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Application Deadline: The Independent Scientist and Leader Short Course


Garth Fowler, Ph.D.

Nov. 14: Application Deadline: The Independent Scientist and Leader Short Course

During December 2022, Duke Postdoctoral Services will offer a short course will help prepare Ph.D. researchers to successfully transition into careers as independent scientists and leaders of research programs. The course comprises 6 interactive, online 2-hour seminars and will end with a 4-hour in-person capstone session with continental breakfast followed by a networking lunch that will allow participants to discuss what they've learned and gain experience putting their new skills into practice. Senior Ph.D. students may apply to this special opportunity and will be accommodated should space be available; first priority will be given to Postdoctoral Associates and Postdoctoral Scholars.


  • Over Zoom: Monday, December 5 through Wednesday, December 7, 9:00 to 11:00 am and Monday, December 12 through Wednesday, December 14, 9:00 to 11:00 am
  • In person: Friday December 16 Capstone Event and Networking Lunch: 9:00 am to 1:00 pm (Duke West Campus location)


  • University Structure and Tenure: Getting tenure requires more than just getting grants and publishing papers. Becoming a productive, valued member of the campus community and contributing to the success of the school is just as important. Understanding the expected roles of researcher, teacher, and active member of the community is the first step in preparing for tenure. Monday, December 5, 9:00 to 11:00 am, via Zoom
  • Communicating Your Research: Publishing your research is essential to your success as an independent scientist and researcher. Understanding the peer-review process and identifying other avenues for promoting your work helps increase the opportunity to make an impact in your field. Tuesday, December 6, 9:00 to 11:00 am, via Zoom
  • Funding and Managing Your Research Finances: Almost all colleges, universities, and research institutes expect faculty to secure funds to support research, teaching, and other missions. Securing funding requires understanding why foundations and agencies provide grants, how to align your research with their goals, identifying unique opportunities for funding, and managing your finances appropriately. Wednesday, December 7, 9:00 to 11:00 am, via Zoom
  • Effective Teaching and Course Design: Most new faculty receive very little structured training in how to go about designing a course. This session will focus on how to identify and draft learning outcomes, how to develop lectures and activities that support student learning, and assess and track student success. Monday, December 12, 9:00 to 11:00 am, via Zoom
  • Leadership and Management:  As an independent researcher, you're an entrepreneur of your own amazing company! That means you have to fill all the roles, too - CEO, Director of Human Resources, and Manager of Operations. This session will focus on how to create and lead a successful workgroup that includes students and trainees, seasoned researchers, and professional staff. Tuesday, December 13, 9:00 to 11:00 am, via Zoom
  • Mentoring and Being Mentored in an Inclusive Environment:  As a researcher and academic, you're part of a community of like-minded individuals motivated to answer your field's most important and interesting questions. But success doesn't come in a vacuum: as a contributing member to your field and academic community, you'll want to mentor - and be mentored by - individuals who share a common interest, but have different backgrounds, beliefs, values, and experiences that contribute to creating a thriving, accepting, and successful community. Wednesday, December 14, 9:00 to 11:00 am, via Zoom
  • Capstone Wrap-Up with continental breakfast and lunch:  The capstone session will allow participants to discuss what they've learned and gain experience putting their new skills into practice. Friday, December 16, 9:00 am to 1:00 pm, in person
Garth Fowler, PhD

Course Leader: Garth A. Fowler, Ph.D., is a leader in professional training for early career researchers and scientists. As a former Program Manager for Science magazine’s Science Careers Program, a faculty member and graduate program director at Northwestern University, and an Associate Executive Director for the American Psychological Association, he has delivered hundreds of presentations on career and professional development. A recognized expert in STEM workforce development, he has authored peer-reviewed manuscripts, articles, and whitepapers on preparing the next generation of STEM workers and served on committees for agencies including the National Academy of Sciences, The National Science Foundation, The National Institutes of Health, and The Burroughs Wellcome Fund. He received his Ph.D. in Behavioral Neuroscience from the University of Washington and completed his postdoctoral training at The Salk Institute in La Jolla, CA.

To Apply: Seats are limited to 30 for this short course. To be considered, please complete the online application by Monday, November 14 at 12:00 noon. Postdoctoral Associates and Postdoctoral Scholars have priority for this short course. Senior Ph.D. students and other researchers (e.g., Research Associate Senior, Visiting Assistant Professor) will be accommodated if seats are available.

Please note that while the course is free, persons who are accepted but fail to attend all or part of the course may have a $350 course fee assessed to their faculty mentor/department.

Applicants will be notified of their selection status by Wednesday, November 16. Questions? Email Molly Starback, Director of Duke Postdoctoral Services, at


Communication, Leadership, Professional Development, Professionalism and Scholarly Integrity, Teaching and Mentoring