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Revolutionizing STEM Networking: STEM Peers 2017

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What was brewing?

Here’s the sneak-peak into STEM Peers 2017

Where inspiring Scientists convened

To voice, what it takes to march

On an unconventional career track.

Be it research, be it business or management,

Communication and entrepreneurship transition stories;

The insider struggles, the rewarding moments

And the recruiter beans

All spilled out without filters to steer our pursuits clear.

As the evening advanced, the mix of beer, good food and IMON

Stirred up the enthusiastic pitches that came out loud

Amidst the formally dressed attendees

The Fedora hat & Yellow Suspenders cast a strong charm

And blared the message to stand out in the crowd

While you network, create, share and lend a helping hand

To smoothly sail The Career Transition ship

Through the opposing storms of doubt.

Composed by Meghna Thakkar, PhD (Post-Doctoral Researcher, MDC-Berlin)

 

STEM PEERs took place in Boston, the emerging hub for biotech/pharma industry on the east coast. The venue- Aeronaut Brewing Company turned out as interesting and stimulating for the brain as the event itself. The meeting was loaded with enthusiasm of the organizers/ volunteers and curiosity of the participants. An untainted rendition of real life experiences from professional journeys lent a personal touch to the event and inspired the participants to aim higher and be smarter, while chasing their dreams. A first hand detail of the event is accounted in the section below by some of the participants. As stated by most people who attended the event, this meeting offered a great opportunity to network and showcase creativity, while enjoying food and drinks amidst great minds.

Here are some expressions from our STEM Peers

Shyamtanu Datta, PhD

(Post Doctoral Scientist, UT Southwestern University)

“En route STEM PEERS-2017 from my hotel, I complained to the cab driver that I liked the city of Boston but I found it unwelcoming since I had not seen the rays of the sun since I had arrived. The cabbie told me “Boston never disappoints, sir. Today will be one of the nicest and sunniest day in your life, and I hope you take home lots of wonderful memories of this day.” And trust me, all his words came true. As soon as I arrived at the venue, the sun was up, smiling. As I entered the Aeronaut Brewery (the venue of STEM PEERS, 2017), I could smell the sweet aroma of the hops. It seemed that the pragmatic spirit of the brewery coincided with the “caring, sharing and growing” spirit of more than 100 participants, panelists, and organizers. Being an introvert, I know what a nightmare the word “networking” is to the nerds, but I never felt the burden of the word “networking” in that space. With a cup of coffee in my hand, I started meeting the participants one by one. There were different colored stickers on the badges that the participants wore. The different colors indicated the mentors, the volunteers and the ones who needed help/advice.

As soon as we all settled in, the organizers (Abhinav Dey, Ananda Ghosh, and Ranjith Anand) lit up the stage with their introductory speeches. From then on, there never was a dull moment. Whether it was about the entrepreneurial journey of Melina Fan (co-founder of Addgene), who started Addgene for the sheer love of sharing, or Vinay Eapan’s (Jane Coffin Childs Fellow, HMS) cool strategies of grant writing as a postdoc, or Nick Deal’s excellent suggestions on how to think from the recruiter’s perspective and how to be on the top of the pile, they were all inspiring and informative. Besides these speakers, there were star-studded panel discussions. The panel discussions were divided into four parts – industry research careers, academic careers, careers in the business of science, and careers in science communication and management. Each panel discussion not only broke many myths about STEM careers, but also broadened the horizon of career choices of biomedical scientists and yielded a lot of take-home messages. All of this was invaluable to aspirants like me. Among all these serious discussions, the organizers didn’t forget to entertain us. During the lunch break, there was a live music performance by IMON, a New York-based band composed of talented musicians like Ananda, Sahana, Sutirtha, Radha, and Simon! I am an avid follower of IMON and was looking forward to this event. From Chhaap Tilak to Jagao Mere Desh, the versatility of IMON blew me away.  Post lunch and after all the panel discussions, Smita Salian Mehta, Ragoo Raghunathan, and Anshu Malhotra devised a unique way to encourage the young aspirants to learn the art of networking. I must say even the most introverted people would have felt comfortable with networking after this session. The day came to an end with Syam Anand’s closing speech, which was full of hope and encouragement to take this event forward beyond all borders of nations. How I wished the event would have lasted a little longer and I could meet every single person present at the event…However, with the hope of meeting again with all the existing and many new members of CSG, I bid goodbye.”

Dolonchapa Chakraborty,PhD

(Freelancing Consultant)  

“I studied toxin-encoding viruses in my PhD. These viruses, similar to most other viruses, hijack their host machinery and co-exist with them in a dormant state. Try killing their host, and they get to them before anyone else. They escape their dead host and infect fresh meat. Your next question would be why does the host even bother to carry these ‘ungrateful’ viruses. Well the host survive in big colonies and some of these host cells graciously entertain the viruses for the benefit of their pack. You see, when the virus kills their host, they do so by releasing toxin that is also used by the rest of the host pack (mourners at the time for their deceased friends) to ward off predators. We call our dead host, public goods, and the mourners, cheaters. I find the above phenomenon very apt and relatable in my daily life. This is why when Melina Fan mentioned that after two years of research, she knew she had to make a self-sustaining product, it caught my ear. Hold on to this thought, I promise I will come back to it.

Why was I at STEM Peers? Because I am in my early career and networking is good I’m told. Moreover, I wanted to find out more about all the possible opportunities that’s out there for PhDs like me. When I started my PhD, the obvious next career step was research. This is not because without-research-my-life-has-no-purpose or some melodrama; it’s because I did not know any better. A friend introduced me to the Facebook CSG group when I told him I was feeling so lost regarding what to do. STEM Peers was in a month from when I joined and brought me back to one my favorite cities.  

What I expected from STEM Peers was what I usually get from talking to people in the field- suggestions, advice, dos and don’ts etc. Much to my surprise, I got conversations instead. People told me stories that made me relate to them. I did not feel so lost anymore. They talked about their past experiences; experiences that I could connect with. The hopelessness in me was waning. And since we were conversing, I was telling them my stories too. My stories weren’t naïve and childish but apparently inspiring; hah! I asked questions (that were probably silly), and people answered them. While there was encouragement when required, there were also no lies and sugar coats at other situations. The panelists made themselves sound real; I liked that. They credited part of their success to their families. They called themselves lucky. They talked about ‘real’ problems. When a career transition takes time, but you need to pay the bills, what do you do! Things like that.

The closing speech was about how CSG was founded. And how we will have to give back what we are taking now to make it a self-sustaining system. We cannot be like the cheater bacteria (well, technically, some of us will be). We are all in the same boat. And we have to pitch in whatever way we can. STEM Peers was not ‘just’ another networking event for me. It left me with some great contacts, yes, but mostly with the hope that may be PhD isn’t as bad as people (they who shall remain unnamed) make it to be.”

Ajit Kamath  

(PhD Researcher at Boston University)

“On a beautiful Saturday, I entered Aeronaut Brewery like I had done countless times before. Only, this time it was 8am, I was dressed in formal wear and was ready for the first annual meeting of PhD Career Support Group (PhD CSG), STEM Peers 2017. The event began with greetings from enthusiastic volunteers who handed us welcome packages followed by a light breakfast and a warm welcome by Abhinav, Ananda and Ranjith. Networking and learning was the main theme of the event. We were encouraged to forge meaningful relationships and make the most out of this opportunity to collect first hand information on different career paths.The keynote talk by Melina Fan, (Co-founder/CSO Addgene) about her journey and experience with Addgene was inspirational. She epitomized the saying “If you don’t like something, be the change to make it better”. Her efforts led to sharing of plasmids among the scientific community.

Next, a series of panel discussions walked us through the journeys of various professionals in different fields. Ranjith Anand, Smita Salian-Mehta, Ambrish Roy, and Richa Jaiswal gave insights on how they transitioned into industry careers. They gave us their perspective on stepping out of the ivory tower and what it takes to succeed in job searches. The recruiter’s’ perspective on hiring in Industry by Nick Deal (Recruiter at Stratacuity) and importance of connecting with recruiters who understand the job seeker’s career needs was an eye opener. It was assuring to meet recruiters like him who cared about the candidate’s needs and background to place them in the right career. The panel on academic careers by Nikhil Gupta, Mishtu Dey, Jagan Srinivasan, and Harpreet Singh told us a story of perseverance. Vinay Eapen followed this by his unique take on grant writing as an academic. Syam Anand, Ragoo Raghunathan, Subhalaxmi Nambi, Rajnish Kaushik, and Ananda Ghosh held an enlightening panel on the Business of Science. As scientists working the lab all day, we forget the business side of things which keep the gears of innovation turning. They illuminated careers in Technology Transfer, Intellectual Property and Marketing, which scientists like us can shine in. Ragoo gave us new networking ideas about talking to sales people in our lab and at conferences. The next time you go to a conference, talk to the reps at various stalls and learn about their companies. You will learn about new careers, meet amazing people and most importantly, score some freebies.

Post lunch break, we discussed interesting concepts of science communication and management with Abhinav Dey, Colleen Brady, Ana Batista, Sutirtha Dutta, and Muthu Dhandapani. They told us about their passion in science communication and how they matured in their careers. Efficient science communication is more important than ever today and these stories inspired the part of me that wants the world to appreciate science. Finally, we had an effective networking session orchestrated by Smita Salian-Mehta. The small group networking was very effective in connecting people. Ragoo, with his fedora and yellow suspenders, gave us a great lesson in standing out in a crowd. The day ended with Syam Anand’s closing statement. He talked about a hopeful future and how we can all help each other out. His vision of CSG is of an organization surpassing all borders. I left the Brewery on a high, feeling hopeful. I made a few meaningful connections that day and hope to keep nurturing those for a long time. I look forward to the next annual meetup and meeting old and new CSG members again.”

The STEM Peers organizers followed-up with the participants to rate STEM Peers based on their experience and we are grateful to have received more than 9 STARS out of 10.

Anonymous suggestions on areas for improvement/additions for STEM Peers 2018

  1. “Maybe increase the panel size for each category so that we could get a broader sense of the different opportunities available. Can include people who transitioned into industries right after PhD (without a post-doc) to get a sense of working on OPT. Also can include a CV writing/resume writing workshop. Maybe can keep a separate workshop for green card related questions and suggestions, as I did not get much input on my questions during the short networking/questions sessions.”
  2. “Grant/fellowship writing related session”
  3. “More time to Networking and panel discussions”
  4. “1. Limit number of attendees to 100, same like this year’s (allows better interaction). 2. Run parallel sessions, so that more panelists can be involved for the same career track. 3. Have some motivational talks by people in any stage of their career who are steering their profession. 4. Audio friendly environment. 5. Open doors to participation of Non-Indian nationals (extensive advertisement across campuses).”
  5. “More time per discussion session, could collect questions for panelists before hand”
  6. “Add a panel or talk on finance and tax related issues. I am encountering a lot of PhDs as librarians, it would be good to add this career choice. Role of professional societies in career development can be highlighted. An on-site proposal review panel can be convened to review the grants application written by the participants.”
  7. “Include STEM’s from other nationality, maybe a bit more in-depth information on the role PhD’s can play in management consulting, career progression in various related field etc”
  8. “I would suggest to bring some synthetic chemistry people either industry/academy”
  9. “I think there shouldn’t have been any panels, instead we should have spread out tables for speed networking with the panelists sitting at different tables to get a proper discussion going. The speed networking, as it happened, was way too crowded and it limited conversations. I do understand the space and time limitations with such a setup. Overall it was great, but this is just something to think about for next time.”
  10. “Venue was echoey and distracting during panels, though it was nice for networking.”
  11. “A two day retreat. Time was too short.”
  12. “Maybe more time for networking session”
  13. “Need a quieter place for more efficient networking sessions. A lot of things said were not audible in the back.”
  14. “A printed schedule for the day’s activities would be very useful.”
  15. “Please advertise it as a complete solution (career front) for PhD/ Postdocs where non-academic careers are not the only focus. At present it sounds like getting academic careers anywhere are impossible so let us start discussing about other careers. If academic careers are kept in focus, it will attract extremely serious scientists (PhD/Postdoc levels) who will just focus on academic careers.”
  16. “Better selection of panelist (consulting, finance, MSL, workshops)”
  17. “More time to discuss with mentors”
  18. “Entrepreneurship & Data Science careers”
  19. “More hands-on workshops for résumé and coverletters. Hands-on workshops for networking strategies.”
  20. “none”

 

STEM Peers will continue this yearly journey to serve as a confluence of STEM Professionals globally. We are always open to new ideas and available to support the ambitions and aspirations of our members. STEM Peers-2018 will be hosted in New York city and the preparations have already begun. If you would like to be a part of STEM Peers, please shoot us an email at stempeers@gmail.com.

 

 

What did Twitterati say?

Photo Gallery

 

Image Credits: Danika Khong, Smita Salian Mehta, Ananda Ghosh, Ranjith Anand, Ragoo Raghunathan

Featured Image: Felicitation Plaques created by Studio Artinuum (https://www.facebook.com/studioartinuum/)

Editors: Abhinav Dey and Anshu Malhotra

 

We thank our sponsors

 

 

Click “Donate” to support PhDCSG (Please include your name, email address and phone number as an additional note while making the donation)




PhD Career Support Group (PhD CSG) for STEM PhDs is a US Non-Profit 501(c)3  organization and all donations to PhDCSG are tax deductible

Meet the STEM Peers-Part 4

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With less than two weeks to go for STEM Peers, we will catch up with our STEM peers who are traveling from as close as Worcester (MA, USA) to as far as Chennai (India).
So let’s know more about Vidhi Thakkar (who is traveling from Atlanta, GA), Parthiban Srinivasan (who is traveling from Chennai, India), Jagan Srinivasan (who is traveling from Worcester, MA) and Sutirtha Datta (who is traveling from New York, NY) and find out about their reasons of joining us for STEM Peers.

Why do I want to attend STEM Peers 2017?

Vidhi is a final year PhD student in Life sciences at The institute of biomedical sciences, Georgia State University, USA. She is planning to graduate by May 2018. She did her bachelor’s in pharmacy (B.Pharm) from India and then came to GSU right after bachelor’s to do her Master’s and PhD. She is looking to transition into career fields that will not make her stuck to a wet-lab or in front of a computer. So, she has been looking into Field application Scientist and MSL positions and trying to build her resume accordingly. Since she does not have any internship/industry experience in these fields, she wants to be proactive and look for her options right away.
She is really looking forward to connect/network with people that will give her insight into the job market and she thinks that STEMPeers will be a huge step towards helping her with her career choice.

Vidhi attended the Experimental biology 2017 conference in Chicago which helped her weigh out her career choices after PhD. The conference had many career development seminars and workshops. It helped her to choose her ideal career and she explored the many myths that surround career options for PhD’s. Job hunting by Bill Lindstaedt and Beyond the bench by Joe Tringali stood out for her. As she always mentions that such career seminars and one-on-one interactions/advice in CSG and ClubSciWri is like a world full of support outside her small world in the lab!

 

Why do I want to attend STEM Peers 2017?

Parthiban Srinivasan, An entrepreneur, businessman, film maker and a scientist. Lives in Chennai. Traveled frequently in Europe and USA. Masters and PhD from Indian Institute of Science (Chemistry to Engineering to Life Sciences and now switching over to Artificial Intelligence). Yes, my next innings will be in AI. Ground work is in progress. Past affiliations include Parthys Reverse Informatics, Jubilant Biosys, GvkBio as business unit head and as researcher at AstraZeneca, NASA Ames Research Center and Weizmann Institute of Science. As soon as I heard this meet few months ago, I planned my next USA trip to complete with STEMpeers and managed to plan that way. All of us know the industry landscape is changing. And would like to see/hear how our friends are planning for the new environment. As I took a break for the last couple of years and as I am getting back and starting from ground zero, this meeting will be a good beginning for my second innings. And in my new ecosystem, would love to see CSG to be part of it and it is already there. Other than the core pillars of CSG, I have not met other contributors of the forum. This will be a great opportunity to meet them and say “hi” to them.

 

Jagan Srinivasan: Panelist on Academic Careers

Professor Srinivasan was born and raised in India. He completed his undergraduate course work at the University of Chennai earning a BS in Zoology and Chemistry. He then moved on to his MS at Goa University completing a degree in Marine Biology and Biotechnology. Professor Srinivasan thereupon relocated to Tuebingen, Germany where he completed his Ph.D in Genetics at the Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology. His postdoctoral research soon after sent him to Pasadena, California where he studied the evolution of behavior in C. elegans and small-molecule metabolites regulating social behaviors in C. elegans at Caltech. After his time in Pasadena, in 2012, he moved to the opposite side of the country where he now is an Assistant Professor at Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Worcester, MA. While simultaneously teaching classes he also focuses on researching brain process signaling and social behaviors using the model system C. elegans.

 

Sutirtha Datta: Panelist on Science Communication and Management Careers

I completed my PhD in biochemistry and molecular genetics at University of Virginia, Charlottesville.  For my post-doctoral studies, I joined the cell biology department at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC), New York. Since January 2015, I am working as a clinical coordinator at the Clinical Trials Office,  MSKCC. As a study coordinator I handled various aspects of managing a clinical trial, both therapeutic and non-therapeutic,  including patient management, data science and regulatory affairs while maintaining constant communication with  industry sponsors regarding the progress of the trials. Recently I accepted the position of a Sr. Clinical Research Associate in the same department where in addition to managing clinical trials I also play leadership roles related to designing, monitoring and correction of workflows and supervising clinical coordinators.

Click Here to Register Or Scan this QR Code

  1. Please complete required information in STEM Peers 2017 registration form.
  2. Email: your email address
  3. Name: Please provide your full name
  4. Organization: Please provide your current associated Organization/ University.
  5. Designation: Please provide your current designation.
  6. Participation: Please select appropriate participation group (Postdoc/PhD etc).
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  8. Food: Please provide information if you have any dietary restriction.
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  12. Once you submit your registration, a new window will  pop-up confirming the receipt of your registration along with a highlighted link. (This is the link for registration fee payment)      
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PhD Career Support Group (PhD CSG) for STEM PhDs is a US Non-Profit 501(c)3  organization and all donations to PhDCSG are tax deductible

Meet the STEM Peers- Part 3

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Ragoo Raghunathan: Panelist on Careers in Business of Science

Ragoo is passionate about science and the arts. Hailing from Mysore, he got his Ph.D in Animal Sciences (neuroscience focus) from University of Hyderabad. His studies focused on studying ssDNA-binding proteins in rat brain followed by a brief neuroscience postdoc at Wesleyan Univ in CT. Here he identified and characterized isoforms of a CNS-enriched striatum enriched protein tyrosine phosphatase in rodents – which later was shown by other investigators to have important roles in various neurological and neuropsychiatric disorders like Alzheimers, Parkinsons, Schizophrenia, ischemia, Huntington’s Chorea, alcohol abuse and stress disorders.

Following this Ragoo continued an extended postdoc tenure at the Dept of Genetics at Yale University where his focus was to study immune-system related genes/proteins. His first break was into a start-up biotech company (Molecular Staging Inc) as a scientist growing into a group leader role while developing sensitive assays to detect rare intracellular and cell-surface based marker. During his tenure here, he was a co-inventor of Whole Genome Amplification technology (WGA) using isothermal DNA amplification. He was part of the team that developed, validated and commercialized the technology as a kit – eventually commercialized by Qiagen in 2004 as Repli-G.

This is when Ragoo transitioned into the field as a Technology specialist where he was responsible for presenting technical seminars, training their sales and customer support team with WGA technology and eventually transitioned into a Sales Development Manager role for Advanced Technologies (WGA and RNAi). Since then Ragoo has served roles as Research Biotech Consultant, Field Application Specialist, Business Development Executive and Head of Business Development at companies such as Sigma Aldrich (currently Sigma Millipore), Horizon Discovery Ltd and Metabolon Inc.

Currently Ragoo serves as Business Development Executive (northeast US) for Metabolon and is responsible for multi-million dollar revenue for the company annually. He has a diploma in acting from University of Hyderabad, is an entrepreneur at heart and in his free time can be found advising the commercialization of 2 start-up biotech companies in the Greater Boston area, runs his own franchise of Little Medical School, Boston and plays a ‘bad-guy’ in a Boston-based web serial called Captive. He is also on the Executive Board of the local Indian Society of Worcester, enjoys coaching and mentoring young scientists and entrepreneurs. He loves traveling, drawing & painting and lazing while watching TV when possible.

 

Want to interact with Ragoo at STEM Peers then don’t wait anymore, click Here to Register Or Scan this QR Code

  1. Please complete required information in STEM Peers 2017 registration form.
  2. Email: your email address
  3. Name: Please provide your full name
  4. Organization: Please provide your current associated Organization/ University.
  5. Designation: Please provide your current designation.
  6. Participation: Please select appropriate participation group (Postdoc/PhD etc).
  7. Contact: Please provide your contact number.
  8. Food: Please provide information if you have any dietary restriction.
  9. Arrival time: Please provide details of your arrival time at event.
  10. Please select I am not a robot.
  11. Once you complete adding information, please click submit.
  12. Once you submit your registration, a new window will  pop-up confirming the receipt of your registration along with a highlighted link. (This is the link for registration fee payment)      
  13. Please click on link to pay and finalize registration.
  14. Payment can be made via using a PayPal account only.
  15. You can also use the “Buy Now” option (shown below) to pay your registration fee of 25$

 

(Please leave your name and email address as a note when paying using Paypal)

 

Click “Donate” to help PhDCSG (Please include your name, email address and phone number as an additional note while making the donation)




PhD Career Support Group (PhD CSG) for STEM PhDs is a US Non-Profit 501(c)3  organization and all donations to PhDCSG are tax deductible

We thank our event sponsors

 

Meet the STEM Peers-Part 2

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 Why do I want to attend STEM Peers 2017?

 

Onkar Bharadwaj (Software Engineer, Cambridge, MA) says “Because this is the first annual symposium of PhDCSG. What makes PhDCSG unique? My simple reason is as follows: if someone googles “PhD student organization” or “Postdoc organization” or “PhD student social network” or “Postdoc social network”, then on the first pages of the respective search results, there are zero organizations which are grass-root, nation-wide and dynamic in nature. In my opinion, this is much more serious than it appears. PhDCSG helps fill this very void to enable peer-to-peer conversations and career advancement through sharing first-hand experiences. PhDCSG is driven by the contributions of many passionate people and apart from being a go-to forum for useful professional advice, it has been a source of optimism and social support for many of its members. I am looking forward to attend STEM Peers 2017 to gain further perspectives from the fellow peers and professionals all gathered under a single roof. I am excited to see what further possibilities of career growth it can open up for its members so that one day it appears on the very first page of the above search results.”

 

About Onkar: Onkar has a Ph.D. in EE/CS (RPI) and a M.Eng. in Telecommunication (IISc Bangalore). He currently works as Sr. Software Engineer in Akamai Technologies, Cambridge, USA. In the past, he has worked as a post-doctoral researcher at IBM T.J. Watson Research Center (USA) and as a Member of Technical Staff in Computational Research Laboratories (India). His technical interests are algorithms, computer networks, machine learning and social choice.

Don’t wait anymore, click Here to Register Or Scan this QR Code

  1. Please complete required information in STEM Peers 2017 registration form.
  2. Email: your email address
  3. Name: Please provide your full name
  4. Organization: Please provide your current associated Organization/ University.
  5. Designation: Please provide your current designation.
  6. Participation: Please select appropriate participation group (Postdoc/PhD etc).
  7. Contact: Please provide your contact number.
  8. Food: Please provide information if you have any dietary restriction.
  9. Arrival time: Please provide details of your arrival time at event.
  10. Please select I am not a robot.
  11. Once you complete adding information, please click submit.
  12. Once you submit your registration, a new window will  pop-up confirming the receipt of your registration along with a highlighted link. (This is the link for registration fee payment)      
  13. Please click on link to pay and finalize registration.
  14. Payment can be made via using a PayPal account only.
  15. You can also use the “Buy Now” option (shown below) to pay your registration fee of 25$

 

(Please leave your name and email address as a note when paying using Paypal)

 

Click “Donate” to help PhDCSG (Please include your name, email address and phone number as an additional note while making the donation)




PhD Career Support Group (PhD CSG) for STEM PhDs is a US Non-Profit 501(c)3  organization and all donations to PhDCSG are tax deductible

We thank our event sponsors

 

Meet the STEM Peers-Part 1

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 Why I registered for STEM Peers?

Sayantan Chakraborty (Postdoc, NIH) says, “One of the essentials for advancing in our careers during current times is networking. Whether it’s academics, industry, entrepreneurship, science policy, IP or any associated fields wherein STEM professionals can make a mark, networking events are indispensable. STEM Peers 2017 provides me that networking platform. As an open-minded career professional, I’ll have the opportunity to not only interact with the speakers, but with the audience too. This in turn will benefit me as I’ll get to learn about various career paths, what to and what not to in order to succeed, and of course, get to know the people who are in such profession(s). STEM Peers 2017 is a venue to build a career oriented support network. Plus, looking at this event as a symbiosis, I will also be able to present myself to a diverse audience – for them to know me better.”

About Sayantan: Sayantan is an IRTA postdoctoral fellow at the National Institute on Aging, NIH, Baltimore. A geneticist by training, he is now exploring the realms of transcription factor dynamics in T cells using quantitative microscopy and systems biology tools. His interests extend to being the Editor-in- Chief for the online blogging journal Club SciWri and Editor for NPR Office Hours and Friends of Joe’s Big Idea. As he grows, he’s looking forward to interacting and networking with fellow science communicators and outreach managers across the globe. Additionally, he’s also volunteering as a Crisis Counsellor with the 24/7 Crisis Text Line (CTL).

Now let’s get to know our Speakers!

Melina Fan: Keynote Speaker at STEM Peers

 

Melina Fan is passionate about open science and entrepreneurship. She received her PhD from Harvard University in the lab of Dr. Bruce Spiegelman.  Following graduation, she co-founded Addgene, a nonprofit plasmid repository that facilitates research through scientific sharing. Addgene distributes over 100,000 plasmids per year and curates sequences, protocols, and other educational resources for the community. Melina is the Chief Scientific Officer and is responsible for new initiatives, including Addgene’s latest initiative to produce and distribute ready-to-use viral vectors. She loves that her job brings her in contact with scientists from around the world working on everything from cancer to biofuels.

Ambrish Roy: Panelist on Careers in Industrial Research

Ambrish Roy did his PhD with Dr. Yang Zhang at University of Michigan, where he focused on developing methods for modeling 3D structure of proteins and using them to understand their function. His work is currently implemented as part of I-TASSER server and downloadable package. There after, he joined as a post-doc in computational chemistry at Georgia Tech with Jeffrey Skolnick. Currently, he is a research scientist at Vertex, as part of Modeling and Informatics team with interest in chemical biology and application of machine learning in drug discovery.

Ana Batista: Panelist on Careers in Science Communication

Ana Batista did a PhD at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and IU Cancer Center studying pediatric leukemia, and a Post-Doc at MGH working on brain tumors.  Ana’s role at Trends in Cancer is to develop the journal strategy, commission expert reviews and commentary pieces in cancer, and oversee the editorial process. As part of growing the journal outreach, Ana is also involved in the planning of conferences, marketing and sales events, and also manages graphic content.

Rajnish Kaushik: Panelist on Careers in the Business of Science

Rajnish Kaushik joined the Office of Technology Commercialization (OTC, formerly CVIP) at University of Massachusetts Lowell in August 2010. Prior to joining UMass Lowell, Rajnish worked at the Office of Technology Management at UMass Medical School and in interned at the Partners Innovation office in Boston working with evaluation and marketing of new technologies and assisting with patent prosecution. Currently, he is also a member of thew Executive Advisory Board of M2D2 (Massachusetts Medical Device Development Center), an incubator for the early-stage medical device and life sciences startups. A virologist by training, Rajnish’s 15 years of research has been in the area pathogenicity of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), Simian Immunodeficiency Virus (SIV) as well as many animal viruses. His research resulted in many scientific publications, conference presentations and one US patent. He was a recipient of amfAR research grant for HIV research. Rajnish recently received a degree in Masters of Business Administration from the Manning School of Business at UMass Lowell with focus on the entrepreneurship. Prior to that, Rajnish received his M.S. in Biotechnology from University of Pune, India and Ph.D. in Biological Sciences from the Indian Institute of Science at Bangalore, India.

A few words from the organizer, Ananda Ghosh (Founder, PhD CSG)

Why you might consider registering for STEM Peers 2017?

For most academic scientists, especially those who have not been exposed to life outside the lab, the realization that one has to network or attend networking events can be daunting.

I remember my first networking event in NYC, surrounded by people who were talking business, people whom I was not used to interact with, topics which were at that time tasteless.. I remember I came out of the meet dejected. I was standing at the corner of the big hall, shaken, standing aloof….. had no idea how to introduce, how to strike a conversation..this was a world which was unknown to me.

When STEM Peers was conceived, it was especially designed to help us familiarize with this world but in a much more comfortable setting. In STEM Peers you will meet participants who are like you or were like you. They can converse in your language as well as the language they have now adapted to if they have transitioned. It will be a known setting, with a known culture.

Networking can’t go better than this. It will be an event where you can meet your mentors who might be your mentors for life. You can meet friends who might become your friends for next 20-30 years. You might meet people who are willing to listen to your troubles and advice you or get you connected to their network which can help you.

The entire event is designed to help those who need it but dont know how to proceed in an unknown territory. If you need further help or discussion on whether you are the right person to attend the conference, mail us at stempeers@gmail.com

 

Don’t wait anymore, click Here to Register Or Scan this QR Code

  1. Please complete required information in STEM Peers 2017 registration form.
  2. Email: your email address
  3. Name: Please provide your full name
  4. Organization: Please provide your current associated Organization/ University.
  5. Designation: Please provide your current designation.
  6. Participation: Please select appropriate participation group (Postdoc/PhD etc).
  7. Contact: Please provide your contact number.
  8. Food: Please provide information if you have any dietary restriction.
  9. Arrival time: Please provide details of your arrival time at event.
  10. Please select I am not a robot.
  11. Once you complete adding information, please click submit.
  12. Once you submit your registration, a new window will  pop-up confirming the receipt of your registration along with a highlighted link. (This is the link for registration fee payment)      
  13. Please click on link to pay and finalize registration.
  14. Payment can be made via using a PayPal account only.
  15. You can also use the “Buy Now” option (shown below) to pay your registration fee of 25$

 

(Please leave your name and email address as a note when paying using Paypal)

 

Click “Donate” to help PhDCSG (Please include your name, email address and phone number as an additional note while making the donation)




PhD Career Support Group (PhD CSG) for STEM PhDs is a US Non-Profit 501(c)3  organization and all donations to PhDCSG are tax deductible

We thank our event sponsors

 

Be it man or machine — a powerful memory impairs decisions

in ClubSciWri/That Makes Sense by

Are you the kind that remembers the core of a past event, but forgets the details? Well, research indicates that you might just be better at decision-making and adapting to the ever-changing, noisy environment. Most of us now acknowledge that it is as important to forget as it is to remember. And by forgetting, I do not mean wiping out unpleasant events (negative experiences propel better decision-making, we know that). It is storing the exquisite details or obsolete information that is a bother.  Why? Picture this. Erin and Matsya are being taught to identify cubes. Each of them has a Rubik’s cube in hand and makes a mental note of the object. The Rubik’s cube is replaced with 3 objects — a dice, a sugar cube, and a multicolored ball, each of a different size. While Erin had kept in mind the Rubik’s cube color, pattern, shape, and size, Matsya only managed to recollect its shape. Simply by storing and applying the gist of the learning, Matsya could quickly predict the dice and sugar block as cubes (i.e generalize), whereas storing too many details impeded Erin’s ability to swiftly choose the cubes. In a different scenario, Matsya’s favorite ice cream shop in her neighborhood shifts to an adjacent locality. Ability of her brain to delete the old location and update the new one can avoid conflict between the old and new and ease her in finding the place. These two scenarios reflect the importance of having a right mix of memory retention and loss for optimal decision-making. Thus, the potential of memory doesn’t lie in accurate, long-term retention of information but rather in guiding sensible decisions and promoting a flexible/adaptable behavior.

The importance of memory transience has also been highlighted in machine learning (ML), an artificial intelligence approach, wherein machines are trained to learn from provided data and expected to self-improve their performance using the “learning”. Regularization, an ML process that is brain’s equivalent to ‘storing and applying the gist of the learning’, shows that the lesser the parameters used for modeling, higher is the model’s ability to correctly predict the outcomes of new data. On the other hand, overly accurate model systems that have too many fed-in parameters are lower in applicability as they cannot generalize over different data sets.  Apart from regularization, computational models can also employ deletion of outdated data for more robust functioning. So, it looks like be it man or machine, remembering and forgetting are important.

But, what about the brain? What exactly is happening inside it when we are holding on to or letting go of memories? Can we influence what we retain or lose? Let’s take a quick look. The human brain is home to around 80-90 billion neurons — the smallest structural and functional electrically excitable units — that talk to each other using electrical and/or chemical signals. This “talking to each other” results in the formation of connections called “synapses”. Longer the talk between two neurons, stronger is their synapse (so much like human bonding, nay?). The birth, change, or death of these synapses is the basis for a lot of functions, one among them being storage and deletion of memories. Studies show that a memory persists principally because of excessive bonding between specific neurons that joined hands together to create the memory in the first place. Breaking or weakening of these bonds would aid in forgetting and/or learning. In reality, our brains are subject to regular remodeling from continuous neural activity and integration of new neurons. Moreover, environmental factors heavily influence our mnemonic abilities. For example, psychological stress affects an individual’s ability to store or retrieve memories, while activities like exercise are known to improve memory.

So, with memory’s neurobiological and computational perspectives in place, here’s the take home message: in a noisy, constantly changing world of today, optimal memory impermanence could be an investment in the choicest memory-guided planning for the future.

Reference:

Richards, B. A., & Frankland, P. W. (2017). The Persistence and Transience of Memory. Neuron, 94(6), 1071–1084.


About Saikata:

Saikata Sengupta is currently pursuing her Ph.D. from Department of Neurology at Friedrich Schiller University, Germany. You can follow her on Linkedin or Twitter.

 

 

 

Illustrator: Vinita Bharat, PhD of Fuzzy Synapse

Editors: Manoja Eswara, PhD and Paurvi Shinde, PhD

Manoja Eswara obtained her PhD from the University of Guelph, Canada and is currently pursuing her postdoctoral fellowship in Cancer Epigenetics at Lunenfeld Tanenbaum Research Institute, Toronto, Canada.

Paurvi Shinde did her PhD in Biomedical Sciences (Immunology) from the University of Connecticut Health and is currently a postDoc at Bloodworks Northwest in Seattle. Apart from science, she’s a trained classical dancer and loves outdoor and hikes.

The contents of Club SciWri are the copyright of PhD Career Support Group for STEM PhDs (A US Non-Profit 501(c)3, PhDCSG is an initiative of the alumni of the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore. The primary aim of this group is to build a NETWORK among scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs).

 This work by Club SciWri is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

STEM Peers 2017

in ClubSciWri by

Mission Statement: The first annual meeting of PhD Career Support Group (PhDCSG) is a much anticipated career advancement event, bringing professionals from more than a dozen life sciences industries and academia under one roof. Learn from first-hand accounts of success from mentors, entrepreneurs, recruiters, and professionals in industry and academia to help STEM graduates successfully navigate careers in life sciences. The meeting will feature highly interactive sessions from an impressively diverse group of STEM professionals, including panel discussions, small-group lunches and one-on-one networking opportunities.

If you are a STEM graduate don’t miss out on being a part of this event!

 

STEM Peers 2017- Connecting Scientists

1st Annual Symposium on PhD Career Advancements

Organized by Career Support Group for STEM PhDs (PhD CSG)

•September 23, 2017 • Boston, MA  •

Venue: Aeronaut Brewing Company, 14 Tyler St, Somerville, MA 02143 (Driving Directions)

Symposium Co-chairs
Syam Anand (Founder Mainline IP and Secretary, PhDCSG)
Ranjith Anand (Gingko Bioworks, Boston)

Symposium Organizers
Ananda Ghosh (Founder, PhDCSG)
Abhinav Dey (Co-founder, PhDCSG)

LIST of Participants

Participant Name Institution
Abhi Dey  EmoryUniversity
Abhishek Das  Palleon Pharmaceuticals Inc.
Adwait Godbole  The Scripps Research Institute, Florida
Aishwarya Swaminathan  University of Massachusetts Medical School
Ajit Kamath  Boston University
Ambily Abraham  UMass medical school
Ambrish Roy  Vertex Pharma
Amritraj Patra  Vanderbilt University
Ana Batista  CellPress
Ananda Ghosh  New York University
Anandaroop Dasgupta  Healthcare Consulting
Anisha Zaveri  Weill Cornell Medicine
Anita Chavan  Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Anshu Malhotra  Emory University
Arun K Rooj  Brigham and Women’s Hospital, HMS
Arvind Panday  Harvard Medical School
Aswin Garimalla  Research Foundation City University of New York
Ayyappan Subbiah  Sevengenes Inc.
Banishree Saha  UMASS Amherst
Benjamin Gabriel  University of Rhode Island
Bhanvi Mishra  New York Medical College
Chakravarthi Venkata Srinivasa
 University of Alabama at Birmingham
Chang Liu  Brandeis University
Christopher Link  Eton Bioscience
Colleen Brady  CellPress
Cong Huang Massachusetts General Hispital-Harvard Medical School
Danika Khong  Scismic LLC
David Waterman  Brandeis University
Deepti Gadi  Massachusetts General Hispital-Harvard Medical School
Devasena Ponnalagu  Drexel University
Dolonchapa Chakraborty  BenchSci
Elizabeth Wu  Scismic LLC
Eugenia Rojas
Ganapathy Subramanian Sankaran
 UMass medical school
Gargi Chaudhuri  Brigham & Women’s Hospital/Harvard Medical School
Gaurav Jain  New York University
Giang Nguyen  Tufts University School of Medicine
Gyanendra Kumar  St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital
Harish Ramamurthi  Oracle
Harpreet Singh  Drexel University
Hema Chug  Boston Children’s Hospital
Ilan Shanmugam  Boston University
Ishita Banerjee  UConn Health
Jagan Srinivasan  Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Jayeeta Sen  Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
K Kannan  Takeda
Kiran Gireesan  Yale University
Kirk Haltaufderhyde  University of Rhode Island
Krutika Bavishi  Weill Cornell Medical College
Kumaraguru Raja  Research Analyst
Kushagra Bansal  Harvard Medical School
Manju Mummadisetti  Rutgers University
Mishtu Dey  University of Iowa
Muthu Dhandapani  Mitra Biotech
Nandhu Mohan Sobhana  SUNY Upstate Medical University
Nandini Mani  Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School
Nazish Abdullah Weill Cornell Medical College
Neha Deshpande  Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary/Schepens Eye Research Inst/Dept. of Opthalmology HMS
Neha Diwanji  University of Massachusetts Medical School
Nick Deal  Stratacuity
Nikhil Gupta  New York University
Ola Soderquist  Sevengenes, Inc
Onkar Bhardwaj  Akamai Technologies
Pallab Ghosh  Harvard Medical School
Pooja Gudibanda  Cornell University
Prabuddha Dey  Rutgers University
Prajna Behera  Rutgers University
Prasad Subramaniam  Rutgers University
Praveen Anand  Harvard University
Priya  Free university and MPIKG Berlin, Germany
Radha Mukherjee  Weill Cornell Medicine
Radhika Raheja  Brigham and Women’s Hospital
Rahul Chib  Rutgers University
Rajat Kumar Pal  CUNY
Rajeshkumar Prakash  Biogen
Ranjith Anand  Gingko Bioworks
Rati Sharma  Harvard Medical School
Richa Jaiswal  Lake Pharma
Rohit Arora  Harvard University
Ruby  Tufts University
Sahana Bhattacharya  CUNY
Samik Chakraborty  Boston Children’s Hospital
Sanjay K Bharti  University of Virginia
Sankalp Gupta  New York University
Sarojini Adusumilli  Arizona Technology Enterprises
Saurabh Khasnavis  Harvard Medical School
Sayantan Chakraborty  NIH
Scott Eastman  Eli Lilly
Shiteshu Shrimal  UMass Medical School
Shreyas Gokhale  MIT
Shreyas Jadhav  Research Scientist
Shruti Gupta  New York University
Shyamtanu Datta  UT Southwestern Medical Center
Siddheshwari Advani  UMass Amherst
Simon Mongtrison  Berklee College of Music, NY
Smita Salian-Mehta  Abbvie
Srinivasan Parthiban  Vingyani
Subhalaxmi (Subbu) Nambi
 University of Massachusetts Medical School
Sujatha Koduvayur
Sujay Ramanathan  Drexel University
Sumit Rai  MGH
Susannah  Brandeis University
Susi Macdonald  Stratacuity
Sutirtha Datta  Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
Syam Prasad Anand  Mainline IP
Thirupathi Barla  Harvard University
Tribhuwan yadav  Harvard Medical School – Massachusetts General Hospital
Tuhin Das  Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
Vidhi Deepak Thakkar  Institute of Biomedical Sciences, Georgia State University
Vinay Eapen  Harvard Medical School
Vladimir Botchkarev  Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Xiangmin Lv  Harvard Medical School – Massachusetts General Hospital
Zachary Knecht  Brandeis University

 

At the registration desk

(Connecting the DOTS) to help all those who fear networking and break the ice during their initial interactions. At the registration desk you will get a registration pack that will have your 1. Name Tag, 2. Lunch Ticket, 3. Breakfast ticket, and 4. Networking Stickers (Color coded). Choose the sticker/stickers which can provide maximum benefit to you and others at the meeting, and place it on your name tag. You can seek help and be a mentor in several other ways so wear the color with pride and humility.

Program Schedule

8am-9am Arrival and Registration

Welcome Note: Abhinav Dey
Introductory Note: Ananda Ghosh
Keynote Introduction: Ranjith Anand

9:30am-10am Keynote Lecture
Melina Fan (Co-founder/CSO Addgene)

10am-10:30am Panel Discussion on Industry Research Careers
Session Chair: Ranjith Anand (Gingko Bioworks)
Panelists: 
Smita Salian-Mehta (Abbvie), Ambrish Roy (Vertex),
Richa Jaiswal (LakePharma)

10:30am-10:40am Grant Writing as a Postdoc: Vinay Eapen (Jane Coffin Childs Fellow, HMS)

10:40am-11:10am Panel Discussion on Academic Career Development
Session Chair: Nikhil Gupta (NYU)
Panelists: Mishtu Dey (University of Iowa), Jagan Srinivasan (WPI), Harpreet Singh (Drexel)

11:10am-11:30am Recruiter’s Perspective
Nick Deal (Stratacuity)

11:30am-12pm Panel Discussion on Careers in the Business of Science
Session Chair: Syam Anand (Founder Mainline IP)
Panelists: 
Ragoo Raghunathan (Metabolon), Subhalaxmi Nambi (UMass),
Rajnish Kaushik (UMass), Ananda Ghosh (NYU)

12pm-1pm Lunch Break with Musical Performance by IMON

1pm-1:45pm Panel Discussion on Science Communication and  Management Careers
Session Chair: Abhi Dey (Co-Founder, ClubSciWri)
Panelists: Colleen Brady (CellPress), Ana Batista (CellPress), Sutirtha Datta (Clinical Trials Office, MSKCC), Muthu Dhandapani (Mitra Biotech)

2pm-4pm Networking Session- Chair: Smita Salian-Mehta
4pm-4:30pm Awards Ceremony
4:30pm-5pm Closing Remarks and Future Directions (Syam Anand, Conference Co-Chair)


Registration Fee 25$

Instructions to Register and Pay the Registration Fee

Click Here to Register Or Scan this QR Code

  1. Please complete required information in STEM Peers 2017 registration form.
  2. Email: your email address
  3. Name: Please provide your full name
  4. Organization: Please provide your current associated Organization/ University.
  5. Designation: Please provide your current designation.
  6. Participation: Please select appropriate participation group (Postdoc/PhD etc).
  7. Contact: Please provide your contact number.
  8. Food: Please provide information if you have any dietary restriction.
  9. Arrival time: Please provide details of your arrival time at event.
  10. Please select I am not a robot.
  11. Once you complete adding information, please click submit.
  12. Once you submit your registration, a new window will  pop-up confirming the receipt of your registration along with a highlighted link. (This is the link for registration fee payment)      
  13. Please click on link to pay and finalize registration.
  14. Payment can be made via using a PayPal account only.
  15. You can also use the “Buy Now” option (shown below) to pay your registration fee of 25$

 

(Please leave your name and email address as a note when paying using Paypal)

 

Click “Donate” to help PhDCSG (Please include your name, email address and phone number as an additional note while making the donation)




PhD Career Support Group (PhD CSG) for STEM PhDs is a US Non-Profit 501(c)3  organization and all donations to PhDCSG are tax deductible

 

We thank our sponsors

Co-Chair’s Note:-

Why STEM Peers 2017 could be important for your career advancement?

  1.  If you don’t know what it takes to advance to the next level. If you think your publications make your career, attend and learn more.
  2. If you don’t know what it takes to get hired- the key skills, how to market them, how to to get them noticed by people who matter, and how to make your CV/resume stand out. If you think having a great CV will get anyone’s attention, attend and learn more.
  3. If you don’t know what it takes to stay in a job- getting hired could be the easy part. Staying in a job needs to understand the key job requirements that employers are seeking. If you think your bench work and associated skills is all it takes, attend and learn more.
  4. If you don’t know what it takes to advance your career after staying for a while in a new job (industry/pharma/IP/academia). Advancing your career depends on skills you develop while on the job. This needs preparation and updating of skills, sensing changing needs etc. If you think what got your hired will also advance your career further, attend and learn more.

I cannot emphasize this more- many bench scientists don’t understand these before their funding runs out or visa restrictions start dawning upon them.

Here is your chance to interact with folks who have successfully transitioned and advanced their careers further. Awareness, networking and DETAILS matter.

Finally, would you rather spend hours weeding through the internet to get the info you want or a day with successful people who are keeping their time aside for you?

STEM Peers is a bargain in that respect. We are able to bring all this to you in an affordable manner ONLY because we are a non-profit. Make use of STEM Peers 2017.

Best wishes!

Syam Anand

 

 

FAQs about STEM Peers

  1. What is the registration fee? Ans: $25 for Postdoctoral Fellows/Graduate Students; 50$ Faculty members/Industry members/Others; Late-registration fee/On-site registration Fee: 30$
  2. What is included in the registration fee? Ans: The registration fee includes access to all conference sessions and exhibits. When you check-in at the registration desk, you will receive a delegate package, which includes copies of the conference program, your name tag, and other relevant information. The registration fee also covers access to a morning coffee break, and an afternoon coffee break on the entire day of the conference.
  3. Do I have to be a CSG member to attend the conference? Ans: No
  4. Do you have discounted rates for graduate students/postdocs? Ans: Student/Postdoc registrations are heavily subsidized, and therefore the Early Registration Discount for these already discounted registrations is smaller
  5. Do you have early registration discounts? Ans: To have a better idea of how many participants will attend and to promote timely registration for the conference, CSG may offer an early registration discount. A discount applies to regular registrations received before the early registration deadline, as specified on the registration page.
  6. How do I confirm that I am registered? Ans: Once your registration is finalized, you will receive a confirmation email indicating that you are officially registered. You will receive an Official Receipt from PayPal, via email again, as proof of payment. In addition, your name will appear in the list of registered attendees on sciwri.club
  7. Can I get a certificate of attendance? Ans: A certificate of attendance can be printed for you on request and e-mailed to you after the conference. Please visit the registration desk and request a certificate to be mailed. We would appreciate it, if you wait for a time when the registration desk is less crowded to request a certificate.
  8. Is there a discounted rate of registration? Ans: Mail us stempeers@gmail.com
  9. What if I have a question that is not answered here? Ans: This FAQ only covers answers to questions that we receive frequently. If you have a question that still has not been answered, please email us stempeers@gmail.com and one of us will be happy to assist you.
  10. What is your cancellation policy? Ans: We understand that members who have registered for the conference may have to cancel their registrations due to unforeseen circumstances. While we try to accommodate cancellations to the best of our ability, any cancellation, especially late ones, put CSG at a difficult situation. Due to the size of our conference, we make many of our arrangements well in advance and therefore cancellations come with a cost to CSG. Therefore, the CSG Board has developed a cancellation policy to balance the needs of our members with the costs of cancellation to CSG. As such, please note that cancellation requests for an already confirmed registration will be processed according to the following schedule:

Before August 15: %100 refund ($5 cancellation fee)

August 15 – August 31: 10$ refund.

After September 1: No refunds available

For any queries mail us: stempeers@gmail.com

Download the flyer here

Follow us on Twitter @PhDCSG

Acknowledgements: Tribhuwan Yadav, Radhika Raheja and Anita Chavan for testing the registration process.

Featured Image and CSG Logo design By Ipsa Jain

 

Let’s start with the first stepping stone

in Face à Face/Planet Gurukool by

Editor’s Note: Enrico Fermi said, “There are two possible outcomes: if the result confirms the hypothesis, then you’ve made a measurement. If the result is contrary to the hypothesis, then you’ve made a discovery”. In her career transition tet-a-tete with Rituparna, Riya Binil reveals how her leap of faith from the ivory tower of academia was a perfectly measured career move and also ensured the discovery of the purpose of her scientific training. As we begin the next season of Gurukool, we hope Riya’s experience will help you realize the power of altruism that propels peer-sourced mentoring in Gurukool. – Abhinav Dey

 

Whether we are freshly minted Ph.Ds. or rich with postdoc experiences, sometimes uncertainty beckons us and we yearn to venture away from the trodden path into a different kind of future. Although our training equips us with the ability to reason out and calculate the trial and error rates, transitioning into broader STEM-Careers may seem like an insurmountable challenge, but all that we need is the first stepping stone towards it.

Dr. Riya Binil reinstalled my (Rituparna Chakrabarti) faith in this and made it much stronger, as we spent a Sunday afternoon Skypeing about her recent job transition experience as Biotech Analyst at SGS Canada Inc. Riya patiently narrated her story highlighting the importance of seeking help and building networks with the right person at the right time. She urges young PhDs to take a leap of faith from the ivory tower.

RC: Congratulation Riya, tell me more about where it all started?

RB: Well I am an applied chemist by training, I got my M.Sc. from Cochin University of Science and Technology, India. I wanted to pursue my Ph.D. but my younger version was equally excited to meet new people and enjoy new experiences. That’s why I moved to Bangalore to do my Ph.D. at National Center for Biological Sciences. Here, I gained most of my laboratory skill sets and grew passionate to work at the intersection of Chemistry and Biology. During that period, I mainly worked with GPI (Glycosylphosphatidylinositol, a glycolipid) and GPI-APs (GPIanchored proteins, glycolipid-tethered proteins). These proteins are ubiquitously expressed in all eukaryotic cells and perform diverse cellular functions. I synthesized fluorescent GPI analogs as well as ligands for the GPI-AP receptor to specifically study the plasma membrane organization of GPI-APs.

By the end of my Ph.D., I started looking for scopes where my skill sets can be implemented on larger scale projects and I made up my mind that I wanted to transcend beyond academia. More or less at the same time, my family relocated to Canada. It’s always quite challenging with these relocations, especially when your family is entangled with you and your decisions. So, I decided to take up a postdoctoral position at Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, but in parallel, continued to dig in more about opportunities in the industries and developing my CV towards it. My latest relocation from Ottawa to Greater Toronto area, Ontario thankfully came at the right time where I had my first reality check; ‘In Canada, you might have a Ph.D. but that might not be enough for you to land up with a job.’

RC: So how did you circumvent this obstacle?

RB: This can be quite nerve-wrecking and a long experience for most of us but I guess you find a way about it. I was very sure about this transition for quite a long time. I did not care too much about the pay scale to start with but kept my eyes open for opportunities which matched my skill sets. One thing that I was very clear about was ‘I need to get my very first industrial exposure’, therefore I was flexible to learn and adapt to the system. By this time I came across CSG (Career Support Group) and Ananda Ghosh prompted me to get associated with CSG Gurukool Initiative which helped me immensely to custom design my CV and groomed me for the interview.

RC: What are the objectives of SGS and what are your current roles as a Biotech Analyst?

RB: SGS (Société Générale de Surveillance) is a MNC based in Geneva, Switzerland. They are one of the global leaders carrying out inspections, verifications, testings, and certifications for their client’s services and products. They set a global benchmark by delivering high-quality services in a wide range of sectors (13 of them), starting from ‘agriculture & food’ to ‘oil & energy’. I joined the biopharmaceutical division within the life sciences department. As a Biotech Analyst, my major responsibility includes various bioanalytical analysis to ensure quality control.

RC: What were the skill sets you highlighted for your current job?

RB: I was always interested in research and had a vast skill set to get absorbed in this department. After looking at the job ad, I observed that I full filled most of their requirements. But the trick is you have to tailor the CV and cover letter smartly. I was picky with my skill sets and highlighted only those which were mandatory for this particular position. I highlighted my expertise in cell cultures, cell-based assays, chromatography and gel electrophoresis. In addition to this, I highlighted my strongest soft skills like good communication (both verbal and written), openness to collaborations (within and outside interdisciplinary team of scientists), innovative outlook and flexibility.

RC: What was the biggest lesson you learned during the process of transition?

RB: For me, the biggest virtue I learned was to be persistent and patient throughout the process. It takes the time to understand the job market. It needs a lot of self-effort and diligent networking. CSG and CSG Gurukool provided me the required support, as well as a sound networking platform.

RC: How did CSG Gurukool help you?

RB: Everyone knows the importance of social media and networking, but initially very few of us actually take this process seriously. I took my time to get accustomed to this procedure as well. The CSG inhouse mentor-mentee program is a great platform in order to know people from different walks of life. They hand pick few CSG members every 6 months based on their CV and cover letter and assign them to set of mentors with the similar background. I got in touch with Swayam Prabha and Ravikiran Ravulapalli as my mentors, who understood the Canadian job market specifically. At the start, I was a bit shy to approach the mentors directly. I always wanted to provide them with the well-furnished CV, so I kept editing the CV without knowing the right approach. It won’t be surprising for you to know that it was not the correct way. It is an open portal and both mentors and mentees learn from one another. It is always best to work through the materials and evolve together in the focused direction. They also provided me with useful tips like spreading the keywords well throughout my CV and LinkedIn profile so it is easier to crack the CTS (Computer Tracking Software). Most importantly I learned that one has to be proactive in order to make an impression among the mentors because you might get a referral to a particular industry via your mentor. The best part of this experience is it is a free open access source which anyone can utilize once motivated and enrolled. I pursued it diligently and was successful. I am now looking forward to the new cycle of CSG Gurukool, as it’s my turn to give back to CSG as a resourceful mentor.

RC: Thanks, Riya I am sure this will help many of our readers. Do you have any suggestions for future aspirants?

RB: Study the job market carefully; jot down what you want to do and what your priorities are. Once you have your first draft take help from your friends/peers who made the similar transition or get associated with programs like CSG Gurukool. Start applying well in advance. Generally, it is a long process and earlier you start more confident you will feel about it. Informational interviews are great tools and I highly recommend everyone to exploit this medium.

 


This interview was coordinated and conducted by Rituparna Chakrabarti

Rituparna pursued her Ph.D. in Neuroscience from Georg-August University (Göttingen, Germany) and is currently a post-doctoral fellow at the Center for Biostructural Imaging of Neurodegeneration (BIN), Göttingen. Over years, she has gained technical expertise in electron and high-resolution light microscopy, in order to study the nanostructures of specialized chemical synapses in the sensory systems. She likes to have a bird’s eye view of her undertakings and gets excited with analytics. Passionately believes in, correct simplification of science, therefore engages in different scientific communication and public outreach projects. To unwind herself she plays mandolin and eagerly looks for a corner at a coffee house to slide herself in with a good read or company.

The editor Vignesh Narayan Hariharan

Vignesh is a molecular biologist at Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, India with a passion for science communication. When he is not peering into bacterial signaling networks or playing with his fluorescence microscope, he tries to simplify science through his writing. He loves talking about science almost as much as he loves writing about it and wishes people would pay for him to just travel the world talking and writing about science….or anything else for that matter.

 


Cover Image source: Pixabay

Profile image courtesy Riya Binil,

Content Image sources: Pixabay

References:


The contents of Club SciWri are the copyright of PhD Career Support Group for STEM PhDs (A US Non-Profit 501(c)3, PhDCSG is an initiative of the alumni of the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore. The primary aim of this group is to build a NETWORK among scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs).

This work by Club SciWri is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

 

The week that it was – 19th to 25th June, 2017

in ClubSciWri by
  • Open-Access-vs-Publication-houses.png?fit=3508%2C2480
    Balancing the cost and availability of scientific research publications - by Fuzzy Synapse.

With the start of summer in the northern part of the world, CSG announced its first Annual Symposium- ‘STEMPeers: Connecting Scientists’ on Saturday, September 23, 2017, at the Aeronaut Brewery (Somerville, MA). Addgene’s co-founder, Melina Fan, is going to be the plenary speaker – get inspired with her story of building organizations to help scientists work more efficiently.

Unlocking Science – by IpsaWonders

How soon can total open access really work? On one hand, European leaders have asked for complete open access to scientific papers by 2020. But in the current open access model how do we get around the huge payments for publishing the open access journals? SciHub, the Robin Hood in Science, has been recently issued a penalty of $15 mn for Elsevier copyright infringements by US court, for making scientific papers illicitly available to public.

Adding to the woes of researchers troubled with paid access to scientific literature, non-reproducibility of pre-published data calls for immediate action towards better information. Those who are fretting over a horrible western blot result before the weekend hits, will appreciate the efforts taken by Biocompare to tackle the reproducibility issues of antibodies. While we appreciate efforts taken towards making the scientific community more informed about picking the right reagents and protocols, Chinese government went another step by announcing severe penalty, that can also lead to execution for scientists found fabricating their data – in an effort to restore scientific data integrity in the country. Data fabrication, a problem that plagues the community, might only be aggravated if such harsh measures are taken instead of tackling the root cause of it.

The rise of the age of nanotechnology in food sector – encompassing nutritional content of food to judging its freshness – also calls for the society to embrace newer technologies with newer regulations to understand. While most people still stay unclear about the moral and ethical concerns around gene editing, the CRISPR story gets more melodramatic with Doudna’s A Crack in the Creation. With more and more non-novel technologies being developed, it is also imperative for scientists to embrace easier forms of communication with public. Here is an example of a scientist’s pursuits of reaching people by drawing science. SciViz, NYC, USA is another avenue where you can be a part of network of people who work towards visualizing science.

The healthcare consulting enthusiasts might want to take a look at a list of top-rated firms in the field. The other life scientists among our readers might want to take a sneak peek at the companies that employees have valued in life science sector. Alfreda James, from Stony Brook University, gives insights from her experience as a career education professional.

Take a look at the opportunities shared on CSG –

  • PhD programme in Biology at Ashoka University
  • Postdoctoral fellowship, Scientific project management, Harvard Program in Therapeutic Science, MA, USA
  • Postdoctoral fellowships, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, linked with Marie Sklodowska Curie Individual Fellowship Actions, Madrid, Spain
  • Postdoctoral Scholar, Stream Hydro-Ecology, Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management, Berkeley, USA

If you are interested in the above positions, you well might want to know what it takes to write an impactful proposal for postdoctoral fellowship.

And in case you feel dissatisfied with your performance – remember sometimes it is better that you just work, and let others evaluate your work – you are not always the best judge of your work. Keep calm and keep maximizing on your happiness. Everything else will have to fall in place!

Featured images are by IpsaWonders (on Facebook and Instagram) and Fuzzy Synapse (on Facebook).

About the author:

Somdatta Karak works with Club SciWri as a project coordinator and Corporate Liaison. She is a doctorate in Neuroscience from Georg August University, Göttingen, Germany and has been a Teach for India fellow (2014-16). She loves putting her analytical skills to build newer and more sustainable solutions, enjoys traveling and communicating and takes every opportunity to expand her horizon.

You can reach her here.

The week that it was : 12th -18th June, 2017

in ClubSciWri by

Hola summer-lovers. This week as the sun shines down graciously on Queensland, very many scientific discoveries and traditional approaches faced the heat of scrutiny and re-investigation at various levels.

The therapeutic tug-of-war gets CrispR

CrispR companies respond and raise concerns over flaws in the data in a recent publication over the pitfalls of this popular genome-editing technique. Bench scientists might consider weighing the pros and cons of this technique as Nature discusses these concerns with the authors.

The HIV detection assay ‘Quantitative viral outgrowth assay’ is outcompeted by a gene-expression based novel HIV test –‘TZA’ that enables early detection of the dormant virus. The test is quicker than the traditional assay and might potentially be a step in the right direction for HIV diagnosis shows studies at Pitt Public Health’s Department of Infectious Diseases and Microbiology. On the other hand, the failure of anti-estrogen therapies in endometriosis is attributed to estrogen not being the causative hormone for the condition in the first place!! Scientists at National Institute of Research in Reproductive Health, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) showed that presence of estrogen does not promote the growth of these tissues outside the uterus.

The power (house) production

Mitochondria, also know as the powerhouse of a cell has always been known as the energy (ATP) production house. However, recent studies show that this organelle might be doing much more than that, as it produces metabolites and control hematopoietic stem cell fate. Now that’s what we call multi-tasking.

Tinder for science 😉

Yes that’s right! We now have a tinder-look-a-like app called Papr for the scientific community to show appreciation towards our fellow researchers’ work. It allows life scientists to rate fellow researchers work by swiping right on pre-prints as also make connection via twitter account that could be linked to the app. So people get ‘swiping right for science’.

Recently initiative by he NIH called the Grant Support Index (GSI) was a promising venture to cap funding at the top level and facilitate funding for new labs. However, this initiative has now been withdrawn. If you wish to support and wish to implement it for betterment of future scientist please sign the petition here.

Story of the week: Parenthood special

As we celebrate Father’s day this week, a new father talks about the challenges of balancing work and parenthood for working dads.
The science heroes for this week are also parents Sharon Terry and her husband Pat who turned citizen scientist to study a rare genetic condition PXE their children faced. In this TED talk, Sharon narrated the story of their journey of becoming a bench-scientists and making considerable contribution to understanding the condition. She urges the scientific community to focus coming together to make a difference than being a part of the rat race.

 

Also, read here various contributions of cancer cells from Henrietta Lacks to various key scientific breakthroughs from eradicating polio to mapping the human genome. The controversial HeLa cells have now made it to the silver screen- The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks in addition to being a household name among life-scientists.

BioSpace invite female life-scientists to share their unique experience in science while CSGian Viswa Nadham urges fellow CSGians to share your thoughts and experiences about biotech dreams and how the education system and opportunities a can be improved. Follow and contribute to the discussion here. Share your stories to inspire and educate the future researchers.

Immigration info-desk

For US post-docs, Kasthuri Kannan advises on green card policies in a CSG post in addition to the brief summary of the Immigration Info session held at Columbia University Postdoctoral Society.

CSG: the new Hogwarts

SciWri invites new interns to contribute to translating the statistical article to biologist-lingo while the current writers can improve their blogs using these tips and tools. Follow the discussion here. As the second round of applications open for the CSG Consulting Club, here are few tips for a strategic approach to solving case studies.
For the data science enthusiasts, CSG Data Science club hosts its first in-person classes by Kasthuri Kannan on July 22nd, from 2pm to 3.30pm at the Translational Research Building of NYU. The classes will be accessible on FB live as well. Also, for the self-learners heres an interactive tool to learn coding for free!!
A MSL discussion will be hosted by CSG for PhDs aspiring to follow this career path. Please join the discussion by signing up here while future policy makers can gather a few tips from Debra Cooper from the California State Senate Office of Research as she narrates her story of transition to Science policy while enlisting the various roles in that area.
For all the creative thinkers out there, CSG is looking for a ‘name’ for the first ever Asian-scientists networking event hosted by CSG: The Annual meet-up. So let your ideas flow in!!
CSGians in NJ area are invited to signup for a CSG-Meet up on June 24th 2017. And finally here’s some advice for our mentors at CSG as they gear up for the June-Dec 2017 cycle of the Mentor-Mentee program. Good luck and kudos to your effort!

Resume roadmap

This week in this section Ananda explains the importance of planning an effective post-doc application and how CSG can help you get your dream job.
A successful CSGian Richa Jaiswal writes about her transition as a Senior Scientist in the Protein Sciences division of a CR). Smita Salian Mehta points out a few differences in academia and industry while sharing a list of world’s most reputable pharma companies in 2017. If you are prepping to make the move, read how to gracefully walk out of your current position, but remember to plan your transition in advance and seek advise from our experienced fellow CSGians.
For those happily settled in your new job , do consider Individual Development Plans(IDPs) exercise with you PI or boss to identify career objectives and achieve professional development.

Funding calls

For data science fanatics, apply for the INSIGHT FELLOWS PROGRAM
We have some new funding opportunities for European scientists and Laboratory of Systems Pharmacology (LSP) Fellowship in Scientific Project Management at Harvard to learn project management while supporting a federal grant. Those with the entrepreneurial ambitions here’s an opportunity for ‘technopreunership’ from USA and India.

Opportunities from our Pandora box

Some of the opportunities featured this week were:

Jobs at Biogen
Proposal Development Manager New York
Scientist Biochemical Assay & Screening at Stratacuity, Houston
Leader of Biologics at Stratacuity, Boston
Sr. Scientist in Antibody research at Stratacuity, Boston
Director, New Products at Intellia Therapeutics
Project manager at Northern Biologics ,Canada
Technology Lead in US (Boston area) and Germany (Frankfurt) at Sanofi Biologics Research
Postdoctoral fellow at University of Cambridge

And signing off with a tickle to your funny bone with a song, Dr. Francis Collins, Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), sang to graduating SMU students during his Commencement address at a graduating ceremony.

Have a productive week!!

About the cover image 

This week’s cover image titled ‘CrispR : Good or Bad ’ is an illustration by Vinita Bharat at Fuzzy Synapse.

About the author

Nisha Peter is a Post-doctoral fellow at Sussex Drug Discovery Centre,UK and has done her PhD  from Genome Damage and Stability Centre,UK . Her research interest involves cell biology (I’ve spend a lifetime admiring mitotic cells during my PhD!!) and oncology. She works for Club SciWri as a freelance writer to pursue her love for “words”. Apart from being bench scientist she actively participates in science communication events, enjoys teaching, globetrotting and experimenting with music.

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