A m e r i c A n c h e m i c A l S o c i e t yGraduate SchoolReality Check 4 Prepare Yourself for the Challenges You Will Likely Face 4 Receive Tips and Strategies from Faculty and Graduate Students 4 Tap into ACS Resources
strategies for success eciding to go or not to go? work with prospective students, so drop them The first step, of course, is deciding if graduate a note! Sending form school will further your career goals. This will e-mails to faculty, how- depend on what you see as your long-term career ever, should be avoided. plans. If you think that academia is in your future, then a Ph.D. is a must. If your career plans are focused What should on entering the chemical industry, you might take a job right after completing your B.A. or B.S., but an advanced go into your degree may become important for potential advancement. applications? In many industrial settings, only those with advanced Luckily, most applications for graduate degrees will be considered for management tracks and schools are about the same, so you will be able to recycle other leadership roles. some of what you prepare for every school. Pay attention to Let’s assume that, whatever your reasons may be, you do the deadlines… and APPLY EARLY! Why? Many programs want to go to graduate school. Now what? You probably have have additional fellowship funds to award, depending on many questions, and a limited amount of time to plan your the program, and when you apply early you have a better way forward. If so, here are a few answers and pointers to chance of being considered for these fellowships. At the help you through the process. How to choose which schools to apply to The Once you have decided that graduate school is part of the career path for you, the next Graduate step is to pick the schools to which you want 1 to apply. But how should you choose? At present there are approximately 170 schools that offer advanced degrees in chemistry. Depending on your situation, many factors School may influence where you consider attending school, including family obligations or work constraints that place geographical restrictions on you (e.g., your company is paying for you Process to attend a graduate program, etc.). However, the single most important factor in deciding those schools to which you should apply is the research focus (or foci) of the fac- ulty. For each school you consider, you need to ask: “Are the faculty engaged in the type of By James Batteas research that I am interested in doing?” If you are not sure what area of research you want to For many students, the prospect of going pursue, then probably a bigger school is better to graduate school can be daunting. for you, since it will tend to offer a broader range of opportunities. Here I discuss some simple guidelines to How do you find out what faculty at the help you through the process of making schools are investigating? Go to graduate school fairs, carefully look through depart- decisions about graduate school. mental websites, and call or e-mail the depart- ment to request information on their graduate programs and faculty. It is good to do your homework at this stage, because once you decide to go to graduate school, you (and the school) are making an approximately five-year commitment. You want to make sure you are going to the very least, apply on time. Graduate recruiters and admissions place that is best for you. By the way, it also wouldn’t hurt committees may regard late applications as a lack of com- to e-mail the specific faculty members with whom you are mitment or organization on your part, and these intangibles interested in working. Most faculty love to talk about their may make your application less competitive.
The Graduate School Process continued Fees Personal statement Be prepared to pay, as you will encounter fees Every school will require you to submit a per- along the way. Each time you take the Graduate sonal statement, in which you should succinctly Record Examination (GRE) costs around $140, for describe what you have done to prepare for gradu- example. On top of these costs, there may also be appli- ate school. You should take this part of the application cation fees for the graduate programs you are considering, very seriously. Here are a few tips for success: meaning that applying to six or seven schools could cost you Articulate your personal goals. Explain to the admissions as much as $600! If you can’t pay the fee, ask the program if committee why they should make you an offer to come to their the fee can be waived or reduced. It never hurts to ask. school. Describe your career goals and what area(s) of research you wish to pursue. Take the time to outline the relevant Grades coursework you have taken to prepare for advanced studies. Almost all graduate school applications will require Describe your undergraduate research. Many places will transcripts from ALL schools you have attended. not strongly consider applications from students with no That includes that the local community college where research experience, so if you have not been involved in you may have taken classes while home for the summer. research yet, do so. This research can come in many forms, Make sure that you request all of the transcripts in time to ranging from participating in research at your home institution, arrive by the application deadline (or earlier), as applications to going away for the summer to participate in a Research may be considered incomplete without them, and thus not get Experiences for Undergraduate (REU) program. The National reviewed. In terms of grades, most graduate programs require Science Foundation maintains a list of schools with active a B average or better (3.0/4.0) to gain admission. Your applica- REU programs on its website. Also, many schools, companies, tion will be especially strengthened by good grades in your and national labs offer summer programs that are internally upper division courses. In fact, many places consider these supported, so check with them. No matter how you get it, grades more heavily than those in your first two years. research experience is a must for getting into a good graduate2 school. In your personal statement, you should relate your Entry exams overall experience to the committee. You will also need to submit scores from the Explain your extracurricular activities. In addition to GRE. Check to see which exams are required by research, if you have been involved in clubs or other activities the schools to which you are applying, and learn their that have allowed you to develop leadership skills (e.g., serving typical score requirements for admission. Not all schools as secretary of your local ACS Student Affiliates chapter, etc.), require the subject test, but some do. Plan accordingly to have this is also useful to describe to the committee. these exams completed in enough time for the scores to be Research the faculty. Take the time to tell the admissions reported before the application deadline. committee under which faculty members you are most If you are applying for admission in the fall, you should really interested in studying. This shows the committee that you target taking these exams by September of your senior year. have done your homework and that you have thought about If you are applying for spring admis- what you want to do. As a rule of thumb, you should be sion (i.e. January or February), then sure there are at least three faculty members whose research you will need to have your GREs interests you, since admission to a doctoral program does not done by May of the year you guarantee you admission into a particular faculty member’s graduate to receive your group. scores in time. Check with the schools Letters of recommendation to which you are Most programs will request at least three letters applying to see of recommendation in support of your application. whether they will These letters should come from faculty or employers consider applications who can speak to your experience in chemistry. You for spring admission should include letters from faculty who have taught you in (some may not). If class or with whom you have done research. Make sure that you are an international you ask for these letters at least a month in advance. student, you may also Take the time to sit down with any letter writers who don’t be required to submit know you well to discuss your career aspirations. Prior to scores for the Test of your meeting, give them a copy of your current résumé. If English as a Foreign you don’t have a résumé, learn how to create one now. As Language (TOEFL). you begin to enter the professional workforce, an up-to-date Again, you want résumé is a must, and many schools have services to help you to make sure that prepare one (see the sidebar about resources, below). This will these scores are help your letter writers provide a more meaningful assessment reported in time of your background and goals to the admissions committee. im AG eS for the applica- Also, don’t hesitate to bug your letter writers and remind them erJ uP it tion deadline. of upcoming deadlines.
Check out these resources from ACS the school have gone after graduation, especially the students of the faculty with whom you are interested Graduate Education in Chemistry— Information about in working. resources, planning for graduate work in chemistry, and more! www.acs.org/education and click on Graduate Education. Understand the program requirements DGRweb— The ACS Directory of Graduate Research, an online How many and what types of courses resource on faculty and their research programs in institutions will you need to take? Since doctoral throughout the U.S. and Canada. www.acs.org/DGRweb programs are research-intensive, it is Experiential Programs in Chemistry— A one-stop source unlikely that you will take many classes, but for information on summer research, internship, and co-op requirements vary from school to school. Are there opportunities. www.acs.org/epic cumulative exams or oral exams that you will need to pass? Many programs require students to teach a minimum number of courses. What is that require- ment for the programs in which you are interested?Which school is right for you? While requirements vary, you will find that much ofIf you are lucky enough to be admitted to the overall workload is generally comparable, withmore than one program, then you face the probably the largest variations coming in course-tough task of narrowing down your options work. Talk with several students at the school whento one program. How do you decide? you visit, and see how they feel about their course/ workload. Individual impressions of the school can Visit the school vary, so get a balanced opinion. If you hear the JuPiterimAGeS Many programs will offer same things from several people, then the informa- 3 you the opportunity to visit tion is probably more reliable. their school (and will pay for it) either during a visitation weekend Carefully evaluate your offeror set of weekends. If you can’t make one of the scheduled Most places will make you an offer thatdates, ask about individual visits. You should take advantage includes a teaching and/or a research assistant-of this, as it gives you the chance to see the school and meet ship. To fairly compare offers between schools,with faculty and students to determine if you can see yourself you must determine what your take-home payin that program for the next five years. will be, as well as what tuition and fees you will need to pay. This is not the time to geographically restrict yourself. At many places these costs may be waived; at others, tuitionGraduate school can be an opportunity to live somewhere dif- and fees are paid by the students, while the schools pay theferent for a few years; and even if you don’t like a particular students a higher salary. Don’t be fooled by hidden costs!area that much, you will only need to be there for a finite What types of health benefits are available to you as a student?time. Ultimately, of course, just as with your decision about What is the local cost of housing?where to apply, you need to ensure that there are faculty All this being said, don’t let the stipend be your sole guidemembers at the school with whom you would like to work. By in choosing between schools. You are not going to graduatevisiting, you will have the chance to meet with these faculty school to make money immediately; rather, you are goingand their students to get the ‘real scoop’ on what it is like to there to enhance your future career and overall earning poten-go to graduate school there. tial. Everyone in graduate school ‘lives on peanuts’— so ulti- mately, you need to be working with faculty whose research Evaluate your career support interests match your own. When you visit, take a close look at the facili- Once you have decided, sign your offer on the dotted line ties that the program offers. You want to make and prepare to work hard. The next step is choosing a research sure that you will have access to the equipment you advisor, a process that is addressed in this issue’s editorial by need to conduct your research in a timely fashion. For Marjorie Caserio. Earning an M.S. or Ph.D. is not easy, but itexample, if you are going to be doing a fair amount of synthe- will be one of the most rewarding experiences of your earlysis, find out whether you will need to send your samples out career. Revel in the challenge! iCfor NMR or X-ray diffraction or mass spectrometry analysis, orwill be able to have such procedures done on site. In terms of your long-term career goals, try to evaluatehow the program assists students in obtaining jobs once theygraduate. See if they offer career assistance such as helping stu-dents prepare résumés, and whether companies actively seek James Batteas is an associate professor of chemistrystudents from the program for employment. Does the school and graduate recruitment coordinator at Texas A&Mhave on-site interviews? Find out where the graduates from University in College Station, TX.
Ck to iS strategies for success trategies ck isto Personal S at t ement4 Pointers By HoLLy c. GAede RITING A PERSONAL STATEMENT RITING A PERSONAL STATEMENT write about participation in thehavingNational Chemistry Olympiad Science Talent Search. However, U.S. a great high school AP can be the mostthe most daunting part of preparing can be daunting part of preparing a or the Intel Science Talent Search. However, having aand high chemistry teacher isn’t all that unusual (thank goodness!) great a graduate school application. Your grades and graduate school application. Your grades and GRE school APabout the teacher than it does about you. (thank good- says more chemistry teacher isn’t all that unusual scores areGRE numbers, just numbers, but the personal just scores are but the personal statement is, ness!) and says more about the teacher than it does about you. well, personal. The whole purpose personal. The whole purpose of statement is, well, of this statement is to reveal Describe your research experience this statement is to reveal something about you. Discuss your research experience. Most admissions commit- something about you. Describesee that you understand the nature of research. Your aim should be to reveal not only that you are well- tees want to your research experience Your aim should be to reveal not only that you are well- prepared for graduate school in general but also that you are Discuss your researchprovide you with basic laboratory skills, While coursework can experience. Most admissions committees prepared for graduate school in generalfor which you are applying. particularly suited to the program but also that you are inchemistry it rarely gives you a good idea about the (sometimes frustrating) particularlywhile you can have a common essayyou are applying. So, want to see that you understand the nature of research. While So, suited to the program for which framework that you pace of research. No program wants to admit a student who while you can all your applications, you framework your applications use for have a common essay must tailor that you use for coursework can provide you with basic laboratory skills, it rarely is going to quit the first time an experiment doesn’t work. For all yourfor each school. Because of the customization that’sfor each applications, you must tailor your applications required, gives you aundergraduate research (sometimes frustrating) pace of this reason, good idea about the is practically a prerequisite school. preparing of goodcustomization that’s required, preparing Because a the statement takes some research, which in turn research. No program wants to admit a student whocangoing to for graduate school. Fortunately, undergraduate research is a good takes time. Begin working on yourwhich in turn takes time. statement takes some research, essays early in the fall semes- quit place in several different settings, including at your this reason, take the first time an experiment doesn’t work. For home ter of your senior essays early canthe fall semester of your 22 working on your Begin year so you in meet the graduate school undergraduatesummer Research Experience for Undergraduates institution, at a research is practically a prerequisite for graduate senior year so youdeadlines without pulling all-nighters that interfere application can meet the graduate (REU), or through an industrial internship.undergraduate research can school. Fortunately, Some students are with your grades. school application deadlines without pulling even lucky enough to have experienced more take place in several different settings, includ- Most graduate school programs ask for a all-nighters that interfere with your grades. statement that describes your research expe- Don’t make the Don’t make the than one your home institution, case, summer ing at of these options. In any at a talk about the overarching goals of the project(s) (REU), Mostrience and school goals in one to two apages. graduate career programs ask for statement your essay, then, you researchtalk a little that describes your need to experi- mistake of beginning and what you specifically for internship. Some mistake of beginning Research Experience or through an industrial Undergraduates contributed. Point In out uncommon skills that you acquired ence and career your pastone tolittle bit about your your essay with a state- through your research luckysoftware, methods,expe- bit about goals in and a two pages. your essay with a state- students are even (e.g., enough to have In your future. However, don’t make theamistake of essay, then, you need to talk little instruments, or reactions that most undergrad- In any rienced more than one of these options. bit about your past and a little bit statement along beginning your essay with a about your ment along the lines of uates wouldn’t havethe overarching goals of the ment along the lines of case, talk about practiced). future. However, don’t make the mistake of the lines of “I have been interested in chem- “I have been interested “I have been interested project(s) and what you specifically contributed. Address how this experience influenced beginning your essay with a statementor “Being a istry ever since I was a little kid” along your desire to attend graduate school.you acquired Point out uncommon skills that If appro- the lines of “I havealways interested in chem- chemist has been been a dream of mine.” in chemistry ever since priate, comment on any obstaclessoftware, methods, in chemistry ever since through your research (e.g., or difficulties Such trite approaches don’t or “Being a use- provide any you surmountedor reactions that most the instruments, to show that you have undergradu- istry ever since I was a little kid” I was a little kid” or I was a little kid” or chemistful information to thedream of mine.” has always been a reviewing committee, perseverance necessary practiced). in graduate ates wouldn’t have to succeed and believe me, they have read it before. Such trite approaches don’t provide any useful Include only extraordinary pre-college sci- “ Being a chemist has in a formal setting orthis experience influenced your “Being a chemist school. If you have presented your research Address how expect to have it pub- information to the reviewing committee, should and desire to attend graduate school. If appropri- ence experiences. For instance, you always been a dream lished, provide theon any obstacles or difficulties appropriate references. has always been a Photo credit believe definitely write about it before. Include U.S. me, they have read participation in the ate, comment Publications and presentations show the com- only extraordinary pre-college science experi- of mine.” you surmounted to show that you have the National Chemistry Olympiad or the Intel ences. For instance, you should definitely dream of mine.” mittee that you can communicate your science perseverance necessary to succeed in graduate inChemistry • NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2010 • www.acs.org/undergrad
school. If you have presented your research in Obviously, this section of your essay alsoa formal setting or expect to have it published, requires customization. You are wasting theprovide the appropriate references. Publications admissions committee’s time (and your own)and presentations show the committee that you if your interest lies in bioinorganic chemistrycan communicate your science and that you can but you apply to an institution that doesn’tbring projects to completion. have a single bioinorganic chemist on the fac- If for some reason you haven’t had an under- ulty. Aim to list two or three faculty membersgraduate research experience, you will have to whom you’d like to work for, and highlight theconvince the committee that your other experi- aspects of their research that appeal to you.ences have sufficiently prepared you for gradu- Don’t go overboard, though; you don’t needate school. Possible approaches include writing to rewrite their research brochure. (The admis-about any projects you may have completed sions committee should be quite familiar with iStoCkwithin the context of an instructional laboratory. their own faculty members’ research interests!)Alternatively, you may be able to discuss what Once you have Of course, your research interests should sup-you learned from attending research seminars port your career goals. When your stated goalor conferences. There really is no substitute for explained what you is to work in a pharmaceutical company, theresearch experience, so try your best to get somebefore you begin your application. want to study, you admissions committee will be puzzled if you express interest in working for a gas-phase need to explain physical chemist.Discuss your career goals why you want to Relevant extracurricular activities can be briefly mentioned, especially if used toTalk about your career goals. You may not havefirm career plans yet, but if you are already set study it there. illustrate a specific point. For example, if you completed an honors thesis as a varsityon an academic or industrial career, explain how athlete, you know something about timeyou came to that decision. More importantly, management! Teaching or tutoring experience may show theyou need to explain why you think this program will prepare 5 committee that you’ll be able to handle the first-year teachingyou best for that career path. Make sure your goals align with assignment. Leadership in the ACS student chapter will showthe education the institution provides. For example, if you are that you have an interest in chemistry that extends outside theconvinced that you want to become a professor at a research- classroom or laboratory. Involvement in other activities mayintensive university, it doesn’t make much sense to apply to a show the committee that you are a well-rounded person withschool that sends all of their graduates to industrial careers, or interests outside of science.vice versa. Doing so will show the admissions committee thatyou haven’t done your homework — not a great argument foradmission to a research program! If you are uncertain about your Proofread, proofread, proofreadcareer goals and would like to keep your options open, say so. Once you have written your statement, you should proofreadExplain why you think this institution and their curriculum will it carefully. Essays with grammatical, spelling, or typographicalenable you to do so. errors will reflect poorly on you. Statements that mistakenly refer Tell the admissions committee what type of chemistry you’d to schools other than the one to which you are applying arelike to study. If you want to study, say, bioinorganic chemistry, especially embarrassing and may convince the committee thatexplain how that interest developed. Is it because you really you lack attention to detail. Particularly if you are not a nativeloved both inorganic and biochemistry courses, and see this field English speaker, ask someone else to read your statement. Whileas the perfect marriage of your interests? Is it because you’ve confusing or muddled statements may not sink your chances fordone research or an internship in the area? Have you taken a admission, they certainly won’t improve them! Your college orspecial course in the area? Show the committee that you have university writing center may be able to help you improve yourgiven some serious thought to this question. However, don’t be application essay.worried that you are painting yourself into a corner. Admissions Preparing a thoughtful personal statement can be a usefulcommittees understand that your interests are evolving and that, exercise that helps you clarify your goals and narrow your gradu-even as you apply for graduate school, you still have a semester ate school choices. Remember, the personal statement is just oneof your undergraduate curriculum left to explore. Many students piece of the application puzzle. Once you are admitted, you’ll indicate one interest area (or more) have the chance to visit the campus so the faculty can meet you in an application but ultimately in person. At that point, the admissions committee has already decide to pursue another spe- spe decided that you are a good fit for their program, and you will cialty when they begin gradu gradu- have the chance to decide whether you agree! iC ate school the following fall. Explain program fit Once you have explained what you want to study, you need to Holly C. Gaede. Gaede is the undergraduate advisor explain why you want and a senior lecturer in the Department of Chemistry at Texas A&M University in College Station, TX. to study it there.
strategies for success Navigating the Ups of and Downs Graduate School Eight Common Pitfalls… and How to Avoid Them6 By Burt HollandswortH T HERE IT IS. IT’S SITTING IN YOUR MAILBOX. You glance and see that it’s a thick envelope from the well-respected, top-notch chemistry graduate school that just happens to be your first choice. Your friends make you open it, and after a suspenseful moment you exclaim, “I’m in!” You’ve just experienced your first graduate school high. Of course, there could just as easily be a letter that politely thanks you for your application, mentions that it was an especially talented class of undergraduates that applied this year, and wishes you the best with your other applications. Unfortunately, this is the start of the “ups and downs” of graduate school. Even the best students will experience high and low points in their graduate careers. Here are some of the major pitfalls that you might encounter, and how to avoid them in most cases. PhotoS.Com
Choosing the wrong advisor even though you may be tempted, don’t spend every wakingFour or five years of working for the wrong person will wreak hour in the lab, especially if you are in a more competitivehavoc on your mental condition. Advisors come with all sorts of research group. Working too hard will cause a quick burnout,managerial styles, most of especially if your research is not producing resultsthem learned from their commensurate with your effort. It is not a prettyown Ph.D. and postdoc- sight when graduate students burn out. Theytoral advisors. Try not to become irritable when small things go wrong orpick a Ph.D. advisor solely when they perceive that other group memberson reputation, number are not working as hard. They sometimes becomeof publications, group discouraged and start to work strange hours tosize, or by the advisor’s avoid other people. Schedule some leisure time inresearch description in a your day that will get your mind off of chemistry.catalog. Soon after arriving Join some friends for a regular walk or workouton campus, interview the and encourage each other. It’s a great idea to takeadvisors and get a feel for at least one of the days of the weekend off totheir personalities. Narrow recharge your energy level.your focus to two or three iStoCkpotential candidates, andthen spend a considerableamount of time talking to their graduate students and postdocs. Get a feel for their managerial style by asking questions like,“How often is this person in the lab?,” “How often are groupmeetings?,” and “How much of the day-to-day tasks and trainingare handled by the postdocs and senior members of the group?”If you are the type of person who needs creative space, don’t 7join the group of a micromanager or an advisor who sets strictwork hours. Conversely, if you feel like you need guidance anddirection and will need an advisor who is continually challeng-ing you with new ideas and checking up on you throughoutthe week, then go with someone who will keep you focused.Picking a not-yet-tenured faculty member is one way to ensurethat you will get plenty of personal attention and will be chal-lenged to produce results quickly and often. A personality mis-match with your advisor is a pitfall to avoid from the start. iStoCkHaving too many advisorsAnother situation to avoid is having too Spending too littlemany advisors. It’s not uncommon to workfor two research groups at the same time on time in the laba collaborative project. These collaborations Avoid being the group worka-expose students to different types of experi- holic, but also avoid being thements, give increased access to instrumenta- slacker who spends the leasttion and other equipment and personnel, amount of time in the lab. Putand also give students two potentially strong yourself on a schedule, even ifrecommendation letters instead of one. you are producing steady results.However, in some cases, neither advisor One unfortunate aspect of work-keeps track of “shared” students, and over ing for busy advisors is that theytime the students might fall off the map. If don’t spend much time in theyou choose to work with two Ph.D. advisors, lab. If you are never there whenbe intentional about maintaining a strong they happen to be walkingrelationship with both of them. through the lab, then it is easy to fall through the cracks and out of favor with your advisor.Spending too muchtime in the lab Letting results dictateGraduate school will be the best timeof your life to focus solely on chemical your outlookresearch. Take advantage of the time that Every graduate student goes through both productive and PhotoS.Comyou have to learn new lab skills and enjoythe thrills of frontline research. However, slow times in the lab. The nature
Navigating the Ups and Downs continued of chemical research dictates that there will be reactions that do not work, computations that need to be redone, and instruments that need to be fixed. Most graduate stu- dents will tell you that interesting results typically come in small bursts when several components of the research come together all at once. It’s important to maintain some emotional distance from the process. Celebrate when things go well, but don’t let your research success be the only source of joy in your life. When the results are lagging, keep in mind that a temporary stall in one area of research might yield unexpected results in the future. Think of every unexpected side product or instrumental glitch as another paragraph in your thesis. Painting yourself into a corner Consider adopting the strategy of working on two separate lines of research at the same time. For instance, if your main research problem is the synthesis of a protein inhibitor, do some computational work on the side modeling the active site-inhibitor complex. If your synthetic work hits a snag, at PhotoS.Com8 Most graduate students will Being afraid to say “no” One of the hardest lessons to be learned is how to say, “No.” tell you that There is nothing wrong with politely declining to be a gradu- interesting results ate student council representative, teaching a course as an adjunct, reorganizing your group’s chemical inventory, rede- typically come in signing the group webpage, or running the summer softball league if you need to focus on your lab work. None of these small bursts when activities is inherently bad, but they will all detract from your primary mission in graduate school, which is to contribute a several components body of original scientific work to the field of chemistry. You of the research may be tempted to pad your résumé with all sorts of extra- curricular activities, but remember that no item will carry come together all more weight than a strong recommendation from your Ph.D. advisor. at once. iStoCk Remember, too, that you are not alone— so do not isolate yourself. Build a network. Great places to start are joining least you will have some computational results to fall back the ACS Graduate Students Facebook group or a LinkedIn on. If your computations become frustrating, then maybe group. you can make a breakthrough with an interesting synthetic As you progress through graduate school, keep an open intermediate. In this way, you can avoid putting all of your mind. Don’t become too discouraged when the going gets research “eggs in one basket.” tough, and keep yourself open to suggestions on better ways to carry out your research. Try not to get too high or too low Living an unhealthy lifestyle when the results roll in or dry up. Avoid the common pit- falls…and your graduate school experience will be as enjoy- Hopefully, you will look back on graduate school as the able as it is productive. iC most productive time of your life. For some chemists, gradu- ate school was also the time when they picked up some of their worst habits. Binge drinking or drug use is not a good response to failed research efforts. Drinking may help you forget your research troubles for a night, but they will still be there the next day. Stimulants may help you work all day Burt HollandswortH graduated from The and night on Monday but will cause you to crash on Tuesday. Ohio State University in 2004 with a Ph.D. in Keep a healthy and responsible attitude toward stress relief, inorganic chemistry. He is on the faculty of Harding and surround yourself with friends who do the same. Take University in Searcy, AR, and is a member of the time to exercise and to otherwise take care of yourself. ACS Younger Chemists Committee.
strategies for success Research Projects: The A Matter of Right keNt StAte uNiverSity, GrAduAte SChool of ChemiStry Chemistry By Kelly BoatrigHt sexton est in my success. I received excellent technical advice fromN those around me and began churning out data in no time. As it turned out, the results that I generated were exactly the opposite of what we had anticipated, and my side project 9 quickly became my main project. My research led to a con- troversial hypothesis that eventually became the cornerstone of my thesis and the springboard to several first-author papers in respected journals. Fortunately, my story had a happy ending, and I was able to graduate in just under five years, despite the fact that not one single experiment from my first two-and-a-half years of research ended up in my thesis. But we have all heard horror stories of the seven- or eight-year dissertation and, while you N OT SO LONG AGO, I WAS A GRADUATE can never completely control for this scenario, you can take STUDENT slogging away in the laboratory, with no precautions to avoid having it happen to you. light at the end of the tunnel. The project that I had been working on for the past two years was a high-profile Take care in selecting a lab project that aimed to open up a whole new field for my laboratory. It was the type of project that seems to draw For starters, it is crucial that upon entering graduate school young idealistic graduate students in droves: exciting, risky… you select the right lab. Do your research! Find out how and going nowhere. many graduate students your potential advisor has trained. A big problem was that my project was outside of the core Where are they now? How long did it take them to get their expertise and focus of my lab, with the end result being that Ph.D.s? Give them a call and find out first-hand what they I wasn’t able to benefit from the guidance of the more senior thought of the lab. Of course, if you are considering train- graduate students and postdocs. ing with a new professor, you can’t rely on their past record, Fortunately, midway through my third year in gradu- but you can inquire about their expectations of a graduate ate school, a postdoc in my lab proposed that I work on a student working in their lab. If a potential advisor expects a small side project that would answer some questions that minimum commitment of six years in order to complete your had resulted from his work. At first glance, my new project graduate studies, you should at least know that up front. did not seem to be terribly exciting, but by this point I just wanted to get my hands on publishable data. The thought Evaluate potential projects of standing in front of an almost completely data-free poster Once you are in the lab, you should choose your main proj- at yet another conference, talking about experiments that ect carefully. Ideally, this would involve hours of discussion I planned to do (once I got the project working) was more with your advisor and other members of your lab, during than I could bear. Since I had little to lose except my time, which your technical skills and scientific aspirations are con- I decided to give it a try. sidered and carefully matched with potential projects. With my new side project, I was working in an area that In reality, the scenario may fall somewhere between your fell within the core competencies of my lab for the first time advisor telling you exactly what project to work on, or your in my graduate career. Additionally, the postdoc who had advisor taking off for a few weeks to go on the conference proposed my side project was an advocate with a vested inter- circuit while you figure it out yourself.
Research Projects continued coffee, take them out to lunch. You might be amazed at the new directions that they had in mind for their project that they will not be able to follow up on. An alternative source for side project leads is to read the dissertations of some of the recently minted Ph.D.s from your lab. An additional benefit of a side project is that it will also allow you to retreat from your main project during periods of frustration. When you feel like setting your lab keNt StAte uNiverSity, GrAduAte SChool of ChemiStry notebooks on fire, you can take a break and work on your side project for a few days (or weeks). Sometimes this can allow you the distance to frame the problem in a new way, resulting in a better approach when you return to it. Either way, if you have any choice in the matter, I would advise against selecting a risky project, particularly one that keNt StAte uNiverSity, GrAduAte SChool of ChemiStry is of interest to no one in your lab except you and your advisor. It is great to be independent as a postdoc, but your job in grad school is to graduate! The most efficient way to gain new technical skills and10 develop into an independent researcher is to learn from the more experienced members of your lab. By having a proj- ect that is synergistic with the overall research focus of the lab, you are setting yourself up for success. Take on side projects Make lemonade out of lemons A wise researcher once told me, “You should always be Finally, what should you do if you find yourself stuck with doing 10 things at once — one of them will work!” While I a project that is turning out to be a lemon? I would advise don’t advise overextending yourself, I do think it is a good sitting down with an experienced and objective researcher idea for most graduate students to have a side project or and going over your progress to date. If they can’t advise two. In fact, if you have decided not to heed my warning you on a new approach, perhaps they can help you to regarding risky main projects, having a safe side project is identify portions of your data that could be turned into a even more crucial. In addition to providing a backup plan small publication. It may not be the splashy paper that you should your main project fizzle, a side project can allow had envisioned, but even a modest publication can help you to pick up additional skills and techniques that you you to gain the closure you need in order to move on. might not have encountered otherwise. Sometimes you just need to cut your losses. After a I would recom- point, you do not learn anything more from beating your mend that your head against the wall over and over again with a failing side project be project. Time spent on a project that is later abandoned is one that is almost not wasted. Those years spent laboring at the bench while guaranteed to pro- nothing worked? You were learning how to do research duce publishable and gaining the skills that would allow you to take advan- results; try to pick tage of the opportunity when you finally had a project wor- the “low hanging thy of your devotion. iC fruit” of your lab. Often, a great opportunity for a keNt StAte uNiverSity, GrAduAte SChool of ChemiStry side project is cre- ated by an exiting graduate student Kelly BoatriGHt sexton BoatriGht or postdoc. If pos- Sexton obtained her Ph.D. from the University of sible, spend a few California, San Diego. She completed postdoctoral training at Stanford University in 2005 and is days chatting with currently a Senior Licensing Associate in the Office them before they of Technology Transfer at North Carolina State leave. Buy them University.
strategies for success The Teaching Assistant’s By amy m. Hamlin T HE FIRST FEW WEEKS OF GRADUATE SCHOOL CAN OFTEN BE OvER- whelming; between adjusting to living in a new area, taking several graduate courses, and researching possible Ph.D. advisors, you will probably feel like you are being pulled in too many directions at once. Along with these responsibilities, many 11 first-year graduate students are expected to serve as teaching assistants (TAs) for a laboratory course or discussion section. This responsibility is often one of the top worries for an incoming graduate student. But even though teaching can be stressful, it can also be one of the most rewarding experiences of your first year. Surviving the first day You may feel nervous about your first day of teaching. With intimidating eyes staring back at you and students expecting you to share your knowledge with them, you may be asking yourself such questions as, “Am I qualified to teach other students?,” “Will the students take me seriously and listen to what I say?,” “Will I be able to answer the students’ questions sufficiently?,” or “Can I take command of a classroom or laboratory when needed?” Yes, it may feel strange to be the one standing in front of the room teaching a course that you took only a year or two ago. But remember, you are teaching a subject that you love and excelled at as an undergraduate. Share some of that enthusiasm with your students! If you take your teaching responsibility seriously, your students will take you seriously. Having a sense of responsibility and being prepared for each class will help you to gain your students’ trust and respect and will give you authority in the classroom. The students have confidence that you know what you are teaching, so have confi- dence in yourself. You do not have to know everything. If you do not know the answer to a question, be honest with the students and admit that you do not know. Have the students help you as you work through the problem, or look up the answer after class and return to the question at the beginning of the next class. The students will probably learn more this way than if you just immediately spit out the answer to them. Learn your students’ names; it will help you to gain their respect and also help you feel more comfortable in front of them. Be sure to prepare the material for each class beforehand; the more CourteSy of NeWberry ColleGe prepared you are, the more comfortable you will feel in the classroom. Brainstorm possible sticking points in your presentation or techniques that students might find difficult during experiments, and be prepared to respond to these situations. iStoCk
The Teaching Assistants Guide to Success continued Seek help Remember that you are not alone as you embark on your first semester of teaching as a graduate student. There are many resources available to you as a new TA, including on- campus teaching resource centers and professors or instructors in the department — but one of your greatest resources will be your peers. Older gradu- ate students were once in your shoes, iStoCk teaching the same course as you. Begin preparing now They can be full of useful advice about There are also several things you can do as an how to handle undergraduate to prepare to teach. The first is to situations you may pay attention to the teaching style of your profes- encounter, such as sors during your courses. Notice how they keep a rowdy classroom the students’ attention and how they respond to or a cheating stu- questions. You can also gain some teaching experi- dent. They can also ence by working as a tutor for other undergradu- iStoCk help you figure out ates. Some colleges will even let undergraduates be how to balance Your first-year classmates can also be TAs alongside a graduate student or professor. your time among a great resource to turn to as you12 your many respon- develop your teaching skills. Strive to be your best sibilities. You might No one is a perfect teacher the first time they step even be able to get up to the board. It is a skill that is continuously an embarrassing teaching story or two out of them. developed over years and years of practice. To be a great Your first-year classmates can also be a great resource to teacher, you must be able to evaluate yourself and adapt to turn to as you develop your teaching skills. Just as you studied what works for your group of students. in groups to understand the material you learned in under- One technique that really helped me was to keep a teach- graduate courses, you can team up with your graduate school ing journal. At the end of every class, I wrote down what classmates as you learn how to teach. Find the other gradu- went well and what I could improve upon. This helped me to ate students teaching the same course as you. Discuss with evaluate what techniques worked for me and what areas of them that week’s material and how best to present it to the teaching I needed to work on. I would use my notes as I pre- students. After each week, sit down together and discuss what pared for the next class to improve upon the weaker points. went well and what you could do to improve. If your section Throughout the semester, I was writing down more and more meets later in the day or week, it is also very helpful to ask things that went well and less about what I needed to fix for someone who has just taught the class about what problems my next class. Using this technique, I saw a great improve- (if any) they encountered. ment in my confidence as the semester progressed. After the first few classes, you will feel more comfortable Solicit feedback in front of your students and you will start to realize how Consider sitting in on other TAs’ sections to observe their rewarding teaching can be. It is very encouraging to help stu- teaching styles. Everyone explains concepts in a slightly dif- dents understand concepts they previously struggled with and ferent way, and by observing different ways of presenting the to watch students gain an interest and appreciation for the same material you will be able to improve your own skills. subject that you love. You will also gain confidence in your They might even have a trick or two that you can use to ability to share your knowledge with others— a quality that help your class run more smoothly. It may also prove helpful will help you greatly throughout your graduate school career. to ask one or two of your fellow TAs to sit in on your class Remember to enjoy teaching: it is a great learning experience, while you are teaching and have them suggest improvements and it can also be a lot of fun. iC that you could make. Your students can also be a great resource. After a few classes, survey your students to ask them what they like and what topics they are still confused about. The students are there to learn, so they will be honest with you about what worked for them and what did not. Each group of students is amy m. Hamlin is a first-year graduate student at the University of California, Berkeley, studying unique, so it is important to adapt your teaching style to what synthetic organic chemistry. She received her B.S. best fits your students. Be sure to use a variety of teaching from the University of Detroit Mercy, where she was styles so as not to favor one type of student. involved with the ACS student chapter.
strategies for success n s hi p io s t ela ,H ith R ob bie rk w s, an s O st e d r wo th e s e a rch rI nte g Re se and r n cin Cou a MasteringlBa Graduate School Acrobatics 13 By allison Proffitt W HILE IN CHINA recently, But most successful I saw the Shanghai graduate students Acrobatics Troupe per- recommend striving form. One of the acts for a little more variety was a group of women spinning than that. plates. It was surprisingly beautiful. Chemists with whom I spoke They held up to eight long, thin encourage students to spend poles — four in each hand — each time building relationships, both topped with a whirling plate. With inside and outside of the university, the tiniest flicks of the wrist, they kept all to prioritize healthy activities such as eight discs spinning, all eight poles gracefully exercise or sports when possible, and to splayed, dancing all the while. At the end, lest remain flexible and open with advisors you thought it was all a trick, they dropped for when (not if!) surprises pop up. the plates, then the poles, and everything “One regret I have heard from others came crashing to the ground. and that I also feel is that many people Graduate school can be like that. put their life on hold while in graduate Keeping even two plates aloft and spin- school. In my own case, I purposely wait- ning (your coursework and research) is ed until I had an exit date before I even hard enough! Anything else — including considered marriage and the possibility of relationships, hobbies, and other inter- a family. Now I wish I’d started sooner, ests — seems like an impossibility. If you catch or at least while in graduate school,” says a glimpse of someone doing one chemist. it well, you can’t help but Of course, relationships can be wonder if their plates are tricky. While another chemist notes somehow attached to the that many married graduate students poles. It may be tempting seemed more stable and secure than to dig in and focus solely on their single colleagues, the stresses of coursework and research; after graduate school can undoubtedly strain iStoCk all, that’s what you’re there for. relationships. Not every nonstudent part-
Mastering Graduate School Acrobatics continued PROFILES in balancing graduate school with the rest of your life? Any recommendations? I wanted to go home early. I tried to keep realistic expectations about inChemistry spoke with three chemists MK: I wanted to stay plugged in with the what I could do and to be very upfront with about some of their challenges balancing other grad students, especially since I wasn’t my advisor. Communication is really key. life and graduate school, and solicited their advice. going to be on campus as much. We invited When we had to change daycare centers them over to our house a few times, and I on short notice, I knew that would affect MEGHAN KNAPP, who earned her made sure to stay involved socially with the my work schedule. Even though my advisor Ph.D. in chemistry in 2006, started graduate other grad students as well. This really helped wasn’t over my shoulder every moment of school after teaching high school for three to create a support network on campus. I the day, I didn’t want to miss work without years. By the time she started graduate found other “nontraditional” grad students, letting him know why. I also let my advisor school, she’d been mar- as well as others who were considering know right away about my mother’s condi- ried for two years and getting married. tion. That way, when I needed to go out of owned a home. She One of the key things is to select town for her surgery, I was able to take care had her first daughter an advisor willing to work with you. I of things smoothly rather than dumping it all the summer between interviewed several advisors and mostly on him at once. her second and third discussed their research, but I also tried In response to requests from several year, and her mother to get a sense of the expectations of graduate students, the department worked was diagnosed with hours spent on campus and flexibility. on a policy to handle pregnancy and mater- breast cancer several Some types of research are going to nity leave. I tried to arrange things on my months earlier. Two demand that you be on campus at odd own for my first pregnancy, but it would have and a half years later, her second daughter hours. Fortunately, I was able to find been much better if the policy were already14 research I loved that I could do mostly during in place. Finding an ally with some authority was born — right before her dissertation defense. the day. Of course, that meant I couldn’t wait can really help make changes. While some iC: What were some things you did well until 10 to come in; I had to be there early if may be more sensitive to your needs, profes- ner will understand the demands of graduate school, but many Another chemist suggests that students make time to build will. “I really need to give credit to my husband,” says Meghan relationships with more than one professor in the department. Knapp, who had been married for two years when she started “Get to know at least two other professors in the department graduate school. “I really made sure he was on board with my really well. You always need three letters of reference later on returning to school, so it was a family decision… He really anyway,” he says. helped me to stay Several chemists mention intramural sports and exercise as sane!” key parts of their life in graduate school. For other students, Several chemists maintaining a favorite hobby— photography or music, for urge students to example— was a priority. Students who are involved in regu- carefully interview lar exercise, sports, or other activities have a natural release advisors and labs valve for stress and build a supportive network of friendships before making deci- outside of the lab. “It is important to take care of yourself,” CourteSy of ClemSoN uNiverSity sions. “Interview says Knapp. “That means potential advisors getting exercise or doing over and over again, something relaxing to help and talk to people in relieve the stress.” the group,” advises Of course, there is a limit Daniel Lutterman. to the number of plates “There are lots of good projects, but you want even the most accom- to be sure that you are a good fit for the lab plished acrobat can spin. environment.” Christopher Pollock, a second- Some semesters, two plates year graduate student at Cornell University, will be plenty, and you’ll agrees. “From my experience, your choice in advisors is critical to how flexible you can be SoutheASterN exPeditioNS, iNC. in grad school.” Deciding early on that you are committed to a balanced life while in Christopher Pollock in the lab graduate school means that you will be more and taking some time out to likely to choose an advisor and a lab environ- enjoy a whitewater rafting ment that will be supportive of that. adventure with friends.
sors who haven’t gained tenure may be reluc- for many reasons; I spent a lot of time build- the summer before graduate school, and histant to make waves. ing those relationships, many of which are children were born while he was in school. still active today. Having played baseball in college, sports were Before ANDY KIDWELL graduated a priority outlet for himwith an M.S. degree in chemistry in 2002, he iC: Looking back, what do you wish as well.had decided early on that completely immers- you’d done differently? What adviceing himself in graduate school would you offer? iC: How did you suc-wasn’t going to work. He also made AK: Moving during ceed at balancing gradu-sports a priority, playing on recre- your graduate studies is an ate school with the rest ofational and intramural basketball, extra burden. If, during your your life?softball, and football teams. When career, you need to set up a DL: Put some timehis advisor accepted a position at lab, having such an experi- into trying to relax. I seeanother university, he chose to move ence can help you know a lot of graduate studentswith him and, in the process, gained what really needs to be done who work from dusk ‘til dawn. The resultssome valuable insider experience in when so you can maximize your come a lot easier when you learn not tomoving and setting up a lab. time. However, moving will cost stress so much! you valuable research time. At iC: Looking back, what do you wish you’d iC: How did you balance graduate school some point, you have to just pack as well as done differently?with your other interests? Can you share any possible and let the movers do their job. On DL: I wish our families had been closerlessons you learned? the arrival end, the goal should always be to to Ohio State. We were both separated from AK: To me, it was very important to unpack and get back up as fast as possible. our families and, since we had our childrenhave friends to socialize with from inside my Don’t let it cost you too much time. in graduate school, it would have been a lot 15department and school. It was equally impor- DANIEL LUTTERMAN received his easier if we had not been living so far apart.tant to nurture friendships outside of school, Ph.D. in chemistry in 2007. He got married pat yourself on the back for keeping just those two aloft. Other those plates with a soul-satisfying crash… and then walk off the semesters, you’ll be willing to pick up two or three more. The stage, hopefully to thunderous applause. key is knowing when two is enough and, when you have space As you consider what is worth your time and energy, remem- for more, always being as graceful as possible in the transition. ber that graduate school is only temporary. Don’t neglect life- For the acrobats, the applause doesn’t come until the end long pursuits— be they relationships or hobbies— because of of the performance, when the dancers drop their plates and this fleeting performance. While spinning extra plates may take a poles and the audience lets out its collective breath and cheers. bit more concentration, you will be glad at the end that you put In grad school, don’t forget that there is an end. You will drop forth the effort to do so. iC allison Proffitt is a writer and editor based in PhotoS.Com Singapore and covers science all over the world. When she’s not writing, she’s traveling as much as she can.
strategies for success Voices of Experience Reactions and Solutions is a blog offering tips on selecting and succeeding in graduate school, written by current graduate students. ComPiled By lori BetsoCK That’s Why They Call It Research… Using What You Learned in Kindergarten I think that’s the most important piece of advice I could pass on about grad The one thing that is essential to search- school —it’s called research. That ing for graduate schools, joining a gradu- doesn’t just mean that you’ll end up ate research group, and maintaining san- repeating experiments multiple times, or ity in graduate school is also one of the have to read papers at least twice to first things that you developed in kinder- really understand what they mean. It’s a garten. Its complexity increases exponentially as you age: statement about attitude, the most important thing you developing and maintaining personal relationships. control in your graduate career. When I was starting the process of searching for gradu- Graduate school, and research in general, is a frustrating ate schools, I asked a lot of people how to pick “the beast. No matter how hard you try or how carefully you one.” There were more schools of thought on this matter16 plan, something unexpected can always come along and than picking March Madness brackets. Some preferred foil your best efforts. But you have to just pick up the piec- warm climates. Others picked from the top tiers. Distance es and try again. At the end of the day, grad school is what was also a consideration. No matter which philosophy you chose to do; it’s where your passion and curiosity you choose, the final decision comes when you get your have driven you, and you’re lucky to be able to use both of acceptance letters accompanied with offers to visit their those in your 9-5 day (or 6, or more usually 8). institutions. Keep a positive attitude. Don’t let failures, setbacks, or I eventually chose a school where I felt the most comfort- complications bring you down. You’ll be a lot happier with able with the people, not the climate or the current ranking work. And it is work. You’re not in school anymore, even in U.S. News. The incoming and current graduate students if you’re taking classes — you’re working for a living now. I met seemed to mesh with my personality. These were Maintaining a positive attitude is work too; sometimes you the people I that would be taking classes with — and join- just don’t want to or think you can. ing research groups with, developing friendships with, Believe me, I’ve been through some of the toughest stuff and networking future contacts with. There were several to deal with in my graduate career, and Hurricane Katrina professors that I either felt instant connections to, or at flooding the building wasn’t the worst of it. If a PhD is least that I could eventually develop good relationships what you want, you always have to shake it off, pick up the with. Graduate school will be 4-6 years of your life and you pieces, and move on. Maintaining a positive attitude will should make sure to place yourself among people who help you keep things in perspective: what you’re doing is bring out the best in you. earning a PhD, something not everyone can do. Even when One of my favorite lines from “The Simpsons” is when it goes wrong, you walk away and try again tomorrow. If Homer and Marge take the kids to an independent film. In you do it with a smile, you’ll be better off, and the people response to how he liked the film, Bart holds a freshly cut supporting you will be more willing to help. Your stress will pony-tail to the back of his head and says, “I was so bored be more manageable. Your life is easier in general when I cut the pony-tail off of a grad student. Look at me! I’m a you maintain your perspective. Attitude has everything grad student. I’m 30 years old and made $600 last year,” to to do with how we perceive our situation. Don’t let grad which Marge quickly snaps, “Bart, don’t make fun of grad school and the ups and downs of research get to you. Just students. They’ve just made a terrible life choice!” It may remember — that’s why they call it research. sometimes feel that way when I get overwhelmed with my Posted by Electa work, but luckily I have good people around me who expe- rience the same thing and help me get through it. Posted by Matt
The Job is What You Make It Bypassing the Cheerleading Squad I was a chemistry first year grad student One thing I didn’t know before I began twice. How much easier my second time grad school was how hard it was going around was! Unlike most grad students, I to be. Every day is a learning experience know the difference that knowing makes. though. All the easy stuff had already The first year is the hardest, and remind- been done and we have a tough job of ing yourself of that helps you keep smil- figuring out the hard things. Researching when thinking about the short term. Striking a happy doesn’t work about 99% of the time, but if we are persis-medium between academics and socializing is important, tent and focused, we will definitely taste success.but that equilibrium should be shifted considerably to the Remember only 2% of the people in the world have aacademics side (be ready to become a library rat if neces- Ph.D. and the distinction doesn’t come easy.sary). Impress your professors, especially your future advi- One thing I recommend is that prospective grad studentssor. The hard work you do in your first year is an invaluable try and have a life outside the lab. Sometimes it feels likeinvestment in making the next 3 or 4 years enjoyable. Don’t some advisors want you to be in the lab 24/7, 365 daysthink of grad school as school, think of it as a job, and be a year. You might get lonely doing research and so youprofessional right from day one. Make a few decent friends should definitely have a very good friend to support you inoutside your graduate program (don’t be trapped in chem- grad school.istry conversations 24/7!). Don’t get into research you are I chose my present lab because I liked the research andnot excited about. Always have a plan, generate ideas, and the group dynamics. Getting along with your advisor and 17take ownership! However, nothing is as important as care- other grad students in lab is very important. Otherwise,fully choosing an advisor. Both of my experiences have grad school can be miserable. So, do your research beforebeen superb and I have a senior grad student to thank for you pick your lab. Look beyond the students the depart-that advice! ment hand-picks to give a tour and lunch to prospec-Posted by Santiago tive students. They are usually the ‘cheerleaders’ for the department. Talk to other grad students in the lab and if possible, to students in other labs to get feedback about What We Have Here is a advisors in general. Do not be afraid to ask specific ques- Failure to Communicate tions about 1) how the advisors treat their students, 2) how helpful the other students in the lab are, 3) how well the In graduate school, there are plenty of professors in the department get along with each other, smart people, interesting research, and 4) average time to graduate, and 5) how supportive the brilliant ideas. There are also plenty of school in general is towards graduate students. examples of how smart people, inter- esting research, and brilliant ideas Posted by Nareshwere brought low by poor communication skills. Whilesubstance is always more important, do not underesti-mate the power of a well-styled presentation. Whetheroral or written, a presentation of your work shouldalways strive to educate and entice. Educate readers onyour topic and entice them to read on or continue listen-ing, and find out more. eleCta ParK is a sixth-year graduate student who will be graduating fromUnfortunately, the average graduate program throws stu- Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center in New Orleans, LA indents into the deep end of scientific communication with- October 2008.out the skills to navigate the choppy waters. This is when matt GrandBois is a fifth-year graduate student at the University ofyou’ve got to find your own life jacket. Investigate taking a Minnesota. His research is focused on the production and detection of sin-specialty science or general writing course, a PowerPoint glet oxygen within hydrophobic micelles in aquatic systems.seminar, public speaking and grant writing workshops, santiaGo sandi-urena is a Ph.D. graduate from the Department ofamong others. Most academic institutions have a dizzy- Chemistry, Clemson University. Currently, he holds a postdoctoral positioning array of options to improve your communication skills at Clemson where his research concerns metacognition and metacognitiveincluding writing centers with one-on-one assistance. If instruction.this sounds like too much time away from the lab, remem- rayCHelle BurKs is a graduate student at the University of Nebraska-ber that an inability to communicate your research may put Lincoln, defending her dissertation in fall 2008. She is an analytical chemistyou in the “perish” category of the academic “publish or focused on the detection of explosives.perish” dichotomy. naresH sunKara is a fifth-year graduate student at University of Maryland Baltimore County, working on synthesizing modified nucleosidesPosted by Raychelle as potential anticancer and antiviral drugs.
strategies for success Voices of Experience In this issue, the Reactions and Solutions blog offers tips to help you succeed in graduate school. ComPiled By lori BetsoCK I already had a steady job (with a steady paycheck), and Graduate School? It Starts NOW. wasn’t eager to completely change directions, so I would Your road to success in graduate school give it a try. That’s when I enrolled in a graduate program in starts NOW, in your final years of under- drug chemistry. graduate study. During my senior year, Distance learning programs are a great option for those who after much consideration, I dropped a sec- are already in a comfortable (and stable) working environ- ond semester of biochemistry so that I ment and may not be quite suited for (or interested in) a could devote more time to completing a traditional program. One of the best things about online pro- research project that I had started during the previous sum- grams is that you aren’t required to “attend” class at a cer- mer. tain time so, when you sign on to do your schoolwork, you This undergraduate research project was critical to my are more focused and engaged then if you were required to early success in graduate research. I was already familiar attend, say, a lecture at 8:00 am. Online programs do require with many of the techniques and instrumentation. I also a high degree of self-discipline and time management; but18 had a taste of the atmosphere of graduate school and had the rewards, such as flexibility, are definitely worth it. observed graduate students. I saw how the lazy ones attract- Posted by Phil ed the ire of their advisor, and how praise was heaped upon the hard-working and productive students, even when they only achieved small victories toward their overall goal. Choose Your Graduate Advisor Wisely In some ways I am still paying for that dropped biochemistry An undergrad professor once told me, course. Biochemistry is by far the weakest subject for me. “Choose your advisor wisely — it’s the When my class entered graduate school, we took ACS stan- most important decision you’ll make. You dardized examinations in each of the five sub-disciplines of only get one Ph.D.” I was perplexed; I fig- chemistry. Guess which test was my lowest score? The GRE ured choosing my wife would be far more subject test in your field, even if it is not required for admis- important. But he retorted, “You can sion into your intended graduate program, might be a good always get a divorce!” indicator of where you still need more work. In graduate school, I initially joined a new assistant profes- Don’t overlook these last few years of undergraduate study sor’s lab. There were great benefits in starting a new group. I as time to prepare for obtaining an advanced degree. helped put together and set up the entire lab and launched a Whether you know it or not, you are preparing yourself for research project from the very beginning. While the research graduate school right now. Good luck! was making good progress, the initial proposed research was Posted by Burt not what I had imagined when I first discussed the project with my advisor. I could not see myself continuing on for another four years of graduate school, let alone the rest of Taking a Non-Traditional my life. Another professor agreed to take me, and the chem- Master’s Pathway istry department allowed me to switch groups. My first foray into graduate school didn’t I now understand my undergraduate professor’s wisdom work. Originally, I thought I should go about choosing an advisor. It’s important that you enjoy the directly from undergraduate, to maintain research, can communicate with your advisor, and fit in well the momentum of school. Little did I real- with the group dynamics. These factors synergistically can ize that I had burnt myself out as an either make a graduate experience miserable or positive and undergraduate. I was more interested in going out and letting rewarding. loose than studying. After the first year of being in a tradi- It’s certainly acceptable to realize that graduate school is tional grad program, I was finished. I decided to move on not for you, or to be unhappy with other aspects of your and enter the field. graduate education. Don’t be afraid to take action. Graduate After working three years in the pharmaceutical industry, a school shouldn’t be an enduring period of misery. coworker introduced me to the world of online programs. I Posted by Stephen figured a traditional program didn’t work out so well for me,
Tips for Moving Up Following the Road Less Traveled I didn’t know in high school or undergrad Upon finishing my bachelor’s degree in which career path I wanted to take, but I chemistry, I was really unsure if graduate knew that I wanted to “move up.” After I school was the right path for me. While I learned that not only is a chemistry Ph.D. always enjoyed chemistry, I wasn’t sure I “free” but also that I could earn a stipend, had the drive or confidence to complete a graduate school was an obvious choice. I Ph.D. I decided to work in industry for achose my research group based on my interests and the couple of years, and then in a college setting for anotherrecommendation of my undergraduate advisor. This was one year, to gain some perspective on possible career paths. Iof the most important decisions of my career. My Ph.D. advi- quickly realized how much I enjoyed working with collegesor continually inspired me, and this inspiration helped me students and helping them see that chemistry can truly bework through difficult times. I also knew from undergraduate an enjoyable and rewarding subject. With my purposeresearch, teaching, and internships that I liked variety in my restored, I entered into a Ph.D. program, hoping to ultimatelywork, specifically a mix of synthesis, characterization, analy- obtain a faculty position.sis, etc. I looked for a similar mix in my first job. I’m thrilled Once I started graduate school, I had no idea the adven-now to be able to contribute technically while also managing ture that was in store for me. At the end of my secondpeople, developing new projects, and teaching. year, I made the very tough decision of transferring schoolsThe value of marketing and communication skills really to follow my advisor, who had left to become the depart-stands out. Balancing these with good technical skills will ment chair at another institution. Following the “road less 19give you an edge in the workplace. traveled” was initially the toughest thing I had ever done.I encourage you to carefully observe people who you can However, it turned out to be an excellent decision. I formedlearn from, and always ask questions. It’s an efficient way to a great relationship with my doctoral advisor, completed mylearn and grow. degree in a reasonable time frame, and obtained a faculty position at a liberal arts institution after graduating. Now, IPosted by Jennifer can impart my enthusiasm for chemistry to all who take my classes. A Missed Opportunity: The field of chemistry is constantly in need of good educa- Industrial Internships tors. If you think you want to teach at the college level one day, then graduate school is the first step towards achieving Looking back at my graduate school that goal! experience, five years after receiving my Posted by Will Ph.D., I wish I would have taken the opportunity to participate in a summer industrial internship. As an organic chem-ist in the pharmaceutical industry, only now do I understandhow little I knew as a graduate student about life in industry.Talking with your chemistry department alumni who are cur-rently working in industry provides insight into their experi-ence; however, these conversations cannot provide the Burt HollandswortH is assistant professor of chemistry at Hardingsame understanding as being in the situation. Internships University in Searcy, AR. He obtained his Ph.D. at The Ohio State University inprovide valuable information for those deciding what to do 2004.in life after graduate school. PHil maCHonis earned a master’s degree at the University of Florida inWhile I certainly learned much technical expertise from tal- 2008 and is a research associate with Mars Botanical, a division of Mars, Inc.ented colleagues at the start of my career, I feel that I would stePHen CanHam is a third-year graduate student at the University ofhave greatly benefited in graduate school from a better California, Irvine. His research is focused on the total synthesis of alkaloidunderstanding of the work environment and research process natural products.in industry. Although the thought of taking time away from Jennifer samPle received a Ph.D. from UCLA in 2001 and is currently ayour research may make both you and your advisor cringe, senior scientist at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory.the efficiencies gained from learning the risked-based deci- CHristoPHer J. Ciolli is a scientist in process chemistry at Ricerasion-making approach used in industry could provide great Biosciences, LLC in Concord, OH. He earned his Ph.D. at the University ofbenefits in prioritizing experimental goals and objectives. In Wisconsin–Madison in 2004.retrospect, I believe that an industrial internship would make will Case is director of introductory chemistry labs and general chemistrya valuable addition to the graduate school experience. coordinator at the University of Richmond. He received a Ph.D. from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 2007.Posted by Chris
strategies for success Voices of Experience Reprinted from “Graduate Students and Postdocs Share Their Top Tips for Grad School Success,” Graduate Student Bulletin, June 2010; www.acs.org/grad ComPiled By tHe offiCe of graduate eduCation Even students need business cards — they’re the admission Keeping a Balance in Your Life ticket to the networking club. Just the other day, a friend was introducing It’s important to establish professional contacts both within me to a few new acquaintances and jok- and beyond your research area, so make time to attend talks ingly said, “Yes, she has a PHD: Permanent and receptions on campus and at conferences in addition to Head Damage!” We all laughed, but let’s the usual research presentations. The chemistry community face the fact— graduate school is tough. is relatively small; you never know when a contact will lead After four to five years (or even longer) of to a valuable opportunity. Every job offer I’ve received came arduous labor in the lab and relying on more failures than directly from networking. successes to round out an independent thesis, it is hard not Networking doesn’t have to be intimidating. Most people are to lose some form of sanity along the way. I have, based on interested in talking with and helping junior colleagues. Be my own experiences, concluded that like all other challenges yourself, be professional, and practice — it does get easier! in life, the hardships of graduate school can be conquered by20 following a few simple guidelines. And those two industrial chemists from my first conference? They’re still in my network. First, being in graduate school does not mean you have to put your social life on hold. In fact, it is really important to Posted by Shannon establish a strong circle of friends that you can turn to for support and encouragement when things get tough. Besides, it is never too soon to start networking! You may need it Discovering a Recipe for Success when you start looking for a job. Second, take the time to While it’s true that different environments do something meaningful or that you enjoy outside of work. (school, area of study, degree) contribute to Volunteer at the local food pantry or take up ballroom danc- vastly different experiences in graduate ing. It will make you a more interesting person. school, I believe there are a few things that Last, update your résumé once in a while. Taking stock of can help make every student successful. what you have done helps you to stay on top of your goals. I learned during my own experience that Planning is crucial when trying to minimize stress. So don’t both scientific and nonscientific communication is vital for lose your mind. Follow these simple steps and surviving success. The ability to communicate with your advisor, other graduate school will not be as difficult as you think! professors, your peers, and (gasp!) even strangers at a confer- Posted by Amanda ence will be a practical skill long after graduate school has ended. Next, I believe that a successful approach includes a strong Networking: What I Learned work ethic. Obtaining those much-needed results is a gruel- from My First Experience ing task and requires a large degree of perseverance and I have always been an outgoing person… diligence. A strong work ethic is an invaluable tool that helps except when it came to networking. I shape a budding career and, as an added bonus, can be wasn’t sure why it was important, who to highly contagious. network with, or what to talk about. Last, I found that some time away from lab provided relief from That changed when I attended a career- the intense focus that graduate school demanded. For me, this related symposium at my first ACS regional meeting. During included sports, such as softball, volleyball, and running, as the break, I happened to talk with two industrial chemists and well as cooking and baking. For others, this can include volun- mentioned that I was considering starting a student commit- teering, music, community activities, or happy hour at the pub. tee related to our topic of conversation. They kindly asked all Finding a release is an important way to help refocus in the about it, encouraged me to go for it, and e-mailed me after- laboratory or classroom. ward with useful resources. A few days later, I realized I’d These are just a few suggestions that worked for me. In the been networking! Several years later, I also realized that this end, there is no magical solution to succeeding in graduate interaction indirectly led me to my ideal career path. school. But if you begin with hard work, throw in some com- In addition to finding my career direction, that experience munication and a dash of recreation, I think you will find a taught me three things about networking: recipe for success! Posted by Shelli
Taking Advantage of Informal Research and Networking Guidance Opportunities As a postdoctoral fellow interacting with Well, here I am, three months out from my and mentoring graduate students at the thesis defense, and finally, in the last nine University of California, Berkeley, here are months or so, I’ve felt like I have things a few thoughts that could help the present under control. In some regards, that took graduate students. I am going to focus on way too long; in others, that’s probably two things — interdisciplinary research andwhy it takes more than a few years to get a Ph.D. networking!It’s funny to look back on how your approach to research (and The significance of research across boundaries of differentlife in general) changes over the course of graduate school. aspects of science has increased manyfold. What this entailsPersonally, I was way too uptight at first. Data had to be per- is exploring, learning, and mastering more skills (traditionally,fect, I tried to keep current on way too many journals, and I the focus was on one topic/subject) in the normal time frameeven thought I was so busy that I would turn down the older of graduate school (5-6 years). This will help prepare you toguys down the hall when they asked if I wanted to go out to be more competitive, and you will definitely have more careerlunch. I thought I couldn’t spare an hour for a leisurely meal options after grad school. I want to emphasize this pointand would instead just plow through lunch, dinner leftovers in because of the changing face of big pharmaceutical indus-hand, while I tried to get some work done on the computer. tries and the emergence of biotech and other related indus-After a couple years, I finally got sick of my cooking and tries, along with government, which are looking for scientistsstarted going out with the guys, who at that point were get- with expertise in a broader arena of science. 21ting close to finishing. I quickly realized that in between small Once you’ve picked your advisor, decided on the researchtalk and jokes, I had been missing their conversations about topic, and gotten through qualifiers, one important thing youthesis writing, postdoc searches, and research ideas. As I should be looking at is NETWORKING! Most of us wait ‘tilapproach the end of my graduate studies, I can only imagine we are about to graduate and hope that our mentor will behow much harder it all would have been without the informal able to place us somewhere after graduation. Your researchguidance I’ve received from some older friends. advisor should not be your only connection to the scientificPosted by James world! Nothing against graduate advisors, but I personally feel that you need to have mentors other than your gradu- ate advisor and your committee to guide you to pursue your Keeping an Open Mind career goals. Try to actively pursue researchers who are will- ing to guide you professionally. One important place to net- When I came to graduate school, I knew work is at the national conferences, where you can efficiently what I wanted to do. I was sure of where network and develop professional relationships, which are my career would lead me, and I loved the very important. field in which I was going to work. I began To be successful during and after graduate school, students my research right away in my first semes- should make a conscious effort to develop the necessary ter and was excited about all the possibili- skills, which include both scientific and social aspects.ties I had in front of me. However, by the end of my first year,things had changed dramatically. My advisor was leaving. I Posted by Nareshwas faced with a big decision: find a new advisor or find anew Ph.D. program. amanda lee amanda lee has successfully survived graduate school andI never thought I would be faced with this decision; I had is currently a postdoctoral research fellow at City of Hope Beckman Researcheverything planned perfectly, and I had worked hard to suc- Institute.ceed in my field. At first I was devastated and unmotivated, sHannon watt earned a Ph.D. at the Georgia Institute of Technology and isbut I finally decided to stay in the program I was in and to now an NSF Discovery Corps Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Michigan.pick a new advisor in a new field. I went from bioorganic sHelli waetziG earned a Ph.D. from the University of Kansas in 2007 andchemistry to inorganic chemistry, and today I could not recently completed postdoctoral research at the University of California,be happier with the choice I made. I was forced to look at Irvine. She is now a visiting assistant professor at College of the Holy Cross inoptions I would have never considered in the past; in retro- Worcester, MA.spect, these options were opportunities. James o’dea is a graduate student at the University of California, SantaThe best advice I can offer anyone in graduate school is to Barbara, and is wrapping up his dissertation on scanned probe techniques tokeep an open mind and jump on opportunities as they pres- study proton exchange membranes.ent themselves. You never know where change might lead, Beatriz e. rios is a fourth-year graduate student at Southern Methodistand you never know what great things change can bring University. In her spare time she enjoys cooking, triathlon, and rugby.along the way. naresH sunKara is a postdoctoral fellow at the University of California,Posted by Beatriz Berkeley.
aCs Resources What We Do for You A Closer Look at the ACS Undergraduate Undergraduate Programs Office staff members Robin Lindsey, Programs Office Nancy Bakowski, Audley Burke, and Lori Betsock. By lori BetsoCK and audley s.V. BurKe T HERE ARE NOW MORE THAN four times each year and is sent to student and participating in these activities helps 1,000 ACS chartered student members, faculty advisors, and chemistry you learn more about the latest research chapters and more than 12,000 department heads. in various areas and about the educa- undergraduate members of the As with other UPO resources, the maga- tional requirements you need to be suc- ACS. Undergraduates enjoy most ben- zine is written to help you transition from cessful in these fields. Recent meetings efits of ACS membership— plus unique a student into a professional chemist and have included programs on careers in22 services and resources provided by the to encourage you to take an active role public health, pharmaceutical and envi- Undergraduate Programs Office (UPO). ronmental chemistry, and Our office develops and maintains pro- nanochemistry. grams to help individual undergraduate Each year, more than students develop professional skills, learn 1,600 undergraduates present their posters at the undergraduate poster sessions at ACS national meetings. Presenting a poster provides valuable networking opportunities with potential employers, graduate school representa- tives, and other students. Poster presenters gain communication skills, experience interacting with Students attending the Undergraduate Program members of the chemical events at the ACS national meeting in community, and learn to Washington, DC. think on their feet and answer questions about mike CieSielSki their research. about traditional and nontraditional career in your community and your profession. options in chemistry, and take advantage These articles are contributed by profes- Directory of Experience of opportunities to network with profes- sional chemists and freelance writers, along Opportunities — The Directory of sional chemists. We also provide many with student authors like you. Experience Opportunities is an online resources for student chapters, including National meeting programming— resource that lists co-ops, internships, chapter grants and support in starting, reac- We work closely with the Society fellowships, and summer work opportu- tivating, or re-energizing chapters. Committee on Education (SOCED) Task nities for undergraduate chemical science Force on Undergraduate Programming to students. We encourage undergraduates plan undergraduate programing at ACS to take advantage of these opportunities Resources for individual national meetings. These programs typi- in the U.S. and abroad to gain exposure ACS student members cally consist of technical symposia, gradu- to new industry-level and academic inChemistry magazine— Since you’re ate school events, career workshops, and experiences. This enables you to make reading this article, you’ve already encoun- undergraduate research poster sessions. more informed decisions about your tered inChemistry magazine. It’s published Attending an ACS national meeting career options and direction.
Support for ACSstudent chapters We Thrive on Your Feedback!ACS has student chapters at institutionsthroughout the U.S., including Puerto UPO staff members continually work to improve the support weRico. Chapters typically engage in com- offer. If you have any suggestions or feedback to help us bettermunity service, chemistry outreach, and serve you, please let us know. (800) 227-5558professional development activities. Byplanning and carrying out these activities, Nancy Bakowski — ext. 6166, (firstname.lastname@example.org)student members learn to work together Lori Betsock — ext. 6188, (email@example.com)to bring their thoughts and ideas tofruition. Chapter officers and committee Audley S.V. Burke — ext. 4565, (firstname.lastname@example.org)chairs gain valuable leadership skills by Nicole DiFabio — ext. 8010, (email@example.com)learning to work with volunteers and bysetting project schedules to ensure that Robin Lindsey — ext. 4480, (firstname.lastname@example.org)their chapters reach their goals. Many chapters have partnered withlocal elementary, middle, and highschools to conduct hands-on demon- To apply for an Innovative Activities ters then reviews the various activitiesstrations, tutor, or serve as mentors. To Grant or a Community Interaction Grant, described in the reports and selects thosecomplete these activities, chapter mem- members of a chapter are required to that are outstanding in terms of original-bers have to function as teams and work submit a detailed proposal outlining the ity, impact, or execution. At each ACStogether efficiently, important skills that project and how it will be of benefit to spring national meeting, the UPO andmembers carry over to the professional their chapter and/or community. The SOCED recognize these student chaptersworld. Chapters also collaborate with grants are reviewed by student chapter for their exceptional service and activi-their ACS local sections on a regular faculty advisors under the auspices of ties during the annual Student Chapter SOCED, and grants are awarded based Awards ceremony. These ceremonies 23basis to plan yearly National ChemistryWeek celebrations and to promote Earth on proposal content. All chapters receive have been held since 1992 and give ACSDay. feedback about their proposals and tips and its officials the opportunity to thank for improving future proposal submis- and encourage the student chapters toRegional meeting programming — sions. Chapters that receive grants are continue promoting the positive image ofWe help student chapters to plan the required to submit a mid-year progress chemistry in their local communities.undergraduate programs at regional report and a final project report.meetings — workshops and symposia that By going through the grant process, chapter members learn the importance of We’re ready to helpprovide attendees with career-buildingopportunities on a local level. These keeping track of their progress and pre- Whether you’re interested in the resourc-programs enable you to network and paring detailed reports about their activi- es and opportunities we offer for indi-learn from chemists from your local area, ties. In addition, preparing grant reports vidual students, entire chapters, or both,including local section officers and other also introduces chapter members to the we encourage you to take full advantagemembers of ACS who can become men- practice of financial management, as each of these unique benefits of your mem-tors and assist you with career choices. chapter must include an itemized sum- bership in ACS. The UPO offers regional meeting mary of how its grant monies were spent. To learn more about the full spectrumprogramming grants for active student of services the ACS Undergraduatechapters to plan and host undergraduate National recognition— We play a Programs Office provides, go toprograms at regional meetings. Student key role in the selection of ACS student www.acs.org/undergrad. If youmembers gain useful skills working with chapters for recognition and sharing have any questions about any ofthe steering committee of their respec- outstanding chapters’ winning ideas with these programs, please e-mail us attive region — proposal writing and peer other chapters. email@example.com. iCreview processes, and planning a techni- Student chapters are asked to submitcal meeting. their annual report forms in June of each year. Under the auspices of SOCED, aGrants for student chapters — group of faculty advisors to student chap-Student chapters can apply to the UPOfor Innovative Activities, CommunityInteraction, and National Meeting TravelGrants. Going through the grant applica- lori BetsoCK is a Senior Education Associate and audley BurKe is an Education Associate in the ACS Undergraduatetion process teaches chapter members to Programs Office.prepare proposals and submit mid-yearand final reports. These skills are animportant facet in the careers of mostresearch chemists.
ACS Resources forUndergraduate StudentsEnrich the undergraduateexperienceinChemistry MagazineRead up on topics and issuesvital to undergraduates,including: • Careers • Professional development • Graduate school • Running a successful student chapter Research Presentations Participate in special national, regional, and local level oral and poster sessions. Undergraduate Programming at ACS Meetings Participate in symposia, workshops, and other special events at national, regional, and local meetings. Certificates for Qualified Graduates of ACS Approved Undergraduate Chemistry Programs Available upon request for chemistry majors who graduated from an ACSapproved program and completed the course work as specified in the ACS Guidelines.ACS Student Chapters Planning for Graduate Work in Chemistry:Get involved in a wide range of programs and activities A Resource for Students Considering Advanced Studythat broaden the undergraduate college chemistry Guides domestic and international undergraduateexperience and help prepare students for scientific students in selecting a program that best meets theircareers. needs and aspirations.Experiential OpportunitiesFind undergraduate opportunities through ACS andother sources that provide realworld experience and Undergraduate Studenthelp students gain a professional edge when applying Education Fundingfor jobs or graduate school. Visit www.acs.org for more on these programs: • SCI Scholars Summer Industrial Internship Program for • ACS-Hach High School Teaching Scholarships Undergraduates • ACS Scholars Program • ACS International Research Experiences for • Project SEED College Scholarships Undergraduates • Other opportunities, including undergraduate research • Project SEED CIBA College Scholarships experiences, cooperative education, internships, and summer jobs For more information, go to www.acs.org/higher_education
aCs Resources Informing and Preparing Young Chemists How the ACS Office of Graduate Education can help you liNdA WANG/C&eN By Joe Z. sostariC and Corrie KuniyosHiI F YOU DECIDE TO PURSUE The Graduate Student Bulletin is national meeting, usually from 6:30 graduate studies in the chemical e-mailed monthly to subscribers. Once to 8:00 p.m. on Monday, just before sciences, you will find very distinct you sign up for this free online publi- the popular poster session, Sci-Mix. 25 differences in what is expected of cation, make sure to take the time to The reception held at the spring ACS you as a graduate student versus when read the feature articles and check out national meeting in San Francisco you were an undergraduate. Greater the list of resources. The information attracted well over 500 graduate personal responsibility will be expected will help you gain a broader perspec- students and postdocs, who enjoyed of you — first, relating to your stud- tive on the chemical world around an evening of complimentary refresh- ies and your research work and, later, you, especially as it pertains to gradu- ments, opportunities to network with with regard to your status as a freshly ate students. The bulletin also includes ACS Technical Division representatives, minted master’s or Ph.D. chemist. sections listing opportunities, sci- and a chance to win one of two top-of- You’ll also find differences between ence news, and meeting announce- the-line Apple iPhones. the types of ACS offerings and pro- ments. (See current and past issues at grams offered to you as a graduate www.acs.org/gradbulletin.) Plan your career student compared with those programs Depending on your particular situation you may have experienced with the Connect with other as a graduate student, the responsibil- ACS Undergraduate Programs Office. graduate students ity of preparing for career success To help you successfully adjust to this The ACS Graduate Students group on may fall largely or entirely on your transition, this article will introduce you Facebook will help you connect to the offerings managed by the ACS with other chemistry graduate Office of Graduate Education (OGE) students. This group provides an and give you a few tips on how best to access and make use of the many pro- excellent forum for networking with other chemists at similar Receive Discounted grams and resources of OGE. points in their careers and for ACS Rates! keeping in touch with OGE. Our Access online postings will provide you with Getting ready to graduate? ACS resources now regular updates on topics and offers a 50% Recent Graduate Discount Our webpage, www.acs.org/grad, programs that are timely and off of the $145 Regular Membership dues. should be the first place you go as a relevant. You’ll also receive invita- Going to graduate school? ACS future graduate student to find the tions to special events at ACS most relevant and useful information. national meetings and be eligible offers an additional discount of 50% Here, you’ll find information on how for thank-you gifts for participating for all graduate students. You can enjoy to plan for and find the right graduate in our surveys. To access the ACS the same great benefits, for as little as school, links to grants and fellowships, Graduate Students group, go to $36.25! information for international students www.facebook.com and search coming to study in the U.S. from for “ACS Graduate Students.” abroad, and an access point to the pro- The Grad Student and Postdoc grams and resources offered by OGE. Reception is held at every ACS
aCs Resources continued shoulders. The two-day Preparing for Life After Graduate School workshop (www.acs.org/gradworkshop) is organized by OGE with the support of a host chemistry department, and provides senior graduate students and Ask Your Department to Host a Workshop! postdoctoral scholars with information Help Spread the Word! The Preparing for Life After Graduate School on career options, tools to obtain posi- workshop provides invaluable information on the job search and recruitment tions, and career-launching strategies. process, and OGE wants to partner with your This unique workshop will enable you department and/or graduate school to bring to: • Examine careers for Ph.D. chemists this resource to you. • Get to know the critical non-techni- For more cal skills that employers look for in information, contact a candidate Joe Sostaric at • Find employment opportunities firstname.lastname@example.org • Prepare for academic positions or at (800) 227- • Learn to put this knowledge into 5558, ext. 8734. practice. Getting hired for a faculty posi- liNdA WANG/C&eN tion takes more than meeting the basic requirements. The Academic Employment Initiative poster session26 (www.acs.org/AEI) held at every fall ACS national meeting allows Given this fact, you cannot afford to Be sure to stay in touch with us and senior graduate students and post- wait for opportunities to come knock- your graduate student community so doctoral scholars to showcase their ing on your door. Start planning for that your needs can be met. Indeed, teaching and research goals to univer- your success early! Become involved whether you’re an undergraduate sity recruiters, while networking with with groups within ACS, such as the student considering graduate school faculty and fellow candidates. OGE Younger Chemists Committee, your or you’ve already taken that step, join heavily promotes this program to local section, and technical divisions. the ACS Graduate Students group on faculty recruiters, since their participa- Seek out mentors, network with Facebook today and leave a post on tion is crucial to the event’s success. your fellow students and with other the wall to let us know that you’ve At the AEI poster session, candidates chemists at ACS national meetings, arrived! We’ll be glad to see you there! seeking faculty positions present and most of all, make sure you know If you have any questions about posters summarizing their research how to go about starting a successful the programs and resources available interests, teaching philosophies, and career. through the ACS Office of Graduate experience to faculty recruiters in Education, or any comments or con- an informal setting. Before attending Stay involved cerns, do not hesitate to share these the AEI poster session, recruiters and with us at GradEd@acs.org. We look The period in your life when you participants have the opportunity to forward to serving you! iC must take a proactive role to get what view candidates’ profiles (available you need to be successful begins now. at www.acs.org/AEI beginning in OGE has the programs and resources early July), giving them ample time to that you’ll be looking for, but we decide which candidates they want to need to hear your voice and the col- meet and evaluate at the AEI event at lective voice of your fellow students the fall ACS national meeting. and postdoctoral colleagues to deliver many of these services to you. Get involved! OGE is committed to building a strong graduate student chemistry community through these programs Joe z. sostariC is Program Manager in the ACS Office of and activities. However, because Graduate Education. He obtained his Ph.D. in chemistry in 1999 the decisions you make as a gradu- at the University of Melbourne, Australia, and has worked in ate student may have long-ranging scientific research, consulting, and graduate education. Corrie KuniyosHi is a Senior Education Associate in the ACS Office implications later in your career, the of Graduate Education and Editor of the Graduate Student responsibility for your success will fall Bulletin. She obtained her Ph.D. in chemistry from the mostly on you. University of California, Los Angeles, in 2005.
ACS Resources for GraduateStudents and Postdoctoral ScholarsEstablish a networkGraduate StudentBulletinReceive news, announcements, resources, andevents monthly in anelectronic format.Online CommunitiesConnect, share information,and discuss topics ofinterest in electroniccommunities on Facebookand the ACS Network. • ACS Graduate Students • ACS Postdoctoral Scholars Transition into a careerProgramming at ACS Meetings And Gladly TeachParticipate in special events and symposia planned by Get an indepth view ofand for graduate students and postdoctoral scholars. academic positions in • Graduate Student and Postdoc Reception chemistry, along with • Graduate Student Symposium Planning Committee guidance on preparing • ACS technical division events curriculum vitae, research • Younger Chemists Committee events proposals, and a teaching philosophy statement. PRODUCT 61617 $15.00 Preparing for Life After Graduate School Investigate career options and learn how to obtain positions and launch careers • Campus-based 3-day workshops • ACS national meeting workshops For more information, go to www.acs.org/higher_education
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American Chemical SocietyUndergraduate Programs Office 1155 Sixteenth Street, NW Washington, DC 20036 (800) 227-5558, ext. 4480 www.acs.org/undergrad