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January Symposium for Postdocs Looks to Spur Junior Faculty Diversity

November 23, 2020
by Robert Forman

Postdoctoral researchers are the lifeblood of the academic laboratories that make the discoveries that move biomedical research forward. A three-day virtual symposium in January will be devoted to celebrating the work that postdocs do, and also to preparing postdocs to take the next big step in many of their careers, securing faculty positions at Yale and other premier research institutions.

Yale School of Medicine is the lead organizer of the Intersections Science Fellows Symposium, which will take place from January 6 through 8, and is open to all U.S.-based postdocs in the basic biological sciences who are preparing to enter the job market. Nineteen departments, institutes, and centers at Yale are involved, as are 22 other academic institutions.

Caroline Hendry, PhD, scientific director and advisor to the chair in the Department of Genetics, says that while a major focus of the symposium will be to show off outstanding postdoctoral research, the symposium will also focus on exposing postdocs who have been immersed in their science to aspects of advancing their academic careers that go beyond their lab work. “It’s outstanding research and visibility, like showcasing the science,” Hendry says. “Also, it’s mentoring, it’s networking, and it’s training.”

While the symposium invites participation by postdocs of all backgrounds, those organizing it, including Antonio J. Giraldez, PhD, chair and Fergus F. Wallace Professor of Genetics, have a particular hope that it will draw scientists from non-traditional demographic groups. Giraldez says the symposium will offer important job-seeking tips to trainees. “We want to teach them about some aspects of what it takes to go through the interview process, and what it takes to prepare and submit applications.”

When he hires junior faculty for his own department, Giraldez says having a body of excellent scientific work is just the beginning. “They need to show that they would be great colleagues,” he says. “They need to show that they will care about others in the department. They need to show how they think.” This symposium will offer tools to do that.

Associate Dean of Diversity and Inclusion Rochelle Smith hopes that participation in the symposium by her office, encouraged by trainees who include members of the Yale Black Postdoctoral Association, will help diversify faculties at institutions around the country and especially at Yale. “The Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Yale School of Medicine is committed to helping to identify, nurture, and support the next generation of diverse faculty here at Yale.”

Applications and more information are available here.

Submitted by Robert Forman on November 23, 2020