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2020 Professional Development Grant Recipients

Award Announcement

Biology

Biologists are an increasingly diverse population of individuals, exhibiting a wide range of backgrounds, identities, and ideas. Yet in a biology classroom, topics such as sexual reproduction, sexual behavior, and sexual selection are often oversimplified and conflated with gender identity in humans. This oversimplification can unintentionally create spaces that alienate students and their communities from fields of knowledge like biology, ecology, evolution, and animal behavior. Project Biodiversify is an organization that gives science educators the tools necessary to make their classrooms a more inclusive space. Their goal is to make biology and natural science classrooms more inclusive through instruction on pedagogical techniques for sex- and gender-related topics in classrooms. They achieve their goal through an interactive 2.5-hour workshop, where participants will be given practical examples, resources, and easy to integrate methods that empower educators and their classrooms. Tools gained through this workshop are useful for any graduate student, postdoc, or faculty member who wants to learn how to effectively create an inclusive learning space.

Chemistry

The Duke Graduate Chemistry Council (GCC) is planning events that provide opportunities for STEM Ph.D.s and postdocs to learn about careers while networking with professionals in diverse careers, along with an event to practice negotiation skills in a fun and supportive environment, led by a Chemistry Ph.D. alumna. Networking events include a monthly coffee with Ph.D.s series during the academic year and a career panel and mixer held in the spring. Whereas negotiation skills will be developed in a workshop led by Duke Chemistry alumna Dr. June Mader. Additionally, we are coordinating a seminar on publishing as a career.

Duke Institute for Brain Sciences

In graduate training in the research sciences, there is a greater emphasis on technical and field-specific knowledge than on the skills needed to manage a research team. Thus, we propose to support a professional development experience for graduate students and postdoctoral fellows who are interested in developing skills in mentorship, using the “Entering Mentoring” curriculum.  This curriculum focuses on practical strategies for identifying projects, setting expectations, communicating effectively, acting inclusively, and promoting professionalism. This program will be part of the ongoing DIBS Inclusion & Power Dynamics workshop series, which addresses issues of diversity and inclusion, professionalism, and climate and culture in academia.

Medical Physics

The Medical Physics Graduate Program is planning to host a workshop on “Patient Communication for Medical Physicists.” Medical Physics lives both within The Graduate School and in the School of Medicine and is a highly professionalized career. Medical Physicists, especially Radiation Therapy Physicists, invariably interact with patients, but we are not formally trained in patient interactions. Good communication skills are essential for healthcare professionals. This workshop is planned for the Radiation Therapy Practicum. The goals of this event are (1) for attendees to learn the core principles of patient communication of technical aspects of radiation therapy, (2) introduce standardized, effective communication strategies, and (3) to practice and cement these newly acquired skills in an interactive practice session with simulated patients.

Neurobiology

The graduate students of the Duke Neurobiology Department will host a career seminar series that provides the opportunity for neuroscience graduate students and postdoctoral scholars to engage with professionals with training in neuroscience/neurobiology who have successfully followed diverse career paths. This program will meet an increasing demand in the neuroscience community for exposure to careers outside of the traditional academic route. We will invite professionals from many fields including data science, biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, science writing, teaching, and others. This series will provide a forum for students to discuss navigating the job market with professionals who have similar backgrounds, learn about specific steps they should be taking to prepare themselves for the job search, and to make valuable connections that will help them as they transition to the next stages in their careers.

Ph.D. Programs in the Nicholas School of the Environment

Providing mental health resources to graduate students throughout their academic experience is critical to ensure their health and success. As graduate students and board members of the Nicholas School Ph.D. Advocacy Council (NPAC), representing the six doctoral programs hosted at the Nicholas School of the Environment, we will institute a year-long mental health seminar program to continue to provide mental health resources to graduate students. Our seminar series will feature five components: (1) Preserving mental health while researching difficult topics; (2) Keeping research safe and harassment-free; (3) Helping someone in need: Gatekeeper Training for Faculty, Staff, and Students; (4) Staying sane when the media reports on your work; (5) Maintaining mental health during the job search.

Pharmacology and Cancer Biology

The purpose of this program is to support a panel of graduate alumni of Pharmacology and Cancer Biology who will present their career progress through a variety of non-academic, non-research professional career paths.  Biomedical graduate students from all departments are welcome.  The career paths presented in this panel complement academic and biotech and pharmaceutical careers that are well-represented in campus programming and were compiled from a list of requests generated by current graduate students.  Current graduate students will serve as facilitators of a post-panel luncheon opportunity that will link groups of students with particular interests with the relevant speaker.

Pharmacology and Cancer Biology

This grant proposes educational workshops and a guest speaker for graduate students to communicate about harassment and harassment policies and to teach skills to manage conflicts. We propose student-focused educational sessions to learn about and discuss Duke’s harassment policies, together with a guest speaker to talk about different levels of harassment who will teach attendees techniques to address difficult workplace situations. These sessions will not only provide participants with an understanding of harassment policies and skills to discuss them, but also allow them to think in-depth about why harassment persists at Duke and beyond. Participants will develop skills to respectfully and effectively communicate with one another regarding this topic that will serve them well in their professional lives.

Political Science

Women in Political Science (WIPS) seeks to offer tools, knowledge, and training for women and minorities in political science and other areas of research to achieve professional success. The programming funded by this award aims to enable women to improve their understanding of the academic job market as well as opportunities outside academia. Further, the programming creates a forum for women with questions about their future career to gain insight and wisdom from female faculty as well as female leaders in the private sector. During the 2020 award period, WIPS plans to host weekly writing and monthly editing groups, hold dinners each semester with female faculty, host a panel on “Identity and the Job Market” during spring 2020, and coordinate a panel on “How to Write an Academic Paper” in the fall. The latter two events will be open to all graduate students.

Romance Studies

Funding will support a colloquia series designed to help humanists seek employment abroad. This initiative puts graduate students in the humanities in touch with Ph.D.s whose careers have taken them from the United States to Europe, or vice versa. We propose to host a series of four talks to establish a dialogue between remote speakers joining us virtually, Duke students, and faculty members. The resulting speaker series addresses job options both in academe and beyond, while paying special attention to the particularities of moving between different national contexts to find work. This programming thereby sets Duke apart in its training opportunities for internationally-minded, versatile humanists.