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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…

Mentoring Resource: Resources for Academics

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Making the Right Moves: A Practical Guide to Scientific Management for Postdocs and New Faculty, Second Edition 
Based on workshops co-sponsored by the Burroughs Wellcome Fund and HHMI, this book is a collection of practical advice and experiences from seasoned biomedical investigators and includes chapters on laboratory leadership, getting funded, project management, and teaching and course design.

Chapter 1: Obtaining and Negotiating a Faculty Position

  • The Job Search
  • The Job Application
  • The Job Interview
  • Negotiating Your Position
  • Resources

Chapter 2: Understanding University Structure and Planning for Tenure

  • Organization of a “Typical” University
  • Organization of a “Typical” Academic Health Center
  • People You Should Get to Know
  • Faculty Governing Bodies and Committees
  • Support Facilities and Services
  • Responsibilities Beyond the Laboratory
  • The Scientific Investigator and the Outside World
  • Planning for Promotion and Tenure
  • Resources

Chapter 3: Laboratory Leadership in Science

  • Your Role as a Laboratory Leader
  • Creating Your Vision as a Leader
  • Developing Your Leadership Style
  • Building and Sustaining an Effective Team
  • Resources
  • Appendix 1: The Four Preferences That Make Up Your Personality Type
  • Appendix 2: Performance Review Form
  • Appendix 3: Performance Feedback Checklist for Managers

Chapter 4: Staffing Your Laboratory

  • Getting Started
  • Recruiting Applicants
  • Screening Applicants
  • Interviewing Applicants
  • Evaluating Applicants
  • Making the Offer
  • Asking Staff to Leave
  • Resources
  • Appendix: Telephone Interview Outline

Chapter 6: Time Management

  • Strategies for Planning Your Activities
  • Managing Your Time Day to Day
  • Special Issues
  • Resources

Chapter 7: Project Management

  • What is Project Management?
  • Getting Started
  • Tracking the Work and the Resources
  • Project Management Software
  • Controlling the Project
  • Resources
  • Appendix: Project Management—A Real-life Example

Chapter 8: Data Management and Laboratory Notebooks

  • Day-to-Day Record Keeping: The Laboratory Notebook
  • Tracking and Storing Information
  • Finding the Right Data Management System for You
  • Resources

Chapter 9: Getting Funded

  • Understanding the NIH Funding Process
  • Preparing a Strong Grant Application
  • A Bit About Budgets
  • Submitting Your Application
  • The National Science Foundation
  • Resources

Chapter 10: Getting Published and Increasing Your Visibility

  • A Brief Overview of Scientific Publishing
  • Planning for Publication
  • Getting Your Paper Published
  • Increasing Your Visibility
  • Resources

Chapter 11: Understanding Technology Transfer

  • University Technology Transfer Offices
  • The Technology Transfer Process
  • The Legal Terms and Agreements
  • Sponsorship and Consultation
  • Conflicts of Commitment and Interest
  • Resources

Chapter 12: Setting Up Collaborations

  • The Varieties of Collaborations
  • Should You Collaborate
  • Setting Up a Collaboration
  • The Ingredients of a Successful Collaboration
  • Special Challenges for the Beginning Investigator
  • International Collaborations
  • When a Collaboration is Not Working
  • Resources

Chapter 13: Teaching and Course Design

  • Why Teach Well
  • Becoming an Effective Teacher
  • Planning to Teach a Course
  • The Principles of Active Learning
  • Active Learning at a Medical School
  • Assessing Student Learning
  • Course Design
  • Teaching Others to Teach
  • Professional Considerations
  • Resources
  • Appendix 1: Examples of Active Assessments for Large Lectures
  • Appendix 2: Bloom’s Taxonomy

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Mentoring Resource: Resources for Industry track

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Making the Right Moves: A Practical Guide to Scientific Management for Postdocs and New Hires, Second Edition 
Based on workshops co-sponsored by the Burroughs Wellcome Fund and HHMI, this book is a collection of practical advice and experiences from seasoned biomedical investigators and includes chapters on laboratory leadershi, project management, and collaborations.

Chapter 3: Laboratory Leadership in Science

  • Your Role as a Laboratory Leader
  • Creating Your Vision as a Leader
  • Developing Your Leadership Style
  • Building and Sustaining an Effective Team
  • Resources
  • Appendix 1: The Four Preferences That Make Up Your Personality Type
  • Appendix 2: Performance Review Form
  • Appendix 3: Performance Feedback Checklist for Managers

Chapter 6: Time Management

  • Strategies for Planning Your Activities
  • Managing Your Time Day to Day
  • Special Issues
  • Resources

Chapter 7: Project Management

  • What is Project Management?
  • Getting Started
  • Tracking the Work and the Resources
  • Project Management Software
  • Controlling the Project
  • Resources
  • Appendix: Project Management—A Real-life Example

Chapter 12: Setting Up Collaborations

  • The Varieties of Collaborations
  • Should You Collaborate
  • Setting Up a Collaboration
  • The Ingredients of a Successful Collaboration
  • Special Challenges for the Beginning Investigator
  • International Collaborations
  • When a Collaboration is Not Working
  • Resources

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    Mentoring Resource: Developing your Network

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    Networking & Using An Elevator Pitch

    The key to finding your next job, whether it is in industry or academia is networking!
    Discussion Topics:

    • Strategies for networking
      • How to introduce yourself
      • How to do informational interviews
      • How to follow up with people
    • Strategies for a good elevator pitch

    Resources:

    Back to Mentoring Resources

    Mentoring Resource: Determining your strengths and career interests

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    Congratulations, you’re now part way through your scientific training and at this point you likely have an idea on the direction you want to take your career.  Whether you want to follow an Academic path or going into Industry, it’s always a great idea to assess your strengths and weaknesses as well as your interests and try to determine if your chosen career path meshes well with your personality.
    Below are several tools that you can use to help you learn about your personality and interests.  Each tool will help you determine

    Meyers Briggs Assessment

    “It’s so incredible to finally be understood.”

    Take this Personality Test and get a ‘freakishly accurate’ description of who you are and why you do things the way you do.

    1.  Takes less than 12 minutes.
    2. Answer honestly, even if you don’t like the answer.
    3. Try not to leave any “neutral” answers.

    Disc assessment

    This free DISC personality test lets you determine your DISC type and personality profile quickly. Find out how the DISC factors, Dominance, Influence, Steadiness and Compliance predict your behavior towards others and the everyday things you do.
    This online DISC assessment is designed to test personality by calculating your personal DISC profile based on your everyday typical behavior. Simply fill out the inventory like you would with other online personality tests. It’s quick and without any obligations. Every year millions of people take DISC personality tests!

    Using a Decision Matrix
    A decision-making matrix is a great tool to compare alternative paths using criteria that are most important to you. This decision-making method is credited to Benjamin Franklin, who called it “Moral or Prudential Algebra” in personal letters in 1772. I adapted his method to decision-making about career paths or job options.  Download a copy here.

    For this tool to be useful, the following conditions must be true:
    • You have already engaged in sufficient career exploration that you know what factors are important to you in a career or job.
    • You have narrowed your options to a small number of possible choices.
    If you are at an earlier stage of career development so that you do not yet know what you want, it would be better to postpone using this tool until you have gained more clarity. This tool is better designed for late stage decision-making.
    Here are instructions to use this method:
    1. First, decide what you want in your next career path. For illustration, I’ll use the example, of Mary, an elementary school science teacher who is considering going back to school to pursue a health care career.
    Mary knows that she wants these factors in her career:
    • She wants to work in the health care field.
    • She desires to earn $75K/year if she works full-time.
    • She would like a high status job. She compares all health care jobs against what she perceives as the most prestigious role in a hospital: physician. (Note how subjective this factor is…that happens sometimes with decision-making but since Mary is trying to optimize her happiness, it is OK that we are using Mary’s subjective rating about how much status a profession has.)
    • Because she has limited savings and she is concerned about student loans, she does not want to be training for more than five years.
    • She wants to be fairly confident that when she completes training, she will be able to land a job, so she wants there to be high demand for the career she chooses.
    • She wants the flexibility of working part-time if she decides to do so.
    (For examples of the types of things that people value in their careers, here is a checklist of work values.)