One of our goals is to provide an environment for scientific growth and professional development of post-docs within the Department, which in turn contributes substantially to both scientific discovery and a balanced adult life. We recognize the important role of postdocs in driving new and innovative research projects forward and we understand how stressful this can be. The initiatives described below have been spearheaded and implemented by the Genetics Mentoring committee and post-doc representatives (Mina Kojima and Nicole Lake) in the Department. Postdoc feedback is solicited to improve, add, or discontinue initiatives.
Building a Postdoc Community
The Genetics postdocs have frequent opportunities to connect and network with other postdocs through a designated Slack channel, twice annual town hall meetings, trainee lunches with outside Genetics Seminar speakers, and many formal and informal forums for sharing reagents, providing feedback, and socializing. Genetics postdocs are also encouraged to connect with postdocs across the Yale community through the Yale Postdoctoral Association (YPA) and take advantage of career training and teaching classes offered by the Yale Poorvu Center for Teaching and Learning and fellowship opportunities.
The Training for Independence Program
This platform helps postdocs (~3-6 per year) prepare for faculty position interviews through mock practices of Zoom interviews (September), job talks (January and February), and chalk talks (January and February). The Mentoring committee provides written documents offering advice on seminar and chalk talk preparation, facilitates scheduling, and attends practices. In addition to offering direct mentorship to senior postdocs on the job search, the TIP program allows junior post-docs the opportunity to prepare and improve their own research plans and enhance intra-departmental interaction as practice talks are open to entire Department.
Ask Me Anything (AMA) forum
To offer the opportunity to connect with former or senior postdocs who have secured a job (faculties/industry/others), “Ask Me Anything” (AMA) forum is held once a year in spring (May/June). Former or senior postdocs will be invited to share their experience during job search with junior postdocs.
Research in Progress (RIP)
Postdocs are invited to share their research progress in a closed forum together with graduate students. The forum, called “Research in Progress” (RIP) is open to postdocs from primary Department of Genetics labs and takes place every week throughout the academic calendar. RIP provides visibility for postdocs and their work and fosters opportunities for collaboration and mentoring. All primary and secondary Department of Genetics faculty, trainees, and staff are invited to attend, and a pizza lunch is included. RIP provides visibility for postdocs and their work and fosters opportunities for conceptualizing their own research project, taking a novel research direction, build new collaborations, and seek additional faculty mentors.
Post-Doc Hour at Department Retreat
During our two-day annual retreat, one hour of the program is dedicated to postdocs (Genetics Department Retreat). This provides our postdocs with a formal platform to showcase their science and foster opportunities for interactions and networking. Postdocs self-organize to form a team and decide an activity of their choice, with support from the retreat organizers, the mentoring committee, and faculty at large for support and advice. Forums so far have ranged from short scientific talks, round tables on mentoring, and a discussion panel between postdocs and senior faculty on emerging scientific topics and technologies. The Post-Doc Hour has become an integral part of our annual Department Retreat, as an overwhelming majority of postdocs see it as effective in providing exposure and for networking within the Department. To further increase opportunities for postdoc presentations, the Department supports a trainee only retreat to allow students and postdocs to present their work to each other.
Scientific Forums at Yale
To facilitate scientific interaction between postdocs and the greater Yale community, we have organized a list of forums across Departments classified by scientific topics. Each forum has a contact person that will enables postdocs to be included in the forum’s email list and helps to introduce them to the community that fit their interests. Beyond offering additional opportunities to formally present their work, these forums enable postdocs to network with faculty and trainees, share their science, and build experience outside their own “environment”. Additional efforts are being pursued to more readily advertise these forums to the Department and Yale community.
Women Leaders in Science Course
Women in science have historically faced and continue to face additional and unnecessary challenges in career progression and fulfillment. In recognition of this fact, a new course spearheaded by our postdocs in conjunction with HFP consulting brings together women postdocs with the goal of providing a path for further empowerment and profession growth within the Yale School of Medicine. The course covers numerous topics including unconscious bias, imposter syndrome, time and priority management, assertiveness, giving and receiving feedback, and tools for managing conflicts and crises. The cost of the course is covered by the PI of the participant. The first iteration of the course was met with rave reviews, garnering great interest for additional leadership courses in the near future.
Genetics Mentoring Award
As faculty we recognize the key role that mentorship plays in our ability to best support staff and trainees and therefore the scientific discoveries that they lead in our laboratories. The mentoring committee instituted a yearly Genetics Mentoring award with the goal to
- bringing up the values and behaviors we all aspire to and practice and
- renew our shared commitment to an environment that supports safe learning, scientific growth and ownership of the science lead by our trainees.