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2010 Education-Career Development Sessions

The SOT Annual Meeting and ToxExpo in 2010 featured three Education-Career Development Sessions. Information on and recordings of these sessions are available below.

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Where Do I Go Now? Rational Career Development Planning for Early-Career Scientists

Chairperson(s): Betina J. Lew, University of Rochester Medical Center, Rochester, NY, and Amy Wang, U.S. EPA, Research Triangle Park, NC.

Sponsor:
Postdoctoral Assembly

Endorsed by:
Career Resource and Development Committee
Student Advisory Council

Toxicology training during graduate school and postdoctoral fellowships provides early-career scientists with a wide array of transferable skills that can be used in many job sectors, but navigating the all of the possible career options can be a daunting task. Additionally, finding and preparing for a career path that is right for yourself is not always easy, particularly when it differs from that of your mentor or is non-traditional. The majority of students and postdocs are trained in academic institutions with resources that prepare them for a career in academia. However, a recent national Postdoctoral Association survey indicated that even though 45% of the postdocs plan on being a tenure-track faculty member, less than 20% will obtain this position. Therefore it is important for early-career scientists to gather ample information and diverse experience to better prepare them for multiple career paths. The first step in this process is to identify transferable skills and translate them into realistic paths towards a rewarding job. With broad coverage of non-traditional career paths in toxicology, this session will provide early-career scientist with insight on how to map a career path that fits their passion and skills. Using an interactive format, speakers will identify tools to utilize in pursuit of navigating different paths. Discussions will include identifying marketable skills, rational career planning, networking, and improving marketability. Grant preparation will also be discussed during a presentation on writing a successful career transition grant application. Specifically, the K99/R00 grant program, which has no citizenship restrictions, provides s support to an individual postdoctoral fellow transitioning to an independent faculty position.

How to Identify Your Skills and Passions, Kristen Keefe, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT.

Career Planning and Development for Early-Career Scientists, Douglas Wolf, U.S. EPA, Research Triangle Park, NC.

Improving Networking and Communication Skills, Lori Conlan, NIH, Bethesda, MD.

Making Yourself More Marketable in Private Industry, James Popp, Stratoxon LLC, Lancaster, PA.

The NIH Pathways to Independence Award: A Transition to an Academic Career, Carol Shreffler, NIEHS, Research Triangle Park, NC.

Science Communication in 2010: A New Decade in Toxicology and Need for Better Communication

Chairperson(s): Banalata Sen, NIEHS, Durham, NC, and Sneha Bhatia, Research Institute of Fragrance Materials, Inc., Woodcliff, NJ.

Endorsed by:
Ethical, Legal, and Social Issues Specialty Section
Postdoctoral Assembly
Women in Toxicology Special Interest Group

Scientists do science, writers write. Wrong! Scientists do science and write about it as well. It is imperative that scientists publish their work. Furthermore, publishing is just one aspect of science. Scientists also have to be able to communicate complex scientific concepts to the non-scientific audience. This large group of constituents include the general public, media, policymakers, communities, and individuals. This is an obligation scientists have towards the community-at-large and one that can be accomplished with relative ease once the basic nuances of effective communication are understood. Effective communication is therefore, not just an icing on the cake; rather it is fundamental to interpretation and dissemination of science. Yet science communication is not an integral part of science education. Most scientists do not have any formal training in science writing. They learn to write by following the style and approach of their mentors or other authors. Some form of training in science writing becomes even more crucial for authors for whom English is a second language. Laying this basic foundation is important since the public learns about science from many different sources, including newspapers, magazines, books, radio, television, the Internet, electronic news services, and films. Because information is readily available at our finger tips it can easily be distorted with the unfortunate circumstance that bad science sometimes triumphs over good science. Therefore it is important for U.S. to effectively communicate science messages to distinguish the myths from the facts. This session will aim to highlight strategies, techniques, and resources that make the field of good science communication invaluable.

Science Communication in 2010—A New Decade in Toxicology and Need for Better Communication, Banalata Sen, NIEHS, Durham, NC, and Sneha Bhatia, Research Institute of Fragrance Materials, Inc., Woodcliff, NJ.

Science Writing, Jane Schroeder

Blogs, Podcasts, and More, Sneha Bhatia, Research Institute of Fragrance Materials, Inc., Woodcliff, NJ.

Communicating Hazard, Linda Birnbaum

Communication As a Career, Banalata Sen, NIEHS, Durham, NC.

Career Alternatives in Toxicology: Lessons Learned

Chairperson(s): Judy L. Raucy, Puracyp Inc., Carlsbad, CA, and Hisham K. Hamadeh, Amgen, Inc., Comparative Biology and Safety Sciences, Thousand Oaks, CA.

Sponsor:
Career Resource and Development Committee

For individuals who desire to take a career break or those set to retire, many options are available. There are many avenues to explore including those that involve technical opportunities for toxicologists and environmental scientists. Of the many opportunities to explore, the Peace Corps and U.N. volunteer programs offer a myriad of opportunities for environmental scientists wishing to practice their trade abroad. In addition to these two examples, other alternatives will be discussed including those available in academia, which provides its own set of unique experiences. For example, just how does one go about leaving a career in cancer research and epigenetic toxicology to become an administrator at the Radiation Effects Research Foundation in Hiroshima, Japan? There are many positive sides to such a decision, including work on a historic project in a foreign country and interactions with scientists who may benefit from your insight; however, there can be disadvantages as well. Experienced panel members will highlight the “price-paid” for such decisions. What about options other than academic research, such as toxicologists with innovative ideas who wish to capitalize on their talents and drive by starting a biotechnology company? Our panel of experts will provide insight and tips on the challenges involved in bringing an idea for a commercial product to the market place. This specific discussion will note the distinct advantages and disadvantages of embarking on a career change from academia to establishing a biotechnology company. This last discussion will highlight the specific and unique challenges of starting a company, including acquisition of intellectual property rights, obtaining funding, and marketing of products. This session should be of interest to anyone looking to explore career alternatives off the beaten path.

Career Alternatives in Toxicology: Lessons Learned, Judy L. Raucy, Puracyp, Inc., Carlsbad, CA., Timothy D. Landry, Tecnico Unidad de Gestion Ambiental, Tlaxcala, Mexico, James E. Trosko, Department Pediatrics/Human Development, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI, and Hisham K. Hamadeh, Amgen, Inc., Comparative Biology and Safety Sciences, Thousand Oaks, CA.

International Technical Volunteering for Toxicology, Timothy D. Landry, Tecnico Unidad de Gestion Ambiental, Tlaxcala, Mexico.

How Sutnik, Radiation Fallout, Chemical Toxicants, Bioethics for Hippies, Stem Cells, Sushi, Kimchie, and Gelato Led to a ‘Biological Rosetta Stone’ for Human Diseases, James E. Trosko, Department Pediatrics/Human Development, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI.

From Academia to Biotechnology: Beginning Your Own Company, Judy L. Raucy, Puracyp Inc., Carlsbad, CA.