- Research faculty and mentors willing to serve as judges at ABRCMS 2018 are eligible to apply for the ABRCMS Judge Travel Award. Apply by July 20th
- Undergraduates, postbaccalureates, and terminal level master’s students are invited to showcase their research by submitting abstracts for presentation. The abstract submission deadline is September 7th
- Travel funds are available to eligible undergraduates and postbaccalaureates students who submit an abstract for poster or oral presentation. The deadline to apply for a travel award is August 22nd
By Kimberly Lawson
On Wednesday, June 28th Dr. Elizabeth Ofili of the NRMN Research Resources and Outreach Core (RROC) presented at The Empower2 Conference, hosted by Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science, Howard University, Meharry Medical College, and Morehouse School of Medicine. The Empower2 Conference took place June 26–28, 2017 at the Cal Turner Family Center at Meharry Medical College in Nashville, TN. The conference attendees included HBCU Presidents, undergraduates, Academic Deans, Pre-Health Advisors, Curriculum Specialists, Basic Science Faculty and Chairs. There were 64 institutional leaders at the HBCU Empower2 Conference within the category of Presidents, Deans/VPs/Provosts.
The two-day conference focused on developing students academically for entry into medical and graduate school for health professions. The initiative also highlighted the opportunity to leverage this workforce development strategy to influence healthcare, training, and education and create an alliance between HBCUs and those who train minority students. General sessions with renowned education authorities provided updates on the current political climate and other factors that provide unprecedented opportunities for HBCUs to find solutions to these challenges.
The interactive NRMN session hosted by Dr. Ofili introduced conference attendees to NRMN resources for faculty and staff development and to support undergraduate students in achieving success toward careers in the health sciences and STEM careers. The session’s objectives were to:
- Provide an overview of NRMN resources available to undergrad students and their mentors
- Introduce NRMN MyMentor virtual mentorships platform and how it helps students to connect with mentors around the U.S.
- Demonstrate NRMNet undergraduate resources and the MyMentor program
The last day of the conference concluded with participating schools and working groups attending sessions to examine recommendations from their institutions and the previous conference on best practices.
By Christine Pfund, Nancy Schwartz and Richard McGee
In 2015, the University of Michigan Rackham Graduate School hosted a national meeting entitled “Future of Bioscience Graduate and Postdoctoral Training”. This meeting brought together “a broad group of stakeholders, including representatives of academic institutions, funding agencies, trainees, scientific societies and other interested individuals, to discuss possible solutions to the career imbalances that have developed in the biomedical workforce” (www.rackham.umich.edu/fobgapt).
In June 2017, the University of Colorado Denver-Anschutz Medical Campus and the University of Michigan Rackham Graduate School co-hosted a second FOBGAPT meeting. The goal of this follow-up meeting was to share promising practices among the participants and develop a set of consensus recommendations for the biomedical science community, which would be disseminated through the conference website (https://gs.ucdenver.edu/fobgapt2/main.php) and a published white paper.
The conference kicked-off with three thought-provoking presentations:
- “Catalyzing the Modernization of Biomedical Graduate Education” by Dr. Alison Gamie, Director of the Division of Training, Workforce Development, and Diversity at the National Institute of General Medical Sciences
- “Supporting Career Diversity and Professional Development in Doctoral Education” by Dr. Julia Kent, Assistant Vice President at the Council of Graduate Schools
- “Economics and the Postdoctoral Position” by Dr. Paula Stephan, Professor of Economics at Georgia State University
All presentations are available on FOBGAPT2 website noted above.
Several NRMN leaders participated as workshop leaders at the conference. Rick McGee, Northwestern University and Chris Pfund, University of Wisconsin-Madison, in partnership with Jonathan Wiest from the National Cancer Institute, led sessions on “Increasing Engagement and Skills of Faculty in Mentorship”. This session was offered 6 times with each session moving towards consensus on main themes and concrete steps for achieving engagement and skills. The four themes chosen by participants for in-depth exploration were: 1) mentor training; 2) mentee training; 3) marketing the value of training; and 4) multiple mentors and mentoring networks. Key elements to focus on within each theme were identified to be included in the meeting report. Additionally, several overarching themes emerged including the need for more emphasis on self-actualization of mentees, and shared responsibility in mentoring relationships as denoted by the key themes of mentor AND mentee training.
Nancy Schwartz, University of Chicago, co-led a session with Jabbar Bennett (Northwestern), Nancy Street (UT Southwestern) and Christine Chow (Wayne State) on ways to better increase the diversity of scientists in senior and leadership roles. Review of the academic scientific workforce revealed crucial transition points along the pathway toward senior and leadership positions. The postdoc appointment was identified as a key stage at which experiences, resources and mentors could impact the trajectory of under-represented (women and minorities) scientists in beneficial or adverse ways. As well, many challenges in hiring, reviewing, recognizing and promoting underrepresented scientists continue as they develop their careers, even toward very senior positions. Numerous recommendations emerged through discussion and were prioritized by consensus.
By Laurie Risner
NRMN-CAN hosted two concurrent Mentor Training Workshops in May, 2017. The workshops were organized in collaboration with the NRMN Mentor Training Core and were held at the Big Ten Conference Center in Rosemont, IL, on May 7-9, 2017. The 57 attendees from 13 institutions included 20 postdoctoral trainees, 23 faculty and staff participants, 5 Master Facilitators from the NRMN Mentor Training Core, and 9 NRMN-CAN committee members or guests.
Above: NRMN-CAN Mentor Facilitator Training Workshop, May 8-9, 2017
The NRMN-CAN “Train-the-trainer” Mentor Facilitator Training was offered to increase the number of faculty and staff in the Big Ten Academic Alliance who will offer research mentor training for students, postdocs and faculty on Big Ten campuses. The workshop was organized and led by Master Facilitators Dr. Melissa McDaniels of Michigan State University, Dr. Stephen Thomas, University of Maryland, and Emily Utzerath, University of Wisconsin-Madison. Participants (35% UR), who included several Deans, Professors, and Training Program or Diversity Directors, were welcomed to the workshop by Dr. Nancy Schwartz, NRMN-CAN PI, University of Chicago.
On the first morning of the workshop, the participants had the opportunity to become familiar with and experience the evidence-based research mentor training curricula, based on the Entering Mentoring series. In the afternoon, participants gained confidence in their facilitation skills by practicing mentor training implementation in small groups overseen by the Master Facilitators. The first day ended with a networking reception which gave the participants time to meet fellow facilitators from other Big Ten institutions as well as from their own campuses.
On day 2, the Master Facilitators and participants discussed on-campus workshop implementation challenges, strategies and resources and participants actively delved into the numerous resources available to them by undertaking an online “scavenger hunt”. The workshop ended with each participant coming away with a plan to implement mentor training on their own campus over the next year. The 23 participants now join the 44 faculty and staff throughout the Big Ten who were trained as mentor Facilitators by NRMN-CAN last March, 2016.
After the workshop, participants remarked, “The pacing and facilitator “mirroring” during the first part of the workshop were phenomenal. I enjoyed learning alongside so many capable trainers” and “there was a wonderful synergy between the workshop leaders and the participants. Shared goals became evident. After initial skepticism over the initial group agreements, I came to believe that it was a great exercise in establishing mutual respect and embracing the amazing richness of the diversity in the room– an excellent basis from which to start the workshop. The leaders used excellent active learning approaches that helped us get functional glimpses into sample exercises, cases studies, and facilitating techniques that we can implement in our own mentor training activities.”
Above: NRMN-CAN Postdoctoral Mentor Training Workshop, May 7-8, 2017
The NRMN-CAN Postdoctoral Mentor Training Workshop kicked off on Sunday evening, May 7th, at the Aloft Hotel with an informal networking reception for the 20 Big Ten postdocs in attendance to meet and network with each other and the NRMN-CAN committee. The reception was followed by a welcome and introduction to NRMN-CAN by Dr. Nancy Schwartz, NRMN-CAN PI, and the opening workshop activities. NRMN Master Facilitators Andrew Greenberg, PhD, University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Robert Tillman, PhD, University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center organized the curriculum and facilitated the workshop, which was based on the Entering Mentoring series. This NRMN-CAN Mentoring Up workshop was designed to be specifically tailored to postdocs who are in the dual role of mentees to their PI and mentors in training as future faculty members.
The full NRMN Research Mentor Training Curriculum was implemented over the 1.5 day workshop and covered core mentoring competencies, all relevant to postdocs, including: Maintaining Effective Communication, Addressing Equity and Inclusion, Aligning Expectations, Fostering Independence, and Promoting Professional Development, as well as Promoting Self-Efficacy, Cultivating Ethical Behavior, and Enhancing Work-Life Integration. Postdocs discussed case studies with their small groups and participated in big group discussions led by the Master Facilitators.
The 20 Postdoc participants (65% female and 45% UR) attended from 9 institutions across the Big Ten Academic Alliance and included 5 postdocs who have attended previous NRMN-CAN workshops. All found it a valuable training experience and most (>90%) plan to make changes to their mentoring relationships as a result of this experience. Postdocs commented, “Before the training, I was really frustrated with the relationship (with my mentor) but didn’t feel like there was anything I could do about it. Now I feel more empowered and have ideas about how I might approach that first conversation” and “The discussions were consistently engaging and eye-opening, especially when they included people from different disciplines. It was joy to interact with such a range of thoughtful, sharp, motivated people who care about mentoring.”
How do we make careers in biomedical research an attractive option for undergraduates and graduate students? This was the question posed to me and Dr. Kola Okuyemi after our seminar at the Special Populations Research Forum in May 26th, 2017 at the National Institutes of Health. This question has persisted in my consciousness ever since.
As I spend a significant amount of time traveling throughout the United States sharing the good news about NRMN, there are times when I confronted with pleasant surprises. As I share with others about NRMN’s programs, I often find myself learning from the same individuals who I am reaching and would like to include in our national network.
This June 8th and 9th, Dr. Barb Goodman at the University of South Dakota, Contact PI of the South Dakota Biomedical Research Infrastructure Network (SD BRIN), hosted the Central Region Institutional Development Award (IDeA) Meeting. The Central Region includes members from the IDeA Networks of Biomedical Research Excellence (INBRE)/ Centers of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE) from Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, North Dakota, and South Dakota . I was fortunate to speak at this meeting to share the mission and national approach of NRMN. NRMN has begun partnerships with biomedical researchers across the IDeA network (23 States and Puerto Rico), which are funded by NIGMS. At this point, we are partnering with INBRE programs across 9 of these 24 (see the map below with the 9 States/ territory highlighted in red, and Central Region IDeA States within the red oval).
During our lunch period, I spoke with Dr. Sheila Caldwell, program director in the Center for Research Capacity Building, where she manages the Native American Research Centers for Health (NARCH), and learned about the impactful work of this NIGMS funded initiative. I was approached by Dr. Jenny Gubbels, an Associate Professor with tenure at Augustana University in South Dakota where she serves as an INBRE PI. As I tend to be the so-called purveyor of NRMN information, I communicated with her that according to NIH’s most recent classifications of groups underrepresented in biomedical research, senior faculty women are underrepresented. She was happy to know this information; however, it was our follow-up conversation that made a considerable impact on me. She told me the story of her mentee an undergraduate student by the name of Jessica ‘Jess’ Roetman. Jenny was a proud mentor of her student Jess, who has worked in her laboratory.
Jess Roetman is from a small town in northwest Iowa and graduated in May of 2017 with a degree in biology from Augustana University in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. In a couple of months, Jess will begin an Interdisciplinary Studies doctoral research program at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. Jess’s interest lies firmly in performing cancer research. When Jess first joined the Gubbels lab in the summer of 2015, she seriously considered attending medical school, but she was undecided. After her first summer in Dr. Gubbels’s laboratory and under a caring, thoughtful mentor, Jess decided that biomedical research would be a better fit for her inquisitive mind. Upon embarking on a career in research, she applied and was accepted to an undergraduate research program at the Mayo Medical School in Rochester, Minnesota. After graduating with her undergraduate degree, this summer before graduate school she is working fairly independently in the Gubbels lab and essentially functions as a graduate student, teaching other undergraduates, and needing very little supervision. Other undergraduate students who were healthcare field minded, yet after receiving mentoring from the Augustana faculty have decided to pursue their PhD after doing summer research at Augustana University include Tyson Lager, a student from Freeman, SD (population 1,300) who was considering the application process to medical school, then worked doing research at Augustana for three summers and went on to graduate school to pursue his Ph.D. at Notre Dame. AU class of 2011 undergraduate student Rachel Hurley, a resident of Canton, South Dakota originally wanted to go to physical therapy school, but then did research in the chemistry department at “Augie” (a diminutive term of endearment for Augustana University) and is currently pursuing her MD/Ph.D. at the Mayo Medical School.
Since 2010, at least 21 Augie students funded by the IDeA program have completed their undergraduate studies and matriculated into graduate school. Augie has sent 8 students on to MD/Ph.D. programs. In addition, many other Augie IDeA-funded students who have entered medical school have continued doing biomedical research as medical students, positioning them for clinical translational research and persistence in the biomedical research pathway. So perhaps the best answer to the question that I received at NIH’s Special Population Research Forum, should be the following recipe:
- Quality, Culturally Aware Mentoring as a Mentor;
- Hands-on Biomedical Research experiences as Mentees;
- Institutional Commitment to the persistence and exciting path of biomedical research (Being at Augie helps);
- A sense of community of mentors and mentees for biomedical research in the United States.
In the back row, from left to right: Dr. Mark Larson, Dr. Steven Matzner, Dr. Cecelia Miles, Dr. Jenny Gubbels, Jess Roetman, Dr. Paul Egland, and Dr. Rafael E. Luna. In the front row, from left to right: Dr. Seasson Vitiello, and Dr. Brittany Gorres-Martens
Because AU is a small school, we might see the same student during advising, in the classroom, as well as mentor them one-on-one in the research lab. We get to know our students, and more importantly, they get to know us, and are able to see us as people and as scientists, which may make envisioning becoming a scientist more of a reality for them. Some things, like chocolate, are better in small batches.
Each year we have between 30-40 undergraduate biology majors participating in summer research at Augustana, within research hospitals in Sioux Falls or at other institutions within the state and region. In the last year we have expanded our science center to a 125,000 square foot facility that house state-of-the-art research labs, equipment, classatories, active learning classrooms, and a large auditorium for presentations and poster sessions. The building has a substantial space for research which is co-located with teaching spaces allowing for a blending of teaching and research. This space is a physical manifestation of our philosophy of using research as a primary means to teach undergraduates science by having them be scientists.”
Jennifer A. Gubbels