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142. Advancing Racial Equity in Science w/ Dr. Kenneth Gibbs

When Dr. Kenneth Gibbs talks about diversity and inclusion in the sciences, it’s not just a cause célèbre. It’s personal.

“For those of you who don’t know me, I am a Black man. A descendent from enslaved Africans here in America, so my family has been here for hundreds of years. That’s part of my story.”

And while his grandfathers had 4th and 8th grade educations, his parents were able to go college in the 1970s because of public investment in programs like Upward Bound. He and his sisters were able to go to graduate school.

“I had a PhD from Stanford by the time I was 27,” Dr. Gibbs recalls. “You can see that arc, but you can also see that when I got that PhD, I was the only black man in my building for that five years that wasn’t a mailman, janitor, or technician.”

He finishes, “There’s nothing wrong with any of those jobs, but I said, ‘There’s something kind of “off” here.'”

Now, he’s working to fix the system, and to make science look more like society.

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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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