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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)

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-10:15am Coffee Break

10:15am-11am Panel Discussion on Research Careers
Session Chair: Ranjith Anand (Gingko Bioworks)
Panelists
Nikhil Gupta (NYU), Jagan Srinivasan (WPI),
Smita Salian-Mehta (Abbvie), Ambrish Roy (Vertex),
Richa Jaiswal (LakePharma)

11am-11:20am Recruiter’s Perspective
Nick Deal (Stratacuity)

11:20am-12pm Panel Discussion on Careers in the Business of Science
Session Chair: Syam Anand (Founder Mainline IP)
Panelists
Ragoo Raghunathan (Metabolon), Moru Vaze (Duane Morris),
Ananda Ghosh (NYU).

 

12pm-1pm Lunch Break

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

1:45pm-2pm Grant Writing as a Postdoc: Vinay Eapen (Jane Coffin Childs fellow at Harvard Medical School)

2pm-3pm Networking Over Coffee/ Chair: Smita Salian-Mehta

 

3pm-4pm Musical Performance by IMON

 

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. And 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 hit, 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.

The week that it was – 5th to 11th June

in ClubSciWri by
  • tree-01.jpg?fit=3508%2C2480
    Celebrating World Environment Day, by IpsaWonders
ISRO launches its Fat Boy, image by Fuzzy Synapse

Over last week India has had quite a few reasons to celebrate. ISRO launched the country’s heaviest rocket GSLV Mk3, and won its independence from European space agencies for launching its satellites weighing more than 2 tonnes.  At the same time, CSG India’s efforts by IISc-ians got formal recognition by Indian Express, a nationwide newspaper in India. From career transition talks on campus to now communicating science to layman, the IISc team is bound to go places!

While India’s largest scientific and research body, CSIR, which runs 37 laboratories nationwide declared financial emergency, CCMB, a CSIR centre in Hyderabad, India has developed a novel drug delivery system to treat fungal keratitis in eye. The emphasis is on every CSIR lab to have marketable technology, while CSIR-Tech whose focus was on commercializing technology from CSIR labs shut down officially earlier this year hugely due to lack of funding and legal support from CSIR. That would put the onus on the individual lab to market its technology to earn revenue. If this model fails, we risk seeing 37 defunct labs all over the country. On a parallel note, Prof. Sujoy Guha’s team at IIT-Kharagpur, India has developed novel male birth control measures  but is having a hard time to find companies to launch the technology. Is it only a fear of accepting a new methodology or breaking the age old popular mindset around male’s passive role in contraception or the money of big pharma companies in existing contraceptive market! Prof. Guha’s technique are shown to be as effective as the current measures available, cheaper and more eco-friendly. The developing countries will certainly benefit a lot where a huge part of its contraceptive needs stay unmet. How do pharma companies and policy makers see such issues?

Pharma companies, however, do see hope in big investments on artificial intelligence. Preliminary studies show immense scope for AI in healthcare driving big collaborations in the cancer care. One name that has been appearing often is IBM Watson. While it has just joined hands with Novartis to gain better insights into development of breast cancer therapies, its 4 year collaboration with MD Anderson Cancer Center could not be sustained after a toll of at least $62 mn. In India, Bharat Biotech started with phase I human trials for its chikungunya vaccine.

National Science Foundation, federal science agency in the USA, declared stopping PhD grants in environmental science and organismal biology. Adding to the controversies, USA’s top patent and trademark official, Michelle Lee, known for her efforts to invalidate low quality patents, suddenly announced her resignation – adding one more vacancy to be filled under Trump’s administration. The reasons behind the resignation aren’t yet confirmed by her, but speculations hint towards rift with the Commerce Department.

Moving on from national interests to international implications of political views of the home countries of researchers. While it is not possible and/or worth building huge research facilities with overlapping functions all over the world, especially if the number of researchers using them is rather small. But in having common facilities worldwide, do we risk access for researchers whose home countries have not invested in building the facility? Over years, the field of astronomy has built numerous such common facilities of telescopes, and have been one of the better but yet not perfect examples to show to prioritize science over political agendas. This is probably a difference one sees when science is done for curiosity versus having political and economic gains.

With that let’s see what opportunities opened up in academia over the last week –

If you are preparing to apply for jobs outside academia, understand your potential and interests without falling for the long-held notions around careers. Here are stories from 5 postdoctoral researchers who found their calling beyond academia during their postdoc stint – if you identify with any of them, you have a role model to follow! Find here a networking event for life science professionals in MA, USA and an online free seminar that you might consider attending on gaining the necessary skills for a successful transition for some of the positions we saw over the last week.

And what if you wanted to work in academia and market your work? As a researcher should you head the startup with your technical skills or sell your technology to external licensees? Check what numbers have to speak. While it might seem discouraging for an academician to head a startup according to statistics at the moment, it might be simply mitigated by appropriate training and exposure to the academicians. A praiseworthy initiative is euVENTION that aims to support researchers in establishing startups focusing on chronic diseases in middle aged populations. Basel Life is setting up a platform to bring cutting edge science and technology in labs in front of potential investors and customers. Backed by reputed universities, this is a potent way to guide and support commercialization of technologies developed in universities. And those who think their research can impact policies, see if  and how the World Health Summit at Berlin, Germany might help you.

For those who want to prime themselves with the startup culture and the ideas that are making rounds in the market already, there are some great resources for Indian and global scenes. Those into it might want to know the effective and more importantly many of the free tools to get your startup working. We know what it means to bootstrap! And when it comes to forming your team, choose your members wisely – reports show that peer reviews and testimonies say a greater deal more than GRE/ GPA scores, alma maters, publication lists of an applicant’s abilities. See how you would like to maximize your sales – numbers say that you will benefit the most by having direct interaction with your buyers. But most importantly, remember it is about doing a good research in business too, which is your forte!

With that I come to my summer promise where I give you ideas to reignite your hobbies if they haven’t found a vent since some time. For all the crochet enthusiasts among us, look at these amazing pieces of Anne Mondro’s works. While we are talking of looking at anatomy with abstraction, Judith Brodsky’s work adds a different dimension to the art of science communication. Let your imagination flow, it is not about the prettiness of the art, as she says, but rather a deeper message that it sends across. And story tellers, get inspired by grad student Sara ElShafie as she makes her science stories more engaging with Pixar! CSG is currently brimming with ideas of all kinds, and is waiting to hear more of yours soon!

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 : 29th May- 4th June 2017

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Howdy folks!! With the British summer round the corner, CSG saw discussion on a varied world and ‘Our world-The Lab’ concerns. So let’s have a looks at what turned the heat on for our fellow scientists.

‘Trump-et’ controversies in the globally warmed-up village

As Donald Trump walk out of Paris climate accord, the energy system of our global village is at stake. CEOs of mammoth companies creating markets for cleaner technologies and climate policy makers, comment on Washington’s bad manners. Discussions are ongoing to analyse the aftermath of this atrocious behaviour by the Trump administration.

It’s all about the ‘Zika’

As Zika virus reaches the shores of India, the government decided to keep information under wraps instead of educating the masses about ways to avoid the infection. The pre-history of Zika is being probed as individuals with no travel history to countries with ongoing transmission indicating the virus’ existence in India locally.

Science to rescue medical maladies

This week’s lab news is encouraging for patient suffering with bones and blood ailments. 3-D bio-printed cartilages at Department of Textile Technology at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi  show potential as a cure for osteoarthritis and in-vitro assessment of drug delivery studies as they are molecularly similar to ones seen in human knees. In line with this artificial innovation scientists Chennai’s Apollo Specialty Cancer Hospital resort to natural ‘stem-cell’ transplant in young thalassemia major patients with not one rejection. Although the success rate of this approach has to be investigated in older population, young patients see hope with the rising rejection rate of tissue transplants and regular blood transfusions.

Bench-science improvers

Nature publishes bumps in the CrispR-Cas9 technology in a study that shows that it introduces hundreds of unintended mutations in clinical trials, emphasizing the importance of genome-wide sequencing. While the favourite gene-editing strategy is being scrutinized, Madhavi Ganapathiraju invites molecular biologists to preview and participate in a user-study of a website featuring novel predicted protein-protein interactions. As these tools promote new innovations by the bench, LabMate helps the ‘bench to business-side’ mantra as it ties top-tier universities to collaborate and get in touch with bio-pharmaceutical companies and investor firms for consulting projects and job prospects.

Real to Reel : Story of the week

The geeky neurobiologist, Dr. Amy Farrah Fowler of the Big Bang Theory fame has a ‘Real PhD’ in neuroscience. Keep reading to know her thoughts on STEM women scientists and why she chose to do a PhD whilst acting. CSG makes a debut in local news as New Indian Express applauds Ipsa Jain and Vignesh Narayan as they organise a sci-com picnic introducing their audience to the world of proteins. These talks are conducted by Science High and organised by Gathr.

CSG : The new Hogwarts

CSG instigates a Data Science initiative for Informatics enthusiasts led by. If you are keen on improving your CV with some data-science skills to give you an edge in your next job applications, sign up here to our Informatics group. The Mentor Mentee Program GURUKOOL 2017 (June-Dec 2017) is open to applicants prepping for an industrial transition. Send your letter of intent and resume to SCIWRI2016@GMAIL.COM. Shout out to all CSGians in Europe for our annual meet-up. Kindly participate in this poll to suggest your convenient dates.

Resume Roadmap

For PhD graduates aspiring to get a foot in door in R&D industry jobs here’s a list of life-science and genomic industries world over and specific pathways to get there with a snapshot of how life is different in the industrial background for a research scientist. While you work on your CV, here’s’ some advice from GFP discoverer Martin Chalfie on applying to post-doc jobs, list of independent post-doctoral fellowships and some pointers to bear in mind before you send it off to the recruiter. On the networking front this is how you could improve your story-telling skills and network effectively. Do not forget to maintain a work-life balance though, once you land in your ‘dream-job’

Opportunities

Here’s an opening for our artsy-scientists or just an opportunity to dance your science to the beat (quite literally!!)

ArtSci Workshop in Singapore

Dance Your Ph.D.’ contest, 2017

Other opportunities advertised this week were :

Writer/Editor, Development

Scientist – Cardio-Renal and Metabolic Diseases at Merck

In Vivo Pharmacologist, Novartis

Department Head Assay Development, Roche

Proposal Development Officer – University of Dundee

 

About the cover image 

This week’s cover image titled ‘Global Warming’ is by Vinita Bharat at Fuzzy Synapse.

About the author

Nisha Peter is a recent PhD graduate from Genome Damage and Stability Centre,UK and is now working as Research Fellow at Sussex Drug Discovery 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.

 

The Genesis of PhD Career Support Group for STEM PhDs

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This is the story of when and why it all began for CSG before we opened the group for members beyond campus of IISc……

January, 2016: It is great to write about the PhD Career Support group which was born out of a necessity to help large numbers PhDs who were coming out from the Indian Institute of Science to develop their career in a foreign land. Embarking on a journey in a foreign land brings with itself, different problems which either we are unaware of or don’t have the skills or knowledge to work our way through. Ever since its inception on July 22nd (2015), this group  has grown in its membership from 40 to 1500 and continues to grow.

Why did we have a forum like this to begin with? Some of us realized that the best thing, which happened in those 400 acres of lush green campus, was the bright and brilliant group of friends we had. In Bangalore if we ever had a problem and at whatever time of day it was, we could use our vast network of friends and solve almost all the problems. One of the things, which we missed dearly, in fact very dearly, was this “access” to our group of friends. I mean they were there, but as one graduated from the Institute, they not only got scattered, but the bonding that happened because of the campus wall was no longer there. What remained was the nostalgia which Gulzar penned quite brilliantly in Urdu “Chod aayein hum woh Galiya” (Those streets got left behind)

The other thing that we realized was how ill equipped PhDs from IISc were if they had to think about a career outside science. Although most IISc PhDs would love to spend their entire life in Science, the present funding scenario with too many graduates in Biotechnology or other natural sciences have created a very unstable future for the PhDs. We saw top US universities like Yale, Cornell, NYU, Columbia have a very aggressive career counseling offices working day and night for PhDs to help them from getting disillusioned with failure to secure tenure-track positions. Unfortunately, IISc is still way behind these programs resulting in hundreds of PhDs with no apparent direction to take if their academic career didn’t take off. So one objective of the forum was to crowd source ideas and knowledge about how the real world works and what needs to be changed if one has to seek a job outside academia.

We also realized that the alumni network is not well connected. There is for sure gap between senior well-established IIScians with the current students or fresh PhDs and postdocs. The alumni network is no match with IITs or even some top undergraduate colleges of India, for example, St. Stephens Delhi or St. Xavier’s Bombay. For an IIScian to compete with US PhDs, one needs to have an excellent network within the organization in which they are applying. From our experience and from others we heard that it was a pain to network resume in the company. However, if you search LinkedIn for IIScians, you would invariably see IIScians in those companies. The question was WHY THEN THE CONCEPT OF ALUMNI NETWORK not working? HOW TO REACH OUT TO SENIOR IIScians and establish a credibility of the candidacy?

The answer was to bring in the alumni in an interactive forum where they could see and talk to each other in spite of the fact that they had never been on the same time frame in IISc. The idea was to bring the alumni and the current students into constructive discussions and to share and support career opportunities. So creating an interactive forum was like staying in the same hostel complex that allows you to knock the door of your friends at your leisure when you are in trouble.

The last six months have been a tremendous success. We launched several initiatives and just like scientific research; some got started some failed. However, the passion to be in touch with IIScians remains unchallenged. Recently we have started a Blog called Club SciWri (www.sciwri.club) which will be the window to the world for the Career Support Group. We will not only post scientific achievements of IIScians/ other Indian Scientists but will also post discussions in the forum by IIScians and other PhDs outside IISc. Never before we had thought that we will live in a virtual world of IISc after we had left Bangalore and Career Support Group just gave us back that feeling in this foreign land. We now interact with at least 1500 IIScians almost on a daily basis. Isn’t it amazing? Also, the forum immediately removed the age barrier.

With this introduction, we end here.

Ananda Ghosh & Abhinav Dey

Ananda Ghosh and Abhinav Dey are the co-founders of PhD Career Support Group.

This story was previously published in the IISc AANA Newsletter.

Featured image: Pixabay

The week that it was : 21st – 27th May, 2017

in ClubSciWri by
  • 14590246_10153682491093239_7728528484954519747_n.jpg?fit=960%2C720

This week as we practice giving and inspiring future generations on ‘Red Nose Day’, CSG saw various initiative stirred by members’ enthusiasm to help and educate young PhDs in their career choices. Let’s have a look at what kept CSGians busy this week.

Lessons from nature

Nature has always inspired science since ages. This week while scientists from ICRM-NITM demonstrated ‘bergenin’ from plant sources to curb tuberculosis bacteria, IISC scientists have taken nanostructure lessons from insect wings and sharkskin to make titanium orthopaedic implants bactericidal. A global warming threat was also reported, as the ‘failsafe’ protection of Global Seed Vault was flooded after the deep permafrost entrance tunnel showed signs of melting.

From generation to generation

Encouraging the young minds towards research-based careers, the India HRD ministry plans to launch a project to confer the status of ‘Institutions of Eminence’ on government and private research institutions for India to gain global recognition. Further, the ‘Mentor India’ initiative by NITI Aayog works at grass-root levels calling professionals to mentor school students by sharing their career stories, skills and insights. This week we also had Parthiban Srinivasan share his experiences about his career trajectories in varied fields with Abhinav Dey on Facebook live.
An apt example of ignited young minds was seen as International Genetically Engineered Machines (iGEM) competition 2017 saw a promising project iFLOAT from undergraduate IISCians. The innovative idea aims to bring down cost to producing recombinant proteins by helping optimise yeast bioreactors. The project is been funded from various sources, crowd-funding being one of them.

Story of the week

This week the PhD scholar Precilla Veigas from Canada inspires us to dream higher and narrates her story of how irrelevant life problems are as you chase your dream while fighting Cancer. The Canadian university held a special convocation for the terminally ill graduate applauding her vigour and strength as she dedicated her doctorate to her daughter. Another mother-scientist narrates her story of how she managed to pursue two passions in life: Science and motherhood

Resources to help your research
Here’s a user-friendly resource to analyse Cancer transcriptomics data and one to help you with scientific writing, while Sci-Hub is an upcoming venture to provide public access to millions of research papers.

CSG: the new Hogwarts

CSG this week has come up with two new initiatives. The CSG Data science platform by Pawan and Anshu is a venture to empower PhDs to help them get a flavour of the ‘quantitative real world’. Interested CSGians please sign up by participating in a poll and are requested to submit a ‘Statement of Purpose’ to csgdatascience@gmail.com by June 5th 2017.

Another CSG initiative is to compile a list of lawyers initiated by Naz and Richa Tyagi with pros and cons of hiring them. This should help PhDs/Post-docs applying for green card and find the right sources of help.

CSG plans to have an Annual CSG Meet-up in Boston on 19th August 2017 are underway and suggestions are welcome to make the event useful for career development.

Resume roadmap

Top interviewers share their insider tips to get hired by elite pharma companies while LinkedIn finds a better way to explain parenting breaks. Google to launch a ‘Google for Jobs’ portal for job searches and here’s a guide to consulting for fresh PhD graduates. For fresh PhD graduates willing to experiment with consulting, please consider joining the CSG Consulting Club.

Opportunities

While Novartis plans to generate around 350 jobs in high-end biologics, let’s have a look at some opportunities posted by fellow CSGians.

Good luck to aspiring job applicants. Lookout for more opportunities on our Facebook page.

So here’s wrapping up this week and wishing you a yet another productive week ahead.

About the cover image

‘Paving the way for generations to come’ is a snapshot of the Enchanted Forest , Scotland 2017.

About the author

Nisha Peter is a recent PhD graduate from Genome Damage and Stability Centre,UK and is now working as Research Fellow at Sussex Drug Discovery 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.

Informational Interviews and How to go about them?

in Planet Gurukool by

An informational or exploratory interview is an opportunity for the job seeker to explore about interested job roles, career fields or industries by seeking information from an expert individual who is experienced or currently working in the respective job role, career field or industry. The information obtained during this process enables the jobseeker to align their expertise and interests with the goals and responsibilities of a job, career field and company or organization. Therefore, an informational interview is considered as a career-planning tool. An effective interview also facilitates in building valuable relationships with the interviewee.

The information in this blog has been compiled from multiple websites to provide a precise picture about the etiquette and procedure for conducting an effective informational interview. This is created with the intent to provide an instant resource for the members of Career Support Group (CSG) that will aid them in conducting effective informational interviews.

Steps to follow for an effective informational interview:

  1. Analyze your skills, experience, your interests, job market and identify your employment opportunities.
  2. Identify and select a person for the interview based on his/her job title/role, industry/company in which they work or unusual career path taken etc. which interests you (LinkedIn is a good source/through friends/neighbors/networking events etc.)
  3. Contact the person for interview (use a polite script) – It can be either telephonic/ e-mail/in person (*chose a public place for the interview). Set the time & date for the interview.
  4. Prepare for the interview – Read about the person, his/her job & the company he/she works for. Decide what information you require. Prepare a list of questions that you need answer for (refer to example questions given below).
  5. Conduct the interview – Introduce yourself. Try to keep the interview short 15 – 20 minutes. If the interview is in person make sure to dress professionally. Be honest, polite & professional. Do not directly ask for jobs instead ask for advice. Refer to the questions & try to stay on track (*be ready for spontaneous discussions as well). Before ending the interview, request him/her to let you know of future job opportunities in the company he/she works. Exchange your business cards.
  6. Record the information obtained after the interview.
  7. Follow up with a ‘thank you’ note with in 1-2 days. Keep them informed about your progress.

 

Informational interview question examples:

  1. What is your academic background or work experience, and how did it help to lead to the present job? What is your experience in this career field?
  2. What is your job title or role? What are the duties or functions or responsibilities of your job? To what extent do you interact with customers or clients? What part of this job do you personally find most satisfying and most challenging?
  3. What are the educational requirements for this job? Are there specific credentials or licenses required for this role? Is graduate school or an MBA recommended? Does companies offer training to persons entering this field?
  4. What are the most important skills that are essential for succeeding in this position or field? How did you obtain these skills: through work experience or a formal training program?
  5. What personal attributes do you think would contribute most to being successful in this job or career field?
  6. How would you describe a typical day in your job role? Does this vary? Are there busy and slow times or is the workflow fairly constant? If you had to break it up into percentages, how do you spend your day? Are the time demands of your job specific to this company?
  7. Can you tell me about the various kinds of decisions you perform in your present/past role?
  8. Whom do you report to in this job: department head or supervisor or both? Where do you identify yourself and your supervisor in the organizational structure? What is your regular level of interaction with other departments, functional units, or levels of hierarchy?
  9. Do you have any flexibility in determining how you perform your job? Do you work at individual level or in? How do you organize your work teams or groups?
  10. What made you decide to work for this company? What is the most likeable aspect of this company for you? How different is your company from its competitors?
  11. How long have you worked with X company? How did you get started? Why did you change or not change jobs since the first role? How have you handled the changes – layoffs, reorganization etc.?
  12. How would you describe the working atmosphere and the co-workers? Is there flexibility in work hours, or working offsite?
  13. How is work-life balance?
  14. Does the company or organization have a basic philosophy? Is it a people-, service- or product-oriented business?
  15. Can you describe the corporate culture in your company?
  16. How is the occupational landscape reshaping in the current scenario? What is your take on the best way to enter this occupation? What are the career development opportunities? What are the major qualifications to succeed in this occupation?
  17. Does the company encourage and/pay for employees to pursue graduate degrees?
  18. What do you like most about the company?
  19. On what criteria does the company evaluate your job performance? How are performances assessed for promotions? Does the company recognize and reward outstanding accomplishments of its employees?
  20. How much flexibility does your role have in establishing innovation/creativity? How does the company encourage or promote this?
  21. Is the company expanding? If so which areas are they expanding and what opportunities do you foresee for job seekers?
  22. In your opinion what are the factors that affect the company’s growth? How is the current economy affecting this industry?
  23. In your opinion, how can employees prepare for any planned changes at the company?
  24. What would be the next step in your career if your job progresses as you expect?
  25. What are the different job opportunities in your career field? How do you describe the demand for this career field? How fast is the field growing? What are the possibilities for future job openings?
  26. In this job role, are you obligated to work outside the ordinary working hours: travel or evening meetings?
  27. What are the social obligations with your job?
  28. Apart from things like money, fringe benefits, or travel, what would you describe as the major reward of this position?
  29. What are the positions in your field or organization? How do they differ?
  30. What are the common entry-level job titles and their functions? Which entry-level jobs are the most suited for learning the skills required for this career?
  31. Which other job roles require similar kinds of work or skills? Which other organizations have similar job roles and functions as yours? Can you please suggest a contact who performs similar job role and whom I might talk to?
  32. What would be your best advice to someone who is interested in this field? Is there any literature that you can suggest me to read? Which trade or professional journals and organizations should I follow to learn more about this field?
  33. What are the most effective strategies to seek a position in this field?
  34. What is your advice for a jobseeker to qualify for this position? What are the different kinds of paid/unpaid experiences that you would suggest for anybody pursuing a career in this field?
  35. Do you have any special words of warning or encouragement as a result of your experience?
  36. What is the typical job-interview process at the company? How many rounds of interview do the candidates generally go through before being offered a position?
  37. What skills/experience do you look for in the resume of candidates applying for this job role?
  38. What suggestions/advise would you provide to a student to prepare you for this job? What is the best education/course to prepare for this job? Are grades and or college’s reputation considered important for hiring?
  39. What journals, magazines or professional associations would you recommend for professional development?
  40. A, B and C are my strongest assets (A, B & C are skills, areas of knowledge, personality traits, and values). In which job roles would these expertise/skills be applicable in this company? What are the other fields that these skills will be of use/help?
  41. How would you rank my experience in terms of entering this field? What are your suggestions to prepare myself better qualified for this field?

 

Infographically Speaking….

Job Interviewing 101: How to Succeed in Any Situation

From Visually.

Featured image source: Mimi and Eunice

References:

  1. https://www.livecareer.com/quintessential/informational-interview-questions
  2. https://career.berkeley.edu/Info/InfoQuestions
  3. https://www.livecareer.com/quintessential/information-interview
  4. https://www.themuse.com/advice/3-steps-to-a-perfect-informational-interview
  5. http://hrweb.mit.edu/system/files/Sample+Informational+Interview+Questions.pdf
  6. http://fortune.com/2013/04/04/what-to-ask-in-an-informational-interview/
  7. https://www.forbes.com/sites/jacquelynsmith/2013/12/11/how-to-land-and-ace-an-informational-interview/3/#3d0590f7211e

 

About the author:

Riya (Raghupathy) Binil is an aspiring Scientist. She completed MSc in Applied Chemistry from Cochin University of Science and Technology (CUSAT, Kochi) followed by a PhD (National Centre for Biological Sciences, Bangalore, India) and Postdoctoral Research (Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, Ottawa, Canada) in Cell Biology. Riya currently works as a Biotech Analyst with SGS Canada. Apart from being a science enthusiast, Riya enjoys travelling, dancing and cooking.

 

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of PhD Career Support Group or ClubSciWri.

Blog design: Abhinav Dey

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

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