TuftsNow SciComm Internship – Accepting applications now through May 28th

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Regardless of which career trajectory you end up taking, being able to communicate ideas clearly to a broad audience is a crucial skill for success. The Tufts Postdoctoral Association has partnered with TuftsNow, the one-stop site for Tufts news, social media, events, videos, photography and more, to offer a science communication (SciComm) internship to dedicated PhD candidates and postdoctoral researchers. The internship lasts 1 year (June – May), and interns will work closely with TuftsNow editors to publish 2-3 science- or research-related stories through TuftsNow per semester. This is a great chance to learn the technical details of writing and publishing and build your resume!

This past year’s SciComm Intern was postdoctoral scholar Dr. Erin Lewis, who is currently working in the Nutritional Immunology Lab at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging (HNRCA). Lewis published four different articles with TuftsNow. Her first two articles were based off press releases on Tufts research and translated for the general public on the TuftsNow website. She then moved on to developing stories from her own research and from recently released primary research articles from Tufts scientists. Two of her articles were published in print in Tufts Nutrition, a twice yearly magazine of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy and the HNRCA. In addition to receiving feedback on her writing, she was trained in topic identification and interview skills and gained valuable insight into how the editorial process works. When asked to reflect on her time working with TuftsNow, Lewis said, “this was a unique opportunity to learn from experienced editors and gain confidence in translating challenging technical science pieces for the lay public.”

Time commitment varies from 4-8 hours per month. Applications are due Monday, May 28th. Please click here to download an application, or email Lauren Crowe at lauren [dot] crowe [at] tufts [dot] edu for more information.

Symposium on The State of Women in Biomedical Science

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There’s an upcoming symposium that focuses on women in the biomedical sciences, which everyone who can should attend. It is sponsored through funds from Claire’s Natalie Zucker Chair.  We hope everyone can engage with the speakers on this subject.

The State of Women in Biomedical Sciences: A Call to Action

March 19, 2018 from 2-6 pm

Behrakis Auditorium

150 Harrison Avenue, Boston, MA.


The goal of the symposium is raise awareness of the challenges facing women biomedical scientists in academia and industry, and to discuss ways to promote equal opportunities for women and men. The format will be four talks followed by a panel where all four speakers will take questions from the audience. A reception will follow the panel to give everyone a chance to meet the speakers and to network.


Here are our speakers and their topics:

  • Nancy Hopkins, PhD, Professor, MIT
    • We’ve come a long way – but not far enough
  • Vicki Lundblad, PhD, Professor, Salk Institute
    • Women scientists need to tell their stories
  • Joanne Kamens, PhD, Executive Director, Addgene
    • Implicit Bias – Tactics for Change
  • Judge Nancy Gertner, (Retired), Professor, Harvard Law School
    • In Defense of Women: Stories from a Lifelong Advocate

Thy symposium is open to the public and free of charge.  Be sure to register at women-in-science-boston.eventbrite.com as seating is limited.  Also, please help us get the word out and forward this e-mail to any interested colleagues or post the attached flyer in your building.

We think this symposium will address an issue of broad impact at a time when women are feeling more encouraged to speak up about their concerns, and we hope that it will inspire efforts from both scientists and administrators to insure greater gender equity in biomedical science.

See you there!


Claire Moore



Claire Moore, Ph.D
Natalie V. Zucker Professor
Director, Training in Education and Critical Research Skills (TEACRS) Postdoctoral Program

How to Network Like a Pro at Scientific Meetings

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Dan Jay, Tufts University Faculty and Postdoctoral Officer joined us to teach us how to maximize the opportunity of attending scientific conferences!

How to Network Like a Pro at Scientific Meetings

When you run a lab, you run a small business
  • You have to create your brand
  • Keep focused on your scientific strengths and goals 
How do you work a meeting (pre-work)?
  • Be yourself but develop a professional persona
  • Be (positively) memorable
  • Prepare ahead of time (do your homework)
  • Meet new people
  • Be strategic – who do you want to meet and why?

Management 101 for Scientists

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We were joined by Joanne Kamens, Executive Director of Addgene to learn more about management and leadership skills for scientists!

What makes people happy?

  • Flexiblity
  • A strong sense of engagement
  • A feeling of being appreciated and valued
  • Having freedom and diversity in their jobs
  • Maintaining good relationships with clients and colleagues 
Communicating effectively
  • Reach out – manage by walking around, use chat, Slack and email
  • Ask direct feedback in non-public settings
  • PAC: Patiently listen.  Ask at least one question.  Confirm that you heard the message accurately.
  • Demonstrate that you got the message
    • Repeat to clarify
    • Act on information publicly
    • Credit and reward the person who gave the feedback
  • Focus on feedback that adds value and impacts the decision
Giving Feedback
  • Be clear
  • Tailor your message to the individual
    • Do they hear both positive and negative feedback well?
  • Delegate, don’t micromanage
  • Delegate to the lowest organizational level
    • Offer the chance for growth
  • Focus on the results – what do you want to accomplish?  Be detailed and let your team go.
Effective communication
  • Document and share action items
  • Follow up conversations with an email outlining the key points
Good Tips for first time managers
  • Don’t make changes too early
  • Don’t be afraid to say “I don’t know”
  • Reach out for help
  • Allow your direct reports to adjust to you and your managerial style
For additional info: Read “Skills for New Managers” by Morey Stettner

Future of Research Seminar

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We were joined by Gary McDowell, Executive Director of Future of Research (and the second Tufts PDA president!) who discussed what The Future of Research is and the changing landscape of research and postdoctoral issues, including the FLSA act.

-Future of Research was formed after a desire to contribute the thoughts of junior researchers on the state of research and how to better sustain research in the future.
– Came out of the fledgling Boston Postdoctoral Association
– 1st FoR, which took place in 2014, was a collaborative discussion effort

1. Junior scientists should be better connected together between the different experience and location levels
2. More funding opportunities for scientists and better advocacy for increased conditions, salary etc.
3. Transparency: better clarity on the career outcomes and options for postdocs. Where do people go? Transparency on salaries and benefits at each individual institution.

Mission: To represent junior scientists, through grassroots advocacy, to promote systemic change to the way we do science.

Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and postdoc salaries:
FLSA: guarantee of a minimum wage and overtime pay within a 40 hr workweek.

July 6 2015: Minimum exemption salary (for no overtime) was $23,660 – proposal of new FLSA act was to increase this to $50,440 with updates every 3 years.

May 18 2016: Exemption salary set as $47,476 with implementation date as Dec 1, 2016.

How postdocs fit in:
– Many Higher Ed institutions (such as CUPA-HR and AAMC) pushed for postdocs to be exempt from the new standards and suggested lower salary caps.
– Postdocs pushed back via individual submissions, group letters coordinated by postdoc groups and by unions representing postdocs.

The Outcome: Postdocs were NOT exempt and were explicitly included in the act. The only exemption was where the primary role of the postdoc is teaching. All international postdocs, regardless of status, visa or funding source are included. Adjuncts are not included and are exempt.

Some higher ed institutions have lobbied to have the decision reversed, however it is unlikely this will occur.

So what does this mean?

– To raise salaries or track hours?
– Consensus view within the community is to increase salaries to $50,000 minimum which should be adjusted to inflation and regional living costs.
– NRSA levels:

– 51% of institutions set their minimum with the NIH
– 7% of institutions do not enforce their minimum
– 11% of institutions do not have a set minimum.

Over 50% of salaries will be affected … whether people will actually see their salaries increased or they will be let go… time will tell.

Why Gary thinks no-one will track hours:

1. The burden of proof in violating the overtime ruling is on the institution, thus it is easy for he employee to win.
2. The administrative burden to track the  hours will further stress administrators who have high workloads.

Other notes:
Postdocs are federally recognized as both employees and trainees.
Thus, they are not just cheap temporary staff scientists and experiments, writing papers, reading papers, career development, activities, conferences and even outreach (tweeting!) are all activities that fall under the job description of a postdoc.

What will be the effects?

– Smaller institutions more affected?
– Dip in new hires as y0/1 postdocs will be more expensive?
– Will junior faculty bear the brunt?
– Postdocs let go?
– Shift postdocs to NRSA/training fellowships then from research grants?
– More grad students? Someone has to do the work…
– Will there be fewer postdocs? This may be a good thing…