Diverse Neuroscientists Doctoral Training Series
The Diverse Neuroscientists Doctoral Training Series, or DeNDriTeS, offered by NYU Langone’s Neuroscience Institute provides diverse neuroscience graduate students with mentoring, career planning, and skill training as they prepare for their future careers.
Funded by an R25 grant awarded by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, part of the National Institutes of Health, our program offers enhanced professional development to graduate students from underrepresented backgrounds and to students with disabilities.
We invite advanced predoctoral students to participate in professional development workshops and networking events to facilitate their transition into future research positions. Our program helps students refine their leadership skills, develop management styles, improve their written and oral communications, and hone quantitative skills that support their overall development as successful neuroscientists.
Importantly, our program also focuses on enhanced mentor training to help our faculty define clear mentorship philosophies and develop better practices for mentoring students from all backgrounds. By improving the academic and social atmosphere for our trainees, we create an environment that is inclusive of the entire neuroscience community.
Specific components of the program include the following.
Our faculty are committed to providing a supportive and rigorous training environment, and we recognize the importance of equipping our faculty with the necessary tools to mentor our students effectively. Therefore, we provide multifaceted mentoring workshops that offer a well-rounded perspective on training.
Working with the National Research Mentoring Network, Corporate Counseling Associates, and NYU Langone’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion, we have developed mentor training that focuses on many important topics such as diversity and inclusion, enhancing communication and expectations, mental health in the workplace, working with students with disabilities, and how to address concerns of discrimination.
Bimonthly Mentoring Meetings and Interdisciplinary Networking Events
As part of the program, we work with our cohort of student participants to organize bimonthly career development and interdisciplinary networking events. Through extensive planning with program leadership and participants, we developed a program that covers topics of importance to participants and benefits the entire community.
Program participants work with faculty to invite expert guests to meet with our trainees and discuss their career paths in an informal setting. Previous event topics have included methods of networking and how to be an effective mentor. In fall 2020, we are hosting several events which include navigating academia with a family and general work life balance, how to navigate the research world with a disability, and how to succeed in other science careers. These events provide students with a platform to refine their communication skills and expand their scientific networks.
Annual Guest Speaker
Having diverse role models is crucial for trainee development. Therefore our program participants nominate an annual diverse guest speaker to invite and talk with about career paths. These speakers are leaders in the field of neuroscience and can discuss their personal career trajectories.
Graduate Student Talk Series
To allow our trainees to develop scientific networks outside of NYU, we developed a monthly graduate student talk series. As part of this series, we are inviting diverse advanced graduate students from surrounding institutions to present their work to the entire NYU neuroscience community, network with program participants, and meet with faculty one-on-one.
Summer Workshop Series
Each year we organize a summer workshop series that is open to our cohort and to the neuroscience community. For summer 2021, this extensive programming will also be open to trainees from surrounding institutions.
Summer workshop topics include the following:
This workshop, led by Joshua Spodak, PhD, MBA, focuses on ways to provide and receive constructive criticism and feedback, how to make meaningful connections with colleagues and peers, and tools to motivate ourselves and others.
Academic Writing and Presentations
Led by Janet Kayfetz, PhD, this workshop focuses on academic writing and great presentations. In this interactive course, Dr. Kayfetz works with students and highlights research and problem statements, standalone abstracts, and impromptu talks.
This workshop, hosted by Brett Mensh, MD, PhD, focuses on how to give the perfect presentation, deliver a clear and concise elevator pitch, and master the tools needed to create clear and informative figures. Additionally, Dr. Mensh also provides one-on-one support for trainees who are writing grants and manuscripts.
Quantitative Skills and Programming
Pascal Wallisch, PhD, teaches a three-week programming workshop where students bring their own datasets to analyze, work in groups, and receive hands-on training. Students choose the programming language that would be most useful to them, and also choose the specific topics to work on in their small groups.
National Research Service Award Grants
Led by grants consultants Joan Lakoski, PhD, and Robert Milner, PhD, the National Research Service Award (NRSA) grants workshop focuses on F-series grants including the F30, F31, F32, and F99/K00 awards. The workshop is divided into three parts to cover the extensive application. The first session focuses on an overview of different grants and components, as well as tips and tricks. Using peer editing, the second session covers how to draft a clear and compelling specific aims page. Finally, the third session discusses what to include in the background and goals and biosketch sections.
Professional Development Series
Starting in fall 2020, we are partnering with neighboring institutions, such as the City University of New York, to invite diverse advanced graduate students to participate in our career development events. These events will include important topics that enhance professional and academic development such as navigating conflict, effective time management, how to get a postdoc position, and how to brand yourself using social media.
Book and Journal Club
Partnering with NYU Langone’s Postdoctoral Training program to maximize our impact on the entire NYU Langone community, we are starting a Book and Journal Club to discuss important topics and facilitate crucial conversations. Our first book to be discussed is Superior: The Return of Race Science by Angela Saini.
We understand that two critical components of success in academia are networking and sharing research progress. Therefore each member of our cohort is given $750 towards travel to present at conferences and attend workshops.
In the fall, we host a networking reception for our cohort, program faculty, and diverse alumni at the Society for Neuroscience conference. It is a great opportunity for current program participants and faculty to interact and foster important relationships with alumni.
Data-Driven Evaluation of the Program
To give us a better understanding of the critical factors that lead to successful scientific careers, we collect survey data from participating students on their training (for example, how often they meet with their mentors, do they attend career development activities) and outcomes (for example, where they go after graduation, do they publish their thesis work). Our goal is to use these data to continue to enhance our training program and support our students, ultimately leading to more diverse students staying in the scientific field