Future of Research's Origins

The first Future of Research conference was held in Boston in October of 2014.

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Outcomes of FOR

We published the proceedings and outcomes of our first FOR meeting in 2014.
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Our latest blog posts

Future of Research welcomes Dr. Adriana Bankston as Associate Director of Fundraising and Strategic Initiatives

We at Future of Research are very excited to announce that as of May 14th, former Board member Dr. Adriana Bankston has joined the FoR staff as Associate Director of Fundraising and Strategic Initiatives. Dr. Bankston will start with us as a part-time hire for 6 months which we hope to sustain as part of her efforts into raising funds.   As we enter the last year of our initial seed grant from Open Philanthropy, we are looking into how we sustain the efforts of Future of Research. It has become clear that this work requires dedicated time and effort, and with the enthusiasm and dedication to the organization that Dr. Bankston brings, we are hopeful that we will be able to more efficiently sustain the efforts of FoR.   Dr. Bankston is a skeletal muscle biologist by training, with the overall goal of improving the biomedical research enterprise. In 2005, she obtained her B.S. in Biological Sciences from Clemson University with a Magna cum laude distinction. She then moved onto Emory University, where she completed her Ph.D. in Biochemistry, Cell and Developmental Biology in 2013. Her Ph.D. dissertation studies with Dr. Grace Pavlath centered around skeletal muscle growth and repair using primary muscle stem cells and rodent models. Her postdoctoral studies at the University of Louisville were initially focused on membrane trafficking, followed by the regulation of mammalian myogenesis with Dr. Ashok Kumar until September 2016.   During her postdoctoral studies, she developed an interest in training practices and policies affecting junior scientists within U.S. institutions. To this end, she co-founded and co-organized two initiatives to improve professional...

Postdoc salaries at the National Institutes of Health in 2016 and 2017, and advocating for NRSA stipend raises

As part of our effort to make individual postdoc salaries in the U.S. more transparent, we have been carrying out Freedom of Information requests at public institutions to have a standard, albeit blunt, instrument for gathering data on postdoctoral researchers. You can find more information and data on our requests to public universities for data as of Dec 1st 2016 here; but as we continue with this project, we have recently gathered data from the National Institutes of Health for salaries for their intramural postdocs (i.e. those postdocs who work at NIH Institute laboratories).   Using Freedom of Information requests, we have gathered data for postdocs at all institutes at the NIH as of Dec 1st 2016 and Dec 1st 2017, principally in Intramural Research Training Awards (IRTA, for US Citizens and permanent residents) and Visiting Fellowships (VF, for those typically on non-immigrant visas).   The request asked for: “An excel spreadsheet which provides: The total number of postdoctoral researchers at the institute, appointed to postdoctoral intramural training awards IRTAs or as Visiting Fellows, with their job titles on both 12/1/ 2016 and 12/1/17. The annual salaries on both 12/1/16, and 12/1/17; or monthly compensation received for the payroll month of December 2016 and December 2017, of each of the postdoctoral researchers in the institute appointed to postdoctoral intramural training awards IRTAs or as Visiting Fellows.”   Here we provide a very brief overview of the data that we have gathered, which we are continuing to interrogate. A more thorough analysis will follow in due course.   Number of Postdocs The NIH’s page on Postdoctoral Programs at NIH states: “Altogether, the NIH is...

Challenges faced by international scholars in the U.S.

This post was written by FoR BoD member Dr. Adriana Bankston.     International scientists make up a large portion of the U.S. biomedical workforce. While conducting research in the U.S., however, they are faced with many obstacles, many of which are related to visa and fellowship restrictions. In addition, another challenge can be advocating for science during public events. We have previously discussed some of these aspects in a blog post on public advocacy, a workshop at the 2017 ASCB meeting, and a talk at the University of Southern California. With these efforts, Future of Research aims to gather information about the challenges faced by this population and suggest potential ways to overcome them. In addition, we encourage other groups to have conversations around this crucial topic which can greatly affect the biomedical enterprise as a whole.   A session at the 2018 NPA meeting (summarized in this Twitter thread) sought to more deeply address multiple types of barriers encountered by international scholars in the U.S. These include cultural, funding and immigration challenges. This information was also presented in a recent myPostdoc Monthly webinar from the NPA. Below, we detail some of the major conclusions from this session.   Cultural challenges Cultural challenges can come in the form of both cultural adjustment (such as feeling homesick during the U.S. holiday season) and cultural intelligence (including xenophobia, language differences and work style differences in various countries). These factors can lead to an unwelcoming environment for international scholars in the U.S. To overcome these challenges, both the community and individuals themselves need to contribute to celebrating these differences. This section...

Future of Research joins other scientific organizations urging Puerto Rico’s Governor Not to Dismantle Statistical Agency

  *To help us take action, please read and sign this petition urging the Governor of Puerto Rico to keep the Puerto Rico Institute of Statistics autonomous and independent.*   The following is adapted from a Press Release by the American Statistical Association:   Today, Future of Research joined 46 other U.S. and international scientific organizations and professional societies in sending a letter to Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rosselló, urging him to keep the Puerto Rico Institute of Statistics (PRIS) autonomous and independent. Earlier this year, Puerto Rico’s legislature was considering a proposal that would dismantle PRIS by reorganizing the agency’s statistical functions and placing them under the Department of Economic Development and Commerce (DEDC). The plan also requires the DEDC secretary to outsource all statistical functions currently performed by PRIS. Rosselló is expected to present the latest reorganization plan in the coming days, which the legislature must approve by June 30. Currently, PRIS is an independent government agency of the executive branch with many protections established by law – including having an executive director named to 10-year terms and a board of directors composed by experts – to ensure its impartial collection, production and communication of statistical data. Such protections would be eliminated under the government of Puerto Rico’s current reorganization plan. The letter sent today – led by the American Statistical Association and transmitted by American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Chief Executive Officer Rush Holt – emphasizes the importance of PRIS continuing to operate independently of political influences, bureaucracy, and conflicts of interest. Experts believe inaccurate and dated statistical systems underlie many of the problems Puerto...

Future of Research Board of Directors issues response to NSF Sexual Harassment policy

The Board of Directors of Future of Research has submitted a response to the National Science Foundation’s request for comment on Reporting Requirements Regarding Findings of Sexual Harassment, Other Forms of Harassment, or Sexual Assault. You can find the statement here as a downloadable PDF and below. At time of writing, there was still time to comment (comments due end May 4th 2018); we urge you to submit comments here. Future of Research Response to the National Science Foundation’s request for comment on Reporting Requirements Regarding Findings of Sexual Harassment, Other Forms of Harassment, or Sexual Assault Future of Research (FoR) is an early-career researcher-led nonprofit that seeks to champion, engage and empower early career scientists with evidence-based resources to improve the scientific research endeavor. The hypercompetitive research system and the dependence on faculty for research and career development create a power dynamic that can facilitate exploitation and harassment. For the approximately 45% of graduate students in science and engineering, and 55% of postdocs on temporary visas that are tied to their employment status, this dynamic is even more skewed. Many early career researchers thus cannot report sexual harassment without endangering their careers and/or immigration status. We therefore applaud and support the National Science Foundation’s proposed changes in Important Notice No. 144 issued February 4th 2018.   Data illustrating the landscape and power dynamics that make academe an environment particularly conducive to sexual harassment of postdocs were discussed by Future of Research President Dr. Jessica Polka and National Postdoctoral Association Chair Dr. Kate Sleeth at the Fourth Committee Meeting of The Committee on Impacts of Sexual Harassment in Academia as...

Engaging ECRs in advocating for science and scientists

This is a guest post by FoR BoD member Adriana Bankston.   During the month of April, Future of Research (FoR) supported multiple efforts towards advocating for science and scientists. FoR BoD member Adriana Bankston and FoR ED Gary McDowell participated in their local March for Science, in San Diego and Oakland/The Bay Area, respectively. In addition, contributions from several FoR Board Members have also been spotted in the Science not Silence book – observe in more detail here. Also, FoR is partnered with the Union of Concerned Scientists for the Science Rising campaign, as part of which BoD member Adriana Bankston wrote a blog post on engaging ECRs in science advocacy, policy and communication (screenshot from the post is below).   These events brought up the idea of organizing a larger discussion around science advocacy. On May 1, 2018, Future of Research and the Union of Concerned Scientists co-hosted a Twitter chat on engaging ECRs in advocacy, which also highlighted resources and strategies to help ECRs be effective science advocates. Check out the #AdvForSci hashtag for the chat, which was administered from the @FORsymp account. Several very active science policy groups participated in the chat: @SciPolUCLA;  @jhscipolgroup; @UNC_SPAG and @HarvardSciPol. We were also joined by @STEMadvocacy and @dpham20 from @ASBMB. Below, we list the resources provided by each group for easy follow-up, but also to illustrate in some cases the similarities between ideas that are common to multiple participants.   EVENTS PUT TOGETHER/PARTICIPATED IN:   Engaging ECRs in advocacy activities (Sci Pol Group UCLA) Science policy certificate, classes and mini-symposium (Harvard Sci Pol Group) Seminars & workshops on diverse...