal-sometlmes |ournals declde that certaln areas are of partlcular
upcomlng or lessenlng lnterest-factor lnto the declslon, as does knowledge
about the revlewers themselves and the background behlnd thelr oplnlons.
ou can help the revlew process go smoothly by provldlng a cover letter
that lncludes, ln very clear language, a conclse verslon of the whole loglc of
the paper that makes clear lts lmportance and context. lf there are any speclal
conslderatlons that the edltor and revlewers should take lnto ac-
count, lnclude these ln the cover letter. These mlght lnclude lnfor-
matlon about your own avallablllty, related work belng revlewed at
other |ournals (from your lab or other labs), or the names of other
sclentlsts who are worklng on the same problem and so would
have a conflct of lnterest ln revlewlng your paper. Keep the llst
short, otherwlse, the edltor wlll be forced to lgnore your llst or get
an unlnformed revlew. lf lt ls necessary to ask that a few lndlvldu-
als be excluded from revlew, explaln why.
All of the related data not lncluded ln the maln body of the paper
should be clearly accesslble to the revlewers, elther as an appen-
dlx or through a publlcly avallable database.
Respend te Reviewers' Cemments Pesitive|y
and Censtructive|y
Cood news: The |ournal wants to publlsh your paper. Stlll, only on
rare occaslons wlll revlewers recommend that your paper be ac-
cepted wlthout revlslon. hew experlments-usually ones that can
be done wlthln a few weeks-are often among thelr requests for
revlslons. Sricrrc edltors also often glve authors extenslve advlce
on how to revlse thelr papers.
kemember that the edltor and revlewers are lnterested ln your
paper. They want to see lt lmproved and publlshed. ou lncrease
the chances of your paper belng accepted lf you make the as-
sumptlon that the revlewers are offerlng thelr suggestlons as
constructlve crltlclsm. Make all posslble attempts to comply wlth
thelr requests, lncludlng performlng extra experlments, even lf you
thlnk they are unnecessary. 0f course, sometlmes the revlewers'
requests are mlsgulded or based on faulty reasonlng. ln these
cases, especlally lf you have agreed to address the rest of the
revlewers' comments, the edltor may be wllllng to conslder a
reasonably worded argument that the request does not need to be
fulflled for acceptance of your paper.
when you send your revlsed paper back to the |ournal, you
should lnclude a detalled, polnt-by-polnt explanatlon of how you
have addressed each of the revlewers' and edltor's comments.
kemember that the edltor may send your responses to the
revlewers, so lf you are refuslng to address one of the referees'
comments, you should word your argument carefully to be clear
but not offenslve.
Always treat the revlewers' comments and motlves wlth respect.
lt ls never a good ldea to engage ln personal attacks or observa-
tlons about revlewers or revlews. Also be pollte to your edltor.
The edltor wlll be most dlsposed to work wlth you when lt ls not
unpleasant to do so.
Bew te 0ea| with Rejectien
ln splte of your best efforts, you have recelved a re|ectlon letter
from the |ournal of your cholce. Thls does not mean that your]smart
Chapter 3
for the
paper ls not good. At Sricrrc, we have to re|ect more than 90 percent of the
papers submltted to us.
A re|ectlon can be upsettlng, and lt ls often senslble to let at least 2 hours
pass before thlnklng about your next steps. lt ls not a good ldea to fre off an
angry e-mall to the edltor explalnlng why the |ournal's process was unfalr and
blased. lf, after careful conslderatlon, you thlnk there has been a mlsunder-
standlng or error, some |ournals wlll entertaln a request for reconslderatlon,
usually ln the form of a clear letter or message explalnlng your polnt of vlew.
Some edltors mlght be wllllng to have a phone conversatlon.
ln most cases, the best and most tlme-effclent course ls to reassess qulckly
your cholce of |ournal, fx any weaknesses that may have been polnted out ln
the revlew process, reformat the paper for your second-cholce |ournal, and
send lt off. About 70 percent of papers re|ected by Sricrrc are eventually
publlshed elsewhere. Fven a submlsslon that ends ln re|ectlon ls an opportu-
nlty to hone your wrltlng and edltlng skllls.
faculty Positions: 5eekin the 5kills for a
5uccessful Career in Academia
8y Fmma hltt- Flrst publlshed }anuary 25, 2008
enure-track faculty members must not only thlnk well, but they must
also wrlte well, speak well, and lnteract wlth people well. They should
have a keen buslness sense and be adept ln managlng budgets,
pro|ects, and people. Paradoxlcally, they must be fercely lndependent, yet
able to collaborate well wlth others. They must be confdent enough to know
when they've found a sclentlfc truth, but humble enough to admlt when
they are wrong. They should be klnd enough to mentor younger sclentlsts,
but stlngy enough wlth thelr tlme to be able to manage lt well. ln addltlon,
faculty members must have a drlvlng passlon toward thelr research and be
wllllng to devote a herculean effort over many years. uesplte these strlngent
requlrements, many can and do succeed ln academla. The key, lt seems, ls
maklng a consclentlous effort to develop the necessary skllls early on. ln
thls artlcle, people who have achleved hlgh levels of success ln academla
provlde speclfc, practlcal advlce to others who would follow ln thelr path.
Passien-fue| 1hat fans f|ames eI 5uccess
0ne resoundlng theme from successful faculty members ls that one has to
have passlon. Thls ls somethlng that cannot be felgned, learned, or co-
erced-lt elther exlsts or lt does not. "There has to be an lnherent lnterest,
whether lt ls derlved from a crystalllzlng experlence such as a parent dylng
of cancer, or from a value system that has developed wlthln a person," says
Mary uelong, dlrector, 0ffce of Postdoctoral Fducatlon at Fmory unlverslty,
whlch oversees career development for nearly 500 postdoctoral fellows. ln
addltlon to cultlvatlng a passlon for one's work, uelong also mentlons that
durlng the postdoc years, developlng a track record of performance through
publlshlng papers and fully researchlng opportunltles ln the feld
are probably the most lmportant steps. "8ut passlon ls what wlll
carry a postdoc through the challenges," she says.
}oseph Coyle, wlth harvard Medlcal School, who has studled
schlzophrenla and other neurologlcal dlsorders for more than 0
years, was drawn lnto hls career path early on. "l'd say for most
of my llfe l never saw myself as golng to work, l saw myself as
golng to do somethlng l totally en|oy," he says. "lf lt's drudgery,
you ought not do lt. 8ut lf research lsn't your passlon, then a Ph.u.
can afford many dlfferent opportunltles, such as patent law and
sclence wrltlng. ou don't have to feel trapped."
5tanding upen the 5heu|ders eI Ciants
A large proportlon of Ph.u.s ln the sclences go on to seek a
postdoc posltlon-about 77 percent of Ph.u.s ln the blologlcal
sclences and 61 percent ln the physlcal sclences, accordlng to a
2006 hatlonal Sclence Foundatlon report. 0ne of the frst steps
ln graduate school and beyond ls to seek out mentors who wlll
provlde guldance but who wlll also foster lndependence, says
hancy Schwartz, who conducts research on proteoglycan synthe-
sls at the unlverslty of Chlcago. Schwartz states that, for better or
worse, she was forced lnto thlnklng lndependently early on durlng
her career because of the lntermlttent absences of her thesls and
postdoctoral advlsers. She doesn't recommend that as a sltua-
tlon to seek out, "but really, lt ls each lndlvldual's responslblllty to
garner what they thlnk they need from many other colleagues and
mentors, throughout thelr career."
Story Landls, dlrector of the uS hatlonal lnstltute of heurologl-
cal ulsorders and Stroke (hlhuS), who was ln academlc research
for many years, also recommends belng assertlve about seeklng
out opportunltles for oneself. "Farly on ln my career, senlor people
often gave me the opportunlty to wrlte revlews or to speak at
meetlngs, and thls really helped develop my skllls."
however, both Schwartz and Landls polnt out that one has to be
careful about taklng on too many admlnlstratlve dutles that would
lnterfere wlth lab and teachlng dutles-thls, they say, ls especlally
lmportant for women and mlnorltles to remember, slnce they are
frequently unrepresented on panels and often asked to partlclpate
ln thls way.
wllllam Mobley at Stanford unlverslty suggests avoldlng
admlnlstratlve responslbllltles when posslble, "except those you
thlnk would be fun to do and that would dlrectly beneft your
career and your sclence, such as partlclpatlng ln grant revlews-
there wlll be more tlme to focus on these types of responslbllltles
later on," he says.
ke Man (er Weman) ts an ts|and
Another key component of a successful academlc career ls the abll-
lty to establlsh collaboratlons wlth other researchers and learnlng
Managlng a
lab ls really
a small
and these
are skllls
that, for
the most
part, are
not taught
ln graduate
school or
durlng a
Chapter 3
for the
to depend on the help of others. Thls, of course, can be especlally challenglng
for young sclentlsts who, ln the cruclble that ls graduate school, slowly come
to achleve academlc lndependence. Mobley, however, advlses postdocs and
|unlor faculty to seek out collaboratlons. "Sclence ls too dangerous to do
alone-too dauntlng, too lonely, and too huge," he says.
"As you transltlon from belng a postdoc to havlng your own lab, you start to
rely on other people and thelr efforts more and more," notes klchard 8ucala,
a researcher ln rheumatology at ale. "0ne should never be afrald about hlr-
lng or collaboratlng wlth somebody who ls smarter. l thlnk that's the only way
that one can really advance and grow."
uennls Llotta, whose lab at Fmory ldentlfed the hlv drug emtrlcltablne,
advlses postdocs and |unlor faculty to fnd some colleagues that they respect,
and make lt thelr buslness to develop a genulne and colleglal relatlonshlp
wlth them. "These relatlonshlps should also extend out of the unlverslty and
lnto other labs and lnstltutlons to provlde a fresh perspectlve," he says.
Winning at the Lab usiness
An lmportant transltlon perlod ls movlng from belng a postdoc to startlng
one's own lab, whlch presents a set of novel challenges. Mobley suggests that
people slgnlng up for an asslstant professorshlp seek a posltlon where the
salary and necessary startup equlpment costs are covered for at least a full
three years. "lf they can't offer you that, then they don't want you enough,
and that's not the place to go," he notes.
kegardlng salary, accordlng to a 2006-07 survey by the Amerlcan Assocla-
tlon of unlverslty Professors, salarles for full-tlme faculty averaged $73,207.
8y rank, the average was $98,97 for professors, $69,911 for assoclate
professors, $58,662 for asslstant professors, $2,609 for lnstructors, and
$8,289 for lecturers, although these fgures are not speclfc for the sclences.
Managlng a lab ls really managlng a small buslness and these are skllls
that, for the most part, are not taught ln graduate school or durlng a
postdoctoral posltlon, Schwartz says. "ou're managlng people and budgets,
and you're seeklng fundlng, and then you're responslble for how those
funds are spent." She recommends taklng at least a few days to learn about
budgetlng, and mapplng out a pro|ected budget of what everythlng ls golng
to cost. "Some of our |unlor faculty are totally astounded when they see how
fast grant or startup money goes because they have not really consldered the
costs," she says.
when lt comes to managlng people, lab tech and postdoc underllngs are
golng to look to the leader of the lab, l.e., the new |unlor faculty member, to
set the standard for that lab. "whatever tlme ln the lab that you set for your-
self, that wlll tend to be the standard," says Llotta. "So, lf you want people to
work evenlngs and weekends, then you wlll have to show up then also. Cood
students wlll often show up regardless, but that extra motlvatlon of havlng
thelr boss there ls helpful."
lt's also lmportant to seek out the klnd of staff, such as students and post-
docs, that wlll meet expectatlons, Schwartz advlses. "ou have to be expllclt
about your expectatlons, lf you plan on worklng 15 hours a day ln the begln-
nlng, then you want a lab staff that wlll be wllllng to match that llfestyle." ou
also have to learn to let go and let people make mlstakes, "otherwlse, you're
not golng to allow people to become lndependent thlnkers and do-
ers. They're golng to develop more of a 'technlclan' mentallty."
Creative funding 5trategies
A prlmary stressor that affects even seasoned faculty ls fundlng.
Coyle polnts out that when hlh fundlng ls more dlffcult to obtaln,
as lt ls now, the most creatlve sclence, or sclence from younger
faculty, may sometlmes be passed over ln favor of the less rlsky, or
the trled and true.
however, Landls notes that the hlh has commltted to fund as
many frst tlme k01 appllcants ln 2007 and agaln ln 2008 as the
average of the past fve years. "hlhuS funded k01s to the 25th
percentlle whlle experlenced lnvestlgators were guaranteed fund-
lng lf they got a 9th percentlle, and overall we funded 15 percent
of research pro|ect grants," she noted.
Coyle suggests seeklng out alternate fundlng sources such as
varlous foundatlons or nonprofts. "There ls a lot more foundatlon
money out there than there was when l started out," he says. "l
thlnk even baslc sclence, even someone who's golng to be dolng
baslc blologlcal research should thlnk about the potentlal cllnlcal
appllcatlons and should look for opportunltles to get support from
relevant foundatlons that are lnterested ln the cllnlcal aspects of
the research."
8ucala also advlses young faculty to thlnk outslde the box when
lt comes to defnlng thelr research. "0ne has to be opportunlstlc.
lf one ls really, for lnstance, captlvated by the blochemlstry of
proteln klnases, you don't necessarlly have to work on klnases ln
oncogenesls. ou can work on them as they relate to learnlng and
memory or host defense mechanlsms. ou can't let yourself be
constralned necessarlly by a partlcular appllcatlon," he says.
however, Llotta advlses staylng away from a "brute force
approach" to gettlng funded. "The most lmportant aspect for
gettlng fundlng ls puttlng together a well-thought-out proposal,"
he says. Llotta also suggests waltlng to get results that are
suffclently compelllng and provocatlve, and are llkely to get the
attentlon of the study sectlon. "lf they see a medlocre proposal
from you several tlmes, then they're golng to assoclate you wlth
medlocre sclence."
1eaching the 1eacher
Teachlng represents yet another obllgatlon of a |unlor faculty
member, and that teachlng has to be balanced wlth research, lab
management, and admlnlstratlve dutles. Accordlng to Mobley, lt's
lmportant to understand from others what the best teachlng styles
are. "Try to convey your lnformatlon as clearly and as slmply as
posslble but engage your students-get students to help them-
selves learn, and glve them opportunltles to speak to you."
"Teachlng and research are lntlmately lntertwlned," says Llotta.
"lf you're a good researcher and you don't know how to com-]smart
Chapter 3
for the
munlcate those results, you're not golng to be very effectlve." Llotta recom-
mends uslng a camcorder to tape a few teachlng sesslons to ldentlfy and try
to ellmlnate any ldlosyncrasles. "Many people have hablts that they don't
reallze and they're probably relatlvely easy to correct." he also polnts out that
good notes and preparatlon can go a long way ln produclng a well-organlzed
lecture ln the beglnnlng.
P|aying Pe|itics
The word "polltlcs" carrles many meanlngs, but ln sclence, lf polltlcs means
formlng collaboratlons and generally gettlng along wlth people, then lt plays
a valuable role ln advanclng a career. 8ut such polltlcs cannot substltute for
good sclence. "l certalnly know some people who |ust spend thelr whole
day on the telephone talklng to everybody and fndlng out what everybody
else ls dolng," Schwartz says. "lt's far better to focus on dolng, not |ust
talklng, sclence."
"ln academlc clrcles, good sclence, not polltlcs, always wlns," says Mobley.
"Playlng polltlcs ls potentlally damaglng. Focus on your sclentlfc teachlng,
avold polltlcs ln any way-only people who can't do sclence play that game,"
he adds.
Coyle agrees. "l've not been lmpressed that playlng polltlcs ls the way to
get ahead. l am lmpressed that lf you really focus on your sclence, especlally
ln the beglnnlng of your career, and be very defenslve about preservlng your
tlme to do your sclence, then that's probably the most lmportant way of get-
tlng ahead academlcally," he says.
1enure 1rack
Accordlng to the howard hughes Medlcal lnstltute, a tenure-track
posltlon ls one that leads to a permanent professorlal appolntment
and potentlally full salary support lf grant fundlng runs out. A
faculty member can be fred only for llmlted reasons, such as gross
mlsconduct. ln general, a tenure-track faculty member wlll hold a
posltlon for about fve years before a formal declslon ls made on
whether tenure wlll be granted.
ln zoo, among sclence and englneerlng doctoral degree holders
who recelved thelr degrees wlthln the past four to slx years, ap-
proxlmately 20 percent were ln tenure-track or tenured posltlons at
four-year lnstltutlons of hlgher educatlon, accordlng to a hatlonal
Sclence Foundatlon report. The percentage rates for lndlvlduals ln
varlous degree felds are as follows: Fnglneerlng 16.3, Llfe Sclences
18.0, Physlcal Sclences 16.7, Soclal Sclences 30.8.
Leve eI Learning
whlle there may seem to be an overwhelmlng array of skllls to master for
tenure-track doctors of phllosophy, "phllosophy" does ln fact mean "love of
wlsdom." And lf there's one slngle, defnlng characterlstlc among academ-

lcs, lt may be |ust that. Schwartz, therefore, advlses approachlng
the mastery of these tasks as a llfelong learner, whlch makes lt all
more palatable.
"lf you thlnk about the |ob of a unlverslty faculty member, we're
ln a unlque posltlon," says Llotta. "we can do whatever klnd of
research we want to do and have the opportunlty to work wlth
brlght young people year after year. we can go out and talk about
our work wlth colleagues at meetlngs, we tend to have falrly fex-
lble schedules so we can do a lot of lnterestlng thlngs, and you
know-that's a fantastlc |ob."
Additiena| Artic|es 0n|ine
Learnin the Ropes of Peer Reviewin]10.1126]sclence.caredlt.a0800122
Maximizin Productivity and Reconition, Part 1:
Publication, Citation, and Impact]10.1126]sclence.caredlt.a0700155
If at first ou 0on't 5ucceed, Cool 0ff, Revise, and 5ubmit Aain]10.1126]sclence.caredlt.a0800123
Masterin our Ph.0.: 0ivin a 0reat Presentation]career_magazlne]prevlous_
i 5cience at a 5mall Collee]10.1126]sclence.caredlt.a0700171
Make Way for the hext 0eneration: |unior faculty Are Movin In]10.1126]sclence.opms.r0700038
Community Collee faculty: Must Love to 1each]10.1126]sclence.caredlt.a07007
A 0uide to h5f 5uccess]10.1126]sclence.caredlt.a0700108
1his booklet is also available online at sciencecareers.orJ
1oolin 0p: 1hree Cateories of Rules
8y uavld C. }ensen- Flrst publlshed uecember 21, 2007
any of my columns here descrlbe dlffcultles people experlence
when they dlscover how dlfferent llfe ls ln lndustry than ln aca-
demla. Fach sector has lts own rulebook, new graduates often feel
they've been thrown lnto the fre when they make the change to a company
employer. The conventlons at work ln lndustry aren't taught ln college.
Mlchael Zlgmond of the uepartment of heurosclence at the unlverslty of
Plttsburgh ln Pennsylvanla runs the hlghly regarded "Survlval Skllls and Fth-
lcs Program" semlnars held each year ln Aspen, Colorado. he told me recently
that he belleves there are three categorles of rules that we come across ln our
work llves. The rules themselves may dlffer, but Zlgmond's categorles hold
true no matter where you work.
"Flrst off, there are rules that are true and whlch deserve that dlstlnctlon.
ln academla, one example of thls category would be the rule that 'kesearch
equals experlments plus publlcatlons,'" Zlgmond explalned to hls class ln
Aspen. "Another type of rule ls one whlch ls true, but whlch shouldn't be.
Some examples are 'Always have prellmlnary data for proposals,' or 'Always
do hypothesls-drlven research.' Lastly, some rules are rct true but shculJ be.
'Cood teachlng ls essentlal to promotlon' ls an example that l polnt to from
4. Craftin an Industry Career
the world of academla, where countless students have wondered
how some people have moved up the ranks."
Sometlmes a rule from the unlverslty clashes wlth a rule from ln-
dustry. Conslder Mlchael's frst example: kcsccrrh = Fxpcrincrts
+ Publircticrs. would you land a |ob at a top-tler blotech company
lf you went to an lntervlew espouslng that as a guldlng rule for
your career! ho way!
ln lndustry lt looks llke thls: kcsccrrh = Fxpcrincrts + PrcJurts.
The slngle most lmportant evldence of productlve research ln ln-
dustry ls the development of research appllcatlons that can return
value on shareholders' lnvestments. Most of the tlme thls means
products. Although at some polnt ln a well-run research organlza-
tlon you wlll be able to publlsh your work, lt only ever happens
after the company has protected lts lntellectual property.
Sometlmes ln thls column l polnt out how a rule rcclly works
or make you aware of a rule that you may not have known about.
That's my |ob here. Sometlmes l try to help you learn to work
wlthln the rules. And sometlmes my columns tell you how to work
around the rules.
Thls tlme l provlde some examples of rules from the blotechnol-
ogy lndustry lndexed lnto ur. Zlgmond's three categorles. Studylng
rules from the three categorles wlll help you come away wlth a
better understandlng of how company pollcy and polltlcs lmpact
llfe ln a company and why, on occaslon, lt ls better to clrcumvent
rules than to follow them.
Ru|es 1hat Are 1rue and Which 5heu|d e
BOZKPC kead the |ob ads and you'll notlce that good communl-
catlon skllls are mentloned ln more than half. lnslders know thls
ls more than standard hk-speak. Fmployers can't help but be
lmpressed wlth good communlcators, because anyone who runs
a |ob ad knows these people are few and far between. lf someone
asked me what the ho. 1 sklll ls that lmpacts hlrlng declslons, lt
would be thls one. And communlcatlon skllls are crltlcal for mov-
lng up the ladder once you have that posltlon.
lnternet, headhunters, networklng-don't mlss any of these when
you go looklng for a new posltlon. 8ut stay partlcularly close to
your networklng contacts. hetworklng ls a llfe sklll and not |ust a
|ob-search tool. Llke communlcatlon skllls, networklng can help
you get a |ob-and then help you perform well once you've got
lt. Those who learn lt early and practlce lt often are among the
successful people ln sclence. ears from now, you'll have new
opportunltles to thank the contacts you make today, assumlng, of
course, that you make those contacts.
who learn
early and
practlce lt
often are
among the
people ln
ears from
now, you'll
have new
to thank the
contacts you
make today,
assumlng, of
course, that
you make those
Chapter 4
an Industry
dence rules ln academla. Collaboratlon and teamwork get a lot of llp servlce,
even ln academla. And ln fact, even there some value lt and do lt well. et a
lab of your own, tralnees asslstlng you, your own grants-all these aspects
of lndependence are essentlal to success at a unlverslty. 8ut that's not what
lndustry employers want or need. The blologlsts and chemlsts who dlscover
a new drug work closely wlth the englneers who scale lt up and turn lt lnto a
product. 8oth those groups rely on teams of regulatory and cllnlcal profes-
slonals to help take the next steps. "Teamwork" ls more than a buzzword ln
lndustry, lt's a way of llfe.
Ru|es 1hat Are 1rue ut 5heu|d ket e
|ob ln the blotech lndustry where successful people work a normal 0-hour
week! l don't thlnk so. "hormal" was replaced long ago by early-mornlng
meetlngs, evenlng work, and Saturdays ln the offce or lab. Success ln elther
track-academlc or lndustry-starts at 50 hours a week and may average
60 to 65. wouldn't lt be nlce for your famlly and outslde lnterests lf thls rule
were not true! A recent work-llfe balance feature ln Sricrrc Careers featured
an artlcle on part-tlme sclentlsts and another on corporate work]llfe pollcles
that lnclude part-tlme work. So thls rule may not be unlversally true, but lt
almost ls.
your |ob searches occur whlle you're stlll young. 0nce you're past about 5,
searchlng for a |ob becomes very dlffcult, assumlng you're approachlng lt vla
the usual anonymous appllcatlon. Although lt rarely rlses to the level of overt
age dlscrlmlnatlon, employers often note your years of experlence and use
words llke "overquallfed" to descrlbe you. lt's wlse to have a large bank of
networklng contacts, an establlshed reputatlon, and a head of steam when
you face a sudden, unexpected, late-career |ob search.
KPC lt would be great lf there were blotechnology clusters equlvalent to
San ulego, San Franclsco, or 8oston ln all reglons. 8ut desplte the many
states where pollcy makers promote blotechnology as a future economlc
development englne, there probably never wlll be more than 10 or 12 ma|or
blotechnology clusters ln the unlted States. very llkely, ln the future as ln the
present, the great ma|orlty of good blopharma |obs wlll be ln blotech centers
at the coasts. lt's a tough reallty for a person wantlng to stay ln the Mldwest.
0f course lt's always posslble that other blotech centers could develop, such
as agrltech ln the Mldwest, or nanoblo ln Texas.
Ru|es 1hat Are ket 1rue ut 5heu|d e
are the frst thlng you'd thlnk of when someone moves up the ladder lnto a
management |ob. unfortunately, lt doesn't always work that way. Sometlmes
the person the most skllled ln company polltlcs gets promoted lnstead of the
one wlth the best leadershlp skllls. Then, there's that excellent
communlcator who |ust talks hls or her way lnto the |ob, desplte
thelr lack of leadershlp ablllty.
ln academla not to worry about a |ob-to focus lnstead on dolng
good sclence. unfortunately, for a lot of people thls approach
doesn't work. ln lndustry, you have to be able to communlcate
your strengths, whlch can be really dlffcult. ou need to stand
up for who you are and what you are good at-a type of ethlcal
self-promotlon that ls very dlffcult for many sclentlsts to get thelr
arms around. Movlng past the ethlcal polnt-to self-promotlon
not grounded ln ablllty-looks llke playlng polltlcs. That klnd of
self-promotlon ls rlsky.
and sclentlfc skllls don't necessarlly go hand ln hand. There's a
lack of lnterpersonal-skllls tralnlng and evaluatlon ln academla,
whlch leaves many technlcal people bellevlng that declslons
about thelr future wlll be based upon thelr sclentlfc credentlals
and not those "soft skllls" l talk so much about ln Toollng up. 0f
course, lt's posslble for really brllllant sclentlsts to succeed wlth-
out soclal skllls-we've all known frst-rate academlc sclentlsts
who succeeded vla sheer brllllance, never mlnd the fact that no
one could stand worklng wlth them. 8ut unless you're really cocky
about your sclence-or totally lacklng ln soclal potentlal-your
chances of success wlll be better lf you bathe, communlcate, and
treat your colleagues wlth respect.
0iIIerent Ru|ebeeks Ier 0iIIerent nvirenments
At a recent AAAS semlnar ln San Franclsco, our lnvlted panel
lncluded two of our Sricrrc Careers ulscusslon Forum advlsers
and two senlor executlves from the local blotech lndustry. The goal
that nlght was to dlscuss the lessons our speakers had learned
along the way, what mlstakes they had made, and to pass thelr
wlsdom along to the younger folks ln the audlence.
The common thread ln all the speakers' remarks was that the
"rulebook" ls dlfferent ln lndustry. All these professlonals had
succeeded, but for every one there was a tlme ln thelr careers
when they were polsed between |umplng over the wall between
academla and lndustry and falllng through the cracks. 0nly by
learnlng all three types of rules-and how they dlffer from one |ob
sector to the other-dld they navlgate the move from an academlc
lab to an lndustry |ob.
skllls are the
frst thlng
you'd thlnk
of when
moves up the
ladder lnto a
lt doesn't
always work
that way.]smart
Chapter 4
an Industry
1ransferable 5kills and Portable Careers
8y Chrlstle Aschwanden- Flrst publlshed Aprll 20, 2007
uccess ln today's |ob market requlres more than |ust solld lab skllls
and a stack of publlcatlons. whether seeklng tenure-track academlc
|obs, lndustry research posltlons, or nontradltlonal sclence careers,
many |ob seekers are fndlng that a well-honed plpette thumb ls not enough
to land them an offer. "l don't know anyone who's gotten a |ob who spent
thelr postdoc at the bench the whole tlme," says Crystal lcenhour, who
was recently hlred as vlce presldent and dlrector of research at luX Labs, a
startup ln Charlottesvllle, vlrglnla.
Postdocs must develop skllls beyond the laboratory lf they're to be com-
petltlve ln the tlghtenlng |ob market, says lcenhour. where nonacademlc |obs
once requlred skllls that dld not carry over to academla, that's not necessarlly
the case these days, says Cregory Kopf, who spent more than two decades
at the unlverslty of Pennsylvanla before movlng to wyeth kesearch. he has
slnce returned to Penn as an ad|unct professor. "when l frst started ln aca-
demla, the tralnlng sklll sets were very dlfferent for lndustry and academla,
but the llnes are startlng to become a lot more blurred," says Kopf. "Leader-
shlp, pro|ect management skllls, the ablllty to develop goals and manage
budgets and your lab-these are skllls that are |ust as lmportant for aca-
demla as for lndustry."
The ablllty to work well ln a team ls the ho. 1 sklll that lndustry employers
look for, says hell Stahl, senlor vlce presldent of research and development
sclences at kegeneron Pharmaceutlcals ln Tarrytown, hew ork. "ou have to
be able to sort through lssues and communlcate effectlvely ln a nonthreaten-
lng way."
Academlc sclentlsts also need team skllls so they can work effectlvely on
commlttees and form successful collaboratlons. kunnlng a lab or worklng on
a research team both demand strong lnterpersonal skllls and dlplomacy. "ou
have to be able to say the rlght thlngs wlthout antagonlzlng your colleagues,
and that's a sklll that many postdocs don't have," says Chee-Keng hg, a prln-
clpal research sclentlst at wyeth 8lopharma ln Andover, Massachusetts. "we
need people who can ft lnto the teamwork culture."
whether the goal ls to secure hlh fundlng or to sell the corporatlon on a
novel ldea, success hlnges on the ablllty to communlcate. "how you pack-
age and present your data matters, especlally ln a large company," says hg.
"ou need to be able to communlcate well, especlally to people who aren't
as expert as you. ou have to be able to explaln the sclence to the managlng
dlrector on the pro|ect," says Stahl.
Pro|ect management ls another sklll ln hlgh demand. "ln academla, you
have to manage your research so you're competltlve for the next fundlng
round. ln lndustry, you have very tlght tlmellnes, and you have to manage
your pro|ect so you can meet those deadllnes," says Kopf. Meetlng pro|ect
goals requlres effectlve management of people and tlme, yet many postdocs
don't recognlze the lmportance of honlng management skllls untll they start
sendlng out thelr resumes, says Phlllp Cllfford, assoclate dean
for postdoctoral educatlon at the Medlcal College of wlsconsln ln
"when you get to a postdoc, there are vlrtually no rules," Cllfford
says. Many postdocs lock themselves ln the lab and hope that
thelr toll wlll pay off ln publlcatlons that lead to the |ob they want.
"People feel that they need to do pro|ect after pro|ect and publlsh,
publlsh, publlsh," Cllfford says, but he suggested that they need
to develop skllls beyond the bench too, even lf lt means gettlng
out of the lab.
Charting a Path
From the start, postdocs should ldentlfy the skllls they need
to make themselves marketable ln thelr chosen career path so
they can maxlmlze thelr tralnlng, and the sooner the better, says
Cllfford. "we propose that people go through a self-assessment
process to ldentlfy thelr own values, skllls, and lnterests and then
look at the potentlal unlverse of |obs that ft those," he says. webslte offered by AAAS (Amerlcan
Assoclatlon for the Advancement of Sclence) and books llke
Cynthla kobblns-koth's Altcrrctivc Ccrccrs ir Sricrrc: lccvir
thc lvcry 1cwcr are good places to start. "uo some lnformatlonal
lntervlews wlth people ln the career path you're lnterested ln and
fnd out what skllls they use, then fgure out what you need to
do to get them," says Cllfford. Some lnstltutlons employ career
counselors that speclallze ln sclence. For lnstance, the Medlcal
College of wlsconsln has hlred a career advlser speclfcally to work
wlth postdoctoral fellows and medlcal students.
kobert Tlllman, postdoctoral program coordlnator at hew ork
unlverslty School of Medlclne, advlses buddlng sclentlsts to create
an lndlvldual development plan (luP), through a process llke the
one developed by the FASF8 Tralnlng and Careers Commlttee.
Creatlng an luP lnvolves a four-step process to ldentlfy a well-
sulted career path and formulate a plan to achleve lt. Tlllman's
lnstltute has adopted luPs as part of lts postdoctoral handbook.
"lt's a way to focus my strengths and weaknesses ln relatlon to my
goals," Tlllman says. "lf l'm a postdoc and ln four years l want to
become faculty, what do l need to do to achleve that! how do l get
there!" An luP provldes the roadmap for gettlng from a postdoc to
a dream |ob.
Some postdocs expect that they wlll try for a tenure track
research posltlon and, lf that doesn't work out, then they'll thlnk
about a plan 8. 8ut thls type of approach sets postdocs up for fall-
ure, says Cllfford. "Keeplng your optlons open ls exactly the wrong
approach. ou're not really dolng the thlngs that wlll dlrect you
toward a speclfc career." There slmply aren't enough tenure-track
posltlons to go around, so postdocs should have an alternate plan
ln place from the start, Cllfford says.
Many postdocs tell themselves that lf they don't land a |ob at
a top research lnstltutlon, then they'll |ust apply for a teachlng]smart
Chapter 4
an Industry
posltlon. 8ut that's a mlstake, too, says Cllfford, because teachlng-orlented
unlversltles want people wlth proven teachlng skllls. "lf your goal ls to work
at a teachlng lnstltutlon, you need to fgure out how to get that experlence,"
he says. kegardless of what career path you hope to follow, "you need to
ldentlfy the sklll sets that are necessary for that career optlon, and fgure
out how you're golng to get those," says Cllfford. Someone seeklng a |ob ln
blotech, for lnstance, mlght conslder a buslness course or even an M.8.A., he
Managing te Learn
8ench skllls are |ust one component of a successful sclence career, yet
they've long been the focus of graduate and postdoctoral tralnlng programs.
"whether you run your own academlc lab or take a posltlon at a company,
learnlng how to manage people, pro|ects, and budgets are necessary skllls,
but tradltlonal graduate and postdoctoral tralnlng do not offer formallzed
courses ln these toplcs," says Carth Fowler, outreach program manager
for 8ut that's changlng as AAAS,,
and other organlzatlons step ln to fll the vold wlth courses and workshops
devoted to these toplcs.
ln 2002 and 2005, the 8urroughs wellcome Fund and the howard hughes
Medlcal lnstltute partnered on a course to teach laboratory management
skllls to postdocs and beglnnlng faculty members. Though the course's focus
stood squarely on the needs of the academlc sclentlst, many of the skllls
taught, such as tlme management, pro|ect management, collaboratlons,
and mentorlng, carry over to nonacademlc |obs as well. 0rganlzers have
turned the course lnto a book, Mckir 1hc kiht Mcvcs: A Prcrtircl CuiJc 1c
Sricrtir Mcrccncrt Fcr PcstJcrs ArJ Ncw Fcrulty avallable for free from
the hhMl webslte (]resources]labmanagement).
ln 2005 organlzers of the 8wF]hhMl program put on a "traln the tralners"
course ln an effort to encourage slmllar programs at lnstltutlons across the
country. "They wanted to spread the wealth," says Llsa Kozlowskl, asslstant
dean for postdoctoral affalrs and recrultment at Thomas }efferson unlverslty
ln Phlladelphla. Kozlowskl attended the course and then, wlth support from
AAAS and, collaborated wlth three other Phlladelphla-
area lnstltutlons to develop a lab management course for postdocs from all
four lnstltutlons.
A total of 55 postdocs enrolled ln the Phlladelphla Sclentlfc Management
Course, whlch ls ongolng and spllt lnto four sesslons spread over fve
months (www.t|]}CCS]postdoc). Toplcs lnclude leadershlp skllls, tlme
management, pro|ect management, fundlng, mentorlng, and landlng a
faculty posltlon. vera hlntz, a postdoc ln T}u's department of dermatology,
ls attendlng the course and says lt prodded her to look for opportunltles to
galn skllls that wlll enhance her resume. when she looked at |ob ads, she saw
that many wanted experlence plannlng meetlngs, so she volunteered to help
plan the T}u's postdoctoral research symposlums. hlntz says the course has
taught her to vlew her career as a pro|ect that she needs to manage, rather
than |ust somethlng that slmply unfolds on lts own.
Laboratory management courses llke T}u's are becomlng more com-
mon. Last hovember, the hew ork unlverslty School of Medlclne, also wlth
support from AAAS and , put on a two-day workshop,
Management Skllls for Sclentlsts, open to 25 people. "we wanted
lt small so lt would be lnteractlve," says Tlllman of hu. Postdoc
Marle-hlne uelmotte attended the course and says lt helped
her recognlze that her lab skllls alone mlght not be enough to land
her the posltlon she wants. "My resume ls good but l reallzed that
l need more to fnd a |ob. l need to know myself and know how to
sell myself." uelmotte says the program helped her understand the
lmportance of developlng short-term and long-term goals for her
career. lnstead of focuslng solely on her research, she ls puttlng
energy lnto mentorlng, an effort that wlll pay off ln a sklll she can
add to her resume.
The management course ls |ust one way Tlllman's lnstltute ls
promotlng career development. The school's offce of learnlng and
development offers courses on toplcs ranglng from how to glve an
effectlve presentatlon to managlng conflct and runnlng meetlngs.
Tlllman says that hu also helps about a half dozen of lts postdocs
enroll ln a 16-week Fundamentals of the 8lotech lndustry course
at the Center for 8lotechnology, a state-funded center created to
support the reglon's growlng blotech lndustry.
Acting the Part
0f all the laboratory management courses that have sprung up,
perhaps the most lnnovatlve ls the Laboratory Management
lnstltute at the unlverslty of Callfornla, uavls. The lnstltute holds
a three-week lntenslve program dlvlded lnto fve courses: leader-
shlp, management, best practlces, mentorlng, and lnnovatlon.
Partlclpants come from a wlde range of dlsclpllnes and recelve a
certlfcate and 1 credlt hours through the uC-uavls extenslon.
The program's hallmark, Lab Act, employs professlonal actors to
play out the concepts explored ln the course. lnstructors dlscuss
strategles for handllng management lssues, then actors play out
scenarlos that workshop attendees anonymously submlt. Partlcl-
pants dlscuss what happened and work on new solutlons that the
actors then try out. "we're all about practlclng," says LMl dlrector
}ohn Calland. "we use Lab Act to allow students to try out dlfferent
solutlons wlthout puttlng anyone on the spot."
ln addltlon to the summer program, LMl offers a year-long
program for postdocs. "l'm lmpressed at how effectlve lt has
been to watch the actors role play," says partlclpant Tamara
holst, a postdoc at the Publlc lntellectual Property kesource for
Agrlculture. "lt's almost uncanny how well the scenarlos translate
across dlfferent labs, and the way to defuse a sltuatlon ls usually
slmllar across the board."
1aking the tnitiative
Formal programs llke LMl's are not yet the norm, but even wlthout
them, motlvated postdocs can fnd ways to develop useful and
necessary addltlonal |ob skllls. lcenhour of luX Labs made her
resume stand out from the rest by gettlng lnvolved ln the postdoc-]smart
Chapter 4
an Industry
toral assoclatlons at the Mayo Cllnlc ln kochester, Mlnnesota, and at uuke
unlverslty where she dld a second postdoc. She also |olned the board of
hatlonal Postdoctoral Assoclatlon and credlts thls experlence wlth teachlng
her the skllls she needed to land her current |ob as vlce presldent and dlrec-
tor of research.
"My hPA experlence really emboldened me," says lcenhour. "As a board
member of hPA you're revlewlng the employee handbook, revlslng budgets,
and runnlng commlttee meetlngs. The experlence lntroduced me to a lot of
the thlngs l do ln my dally work llfe now." hot every postdoc has the luxury of
enrolllng ln an lnstltute-sponsored program llke LMl, but as lcenhour's experl-
ence lllustrates, motlvated postdocs can create thelr own opportunltles to
learn skllls beyond the bench lf only they would step out of the lab.
0pportunities: More 5chool?
8y Peter Flske-Flrst publlshed May 11, 2007
n thls column, and ln every career workshop l lead, l emphaslze how
Ph.u. tralnlng can prepare you to be an adaptable problem solver,
capable of taklng on a wlde range of demandlng asslgnments wlth llttle
asslstance. ueveloplng your own research, tackllng a range of technlcal
challenges, fgurlng thlngs out on your own, and pulllng lt all together
lnto an orlglnal plece of scholarly research ls, l argue, very slmllar to the
real-world challenges entrepreneurs and other buslness leaders face when
they bulld companles. Llke the Ph.u., bulldlng a buslness ls about dolng,
not learnlng. So, ln some respects, a sclence Ph.u. ls excellent tralnlng for
people lnterested ln startlng-or leadlng-a buslness.
et, there's no doubt that entrepreneurshlp and buslness management
requlre skllls-accountlng, law, fnance, and a mllllon other toplcs-that no
Ph.u. program l know about teaches routlnely. So, lf you thlnk you mlght llke
to start your own company, or take on a hlgh-level role at an exlstlng early-
stage company, you're bound to conslder addlng an M.8.A. to your degree
collectlon. A Ph.u. ls great on fundamentals-lt teaches you how to make
somethlng completely on your own-but lt falls short on the practlcal stuff
every entrepreneur has to master. Those practlcal skllls are the speclalty of
the M.8.A.
So should you get one! And lf you declde to get one, how can you do lt
as cheaply and convenlently as posslble! These are the sub|ects of thls
month's "0pportunltles."
M..A. versus Ph.0.
Fach degree has lts merlts for entrepreneurshlp, and each glves you skllls and
experlence totally mlsslng from the other.
Most full-tlme M.8.A. programs take two years, and part-tlme programs
usually take three years or more. Most of the work ls coursework, wlth an
emphasls on practlcal skllls and "case studles": select vlgnettes used to ll-
lustrate speclfc lssues ln buslness. Full-tlme M.8.A. tralnlng usually lnvolves]smart
some practlcal work experlence-a pald lnternshlp, you mlght
say, usually between the frst and second years-whlch glves you
some extra experlence and helps pay some bllls.
The Ph.u., as most of you know, ls very dlfferent. unllke any
other professlonal degree, the Ph.u. ls about Jcir rather than
|ust lccrrir. Some argue that a Ph.u. lsn't a professlonal degree
at all-not a preparatlon for professlonal practlce-but, rather, an
opportunlty to acqulre knowledge for lts own sake. l thlnk thls ls
dlslngenuous and one of the problems wlth the Ph.u. degree-but
let's save that for another column. Although there ls a lot of
coursework at the beglnnlng of many Ph.u. programs, the text-
books tend to dlsappear after two years, lf not sooner. After that,
you drlll lnto a slngle sub|ect and work for years to produce an
orlglnal plece of scholarshlp largely by yourself. l have descrlbed
thls as belng marched to the edge of human knowledge and belng
told to take the next step on your own.
1e M..A. er ket te M..A. ...
lf you are gettlng or already have a Ph.u. and you thlnk you would
llke to steer your career away from the bench and toward busl-
ness-especlally entrepreneurshlp-you have two cholces: Co
back to school for the M.8.A., or make the transltlon to a startup
dlrectly. There are advantages to both approaches.
0ne of the prlnclpal advantages of an M.8.A. ls that the |ob
opportunltles at early-stage companles are excellent for M.8.A.
grads. hot only wlll you have all the knowledge and experlence
of a Ph.u., you'll also have the practlcal knowledge an M.8.A.
provldes. Add to thls the fabulous network you'll acqulre ln busl-
ness school-faculty members, fellow students, alumnl-and the
M.8.A. can be a compelllng path. Many of the people you'll be
learnlng from, and alongslde, have dlrect experlence ln the tech-
nology startup arena, so you'll have a lot of experlence to tap lnto.
The prlnclpal downslde of the M.8.A., of course, ls that lt takes
two more years of expenslve school-and lt's not only the tultlon
and fees that make lt expenslve. The opportunlty cost of those
two years-the salary and experlence you forgo to attend more
school-are even hlgher than the tultlon. lt's a good thlng these
masters of buslness earn a lot rlght out of school: There would be
no way to pay the cost otherwlse!
uependlng on your ambltlons, an M.8.A. may be completely
unnecessary. ln some lndustrles, such as blotech, the path to a
leadlng buslness role ls well establlshed for Ph.u. sclentlsts, even
those wlthout M.8.A.s. 8ecause the work ln blotech lnvolves a
hlgh technlcal component-and because many blotech companles
are started by Ph.u. sclentlsts-you'll fnd Ph.u.s throughout man-
agement. Software englneerlng startups may also recrult Ph.u.s
wlthout any buslness exposure. And lt mlght be posslble to |oln an
early-stage startup as a technlcal expert, lf you can manage, you
wlll have plenty of opportunlty to grow lnto a buslness role.
when to get an M.8.A. ls as lmportant a questlon as whether to
The prlnclpal
downslde of
the M.8.A., of
course, ls that
lt takes two
more years
of expenslve
lt's not only
the tultlon
and fees
that make lt
Chapter 4
an Industry
do so. Colng stralght from a Ph.u. to an M.8.A. ls not advlsable. For starters,
you'll be more attractlve to prospectlve M.8.A. programs lf you have a few
years of work under your belt. Second, gettlng multlple degrees wlthout ac-
cumulatlng real-world work experlence mlght turn off certaln-although cer-
talnly not all-hlrlng managers. So lf lt's posslble, work for a couple of years
before golng back to your M.8.A. our tralnlng mlght end up belng cheaper
thls way. 8est of all, lf you go to work frst, you may fnd you don't need an
M.8.A. after all to do what you want.
Baving eur |eb and ating tt 1ee
lt ls posslble to malntaln a professlonal career crJ get an M.8.A. by enrolllng
ln a part-tlme program that meets evenlngs, weekends, or both. Part-tlme
programs often are populated by people llke you: older, often technlcal,
steerlng thelr careers ln new dlrectlons. l got my M.8.A. at the unlverslty of
Callfornla, 8erkeley, ln the evenlng program, where two-thlrds of my class-
mates were englneers who worked full-tlme. There are lcts of part-tlme
M.8.A. programs, lncludlng a number that teach entlrely onllne. }ust llke full-
tlme programs, the reputatlons of part-tlme programs vary wldely. lf you are
lnterested ln worklng at a startup or an early-stage company, look for M.8.A.
programs that have a strong entrepreneurshlp focus. hot only wlll the currlcu-
lum be better sulted for your ambltlons, but the network and alumnl contacts
wlll be more frultful as well.
lf you are already employed, ask whether your employer wlll pay for some
of your M.8.A. tralnlng. Many, especlally larger, employers have programs
to subsldlze the cost of hlgher educatlon for thelr employees. ln my evenlng
M.8.A. program, two-thlrds of my classmates had some of thelr tultlon pald
by thelr employers. hearly 20 percent had all thelr tultlon pald for.
Rere are some factors that miht favor a decision to o back for an
M..A. to support your entrepreneurial ures.
ou want to make a career transltlon soon.
ou want to obtaln a breadth of sklll that would support an
entrepreneurlal career.
ou have one or more excellent, and approprlate, part-tlme or full-tlme
M.8.A. programs ln your reglon-assumlng you have geographlcal
our employer may subsldlze your M.8.A. educatlon.
Rere are some factors that miht steer you away from an M..A.
ou're not ln a hurry.
ou're ln a feld ln whlch technlcal people often move lnto management
and buslness roles wlthout addltlonal tralnlng.
There are no good entrepreneurshlp programs at any of the
buslness schools that are, reallstlcally, avallable to you.
The opportunlty cost of stepplng out of your career path would
be too hlgh-although you can stlll conslder a part-tlme
M.8.A. ln thls case.
whether an M.8.A. ls rlght for you ls, of course, a functlon of
where you want to go professlonally. helther degree ls a hedg-
lng strategy for professlonal lndeclslon! As wlth the Ph.u., the
best way to ensure that your lnvestment ln an M.8.A. pays off ls
to know what you want out of lt. That requlres some vlslon for
yourself and your professlonal future. That's somethlng you need
to sort out bcjcrc applylng.
Additiena| Artic|es 0n|ine
Ridden 1alents, Runry Markets: Ph.0.s Rave Many 5kills
to 0ffer Industry]10.1126]sclence.caredlt.a0700081
1oolin 0p: 1he finer Points of 0ivin a |ob 1alk]10.1126]sclence.caredlt.a0800093
1oolin 0p: fmployment 0ue 0ilience]10.1126]sclence.caredlt.a0700022
1oolin 0p: fmployment 0ue 0ilience, Part 2]10.1126]sclence.caredlt.a0700036
Industrial Postdocs: 1he Road Less 1raveled]10.1126]sclence.opms.r0800055
1he Postdoc fxperience: hot Always What ou fxpect]10.1126]sclence.opms.r0800058
Interdisciplinary Research: uildin rides, findin 5olutions]10.1126]sclence.opms.r0700032
1his booklet is also available online at sciencecareers.orJ
A Matter of Policy
8y 8rlan vastag- Flrst publlshed Aprll 18, 2008
n early 2005, }oseph helble, a chemlcal englneer, entered the leglslatlve
fast lane. A few weeks earller, the most powerful tsunaml ln decades had
swept across Southeast Asla. Senator }oseph Lleberman (lu-CT) wanted
to know why that reglon lacked a tsunaml warnlng system. So the senator
turned to helble, who was servlng ln Lleberman's offce as a koger kevelle
Clobal Stewardshlp Fellow. Fach year, that fellowshlp sends one mld-career
sclentlst or englneer to a government offce or nonproft organlzatlon to work
on global envlronmental pollcy.
"l walked out of Lleberman's] offce fgurlng, 0K, now l need to fgure out
how to do thls," helble says. The next few weeks were "lncredlbly hectlc."
helble qulckly studled tsunaml warnlng systems. he spoke wlth "everyone
and anyone" who worked on tsunaml warnlng technology and consolldated
hls fndlngs lnto a memo and presented lt to Lleberman, who declded on the
spot to sponsor a blll that would fund a $30 mllllon system. Soon after, helble
found hlmself answerlng questlons at a press conference called by Lleberman
to announce the leglslatlon.
"lt's not the sort of thlng you're prepared to do ln academlc work," helble
says, "but lt was very lllumlnatlng how qulckly thlngs can get done when a
leglslator] ls commltted to lt."
5. hontraditional Careers
Fach year, several hundred sclentlsts and englneers food Capl-
tol hlll and executlve branch agencles ln washlngton, u.C., to get
a taste of pollcy work. From 10-week get-your-feet-wet programs
for graduate students to multlyear stlnts for tenured faculty mem-
bers, sclentlsts and englneers en|oy plenty of opportunltles to
explore sclence pollcy as a career path or as a means to broaden
thelr knowledge and skllls.
After thelr stlnts ln washlngton, u.C., sclentlsts and englneers
head ln one of three dlrectlons, says Cynthla koblnson, dlrector
of Sclence and Technology Pollcy Fellowshlps at the Amerlcan
Assoclatlon for the Advancement of Sclence (AAAS, the publlsher
of Sricrrc and Sricrrc Careers) ln washlngton, u.C.: They go back
to academla, they stay ln the pollcy world, or they declde to do
somethlng completely dlfferent.
helble declded to return to academlc llfe, becomlng dean of the
Thayer School of Fnglneerlng at uartmouth College . As an admln-
lstrator, he constantly draws on hls washlngton, u.C., experlence.
"The skllls l learned are dlrectly transferable," he says.
Pe|icy |ebs Ier fermer fe||ews
Almost half of sclentlsts who do the AAAS Sclence and
Technology Pollcy Fellowshlps declde to stay ln pollcy.
8elow are some |ob tltles of former fellows:
Assoclate ulrector, whlte house 0ffce of Sclence
and Technology Pollcy
Presldent, hatlonal Center for Pollcy kesearch for
women and Famllles
Assoclate ulrector, hlcholas lnstltute of Fnvlronmental
Pollcy Solutlons, uuke unlverslty
Senlor Sclence Advlser, 0ffce of Sclence Pollcy and
Plannlng, hatlonal lnstltutes of health
water kesource Speclallst ln Agrlculture and kural
uevelopment for South Asla, world 8ank
Senlor Advlser, keglonal Conflct, uemocracy, and
Covernance, uS Agency for lnternatlonal uevelopment
kegulatory Analyst, 8lotechnology kegulatory Ser-
vlces, uS uepartment of Agrlculture, Anlmal and Plant
health lnspectlon Servlce
Speclal Pollcy Advlser to the Fxecutlve ulrector of the
world Food Programme, kome
Program 0ffcer, Sclence and Technology, Clobal uevel-
opment, 8lll & Mellnda Cates Foundatlon
Clobal ulrector, Fleet]Forces uepartment and head,
lnternatlonal Llalson 0ffce, 0ffce of haval kesearch,
uS havy]smart
Chapter 5
5avvy 5cientists
"0ur goal ls to have more pollcy-savvy sclentlsts out there ln the world,"
sald koblnson. "we belleve that's of value whether they stay ln government,
go back to academla, or go on to the prlvate sector or to a nonproft orga-
nlzatlon." Pollcy fellowshlps are also "a two-way street," she says, where
leglslators and government agencles beneft from the fellows' sclentlfc and
technlcal expertlse.
Llke helble, about a quarter of all AAAS fellows return to unlversltles or
take other nonpollcy |obs. 8ut almost half get "Potomac fever" and declde
to stay ln the pollcy world, elther as a return fellow or as a full-tlme employee
at thelr fellowshlp agency, at a dlfferent government offce, or at an outslde
Saharah Moon Chapotln ls one such fellow. She earned a Ph.u. ln plant
physlology from harvard unlverslty but "klnd of knew" she'd never become
a professor. She frst trled the 10-week Chrlstlne Mlrzayan Sclence and
Technology Pollcy Fellowshlp program offered by the uS hatlonal Academles.
Chapotln en|oyed worklng ln washlngton, u.C., so she applled for and won a
AAAS pollcy fellowshlp, whlch lasts one year wlth a second often avallable.
Chapotln ls ln her second year at uSAlu, where she en|oys the "blg plcture"
vlew that worklng on blotechnology safety lssues provldes-a vlew she never
had ln the lab. Chapotln ls hoplng to stay at uSAlu permanently to shepherd
the pro|ects she's been worklng on, such as a technology-exchange program
wlth west Afrlcan
cotton breeders.
whlle Chapotln ls worklng on pollcles related to her degree, many fel-
lows fnd themselves treadlng unfamlllar ground. Katherlne Seley-kadtke,
an assoclate professor of chemlstry and blochemlstry at the unlverslty of
Maryland, 8altlmore County (uM8C), spent a year at the uS State uepart-
ment as a }efferson Sclence Fellow, a program for tenured faculty members.
}efferson fellows typlcally spend a year full-tlme at the State uepartment and
then serve as lnformal advlsers for fve more years. Seley-kadtke was sent to
Moscow as a sclentlst-dlplomat to keep tabs on turmoll ln the kusslan Acad-
emy of Sclences. She soon found herself tasked wlth brlefng top uS embassy
offclals on kussla's new nanotechnology lnltlatlve. As an organlc chemlst,
Seley-kadtke wasn't an expert on nanotechnology. "8ut l certalnly am now,"
she says.
As sclentlsts, the }efferson fellows "know how to go fnd the rlght lnfor-
matlon," Seley-kadtke says. And then they have to turn around and com-
munlcate that lnformatlon to career dlplomats and other nonsclentlsts. As
lnformatlon "goes up the ladder, you certalnly don't want the wrong lnforma-
tlon gettlng to the people who make pollcy declslons," she says. "ou don't
want the secretary saylng the wrong thlng. So you need to understand the
technlcal detalls of a partlcular problem, even lf lt's not ln your area, and then
relate key polnts ln a nontechnlcal way."
1aking tt Beme
0ver and over, former and current fellows emphaslzed wrltten and oral com-
munlcatlon skllls as keys to success ln the pollcy world. "The klnd of wrltlng
you do, the qulck memos, lt's so dlfferent than wrltlng grant proposals and
papers," sald Seley-kadtke, who returned to her lab at uM8C but
contlnues to advlse the State uepartment on bloweapon threats.
helble added that learnlng how to negotlate on Capltol hlll wlth
"people wlth a broad range of dearly held oplnlons" has served
hlm well as a unlverslty admlnlstrator. Also, he says, "The tlme
scale ln academlc llfe ls very dlfferent. when an lssue comes up
on Capltol hlll], you need to dlgest lt, understand the sclence and
the ramlfcatlons of the sclence, and put lt together ln a coherent
one-page memo-and do that all wlthln an hour." At a unlverslty, a
slmllar pro|ect mlght drag on for months.
ln her keynote address at the AAAS Annual Meetlng ln 8oston,
Massachusetts, ln February, hlna Fedoroff, the State uepartment's
top sclence advlser, emphaslzed the growlng lmportance of pollcy-
savvy sclentlsts. She hlghllghted Alex uehgan, a former AAAS
sclence pollcy fellow at the State uepartment who persuaded
former lraql weapons sclentlsts to help rebulld thelr country.
uehgan, a behavloral ecologlst and conservatlon blologlst, also
persuaded |ournal publlshers to offer dlscount subscrlptlons to
lraql sclentlsts.
Fedoroff would llke to see more sclentlsts and englneers get ln-
volved ln lnternatlonal relatlons. "The ldea of servlng as a sclence
dlplomat ls only now gettlng on the radar screen of the average
englneer and sclentlst," sald Fedoroff. "8ut now ls the tlme for
sclentlsts to stop golng back to buslness as usual."
After hls tlme ln washlngton, helble, too, would llke to see
more of hls colleagues take a slmllar path. "Look at all the ls-
sues-cllmate change, stem cell research, general envlronmental
lssues, health care, energy-that have a fundamental sclentlfc or
englneerlng basls. And we complaln that these declslons are be-
lng made ln a vacuum wlthout slgnlfcant sclentlfc or englneerlng
lnput. well, the way to fx that ls for sclentlsts and englneers to get
lnvolved ln the pollcy process."
Workin as a Medical Writer
8y Sarah webb-Flrst publlshed }une 22, 2007
hen Kara hyberg was about halfway through her Ph.u.
ln molecular and cellular blology at the unlverslty of
Arlzona, she had a revelatlon. "As much as l love thlnk-
lng about sclence," she reallzed, "l don't actually llke dolng lt."
So she set out to fnd a way to use her sclence Ph.u. outslde
research. As she lnventorled her skllls, she reallzed that she re-
ally en|oyed wrltlng.
As she fnlshed her degree, she made contact wlth professlonal
organlzatlons llke the hatlonal Assoclatlon of Sclence wrlters
ldea of
servlng as
a sclence
dlplomat ls
only now
gettlng on
the radar
screen of
the average
englneer and
Chapter 5
(hASw) and the Amerlcan Medlcal wrlters Assoclatlon (AMwA). She took a
sclence-wrltlng course at the unlverslty of Arlzona and attended the Santa
Fe Sclence-wrltlng workshop. To galn wrltlng experlence, she wrote press
releases for the unlverslty of Arlzona's news offce. She defended her Ph.u.
ln 2003, moved to 8oulder, Colorado, and began worklng as a freelance medl-
cal wrlter.
Writing abeut Medicine
The term "medlcal wrltlng" encompasses dlfferent klnds of work for cllents ln
medla, government, and lndustry. Pharmaceutlcal companles, medlcal-devlce
manufacturers, and cllnlcal research organlzatlons (Ck0s) all employ wrlters
to prepare regulatory documents used to seek uS Food and urug Admlnlstra-
tlon (FuA) approval for drugs and devlces. Medlcal wrlters help doctors wrlte
research artlcles, monographs, and revlews on medlcal toplcs. Contlnulng
medlcal educatlon (CMF) companles employ medlcal wrlters to produce
educatlonal materlals and sllde klts that doctors and nurses use to prepare
for llcense renewals. Medlcal wrlters produce sales tralnlng materlals, press
releases for lndustry, and fact sheets or webslte materlals for government
organlzatlons. Medlcal wrlters also wrlte about research dlscoverles for medl-
cal |ournals, websltes, newsletters, magazlnes, newspapers, and any other
medlum that lncludes coverage of health and medlcal lssues.
5e|id Writing 5ki||s and C|ear Understanding
Sclentlsts lnterested ln a medlcal-wrltlng career should seek pro|ects
outslde the clrcles they normally move ln. Academlc papers and conference
proceedlngs make lousy wrltlng samples because they are dense and |argon-
laden, whereas the emphasls ln medlcal wrltlng ls on clarlty. Fmployers
(and potentlal cllents of freelancers) seek wrlters who can translate medlcal
studles lnto accurate but approachable language and tallor the lnformatlon
to audlences that lnclude regulators, health professlonals, lnvestors, or
the general publlc-but usually not all at once. Medlcal wrlters need solld
wrltlng skllls, attentlon to factual detall and accuracy, and the ablllty to see
relatlonshlps between ldeas and to organlze complex lnformatlon.
"ou need to get your wrltlng to where you're confdent ln your abllltles,"
says Fmma hltt, an Atlanta-based freelance medlcal wrlter. For some people,
thls mlght mean taklng a degree ln |ournallsm or technlcal wrltlng, but a "cou-
ple of wrltlng courses can show people that you're serlous about wrltlng," she
says. "And you can learn a lot on the |ob." AMwA provldes several certlfcate
programs that educate medlcal wrlters about the fundamentals of edltlng and
wrltlng, freelance wrltlng, and wrltlng for speclfc markets.
1we Ways tn
8ecause she wanted to be near her future husband, hyberg launched her
career from Colorado. She spent the frst few post-Ph.u. months networklng
and applylng for |obs. "lt was lnltlally extremely dlffcult gettlng that frst |ob
because l dldn't really have cllps, and l dldn't have any contacts," she says.
"8ut once l had some samples that l could show people, thlngs gradually
started to snowball from there."
how a medlcal wrlter ln Longmont, Colorado, Maggle Merchant was apply-
lng her Ph.u. ln blochemlstry and molecular and cellular blology at a small
blotech when the company declded to bulld up lts marketlng
department. She wrote the company's customer newsletter and
complled the frst consumer manual for lts product, exerclslng
her edltlng and wrltlng skllls to explaln the technology and the
product's use. That experlence allowed her to cross over to a full-
tlme wrltlng career.
Werking en a 1eam
ueanna heler, a managlng dlrector for Cllnlcal Care 0ptlons, a CMF
company based ln keston, vlrglnla, went stralght lnto freelanclng
after recelvlng her Ph.u ln blochemlstry from Fmory unlverslty ln
Atlanta, Ceorgla. After a year and a half of freelanclng, she |olned
one of her cllent companles, worklng wlth doctors and wrlters to
develop a
package of medlcal educatlon materlals. "l en|oy the fact that lt's a
team effort," heler says. "l felt llke that was mlsslng for me ln my
freelance career."
heler now works ln management, hlrlng wrlters and edltors and
managlng pro|ects, staff, and workfow. "Crltlcal-thlnklng skllls,
pro|ect-management skllls, lndependence, and the ablllty to clearly
communlcate complex toplcs are key assets for succeedlng ln thls
type of posltlon as well as ln research," she says. And all those
skllls are nurtured, lf not always systematlcally and lntentlonally,
by graduate sclence tralnlng. Companles often look for wrlters wlth
an expertlse ln a partlcular medlcal area. So although an advanced
degree ln a relevant feld lsn't requlred for work as a medlcal
wrlter, lt's a dlstlnct advantage.
Cetting 0rugs and 0evices te Market
Medlcal wrlters produce the documents that help companles push
a drug or devlce from cllnlcal trlals through FuA approval, lnclud-
lng llterature summarles, appllcatlons to FuA to lnvestlgate a new
devlce or drug, and documents lntended for revlew by lnstltutlonal
revlew boards (lk8s).
The trlck, says Andrea Frledman, a wrlter who works on a con-
tract for Symblon kesearch lnternatlonal, a Ck0 ln Agoura hllls,
Callfornla, ls "belng able to very conclsely summarlze large bodles
of lnformatlon ln as short a way as posslble."
The responslbllltles of regulatory medlcal wrlters vary depend-
lng on the structure of the company they work for. As a frequent
consultant to small startup companles, Frledman works alongslde
cllnlcal researchers to develop the research protocols ln cllnlcal
studles. At a larger company, she says, she would most llkely focus
more on the wrltlng end of thlngs, uslng lnformatlon provlded by
cllnlcal researchers.
All medlcal wrlters have to know somethlng about medlcal scl-
ence and be able to wrlte. ln addltlon, regulatory wrlters ln cllnlcal
settlngs need to understand the regulatory process and lts re-
qulred documentatlon. Frledman recommends learnlng about good]smart
Chapter 5
cllnlcal practlce, whlch encompasses the sclentlfc and ethlcal standards that
researchers and companles follow ln any study lnvolvlng human sub|ects.
These skllls can be galned on the |ob, but formal tralnlng programs are also
avallable. "There are certlfcatlon programs ln regulatory affalrs and certlfca-
tlon programs ln cllnlcal research," Frledman says. Some master's degree
programs have a regulatory component, and medlcal organlzatlons, such as
the urug lnformatlon Assoclatlon, offer medlcal-wrltlng sesslons at meetlngs.
0ne of the certlfcate programs offered by AMwA covers wrltlng speclfcally
for pharmaceutlcal companles.
Ceed 5a|aries and f|exib|e 0ppertunities
Some medlcal wrlters have |ournallsm degrees, whereas others have M.u.s
and Ph.u.s. ln sclence felds. Thlrty percent of the respondents ln AMwA's
200 salary survey had advanced degrees, up from 21 percent ln 1989.
About a thlrd of all medlcal wrlters freelance, the rest work on staff
for pharmaceutlcal companles, medlcal communlcatlons companles,
and other organlzatlons.
Medlcal wrlters get pald more than many other wrlters because thelr skllls
are more speclallzed and much of the work ls supported by the pharmaceutl-
cal lndustry. The average annual salary for medlcal wrlters exceeded $7,000
per year ln 200, accordlng to the survey. Medlcal wrlters wlth advanced
degrees averaged between $83,000 (for women) and $9,000 (for men).
"l would say that there's defnltely enough work to go around," says hltt,
who runs a free e-mall |obs llst on her webslte. 0n-slte staff |obs are plentlful
ln areas llke hew }ersey wlth a hlgh concentratlon of pharmaceutlcal compa-
nles. Freelancers, of course, can work anywhere once they are establlshed.
tntangib|e Rewards
Some medlcal wrlters fnd a partlcular reward ln the fact that thelr work mlght
have a dlrect lmpact on the publlc's medlcal llteracy. "l belleve ln the power
of communlcatlon, and l belleve medlcal wrlters can make a dlfference," says
Amy Stone, a subcontractor for the CuC who wrltes fact sheets, congresslonal
testlmony, and other documents about hlv.
0ther medlcal wrlters en|oy talklng wlth sclentlsts and learnlng about a
wlde varlety of toplcs as they work on pro|ects and asslgnments. "l don't
have the need to be an expert ln sclence," hltt says, "but l do love to learn."
Frledman, too, en|oys learnlng detalls about dlseases and new lndlcatlons for
drugs or medlcal devlces. "l'm constantly learnlng new thlngs," she says. "For
me, that's really fun."
Masterin our Ph.0.: A Career in
Manaement Consultin]10.1126]sclence.caredlt.a0800077
8y 8art hoordam, Patrlcla Cosllng- Flrst publlshed May 23, 2008
sslstlng corporate executlves wlth thelr toughest declslons
may not seem the most obvlous career move for someone
who has |ust fnlshed or ls ln the process of fnlshlng a scl-
ence Ph.u. 8ut many consultancles hlre Ph.u.s to |oln multldlscl-
pllnary teams to do exactly that, and new Ph.u.s are often thrllled
to work ln such a novel and excltlng envlronment, ln whlch facts
and analysls play an lmportant role.
lf solvlng problems, uslng your analytlcal skllls, explorlng un-
known terrltory, and learnlng whlle you are worklng appeals to you
more than the sclence ltself, management consultancy mlght be a
good cholce for you. here, we address a number of questlons you
mlght have to help you declde whether you would llke to become a
management consultant.
What 0e Management Censu|tants 0e?
Management consultants help company managers deal wlth ls-
sues and problems that arlse wlthln thelr buslnesses.
0f course, companles have lnternal resources to address thelr
problems. 8ut corporate executlves may declde that a certaln
lssue calls for a team of external, lndependent problem solvers
worklng full-tlme. (See "our Flrst Asslgnment" for an example.)
Typlcally, consultancles send ln a small team of consultants to
address the lssue, supported by partners and expertlse from the
company. usually, the team lncludes a leader responslble for run-
nlng the dally operatlon, senlor team members wlth several years
of experlence, and some younger team members, such as freshly
mlnted Ph.u.s, who are learnlng on the |ob.
Solvlng a corporate problem ls not much dlfferent from solvlng
a sclentlfc problem. lt requlres data, a thorough analysls of the
data, and a synthesls leadlng to the best posslble solutlon. Flnally,
the solutlon has to be reported ln such a way that the audlence
accepts the message and ls wllllng and able to lmplement lt.
Those challenges are famlllar to most sclentlsts fresh from Ph.u.
There ls one blg dlfference: tlme. Tlme ls money ln the corporate
world, partlcularly for the types of problems that management
consultants are usually asked to solve. So lt ls essentlal to fnd
the best posslble solutlon wlthln a glven tlme frame, rather than a
completely correct "sclentlfc" answer.
Solvlng a
problem ls not
much dlfferent
from solvlng
a sclentlfc
problem. lt
requlres data,
a thorough
analysls of
the data, and
a synthesls
leadlng to the
best posslble
Chapter 5
0e Censu|tancies Bire Many Ph.0.s?
havlng a Ph.u. ls not a prerequlslte to |olnlng a consultancy, but qulte a few
management consultants do have a Ph.u. track. For example, the 8oston
Consultlng Croup and McKlnsey and Co. both have speclal entry levels for
Ph.u.s. Martln uanoesastro of the 8oston Consultlng Croup reports that
12 percent of lts worldwlde staff have Ph.u.s. McKlnsey and Co. has slmllar
numbers: Accordlng to Teun hermsen, dlrector of personnel at McKlnsey, the
company's Amsterdam offce hlres three to fve Ph.u.s every year.
Why Bire eu?
8ecause your Ph.u. research toplc ls probably of llttle value to a consultancy,
you mlght wonder why they are wllllng to hlre you or another sclence Ph.u.
wlth slmllarly lrrelevant graduate experlence. "Problem solvlng ls a key
asset that Ph.u.s have. hot |ust the analytlcal skllls but also the ablllty to
structure a problem top-down make Ph.u.s well-sulted for a consultancy
career," says hermsen. uanoesastro adds, "To have the ablllty to work lnde-
pendently and come to the heart of the problem ls truly helpful to do a good
|ob as a consultant."
eur first Assignment
8ecause management consultants deal wlth a varlety of problems,
there are no "typlcal" asslgnments. 8ut here's an example of the type
of asslgnment you mlght get as a new hlre at a consultancy:
The company hlghTech ls loslng market share on lts maln product
because last year a competltor lntroduced a superlor product. To
survlve, your cllent needs to regaln lts market share by lmprovlng the
performance of lts maln product-lts prlmary moneymaker.
Thls means expandlng the company's research and development
(k&u) effort.
ln addltlon to that, hlghTech has a breakthrough technology ln the
works, but lt has to be launched ln tlme for the hollday sales season.
8ut the new product has blg technology uncertalntles, and these,
too, requlre a lot of k&u effort.
lt ls up to you and your team to analyze hlghTech's current
posltlon, evaluate the ma|or technology challenges, conslder the
optlons, and declde whether and how to pull addltlonal money from
the market (loans or stock lssuance, for example) to fnance these
optlons. ou'd better hurry, because hlghTech ls loslng money
every day and wlll be bankrupt by next sprlng lf the recovery plan
doesn't succeed.
What 5ki||s 0e eu keed te 0eve|ep?
our analytlcal and quantltatlve skllls are probably adequate. 8ut
lf llke most sclence Ph.u.s you lack an economlc or buslness back-
ground, you may have to catch up on those skllls. "They have to
acqulre a buslness sense and learn to focus on the most lmportant
lssues," says hermsen.
ln addltlon, provldlng the best posslble answer ln a llmlted tlme
frame ls new to many Ph.u.s, uanoesastro says, so Ph.u. sclentlsts
may "have to learn to be somewhat pragmatlc."
ts the "Up er 0ut" 5ystem a 1hreat te eur Career?
Top-tler consultancles generally have a fast career track, you are
expected to move up to the next role wlthln two to three years.
what lf you can't, or don't want to, make the next step up! ln that
case, most consultancles would advlse you to look for opportunl-
tles outslde the company.
ls thls somethlng to worry about! Probably not. Most former con-
sultants say they learned a lot whlle on the fast track and recelved
good advlce on how to move on ln thelr careers and on what to do
next. "ln the long run, you are better off learnlng fast and movlng
on" when your progress slows, says one seasoned pro.
Bew Can eu Learn Mere Abeut Management Censu|tancy?
Most consultancles organlze buslness courses or master classes
for potentlal hlres. ln a program, typlcally lastlng a few days, you
get to work on a real problem, supervlsed by consultants. lt ls an
excellent way to galn an appreclatlon of the thrlll of the |ob or to
reallze that lt's |ust not your cup of tea.
Bew 0e Censu|tancies 5e|ect a kew Ceneratien?
Applylng for a |ob at a management consultancy ls not much
dlfferent from applylng for a |ob anywhere else. Try approachlng
someone ln the company you know or someone one of your col-
leagues or frlends knows. Follow up wlth an appllcatlon letter that
states your lnterest and wllllngness to work for the company. The
lnltlal lntervlews, whlch usually are wlth recrulters, are llkely to be
conventlonal lntervlews ln whlch you talk about your skllls, your
career hlstory, and your ambltlons and ask questlons about the
our next round of lntervlews may lnclude worklng on a case
study wlth one of the company's consultants. ou recelve lnforma-
tlon about a partlcular problem and, wlth the help of the lntervlew-
er, plan a problem-solvlng approach and try to crack the problem
on the spot. lntervlewers are aware that you aren't an expert, so
they'll focus lnstead on general skllls and the progress you make]smart
Chapter 5
on the case. 8ecause thls ls qulte dlfferent from a normal lntervlew, conslder
dolng a practlce case. Company websltes often provlde examples of case
studles. 8ut "the best plece of advlce l can glve candldates ls to get a good
nlght's sleep and be fresh," suggested one recrulter.
Additiena| Artic|es 0n|ine
0o ou Wanna e a vAP (visitin Assistant Professor)?]10.1126]sclence.caredlt.a0800107
Creative Ways to fnerize our Career]10.1126]sclence.opms.r0800059
Packain ourself for Product Companies]10.1126]sclence.opms.r080005
Careers in Research 5upport]10.1126]sclence.caredlt.a0800116
Masterin our Ph.0.: fxplorin honprot 0ranizations]10.1126]sclence.caredlt.a0800065
Masterin our Ph.0.: 0oodbye to All 1hat]10.1126]sclence.caredlt.a080005
5hort-1erm 5cience]10.1126]sclence.caredlt.a0700181
1his booklet is also available online at sciencecareers.orJcareerbasicspdf
family 1railblazers
8y Susan Caldos- Flrst publlshed May 23, 2008
ebecca Conry, who grew up on an lndlan reservatlon, was the frst
member of her famlly to go to college and also the frst to become a
college professor.
Professors llke Conry are more numerous than you mlght thlnk, although
thelr representatlon has decllned as college attendance has rlsen. uata
from the 2006 Survey of Farned uoctorates, an annual census of research
doctorate reclplents conducted by the hatlonal 0plnlon kesearch Center
at the unlverslty of Chlcago, show that ln 1976, percent of doctorate
reclplents reported that nelther of thelr parents had an educatlon beyond a
hlgh school dlploma. 8y 2006, that number was halved to a stlll-substantlal
22 percent. ho one knows how many research doctorate reclplents go on
to become members of college facultles, but 0hlo State unlverslty reports
that lt has 50 or so on a faculty of approxlmately 3,500 on lts campuses.
how a tenured professor at Colby College ln watervllle, Malne, Conry has
much ln common wlth other professors who, llke her, are famlly trallblaz-
ers on college campuses. Such faculty members often report feellng llke
outslders, allenated from the culture and not knowlng the rules. And when
they could really use help, they tend to go lt alone lnstead. "Looklng back, l
6. 0iversity Issues in 5cience]smart
never really got the fact that l needed to fnd a mentor. l |ust declded l needed
to fgure lt out, and l fgured lt out on the fy," Conry says.
finding the 1rai|head
Conry ls not hatlve Amerlcan, but she grew up on the akama lndlan reserva-
tlon ln central washlngton. She says she always knew she wanted to go to
college, she |ust dldn't know how to make lt happen. wlth no famlly experl-
ence or advlce to fall back on, she set out to negotlate the maze of appllca-
tlons and scholarshlps on her own.
0nce she got there, lt took her a whlle to settle on a ma|or. "l went ln thlnk-
lng l would be a doctor, but l dldn't have the confdence that l would get lnto
medlcal school. So l chose the nurslng track." A defnlng moment came, she
says, when she took her frst chemlstry course and found herself at the top of
the class. "My professor encouraged me to ma|or ln chemlstry. The rest of the
class hated me because l rulned the curve."
Some "serlous soul-searchlng" was requlred, but Conry took her profes-
sor's advlce and set her slghts on a tenure-track academlc career. wlth what
she calls "no real understandlng of what graduate school was," she applled
to a slngle lnstltutlon, the unlverslty of washlngton, and was accepted.
Under the Micrescepe
After maklng lt through graduate school, Conry was surprlsed to fnd that
the maze of requlrements and expectatlons permeatlng the academlc culture
dldn't end. 0n the tenure track, Conry says, she began to feel pressure to "ft
ln" to the academlc envlronment. She found herself navlgatlng a culture wlth
an unfamlllar set of rules.
"ln academlcs, the blg prlze ls tenure. 8ut lf you ask people ln any depart-
ment what lt takes to get tenure, they probably can't tell you. The problem ls,
lt's a movlng target," she says.
Although teachlng and scholarshlp are generally recognlzed as "the
blg two" requlrements for tenure, the ablllty to get along and ft lnto the
academlc department ls equally lmportant. The hldden, often lmperceptlble,
expectatlons can catch some frst-generatlon graduates off-guard, Conry
says. "ou have to be savvy to all the nuances, the posltlon, the place, and
the lnstltutlon's pollcles. Thls can be dlffcult lf you come from a very dlfferent
8y the tlme she got to Colby, Conry had grown more savvy. 8ut she was
late, she says, ln plcklng up on some of these messages durlng her frst
tenure-track posltlon, at the unlverslty of hevada, keno. After seven years as
an asslstant professor, she was denled tenure. "lt was a spllt declslon. l was
close. l |ust wasn't enough above the bar, and, belng dlfferent, you get looked
at under more of a mlcroscope," she says.
5ecia| Cha||enges
Although belng a frst-generatlon student may present some unlque chal-
lenges, lt need not stand ln the way of success. }ohn T. Croves, hugh Stott
Taylor Professor of Chemlstry at Prlnceton unlverslty, says he was the frst ln
hls famlly to attend college. unfamlllar wlth the school's orlentatlon process,
when lt came tlme to reglster for classes hls father pulled up to 77 Massachu-
setts Avenue ln Cambrldge-the front door of the Massachusetts lnstltute of
Technology-and dropped hlm off. Croves found hls way to the reg-
lstratlon offce and on, eventually, to a named chalr at Prlnceton.
ln hlndslght, Croves says, he recognlzes that hls sons, who
are both Ph.u. chemlsts, "en|oyed an abundance of opportunltles
and experlences" that he never had. "They used to vlslt me at
the laboratory, and one of them dld a hlgh school pro|ect uslng a
mass spectrometer."
8ecause many frst-generatlon graduates come from less affu-
ent famllles, such socloeconomlc dlfferences are common, says
kebecca Lamb, asslstant professor of plant cellular and molecular
blology at 0hlo State unlverslty ln Columbus and a frst-generatlon
college grad. "Many of my peers ln graduate school had parents
who were college professors or professlonals. They often talked
about places they had been or research opportunltles that they
had been able to pursue on a volunteer basls."
The routlne soclallzlng and networklng ln an academlc commu-
nlty may also cause feellngs of lnsecurlty. "The wlne, the beer, the
fancler foods-when l got out of undergraduate school, l slmply
wasn't famlllar wlth all that. l don't thlnk anyone went out of thelr
way to make me feel bad. Stlll, l felt awkward at tlmes and some-
tlmes stlll do," Lamb says.
8ecause many of the soclal cues are subtle-people dlscusslng
art flms or books wlth lntellectual vlgor, for lnstance-Lamb says
fndlng a way to ft lnto a culture that comes wlth lts own set of
rules can sometlmes be confuslng. "l go to artsy movles, too, but
sometlmes you don't want to admlt that you saw the latest shoot-
'em-up escaplst flm."
Struggles to ft ln at the new workplace are often matched by
struggles to ft ln back home, as some frst-generatlon scholars fnd
themselves loslng the support of thelr famllles. Shella Smlth, assls-
tant professor of chemlstry at the unlverslty of Mlchlgan, uearborn,
says her famlly encouraged her to go to college and become a hlgh
school teacher "because that was a good career for women."
She entered horth Carollna State unlverslty on a fellowshlp that
requlred her to teach ln the state's publlc schools after graduatlon.
8ut durlng her sophomore year, Smlth got lnvolved ln research
and dlscovered that she loved solvlng problems that people dldn't
have answers for. when lt came tlme to do her student teachlng,
she was told she would have to glve up her research to fulfll the
requlrement. "l had a manuscrlpt ln preparatlon and wouldn't have
been able to contlnue wlth my pro|ect. From then on, l wasn't get-
tlng an educatlon degree, l was golng to graduate school."
8ecause her new career path requlred years of addltlonal study
and obllgated her to repay the state loan, Smlth says, her declslon
dldn't go over well wlth her famlly. "My parents dldn't go to college,
so they expected me to go and lnstantly get a |ob maklng twlce
as much as my father ever made. lnstead, l chose to go to school
agaln. lt was a source of great frlctlon between me and my famlly
for a whlle."
to ft ln at
the new
are often
matched by
struggles to
ft ln back
home, as
some frst-
scholars fnd
loslng the
support of
thelr famllles.]smart
Chapter 6
in 5cience
financia| Cha||enges
Fven wlth the emotlonal support of famlly and peers, frst-generatlon stu-
dents who come from a background ln whlch money ls tlght may contlnue
to grapple wlth the fnanclal aspects of college long after they are awarded
a degree.
Although hls parents saved to send hlm and hls slster to college, Marcus
Chacon, asslstant professor of neurology at the unlverslty of wlsconsln,
Madlson, School of Medlclne and Publlc health, borrowed nearly $200,000 to
complete medlcal tralnlng. "l'm certalnly at the hlgher end of debt of anyone
that l know," Chacon says, "and to a certaln degree lt affects what l can do."
he has consldered gettlng some addltlonal tralnlng, elther through a master's
or Ph.u. program, but fnanclally, he says, lt's |ust not feaslble.
Chacon comes from a large, extended hlspanlc-Amerlcan famlly and says
concerns about money mlght also lnclude "background lssues" that can brlng
addltlonal stress whlle attendlng school or embarklng on a new career. "l've
often wondered lf there are some of us who worry about how our parents
are dolng fnanclally. l've seen people ln even more extreme sltuatlons than
myself, who are actually sendlng money to thelr parents."
Chacon, who |uggles a medlcal practlce and a faculty posltlon, says the
medlcal school admlnlstratlon has been very supportlve. The dean and oth-
ers, he says, have helped hlm navlgate the system and plan for hls career.
"lt was one of the reasons l chose thls medlcal school, and lt has been a very
valuable resource."
hurturin Women 5cientists
8y }lll u. Adams- Flrst publlshed February 8, 2008
hen the uS hatlonal lnstltutes of health (hlh) surveyed lts postdoc-
toral fellows ln 2003, more than 1,300 of them answered questlons
ranglng from marltal and famlly status to thelr vlews on the value
of a good salary, fexlble hours, and other workplace lssues. 0ne result was
partlcularly worrylng. whlle women and men both felt equally well tralned
for a career ln academlc sclence, women were less confdent about thelr
chances to land a posltlon, much less achleve tenure.
Fllsabeth Martlnez, who was a postdoc at the tlme and helped deslgn the
above survey, expected preparedness and career outlook to be ln allgnment.
wlth her task force colleagues, Martlnez, now an lnstructor at the unlverslty
of Texas Southwestern Medlcal Center, predlcted that women mlght feel less
ready-but they dldn't. "8y and large women felt equally well prepared, and
yet there was stlll a blt of a confdence lssue," she sald.
Thls fndlng bodes poorly for efforts to close the gender gap ln representa-
tlon at hlgher levels of the academlc ladder. And yet, those lnvolved ln such
efforts-ln academla, government, and lndustry-contlnue to move forward,
castlng a wlder net for hlrlng, pushlng famlly-frlendly lnltlatlves, and lncreas-
lng the emphasls on mentorlng.
"lt ls reasonable to assume that those women who have
assessed the sltuatlon carefully recognlze that they're golng to
have more problems than men," says Phoebe Leboy, the presldent-
elect of the Assoclatlon of women ln Sclence (AwlS). "So you can
call lt lack of confdence or you can call lt an accurate perceptlon of
the sltuatlon."
0ne reason women mlght have grounds for less confdence ln
thelr careers than men has to do wlth the pressures of ralslng a
famlly, says Leboy. 8ut even puttlng famlly lssues aslde, she says,
"women are golng to have a harder tlme than men succeedlng" at
every stage of the tenure-track academlc career.
Leboy polnts to data made avallable by the hlh that showed
women lagglng behlnd men ln terms of grants per lnvestlgator, dol-
lars per grant, success ln gettlng grants renewed, and responslbll-
lty for blg budget center grants. And because success ls so closely
tled to fundlng, partlcularly ln academlc health centers, says
Leboy, all of these thlngs mean that women are havlng a harder
tlme achlevlng tenure than men.
Add all thls to what Leboy calls "the escalatlng rat race ln aca-
demla" and lt palnts a bleak plcture.
Leeking Past the kumbers
lt's no longer a plpellne lssue, says hancy hlelsen, presldent-
elect of the Amerlcan Medlcal Assoclatlon. She cltes the hatlonal
Academy of Sclences (hAS) report from last year whlch showed
that although women have earned more than half of the 8achelor's
degrees awarded ln sclence and englneerlng slnce the year 2000,
thelr representatlon on unlverslty facultles remalns woefully low.
lndeed, for those wlth Ph.u.s ln englneerlng and sclence, four
tlmes more men than women hold full-tlme faculty posltlons. And
mlnorlty women wlth doctorates are less llkely than whlte women,
or men of any raclal or ethnlc group, to be ln tenure posltlons.
lt's a problem of numbers, but as ls so often the case, numbers
do not tell the whole story. A survey of faculty at Prlnceton fve
years ago looked at promotlon, compensatlon, and retentlon by
gender. "The ma|or fndlng was that we have made progress ln at-
tractlng and retalnlng women faculty," sald }oan Clrgus, a psychol-
ogy professor who serves as a speclal asslstant to the dean of
faculty, a post that was created as a dlrect recommendatlon of the
survey's task force. "8ut, we stlll found that women were under-
when the Prlnceton survey team looked beyond the quantltatlve
data, one thlng they found was that women were less llkely to
request extenslons of tenure for chlldblrth than were men. "how
thls ls really odd, rlght!" Clrgus sald. "when we asked people to
comment, they sald thlngs llke: we don't know lf lt's okay to ask for
lt, we're afrald we'll be seen as less serlous, we're afrald we'll be
penallzed ln the tenure conslderatlon."
Prlnceton's response! Make the extenslon of the tenure clock
automatlc. when a tenure-track faculty member, male or female,
when the
survey team
beyond the
data, one
thlng they
found was
that women
were less
llkely to
of tenure for
than were
Chapter 6
in 5cience
brlngs a new chlld home, the dean of faculty sends a letter wlth a new tenure
date and a book for the baby, sald Clrgus.
ln addltlon to the postdoc study run by Martlnez, the hlh conducted an
extenslve survey of lts tenure-track and tenured sclentlsts (as well as other
staffers) to examlne gender lssues. ln general, "women do not percelve the
hlh as a female-frlendly envlronment," sald }oan Schwartz, an Asslstant
ulrector ln the 0ffce of lntramural kesearch. "8ut to tell you the truth we
don't know how exactly to defne that because we dldn't ask them what they
meant by lt."
Schwartz ls presently conductlng followup focus groups on the same popu-
latlons to try to get at speclfcs. "we need to understand what the lssues are
so we can work on comlng up wlth solutlons," she sald. "That's the ultlmate
goal-to develop practlcal solutlons."
eyend ducatien and 1raining
0bvlously, progress has been made. 0ne success story found ln the hAS
report ls the number of women gettlng Ph.u.s ln sclence and englneerlng. ln
blomedlcal sclence, some 5 percent of postdoctoral fellows are women. As
the problem-women leavlng sclence or thelr careers stalllng-moves to a
later |uncture on the career path, the solutlons must be tallored to a dlfferent
set of clrcumstances.
Put a dlfferent way, the problem of equal representatlon of women has
moved from the educatlon and tralnlng realm to the employment realm. Aca-
demlc sclence mlght look no further than corporate Amerlca to fnd expertlse
ln the practlces of hlrlng, career development, and famlly-frlendly pollcles.
"Attentlon to career development and advancement ls more part of the
culture of lndustry than lt ls ln academla," says Call Cassell, who ls vlce
presldent of sclentlfc affalrs at Fll Lllly and Company and was prevlously
a department chalr ln mlcroblology at unlverslty of Alabama Schools of
Medlclne and uentlstry at 8lrmlngham. "Lllly certalnly lnvests a lot of tlme
and resources ln nurturlng the careers of females ln both technlcal and
management posltlons."
Fmployees at Fll Lllly undergo evaluatlons twlce a year and, ln addltlon to
belng evaluated by thelr bosses, those ln supervlsory posltlons recelve per-
formance revlews from peers and the people they manage. wlth multlple ln-
puts golng lnto an employee's revlew, the process ls more ob|ectlve than the
oplnlon of a slngle person, llke one's boss. Thls contlnual feedback "lmproves
the lndlvldual, lmproves the system, and bullds a better relatlonshlp between
employee and employer," says Cassell.
From an employer's perspectlve, evaluatlons help ldentlfy talent and hold
onto lt. "So you don't turn around and they're belng courted by one of your
competltors. Successlon plannlng ls a very lmportant part of human re-
sources here. l'm not so sure that's the case at unlversltles, partlcularly wlth
admlnlstratlve posltlons."
Kourtney uavls, senlor dlrector of worldwlde epldemlology at ClaxoSmlth-
Kllne, can speak to her company's helplng her meet her ob|ectlves. Farller thls
year, she co-chalred a women ln sclence program that pulled together women
across the whole k&u organlzatlon to offer networklng and mentorlng. uavls
says lt was a great chance to promote opportunltles for women. "lt was also
on my development plan, because l want to work on leadershlp outslde of my
department." She credlts the company's human resources team for
trylng to fnd opportunltles for women sclentlsts to lncrease thelr
leadershlp skllls.
wlth regard to famlly-frlendly pollcles, both ClaxoSmlthKllne and
Fll Lllly were recognlzed by wcrkir Mcthcr magazlne as two of the
top 100 companles ln Amerlca, based on measures of work force,
compensatlon, chlld care, leave pollcles, and the llke.
uavls |okes that she's a poster chlld for the company's famlly-
frlendly programs. wlth each of her two chlldren, uavls took advan-
tage of extended leave-tlme beyond pald maternlty leave-and
then came back at reduced hours for another three to slx months.
"l also telecommute one day a week," she says. "My supervlsor
has been lncredlbly supportlve."
The blotech frm Cenencor has gone so far as to provlde a lacta-
tlon room and the servlces of a lactatlon consultant, says Llsa
Zanetto, dlrector of human resources for k&u. Fmployees at the
company also take advantage of fextlme schedules, backup day
care, and uslng slck days to take care of slck chlldren.
Zanetto notes that men use famlly-frlendly pollcles too, llke the
slngle dad who works a reduced-hour schedule. The phllosophy
behlnd these programs ls based on the bellef that employees are
the company's greatest asset. "we put programs lnto place, not
|ust to have a program, but so lt wlll actually beneft employees,"
she says. "we do these thlngs because we belleve lt's rlght."
Fll Lllly's commltment to dlverslty has led the company to create
a new posltlon, a vlce presldent of dlverslty. The company also
helped fund the hAS report on academlc sclence and has encour-
aged the academy to do a followup study on women sclentlsts and
englneers ln lndustry.
"wlth our sclentlfc talent pool belng what lt ls today around the
globe, you want that dlverslty to ensure success," Cassell says.
"ou have to have lt."
Changing Cu|ture
lndustry dlffers from academla ln how achlevement ls measured.
"ln lndustry, as ln much of corporate Amerlca, rewards are con-
sldered for the team, for how the team does," says hlelsen, whlch
affects not only how sclence ls done, but how sclentlsts are |udged.
8y contrast, the emphasls ln academla ls on lndlvldual achleve-
ment. That works agalnst women, says hlelsen, who adds that for
all the talk about partners sharlng home and famlly dutles, "the
reallty ls women stlll do the brunt of that."
hlelsen, who ls senlor assoclate dean for medlcal educatlon
at the unlverslty at 8uffalo School of Medlclne and 8lomedlcal
Sclences, lllustrates the contrast wlth a change she's wltnessed ln
cllnlcal medlclne. Thlrty years ago obstetrlcs and gynecology was
domlnated by men, but now the ma|orlty of resldents ln any 08]
Ch program are women, she says. "l thlnk lt was because the llfe
of an 08]Ch belng on call all the tlme was very dlffcult. ln the old]smart
Chapter 6
in 5cience
days solo practlce was the model." how group practlce ls more common and
allows doctors ln a large group to have a very reasonable call schedule. "They
can have a llfe," says hlelsen. "And those are lssues for my medlcal students,
male and female. They want a reasonable llfe balance."
Several unlversltles have launched lnltlatlves to change the culture
of academlc sclence and to lncrease the representatlon of women on
the faculty at the hlghest ranks. The hatlonal Sclence Foundatlon has
been fundlng many of these efforts through lts AuvAhCF program.
0ne of the frst awardees ln hSF's AuvAhCF program was the unlverslty of
wlsconsln at Madlson. "The unlque thlng about these awards ls they're really
worklng on the lnstltutlon level," says }ennlfer Sherldan, who dlrects uw-
Madlson's women ln Sclence and Fnglneerlng Leadershlp lnstltute. "Thls klnd
of money has never been put at the top, at a system level before. lt's always
been a 'fx-the-women' approach."
0ne of uw-Madlson's approaches ls to educate faculty-those who serve
on hlrlng and tenure commlttees-about research-based evldence on uncon-
sclous blas. Studles have shown that ldentlcal resumes are percelved dlffer-
ently dependlng on the gender of the name at the top. "we use the research
as a way ln," says Sherldan, to persuade sclence faculty that lf they're not
paylng attentlon, these blases can emerge. "lt takes the blame off men," she
says, "because women do lt, too."
The hlrlng workshops have been effectlve at wlsconsln, says Sherldan, who
has measured a posltlve correlatlon between departmental partlclpatlon ln
hlrlng workshops and more women hlred. ln addltlon, responses on cllmate
surveys showed that new hlres were more satlsfed wlth the hlrlng process.
"The workshops talk a lot about the lntervlew process and treatlng candl-
dates respectfully," she says.
Another hSF grantee ls kensselaer Polytechnlc lnstltute, whlch has created
a program called kAMP-uP (keformlng Advancement Processes through
unlverslty Professlons). kensselaer Presldent Shlrley Ann }ackson sald the
program ls focused on two thlngs: "we are worklng to lmprove career pro-
gresslon for women from the |unlor faculty ranks to the senlor ranks, and to
expand recrultment of accompllshed women at the senlor level."
Startup packages and access to resources wlll be looked at more carefully.
ln addltlon, the lnstltute ls expandlng lts mentorlng and coachlng servlces to
better gulde women faculty through the advancement process.
"lt starts at the departmental level, because that ls where hlrlng starts and
where the promotlon and tenure process occurs," }ackson sald. ln addltlon,
the "tone at the top" ls lmportant, she says. "lt ls essentlal to set clear expec-
tatlons. l am very focused on the need to ensure that the processes affectlng
the progresslon of women faculty-and of all people ln thelr careers here at
kensselaer-are falr and conslstent."
To fll loomlng gaps ln the sclence, technology, englneerlng and mathemat-
lcs (STFM) work force, }ackson says the unlted States must engage more
women and mlnorltles. "uemographlcs are changlng. women and mlnorl-
tles now constltute one-half to two-thlrds of the populatlon, yet they have
tradltlonally been underrepresented ln the STFM felds. lf we are to
sustaln our capaclty for lnnovatlon, lt must be an all-ln proposltlon.
ou cannot presume to have tapped the best talent lf you do not
tap the complete talent pool."
0penin 0oors for 5cientists with
8y Laura 8onetta- Flrst publlshed hovember 16, 2007
had Cheetham ls pursulng a Ph.u. ln neurosclence at the
unlverslty of Alabama ln 8lrmlngham. he ls one of slx
students at hls lnstltute to have recelved a coveted howard
hughes Medlcal lnstltute scholarshlp for hls graduate work.
Megan hlx, an electrlcal englneerlng graduate of the unlverslty of
Callfornla, klverslde ls looklng for a full-tlme posltlon, probably
at the }et Propulslon Laboratory (}PL) where she lnterned ln the
sprlng of 2005. She recelved frst place ln a competltlon from the
lnstltute for Flectrlcal and Flectronlcs Fnglneers for her pro|ect
at }PL.
These are typlcal success storles of students pursulng careers ln
sclentlfc felds, except that the students happen to have a dlsabll-
lty. Cheetham has no left vlsual cortex, whlch means he lacks the
rlght vlsual feld and depth perceptlon, whlle hlx has fbromyalgla,
a chronlc condltlon that causes wldespread paln ln the body and
ln many cases, dlsabllltles are not barrlers ln sclence and
technology felds, where mental capaclty and creatlvlty are keys
to success. honetheless, lndlvlduals wlth dlsabllltles face unlque
challenges as they transltlon from hlgh school to college and from
college to employment.
They mlght need software or other technologles to help them
follow along ln classes, face problems fndlng adequate llvlng ar-
rangements close to thelr unlverslty, or come up agalnst faculty or
employers who are fearful of deallng wlth a person wlth a dlsabll-
lty. A number of programs and resources are helplng to allevlate
such challenges.
1he veice eI xperience
Ted Conway dld not dlvulge to prospectlve employers that he had
cerebral palsy. when lnvlted for an ln-person lntervlew, he would
explaln he had a loss of muscle actlon caused by a lack of oxygen
durlng blrth to the part of the braln that controls muscle move-
ment. "l always descrlbe what the dlsablllty does rather than call-
lng lt by lts name," says Conway. "lf people hear cerebral palsy, or
ln many
are not
barrlers ln
sclence and
felds, where
capaclty and
are keys to
Chapter 6
in 5cience
muscular dystrophy, or cancer, they always thlnk the worst."
A professor and assoclate dean at vlrglnla Commonwealth unlverslty,
Conway has, for the past 21 years, been golng up the academlc ladder ln the
felds of mechanlcal, aerospace, and, more recently, blomedlcal englneerlng.
he has held |obs ln lndustry, government, academla, and as a consultant.
"The only challenges that l have faced have been overcomlng other people's
predetermlned ldeas about what a person wlth a dlsablllty could do," he says.
An effectlve way for attltudes to change ls for more people to see lndlvldu-
als wlth dlsabllltles ln establlshed posltlons. "kole models serve as exam-
ples, but also act as mentors for people who want to acqulre that posltlon,"
says Conway. "Someone has to blaze that trall and then the next person who
comes along can ask 'what do l have to do to get there!'"
tncreasing kumbers
A handful of programs are trylng to lncrease the numbers of lndlvlduals
wlth dlsabllltles ln sclence, technology, englneerlng and math (STFM) felds.
Fleven years ago, the Amerlcan Assoclatlon for the Advancement of Sclence
(AAAS), publlsher of the |ournal Sricrrc and Sricrrc Careers, establlshed
FntryPolnt! The program provldes lnternshlp opportunltles to students wlth
dlsabllltles at l8M, Merck & Co., the hatlonal 0ceanlc and Atmospherlc
Admlnlstratlon (h0AA), the hatlonal lnstltute of Standards and Technology
(hlST), Lockheed Martln, CvS, hAvAlk, and hASA.
"A perslstent student can get an undergraduate degree. There are
barrlers, but lf you want to do lt, you can do lt. lt may be harder at the
graduate level. 8ut lt ls harder stlll to get employment ln your feld,"
says FntryPolnt! ulrector vlrglnla Stern. "The lnternshlp ls crltlcal. The
employer gets to know you and what you can do. And you fnd out
what you want to do."
To partlclpate ln FntryPolnt! a student wlth a dlsablllty not only has
to be lnterested ln STFM careers but also have a 3.0 or above grade
polnt average. "The organlzatlons we work wlth want the dlverslty,
but they need competltlve students," says Stern. "we do the talent
Cheetham spent a summer at Merck & Co. where he was ln charge of devel-
oplng an assay to screen compounds related to obeslty. "FntryPolnt! does not
lower expectatlons. They only take the best," says Cheetham. "They are advo-
cates for people wlth dlsabllltles, but they want really quallfed students. lt's
not 'Poor me glve me an lnternshlp because you feel sorry for me.' lt's 'Clve
me an lnternshlp because l am really good!'"
Successful work experlences are not only crltlcal to openlng career doors,
they also change the attltudes of employers who may be wary of hlrlng
lndlvlduals wlth dlsabllltles. "we make sure that the employer has a posltlve
experlence," says Sheryl 8urgstahler, dlrector of the ulsabllltles, 0pportunl-
tles, lnternetworklng and Technology (u0-lT) program at the unlverslty of
washlngton. "lf there ls a problem we lntervene, and most of the
tlme lt ls not a dlsablllty-related lssue. That ls what we help the
employer see."
u0-lT, a multlfaceted program to help people wlth dlsabllltles
succeed ln college and the work force, lncludes an onllne
mentorlng network and an lnternshlp program that are part of
the program entltled Access to Sclence Technology, Fnglneerlng
and Mathematlcs (AccessSTFM). lt provldes about 50 lnternshlp
placements a year ln the states of 0regon, washlngton, Alaska,
and ldaho.
nab|ing 1echne|egies
Fstabllshed ln 1992, AccessSTFM makes extenslve use of com-
puters, asslstlve technologles, and the lnternet to help students
wlth dlsabllltles become more lndependent ln thelr academlc and
career actlvltles. "An employer mlght say 'how can you have a bllnd
person do programmlng!' 8ut lt ls not hard. ou need a standard
computer wlth a refreshable brallle dlsplay and a brallle prlnter,"
explalns 8urgstahler. "we want to show that wlth the rlght technol-
ogy people wlth dlsabllltles can succeed."
help obtalnlng those technologles can be a boon to students.
"Most asslstlve technology ls overprlced and yet may be a
student's sole means of communlcatlon or may glve someone the
ablllty to use a computer," says Chrls Schlechty, a senlor at the
unlverslty of washlngton studylng computer sclence.
Schlechty has llmb glrdle muscular dystrophy and uses a power
wheelchalr to get around. "l need an accesslble workstatlon, whlch
conslsts of a certaln keyboard and mouse set, a helght ad|ustable
desk, and an alternate headset or handset for the phone as l can-
not llft up the recelver," he explalns.
Schlechty lnterned at Mlcrosoft through the u0-lT program. After
graduatlng ln }une 2008, he hoped to obtaln employment at Mlcro-
soft or one of the other ma|or software companles ln the area. "A
student should not prematurely label classes or careers as lnacces-
slble. 8y worklng wlth the professors and uslng a blt of creatlvlty,
we were always able to make accommodatlons that worked, and l
have been able to successfully complete all of my courses, lnclud-
lng those that seemed to requlre a falr amount of physlcal actlvlty,"
says Schlechty.
The hatlonal Sclence Foundatlon has supported u0-lT's Ac-
cessSTFM and other slmllar programs through lts kesearch ln
ulsabllltles Fducatlon (kuF) program. 0ther kuF awards lnclude
pro|ects that develop new asslstlve technologles for people wlth
dlsabllltles. 0ne example, developed by a team at Pennsylvanla
State unlverslty, unlverslty Park, ls a hand-held submerslble
audlble llght sensor that fts ln a test tube and converts the llght
lntenslty to an audlble slgnal to help bllnd sclentlsts conduct chem-
lstry experlments.]smart
Chapter 6
in 5cience
51M Careers Make 5ense
lndlvlduals wlth dlsabllltles are generally underrepresented ln sclence and
englneerlng professlons. hevertheless the employment rate for sclentlsts and
englneers wlth dlsabllltles ls 83 percent, much better than the estlmated 26
percent for the overall uS populatlon wlth dlsabllltles. These statlstlcs sug-
gest that the englneerlng and sclence felds provlde careers ln whlch lndlvldu-
als wlth dlsabllltles can fnd success.
"l actually thlnk those felds are good ones for students wlth dlsabllltles to
get lnto, because there are |ust so many opportunltles avallable to help get
women, mlnorltles, and now people wlth dlsabllltles lnvolved, slnce they are
so underrepresented," says Allson Fcker, a |unlor at the unlverslty of 0regon
ma|orlng ln comparatlve llterature.
Fcker, who ls hard of hearlng, completed a u0-lT lnternshlp ln vltlculture,
an area outslde her feld of study. 8ecause of the lnternshlp, she would now
conslder a career ln sclentlfc research. "l would hlghly recommend havlng
an lnternshlp, posslbly even before decldlng a ma|or, as lt allows you to get
real-llfe experlence, to see lf lt's a career that you mlght actually be lnterested
ln," she says.
why are STFM careers a good match for lndlvlduals wlth dlsabllltles who
have an lnterest ln these felds! "lt ls a comblnatlon of thlngs. There tends
to be an lncreased use of technology ln those felds whlch makes lt easler to
lntegrate asslstlve technologles," says 8urgstahler. "STFM |obs are often not
physlcally demandlng |obs. ou are uslng your head, not your muscle."
1he mp|eyers' Perspective
And lf STFM careers make sense for people wlth dlsabllltles, lt also makes
sense for employers to hlre them. "we are competlng wlth countrles that
have plenty of lndlvlduals wlth technlcal expertlse. we cannot afford to leave
any talented people out of the work force," says Ted Chllds, former vlce presl-
dent of global dlverslty at l8M.
Llke l8M, the Center on Polymer lnterfaces and Macromolecular Assem-
blles, an hSF-sponsored center and a |olnt effort between Stanford unlverslty
and l8M Almaden kesearch Center, has had students wlth dlsabllltles as sum-
mer lnterns for the past slx years.
These lnternshlps requlred maklng some changes ln the bulldlngs, such as
addlng touch plates to doors, and maklng other accommodatlons, lncludlng
hlrlng slgn language lnterpreters durlng meetlngs and semlnars as well as
purchaslng some speclal software. "lt ls a comblnatlon of changes ln the
bulldlngs and worklng wlth the students to fnd out what they need," says
center dlrector Curtls Frank, who had two students wlth dlsabllltles ln hls
own lab.
8ut Frank sees many advantages to these lnternshlps. "For the other group
members, lt glves them an example of what can be accompllshed. My group
already has a good colleglal worklng relatlonshlp. 8ut havlng someone wlth
speclal needs helps brlng the group even closer together," says Frank. "lt
requlres more folks to pay attentlon to what ls happenlng ln the lab."
}ulle Peddy, program manager at h0AA's horthwest Flsherles Sclence
Center and FntryPolnt! coordlnator for h0AA, has also had good experlences
hostlng students wlth dlsabllltles as summer lnterns. "Some
employers are worrled about what the cost wlll be, but for the most
part lt ls not costly to provlde some accommodatlons for a person
wlth a dlsablllty," she says. "The response has been very favorable.
A number of lnterns have been repeat lnterns and a couple wlll be
plcked up as permanent employees."
Changing Attitudes
Many sclentlsts wlth a dlsablllty, partlcularly one that ls apparent,
say lt ls lmportant to dlscuss the dlsablllty wlth teachers and pro-
spectlve employers and advocate for whatever accommodatlons
are needed to succeed. "As a student you have to make sure that
you are not excluded from obtalnlng the same skllls, or equlvalent
skllls, as everyone else ln the class," says lmke uurre, a physlcal
sclentlst at h0AA. "Part of that responslblllty falls on the teacher,
but lt ls also up to the student to say, 'Thls ls how l could do lt.'"
After completlng her Ph.u. ln atmospherlc sclence from the
unlverslty of washlngton, uurre applled for a fellowshlp from the
hatlonal kesearch Councll. uurre, who ls bllnd from blrth, added a
"personal statement" ln her appllcatlon explalnlng what accom-
modatlons she uses. "l wrote 'Thls ls how l handle graphlcs. Thls
ls how l read prlnt documents,' and so on," she explalns. "The
approach worked for me."
She landed a postdoctoral posltlon at h0AA's hatlonal Cllmatlc
uata Center, whlch later converted to a staff posltlon ln the Cllmate
Analysls 8ranch. uurre got hooked on cllmate sclence as a chlld,
when her mother would read her the newspaper's weather page.
lt never occurred to her that thls was somethlng she could not do.
"l dld encounter a teacher ln |unlor hlgh school who dld not thlnk l
could do hlgher-level math, but l dld not pay much attentlon," she
says. "l fgured she dld not know me."
lnclght, a not-for-proft organlzatlon based ln Portland, 0regon,
works wlth hlgh school and college students wlth dlsabllltles to
help them overcome thelr own fears and become better advocates
for themselves. "when we hear 'l would llke to do thls but l don't
thlnk l can do lt,' that ls when we get really motlvated," says ln-
clght's Aubrle Abbott. "we work wlth them and say 'well, actually,
we thlnk you can. Let's fgure out the steps you need to get there.'"
lnclght works closely wlth a set of college students from all over
the country, provldlng them wlth scholarshlps, mentors, and as-
slstance ln fndlng lnternshlps. Thls year the scholarshlp program,
whlch started only four years ago, recelved 800 appllcatlons for
70 spots. ln addltlon, lnclght helps prepare 0regon hlgh school
students for llfe after graduatlon, through tralnlng and mentorlng.
"8y the tlme they get to college they are better at belng thelr own
advocates," says Abbott.]smart
Chapter 6
in 5cience
Programs llke FntryPolnt!, u0-lT, lnclght, and many others are worklng
to change the face of research by provldlng tools and advlce to talented
students who have dlsabllltles. They are also creatlng networks of students
and professlonals wlth dlsabllltles who can serve as role models for others to
follow. "Fventually we would llke to put ourselves out of buslness," laughs
Abbott. "ln a perfect world you would not need us. we are trylng to develop
leaders who can remove barrlers and pave the way."
Additiena| Artic|es 0n|ine
1op five Challenes for Prenant 5cientists]career_magazlne]prevlous_lssues]
Mind Matters: Culture 5hock]10.1126]sclence.caredlt.a070005
Incubatin Innovation - 0iversity ffforts Re[uvenate the Life 5cience
Work force]10.1126]sclence.opms.r0700033
Meaninful Mentorin - hative American and Latino 5uccess 5tories]10.1126]sclence.opms.r070001
0L1 5cientists]10.1126]sclence.opms.r0800063
Afnity 0roups for 0iversity]10.1126]sclence.opms.r0800053
1his booklet is also available online at sciencecareers.orJcareerbasicspdf
Makin the Leap to Independence
8y lrene S. Levlne- Flrst publlshed March 2, 2007
ndependence ls a lofty goal. lt's what every parent wants for thelr
chlld and every cltlzen wants for thelr natlon. lt ls also what most scl-
entlsts asplre to after years of tralnlng and worklng for other people.
8ut the practlcal challenges of achlevlng lndependence ln a sclentlfc
research settlng are formldable. Flrst, you have to secure a posltlon, lab
space, and suffclent funds to buy equlpment and hlre people, durlng
a tlme of constrlcted budgets and lncreased competltlon. And once the
frst round of resources ls ln hand, you have to be sklllfully employed ln
a coherent sclentlfc effort even as you seek another round of resources.
The effort requlres a mlx of sclentlfc, technlcal, pro|ect management, and
lnterpersonal skllls. More lntanglbly, the path to lndependence requlres
fexlblllty, perslstence, and self-confdence. hot everyone has what lt
takes. Then agaln, not everyone asplres to sclentlfc lndependence.
"Those who succeed are well-grounded people who have seen suc-
cess and belleve they can do lt too. They are not the type of people
7. Leadership and Lab
who worry too much or are easlly lntlmldated," says Mlchael hochella, }r.,
a professor of mlneralogy and geochemlstry at vlrglnla Polytechnlc lnstltute
and State unlverslty ln 8lacksburg, vlrglnla.
arning eur Wings
0ne prerequlslte to lndependence ls an academlc posltlon that provldes the
space, freedom, and employment stablllty necessary to engage ln lndepen-
dent research and to bulld a research team. 8ut thls ls only the beglnnlng.
Although academlc posltlons generally come wlth startup packages, settlng
up a lab from scratch ls expenslve and lt's soon necessary to go huntlng for
more fundlng.
The sclentlfc communlty has long consldered slngle-lnvestlgator research
grants, such as the k01 offered by the uS hatlonal lnstltutes of health (hlh),
the holy Crall of sclence fundlng-but that goal often remalns eluslve, par-
tlcularly for young lnvestlgators. The success rate for k01 grants, for example,
remalns dlsappolntlngly low. 0f 22,18 appllcatlons revlewed ln 2006, only
3,610 (or 16.3 percent) were funded. 0ver the 25-year perlod between 1978
and 2002, the medlan age of doctoral blom edlcal researchers recelvlng thelr
frst lndependent research grants from the hlh rose from 37 to 2.
kecognlzlng thls as a threat to the development of the next generatlon
of researchers, hlh declded to turn the problem on lts head. Last year, lt
announced the K99]k00 Pathway to lndependence award, a new mecha-
nlsm deslgned to lncrease the share of federally funded awards recelved by
younger lnvestlgators and to create lnstltutlonal lncentlves to help postdocs
become lndependent lnvestlgators. After two years of fundlng at $90,000
per year, grantees can apply for an addltlonal three years of fundlng for up to
$250,000 per year. And slnce the grants cover full overhead costs, they pro-
vlde a strong lncentlve for unlversltles to create posltlons for these grantees.
ln Furope, the governments of the uK and lreland have made slmllar efforts
to expand the number of transltlonal awards for early-career sclentlsts. 8ack
ln the unlted States, hlh has |ust announced a "new" award-dubbed the
hew lnnovator Award-that ls lntended for newly lndependent blomedlcal
sclentlsts. The number of hew lnnovator awards ls llkely to be tlny, however.
Mere 1han 5cience
8ut money lsn't everythlng. 8ecomlng a successful sclentlst requlres gettlng
the work done. what dlfferentlates those tralnees who go on to become lnde-
pendent lnvestlgators from those who contlnue to work for others! Although
there ls llttle hard data, the common assumptlon ls that only the best and the
brlghtest go on to lndependence.
8ut there ls more to lt than lntellect and sclentlfc sklll. To become suc-
cessful as lndependent lnvestlgators, young sclentlsts must possess-or
acqulre-a battery of nonsclentlfc skllls. Tradltlonally, lndlvlduals were left
to plck these up on thelr own, but they may now take advantage of many
excellent programs that focus on teachlng them the skllls of successful grant
appllcatlons and sclentlfc management. 0ne of the most ambltlous and com-
prehenslve of these efforts ls a program ln lab management supported by the
howard hughes Medlcal lnstltute (hhMl) and the 8urroughs wellcome Fund
ln the uSA. (howard hughes Medlcal lnstltute, Mckir thc kiht Mcvcs: A
At the top
of the llst
of tralts
for lndepen-
dent research
are persls-
tence, self-
and fex-
Prcrtircl CuiJc jcr Sricrtir Mcrccncrt jcr PcstJcrs crJ Ncw
Fcrulty, ScrcrJ FJiticr, wlth a free download)
A successful prlnclpal lnvestlgator (Pl) must know how to brlng
a team together and nurture each lndlvldual, says Peter }. 8runs,
vlce presldent for grants and speclal programs at the hhMl, who
was on the faculty of Cornell unlverslty ln lthaca, hew ork, for
more than 30 years. hls advlce to buddlng lab managers: "when
you look at successful mentors, you'll fnd that they recognlze the
human needs of thelr people. They llsten to thelr problems, work-
related or not. They help them succeed as people," 8runs says.
Many sclentlsts belleve that personallty plays a cruclal role ln
achlevlng lndependence as well. "The sclentlfc abllltles of lnde-
pendent lnvestlgators versus the nonlndependent ones are es-
sentlally the same," says hochella. "ln my experlence, the dlffer-
ence may lle ln both the level of ambltlon and baslc personallty,"
says hochella, whose career mentorlng doctoral and postdoctoral
tralnees has spanned more than two decades.
0e eu Bave What tt 1akes?
The foundatlons of personallty are part nature and part nurture.
wlth effort, people can make some changes around the edges but
most core character tralts endure. how we are hard-wlred may
make us more or less llkely to become lndependent researchers.
Accordlng to some of the experlenced lab managers lntervlewed
for thls artlcle, at the top of the llst of tralts requlred for lndepen-
dent research are perslstence, self-confdence, and fexlblllty.
Persistence. lndependent research lsn't the path for the
sclentlst who ls motlvated by qulck rewards, hochella says.
kesearch lndependence requlres tenaclty, drlve, and the
wllllngness to hang ln for the long haul. "oung sclentlsts who
wlsh to become lndependent need to be able to see the rewards
down the llne, set thelr mlnds on lt, and go for lt," says hochella.
"They remaln calm, take thlngs one step at a tlme, and know
that lf they pass all the lndlvldual hurdles, they wlll have a good
chance of maklng lt."
Mlchael Thoennessen, a professor and assoclate dlrector of
the hatlonal Superconductlng Cyclotron Laboratory (hCSL) at
Mlchlgan State unlverslty ln Fast Lanslng belleves that mentors
can help young sclentlsts by modellng the costs and rewards of
perslstence. "he can convey to the mentee that he loves hls |ob,
although lt lnvolves lntense work, long hours, and ls sometlmes
loaded wlth admlnlstratlve tasks," he says.
Fxperlence ln the Pl's baslc tasks can also glve asplrlng scl-
entlsts a leg up whlle they're stlll ln tralnlng. Steve K. Lower, an
asslstant professor of earth and envlronmental sclences at 0hlo
State unlverslty ln Columbus ls one of hochella's protgs who
has gone on to secure hls own grants from the hatlonal Sclence]smart
Chapter 7
and Lab
Foundatlon (hSF) and the uepartment of Fnergy. "As a graduate student, my
advlser allowed me to play a blg role ln the wrltlng of hSF grants. he also
allowed me to revlew the panel revlews" of the grant proposals he helped
wrlte, says Lower. Aslde from learnlng the nuts and bolts, those experlences
helped hlm recognlze the lmportance of perslstence and humlllty, he says.
Cenhdence. "Those who succeed are well-grounded people who have seen
success and belleve they can do lt too. They are not the type of people who
worry too much or are easlly lntlmldated," says hochella.
Adam klch, an asslstant professor of blologlcal sclences at the State
unlverslty of hew ork, 8rockport, belleves that "confdence" doesn't qulte
descrlbe the essentlal quallty-more llke fearlessness, he suggests. "l was
wllllng to develop new or novel protocols to get an experlmental questlon
answered. l was baslcally wllllng to try anythlng, and therefore, wasn't afrald
to push technlques beyond where they were supposed to work," says klch.
Mentors can help tralnees become more self-confdent by engaglng
them ln meanlngful dlscusslons and treatlng them as peers rather
than "down-the-pecklng-order" students and postdocs, says Thoen-
nessen. "Tralnees galn confdence when they reallze the people they
respect ln the feld don't have all the answers," he says.
f|exibi|ity. "The ablllty to handle amblgulty and uncertalnty wlth some
equanlmlty, even to embrace lt, ls really crltlcal," says Thoennessen. Thls
requlres a wllllngness to learn new roles, even or especlally when lt means
movlng beyond one's comfort level or sklll set, he says.
"l en|oy the process of sclence and can be happy worklng on a varlety of dlf-
ferent pro|ects," says klch. he took hls prlor work and expertlse ln the area of
gastrolntestlnal motlllty and applled lt to a new anlmal model, the zebrafsh,
to show that he could do what he proposed to do and then added a new hook
to get lt funded. "when conslderlng pro|ects, l always keep two thlngs ln
mlnd: what work wlll be fun to do and what work ls fundable," says klch.
Werking smart. 0ne of the most unlversal keys to adaptlng to an
lndependent posltlon ls learnlng to get more done ln less tlme. 8etween
teachlng, research, grant wrltlng, mentorlng, and commlttee work, new
faculty members have a lot more to do than they dld when they were grad
students and postdocs, so they can't afford to waste tlme-and that means
worklng smart as well as hard.
"l recall professor hochella saylng, 'ou can make dlscoverles by spendlng
a month ln the lab or a day ln the llbrary,'" Lower says. he frst put that lesson
lnto practlce when he spent a good part of hls frst summer of grad school
ln the llbrary. "At the end of the summer, l had fgured out what was mlsslng
from my area of research. l knew where l could carve a nlche," he says. he's
been applylng the lesson ever slnce.
0iIIerent strekes. hot everyone ls lnterested ln pursulng lnde-
pendent research. "There are many young sclentlsts who don't
have a burnlng ambltlon or an lnherent need to lead. They are
content wlth followlng, knowlng that they are |ust as capable,"
says hochella. "They |ust don't want the hassle."
"Today, many students don't want to be clones of thelr
professors," says 8runs. he hopes that the graduate school
communlty wlll recognlze the need to prepare some equally
talented graduate students for |obs other than dolng "blg
research ln blg groups."
lndeed, ln a tlme of lncreaslngly collaboratlve sclence, per-
haps lt's the concept of lndependence ltself that needs revls-
lng. A semlnal report from the hatlonal kesearch Councll (hkC)
publlshed ln 2005, called 8riJcs tc lrJcpcrJcrrc: Fcstcrir thc
lrJcpcrJcrrc cj Ncw lrvcstictcrs ir 8icncJircl kcsccrrh, sug-
gests that the tradltlonal defnltlon of an lndependent research-
er-as an lndlvldual, usually ln a tenure-track posltlon, who has
recelved hls or her frst k01 research pro|ect grant (or equlva-
lent) as a prlnclpal lnvestlgator-ls too narrow. kather, lt says
an lndependent researcher ls "one who en|oys lndependence
of thought-the freedom to defne the problem of lnterest or to
choose or develop the best strategles to address the problem."
Fncompassed ln the broader term ls the notlon that researchers
need not be ln tenure or even self-sustalnlng to be lndependent.
They can achleve lndependence by maklng dlstlnct contrlbutlons
to the research enterprlse even lf they're not ln charge of the lab.
The problem ls that there aren't many alternatlves to Pl-shlp
for establlshed academlc sclentlsts. Although some non-Pl
|obs may be found wlthln unlversltles-runnlng core facllltles,
for example-these klnds of |obs are relatlvely few. Far more
common are older sclentlsts stuck ln postdocs wlth llttle |ob
securlty, even a decade or more past thelr Ph.u.s. 8ut these
are not |obs that anyone asplres to. So early-career sclentlsts
who aren't eager to head up thelr own research enterprlse
should conslder opportunltles to teach or to fnd work outslde
academla-at government labs or ln prlvate lndustry-where
they can do good work wlthout havlng to bulld and support a
laboratory and a team. The klnd of teamwork descrlbed ln that
hkC report ls far more common ln lndustry than lt ls ln academla.
ln one of the all-tlme most popular career advlce books, whct
Cclcr ls cur Pcrcrhutc? (frst publlshed ln 1970 and updated
many tlmes slnce), author klchard helson 8olles says, "The key
to a happy and fulflllng future ls knowlng yourself. Thls self-
knowledge ls the most lmportant component of fndlng the rlght
career." lf your pursult of lndependence feels llke a sllppery
slope and you're not en|oylng lt, sometlmes lt helps to reassess
your career goals and talk them through wlth a trusted mentor, a
career counselor, or a mental health professlonal.]smart
Chapter 7
and Lab
Manain 5cientists]10.1126]sclence.caredlt.a0700160
8y Karyn hede- Flrst publlshed hovember 9, 2007
hrlstlna hull chuckles when asked where sclentlsts acqulre thelr
lnterpersonal skllls. She acqulred hers the same way most sclentlsts
do: They were thrust upon her when she started her laboratory at the
unlverslty of wlsconsln, Madlson. Suddenly she was the boss, faced wlth
the dally challenges of motlvatlng students, negotlatlng wlth peers ln com-
mlttee meetlngs, resolvlng conflcts ln the lab, and a dozen other tasks that
requlre what are broadly called "people skllls."
hull acknowledges that possesslng good management ablllty ls essentlal
to productlve sclentlsts, but she recelved no formal management tralnlng
prlor to taklng the relns. her experlence ls not unusual. Fully half of uS
postdoctoral sclentlsts respondlng to a 2003 Slgma Xl survey sald that they
had recelved no tralnlng ln lab or group management, and nearly all the
rest had recelved only ad hoc or "on-the-|ob" tralnlng. Most wanted formal
tralnlng ln lab management, but only percent had attended a workshop or
done formal coursework.
Fven establlshed senlor sclentlsts recognlze the dlsconnect. "Sclence ls odd
ln some ways," says kobert uoms, chalr of the uepartment of Mlcroblology at
the unlverslty of Pennsylvanla School of Medlclne. "ou spend all your tlme
as a student and postdoctoral fellow learnlng how to be a good experlmen-
tallst. Then you become an lndependent sclentlst, and lf you are successful,
before long you are no longer dolng experlments because you don't have any
tlme, and personnel management becomes a ma|or lssue."
Llke many sclentlsts, uoms modeled hls management style on that of hls
sclentlfc mentor, Arl helenlus, a vlrologlst at ale unlverslty School of Medl-
clne, whose style uoms admlred. The ad hoc method can work sometlmes,
but lt's hlt-or-mlss.
"There are some horrlble pathologles ln some labs ln the relatlonshlps,"
says Fdward 0'hell, dlrector of the Center for the health Professlons at the
unlverslty of Callfornla, San Franclsco (uCSF), who offers laboratory manage-
ment workshops throughout the unlted States. "People stay because they
are lnsplred by the sclence, but they leave the tralnlng ln some of these labs
really wounded people. Then they wlll use that as a model for leadershlp."
ln hls workshops, 0'hell trles to get sclentlsts to change thelr behavlor by
asklng them to frame a hypothesls. For example, "lf l stop yelllng at my tech-
nlclan when he makes a mlstake and work together to correct the problem, he
wlll fnlsh experlments more qulckly and completely." Then, 0'hell asks them
to collect and analyze data to see lf the data ft the hypothesls.
eceming an IIective Leader
Success ln sclence ls often measured by number of publlcatlons, cltatlons,
and slmllar metrlcs. 8ut when Allce Saplenza, a chemlst wlth a Ph.u. ln
organlzatlonal behavlor who ls now at Slmmons College ln 8oston, Massa-
chusetts, asked experlenced sclentlsts what qualltles they most admlre ln a
sclentlfc leader, she got a very dlfferent answer.
Saplenza says her research suggests that the best leaders are
those wlth the best people skllls. She surveyed more than 200
sclentlsts and englneers from the unlted States, Furope, and
Asla, asklng them to descrlbe the most effectlve sclentlfc leader
they knew. Leadlng the llst were people of "carlng and compas-
slon," followed by those who "possess managerlal skllls" such
as effectlve communlcatlon and conflct resolutlon. Technlcal sklll
was a dlstant thlrd.
Another common mlsperceptlon among sclentlsts, she says, ls
that managlng people ln a laboratory envlronment ls somehow
dlfferent from managlng people ln other types of workplaces.
"People are people," Saplenza says. "There's a very short llst of
thlngs that go wrong when people work together."
So how do you make sure those thlngs don't go wrong! "There
ls no easy fx," she says. "lt should not be surprlslng that lt
wlll take tlme to become an expert ln the dlsclpllne of lnterper-
sonal behavlor."
Carl Cohen, co-author of the book lcb 0yrcnirs: Mcrccncrt
Skills jcr Sricrtists (and a former Sricrrc Careers contrlbutor),
recommends taklng short courses ln management and readlng
books such as wllllam ury's Ccttir Pcst Nc, whlch he found
lnvaluable ln developlng negotlatlon skllls. There's a whole lltera-
ture out there, he says, that can be very helpful.
0'hell recommends yearly performance evaluatlons for
everyone ln the lab, lncludlng the lead lnvestlgator, uslng what's
known as a 360-degree evaluatlon ln whlch people glve and get
constructlve feedback from supervlsors and those they supervlse.
Thls klnd of assessment taught Saplenza that she needed to be
more expllclt wlth her students and postdocs ln settlng goals
and expectatlons.
ferma|izing 1raining
hot long after her trlal by fre at wlsconsln, hull, a former 8ur-
roughs wellcome Fund (8wF) Career Award reclplent, got a taste
of formal tralnlng when she partlclpated ln a fve-day lab manage-
ment "boot camp" sponsored by 8wF and the howard hughes
Medlcal lnstltute (hhMl) ln Chevy Chase, Maryland, ln 2005.
"l declded to go to the course] grudglngly," she acknowledges.
"l wasn't sure lt was worth a week of my tlme." She feared the
course would be a bunch of "buslness-speak" that dldn't apply to
the lssues she faced ln the lab. 8ut by the end of the course, she
was glad she had gone. She says she valued hearlng the collec-
tlve expertlse of experlenced sclentlsts who had been through the
same lssues she faced, and she learned enough about her own
personallty and management style to make changes she says
have lmproved her skllls as mentor and manager.
"l reallzed there were some thlngs l was dolng that my lab
expected me to do dlfferently," she says. "My students polnted
out that l don't manage lnterruptlons well-that l allow them to
Saplenza says
her research
that the best
leaders are
those wlth
the best
people skllls.]smart
Chapter 7
and Lab
lnterrupt me too much. l thought that was lnterestlng because l was very
much lnto my open-door pollcy. when l became more protectlve of my tlme,
they respected my tlme more."
Peter 8runs, vlce presldent for grants and speclal programs at hhMl,
says that hhMl ls unllkely to offer the lab leadershlp course agaln.
lnstead, the lnstltute ls trylng to dlssemlnate lts model by "tralnlng the
tralners": teachlng the nuts and bolts of how to run such courses to a core
group of 17 lnterested professlonal socletles and unlversltles that want
to offer them.
hhMl gave small seed grants to each partner and asked for evaluatlon
data from the workshops. ln aggregate, more than 90 percent of respon-
dents who partlclpated ln the courses sald that they would recommend
them to a colleague, accordlng to Maryrose Franko, senlor program offcer
at hhMl.
Mlchelle hermlston, a new asslstant professor of pedlatrlc hematology
at uCSF, took a laboratory leadershlp course offered by uCSF's offce of
postdoctoral educatlon thls past sprlng. "l'm a huge cheerleader for the
leadershlp course. l found lt extremely useful, as dld all of my frlends
who also took lt," she says. She partlcularly appreclated the tlps on how
to assess work styles and how to ask dlffcult questlons about potentlal
weaknesses durlng the hlrlng process. "For many of us who have been
tralned ln sclence, learnlng how to do those thlngs can be challenglng."
hermlston says that the course has already had an effect ln her lab.
her technlclan told her recently that she has become much more open to
feedback and sald how nlce lt has been not to have to guess what she ls
thlnklng. "l've become much more cognlzant of what level of hands-on
management people need at dlfferent stages of thelr tralnlng," she says.
"lt's probably changed some of my behavlors for the better ln that l glve
and ask for feedback more often."
The unlted Klngdom has declded that such tralnlng should come long
before a sclentlst fnds herself runnlng her own lab: A fundamental change
ls under way that alms to make "soft skllls" a part of doctoral educatlon ln
sclence. ln 2002, a government-commlssloned panel recommended that all
sclence graduates recelve such tralnlng. ln answer to those recommenda-
tlons, kesearch Counclls uK, the natlon's prlmary research-fundlng body,
now dlsburses 21 mllllon (about uS$2 mllllon) per year to unlversltles
for professlonal development for graduate students and postdocs ln areas
such as pro|ect management, supervlslng others, and communlcatlng wlth
the publlc. The goal lsn't to lmprove laboratory management per se, lt ls,
rather, to glve graduates skllls that make them more attractlve to potentlal
employers ln all sectors.
There ls stlll some skeptlclsm on the part of supervlsors, and some
people belleve that the money would be better spent elsewhere. 8ut the
program seems to be havlng an effect. "we're probably about halfway
there ln terms of gettlng transferable skllls lnto Ph.u. programs," says laln
Cameron, head of the kesearch Careers and ulverslty unlt wlthln kesearch
Counclls uK. "we've made a huge amount of progress slnce 2003, but
we've stlll got some way to go."
Such skeptlclsm ls not confned to the unlted Klngdom. when Fllzabeth
Fllls, dlrector of Craduate Tralnlng ln 8lomedlcal Sclences at the unlverslty
of Strathclyde, uK, gave a talk on the uK's lntegrated-tralnlng
model at an Assoclatlon of Amerlcan Medlcal Colleges meetlng
last year, she encountered skeptlclsm there as well. "There
seemed to be some reslstance to movlng] towards skllls-based
tralnlng ln the unlted States, and there was llttle understandlng of
why transferable skllls were needed," she wrltes ln an e-mall.
8rlan Schwartz, a physlclst and vlce presldent for research and
sponsored programs at the Craduate Center of the Clty unlverslty
of hew ork, has been co-teachlng courses on buslness skllls
for sclentlsts for 10 years. Schwartz says students and postdocs
are often savvler than thelr supervlsors about the need for such
skllls ln the |ob market. he advlses students to take such courses
throughout thelr graduate careers. "Fven whlle gettlng a Ph.u.,
take some other courses," he says. "A lot of students say, '8ut my
thesls advlser won't allow me.' l say, 'uon't tell 'em.'"
"Sclentlsts have to learn that lt's not the sclence they're
managlng, lt's the people who are dolng the sclence that they're
managlng," says Saplenza. "Sometlmes that's a quantum leap for
people to understand."
Additiena| Artic|es 0n|ine
Mind Matters: 1oo Perfect?]10.1126]sclence.caredlt.a08000
Masterin our Ph.0.: 0ealin with 0ifcult Colleaues]10.1126]sclence.caredlt.a0800013
1oolin 0p: 1ransitionin to 1eamwork]10.1126]sclence.caredlt.a0800076
Mind Matters: Workin 5pace]10.1126]sclence.caredlt.a0700093
Maximizin Productivity and Reconition, Part 3: 0evelopin
a Research Plan]10.1126]sclence.caredlt.a080018
1his booklet is also available online at sciencecareers.orJ
Photo Credlts
$6#&4]Alex Slobodkln
CL0CKwlSF Fk0M T0P:]}eff 8anke]lgor Kragul|ac,]klch Legg,]Laurence Cough,]La|os kpsl,]Laurence Cough
ChAPTFk 2: MAkKFTlhC 0ukSFLF: Cvs, kFSuMFS, Ahu hFTw0kKlhC]}LCutlerrez
ChAPTFk : CkAFTlhC Ah lhuuSTk CAkFFk]Mlenny
ChAPTFk 5: h0hTkAulTl0hAL CAkFFkS]lmagestock
ChAPTFk 6: ulvFkSlT lSSuFS lh SClFhCF]tlmsa
ChAPTFk 7: LFAuFkShlP Ahu LA8 MAhACFMFhT]Alexkaths
1itles and afliations for authors and for sources quoted were correct at
the time of oriinal publication.
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