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136. Rebuilding an Inclusive Academia with Dr. Ashalla Freeman

As protesters march in the streets, you’ll hear calls to “Defund” or “Disband the Police.” These advocates argue that tweaks and training programs will never be enough to meaningfully alter the course of modern police departments, some of which can trace their origins to slave patrols in the South.

You simply can’t get there, from here, they say. We need to reimagine what we mean by ‘public safety’, and look for other ways to foster healthy communities.

That same revolutionary approach may sharpen our thinking on academic training at a University.

As we grapple with the way our society treats people of color, we can’t turn away from the advantages and obstacles enshrined by our educational system.

Indeed, access to education may be one of the many steps in our path to equality.

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135. The Science Training Toolbox with Dr. Andres De Los Reyes. Plus, Antiracism for Academia

Have you ever lamented the fact that there isn’t some kind of instruction book to help you navigate your scientific training?

Wouldn’t it be nice if someone explained how to choose a mentor, or what it means to give a ‘job talk?’ And is there any advice for how to deal with that negative peer-reviewer, or how to escape a sub-par PI?

Well, you’re in luck, because The Early Career Researcher’s Toolbox: Insights into Mentors, Peer Review, and Landing a Faculty Job by Andres De Los Reyes, PhD, is exactly the guide you’ve been looking for.

And this week, we get this clinical psychologist’s insight into why academic training is so stressful, and how you can overcome the major hurdles along the way.

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099: Skype a Scientist with Sarah McAnulty

“I was observing that there was this growing mistrust in science, and I couldn’t really understand why. I think that people just don’t trust scientists anymore, or at least not as much as they used to.”

As a graduate student at the University of Connecticut, Sarah McAnulty was struck by the anti-science and pseudoscience she saw in the news and in friends who trusted their internet-inspired juice cleanse more than they trusted medical research.

“It’s discouraging to see them not trusting us as a group, so  I looked to see where people could access scientists in their daily lives.  It looks like most of the pop culture references they have for us are either evil or socially awkward.  And even when scientists have noble intentions, you end up with Jurassic Park!”

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Mónica Feliú-Mójer

092: Making Time for Science Communication with Mónica Feliú-Mójer

“Things are not progressing as they should. You’re having a hard time focusing on the research, and we know that you don’t want to be in academia anyway.  Do you want to quit?”

The question landed like a punch, and Mónica’s committee meeting took a turn she hadn’t expected. She was in the fourth year of her PhD training at Harvard, and her committee had just asked her if she wanted to leave the program.

“That was incredibly devastating to have these four people that you respect, and that their main role is supposed to be supporting you and helping you, and to have them ask you, “Do you want to leave?” It was devastating. But I somehow found the strength to say, ‘I don’t want to quit!'”

Mónica Feliú-Mójer finished her PhD and went on to a dream job doing science outreach and communication, but that committee meeting was a turning point.

Her story holds a valuable lesson for any graduate student considering a career outside of the academic tenure track.

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011: The 8.5 Fixes That Will Save Biomedical Science (R)

Josh and Daniel are on the road this week, so we decided to bring you some goodies from the archive.  An 8-ish step plan to save science!  

Biomedical science is broken.  Funding is unpredictable, training programs drag on indefinitely, and some of our best scientists are drawn to careers outside of the university or drowned in paperwork if they stay.  Can anything be done to support research staff and boost lab productivity?

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