Pizza and Perspective:

Undergraduate Student Breakfast at Noon

The Education Committee hosted the fi rst Undergraduate Student Breakfast at Noon at the Annual Meeting in Baltimore. The 75 student attendees enjoyed a pizza “breakfast” while getting a chance to interact with other undergraduates interested in biophysics. Three speakers gave brief presentations on ways that young students can work eff ectively to reach their scientifi c career goals.

Focus on developing both your scientific and professional skills in order to have a successful career. That was the message delivered by Patricia Sokolove, Office of Intramural Training & Education, National Institutes of Health. Many students preparing for a career in science focus primarily on developing their laboratory skills. While polishing your lab techniques and practicing your scientifi c writing are certainly essential for getting into a graduate program, more is needed to prepare for long-term success. Undergraduate students should work on sharpening their  communication skills, both inside and outside the lab. Knowing how to eff ectively communicate your career goals is just as important as being able discuss your scientifi c research. Sokolove also emphasized the importance of career planning. When researching graduate institutions, be sure to take into consideration where you’d like to end up after you have your graduate degree. This can help you focus your search, and will show interviewers that you are working towards a specific career goal.

Kambiz Shekdar, Chromocell Corporation, provided guidance from an industry perspective. As the Chief Scientifi c Offi cer of Chromocell Corporation, Shekdar described both the challenges and opportunities associated with careers in industrial science. Just as in academics, groundbreaking discoveries do occur in research at the industrial level. However, research at the industrial level occurs on a much larger scale, requiring a much greater level of organization and teamwork. Shekdar encouraged students to master their communication skills, as well as to always question their approaches in the lab. Curiosity drives scientific discoveries in any lab setting.

The undergraduate attendees were provided with a glimpse of what to expect in graduate school from Education Committee member Richard Ludescher, Rutgers University. Ludescher advised students to choose their graduate labs carefully. He told the students that they want to have a laboratory setting that is not only intellectually stimulating, but supportive of their scientifi c growth. Th e ideal laboratory environment should also be respectful of every lab member. While your research is one of the most important aspects of your graduate studies, Ludescher reminded students that there is life outside the lab. He encouraged students to get involved with members of other departments on both a social and scientific level. Additionally, students should be sure to forge relationships with a variety of interdepartmental faculty members. These individuals can serve as valuable resources even after your graduate studies are over.

After these brief presentations, students were able to fi nish their lunch while chatting with other undergraduates and talking to Sokolove, Shekdar, and Ludescher in a more informal setting. Education Committee members present also used this time to interact with the students, answering questions ranging from career goals to research advice. Be sure to look for this event at the 2012 Annual Meeting in San Diego!

July 2011 Table of Contents