To aid discussions at careers workshop at the 2018 spring meeting, we asked people to suggest questions beforehand. Here is a summary of the questions – there were 8 overall themes.
Theme 1: how do you know you are ready to progress in academia?
1. At what point in your scientific career did you decide that you wanted to be a PI, and was this an active decision or just natural career progression?
2. When did you know that being a PI was what you wanted to do?
3. How to decide whether to stay in academic science.
4. Considering that I am getting to the end of my postdoc and I have to decide whether to continue in academia or not… Is there any trick to know whether you are good enough to be a successful PI? or to get the confidence to jump and do it?
5. What made you decide to become a PI?
6. When do you know you are fit for academia?
Theme 2: being independent and transitioning to independence
7. Do independent researchers exist?
8. What is a good way of approaching a PI/lab for a collaboration without giving too much of your idea away in case they are not interested in collaborating but might “steal” your idea?
9. What are the best strategies to discuss your independence and future lines of research with your postdoc supervisor when you start applying for PI positions?
10. It seems there is a big difference between being a postdoc/bench scientist and a good PI/mentor, how does one prepare for this transition/what do you wish you knew before you made it?
11. When is best to apply for a PI/industry position once you have a publication as a postdoc?
12. Transition from postdoc to PI
13. How to build your own research direction when transit from postdoc to PI?
14. Transition from post-doc to PI, entering the job market
15. More advice on transition from postdoc to group leader
16. How to stand out and still be considered for the next career step even in the absence of C/N/S publications? How to get noticed ‘simply’ with solid research.
17. What should one pay attention to as a postdoc to better prepare for an independent research position afterwards?
18. How do you establish independence while still getting necessary input from colleagues?
19. How to get your first independent grant/fellowship.
20. How do you balance research that is of interest to you with research that you know will get you funding?
Theme 3: balancing life
21. Have there been moments in your career when you have felt that there were personal factors limiting the type of choices you could make? If so, how have you dealt with these circumstances?
22. How do you keep positive in a life of science? How do you balance the workload and have a normal life outside of the lab?
23. How do you deal with scientific stress/pressure?
24. How to combine a career in research and your personal/family life?
25. What was the hardest experience they had, how they came out of it, and what they learnt for it?
Theme 4: careers in general and coping with disappointment
26. How do you get ahead in your career?
27. Early career choices and strategies – how to choose the right projects (conservative/lower impact vs new ideas/high risk – higher reward)?
28. How do you think career progression in science has changed over the past few decades?
29. What have you done in your career that you would not advise others to do?
30. Did you ever experience failure during the beginning of your career (before being a PI)? If yes how did you manage to go with it?
31. What motivated you to continue when you reached your lowest point within your scientific career?
Theme 5: dealing with the impostor syndrome
32. How does one distinguish between impostor syndrome and an incompatibility with academic science, both generally and for important career decisions?
33. The impostor syndrome and the negative effect on the research career. Getting it into a balance?
34. How to overcome perfectionism and the dealing with impostors syndrome as a PhD
35. Is it expected that a boss is ‘respected’ if male and ‘a b**ch’ if female?
Theme 6: choosing to do a post-doc after PhD
36. What are important factors to think about when choosing and applying to your first post-doc?
37. How to get a post-doc position in dream lab and what I should do for preparation?
38. What factors should be considered when deciding to do a post-doc or not after a PhD.
39. How can a PhD student that is used to a very multidisciplinary environment during their PhD find a similar environment in their postdoc or adapt to a different environment if need be?
40. How to distinguish a good atmosphere in a lab you are interviewing?
41. How do you keep the momentum going in science?
42. How necessary/advantageous is it to move to a different country from that of the PhD?
Theme 7: changing fields or research direction
43. How to change fields without compromising productivity?
44. Any advice on how to approach finding a postdoc position in an interesting but unfamiliar field?
45. How can you change field or system when by definition you lack the relevant background?
46. What are potential career paths for theoretical Biologists? How can one `make it’ as a theoretician?
Theme 8: public engagement
47. How to have an impact on society, by working in or outside academia
48. How to manage with stress of first (or any other) public speech