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2019 Professional Development Grant Recipients

Award Announcement

Bioethics and Science Policy

To Science & Society’s existing M.A. Career Series, we would like to add two coaching dinners for students, alumni, and prospective employers: one in January, while students are drafting proposals for their capstone projects, and the other in August, during Orientation. The dinners will help students, in a guided setting, to practice essential job-seeking skills: making small talk, conducting informational meetings, and describing the work they seek concisely and effectively (the elevator pitch). The dinners will give alumni a chance to reflect on their practicum experiences and share advice, and they will allow past and potential practicum hosts to share needs within their organizations that students might address with a capstone project or as an employee. We believe these dinners will improve students’ ability to imagine, seek, and secure employment that matches their interests and skills, and will help our partners in industry, government, and academia find employees who are well-equipped to work at the intersection of science, ethics, and policy.

Biology

One of the most influential roles that PhD students serve is that of teachers and role models for students. Many graduate students are required to serve as a teaching assistant as a part of their degree requirements at Duke, and graduates in a variety of career tracks (including higher education, K-12 education, and science outreach and communication) continue to interact professionally with diverse learners throughout their lives. In addition to developing specialized knowledge in our areas of research, in order to best serve these students, we must gain a fundamental understanding of how our methods of teaching and evaluation intersect with their diverse experiences and perspectives. Today’s classrooms are a heterogeneous mixture of students who come from a wide range of cultures, socioeconomic backgrounds, genders, ability (and disability) levels, and past life experiences, to name but a few axes of diversity. This variation is a rich source of strength; however, it can create challenges for instructors, who are tasked with making curriculum engaging and effective for a diverse audience. Many may resist making changes in part because they simply do not know how. We propose a series of workshops aimed at bringing graduate students, postdocs, and faculty practical tools to implement positive changes in teaching and communication strategies to increase equity in the classroom. These events will help our community work toward four inter-related goals: (1) increasing understanding of how diverse student identities and perspectives influence the learning process; (2) building pedagogical tools to increase relevance to and engagement with diverse audiences; (3) reducing bias in evaluation processes; and (4) building cultural competency.

English

The Graduate English Association will host a professionalization panel that will focus on effectively leveraging the skills and experiences gained over the course of an English Ph.D. while navigating the nonacademic job market. This panel will be the second in a series of professionalization events hosted by the English department, the first of which, last year’s ”Fresh Off the Market” panel included recent graduates of the program currently working in tenure-track positions. For the 2019 event, the panelists will be recent graduates from the English department who have started careers in industries like publishing, consulting, and secondary education. The conversation will focus largely on how the panelists’ experiences in Duke’s English department benefited them during the job search, as well as how these experiences influenced their successful transitions into a variety of nonacademic positions. Current students who are interested in pursuing careers outside academia after completing the Ph.D. hope to gain insight into recommended strategies and practices to implement during the job search.

Neurobiology

Through programming that will survey of a broad range of careers that reflect the diverse interests and skills of students in the Neurobiology graduate program, our aim is to provide opportunities for students to engage professionals with training in neuroscience/neurobiology who have successfully followed a variety of career paths, including academic research. We will host individuals representative of non-academic sectors and provide a forum for our students to discuss navigating the academic job market with Neurobiology faculty at various stages in their careers.

Public Policy

The graduate students at the Sanford School of Public Policy will develop a series of informational and networking events to help prepare students to succeed on the job market and in their initial placements. Informational panels will focus on leveraging an interdisciplinary degree on both the academic and non-academic job market, highlighting faculty from Duke with interdisciplinary degrees as well as researchers from RTI to discuss their experiences as interdisciplinary scholars marketing their degrees. While such panels will be highly relevant to students in interdisciplinary programs and students in the social sciences, students from across Duke University are welcome and encouraged to attend.

University Program in Environmental Policy (UPEP)

The ONE-STEP program we propose is a series of career development activities aiming to explore a diversity of career paths for students in interdisciplinary programs. The activities center on facilitating knowledge-sharing among peers, recently graduated alumni, and faculty members. Unlike traditional programs with accumulated knowledge and experiences with a set institutional framework for career development, interdisciplinary programs established more recently face a special set of challenges that need support from The Graduate School. We plan to continue ONE-STEP into its second year, following its successful launch last year with career talks by recently graduated alumni, a panel discussion with faculty members of both the Nicholas Environment School and Sanford Public Policy School, as well as meetings with guest speakers from non-academic career paths. This year we propose an additional special session on seeking a balance between research, teaching, and life. Events in the ONE-STEP program are open to all Duke students and postdocs who want to learn more about interdisciplinary career options.