Postdocs and Residents
Post-doctoral training is less formalized and not driven by didactic courses rather but individual career development. A fellow’s first, and foremost, work product is highest-quality science. Our collaborative work environment provides every post-doctoral fellow with access to the full resources of our Center and the opportunity for their work to soar. This collaborative culture means that fellows across laboratories share resources, equipment and techniques.
We reinforce this culture by how we recruit post-doctoral fellows. A fellow interviewing for a position, anywhere in our center, will visit a variety of laboratories, not just the sponsoring lab, and also gives a talk in the Colloquium in Vision Research. In this way, the fellow can appreciate the full environment of our Center and, when they join our team, they will be ready to make use of the range of expertise available.
The Colloquium is an important part of our fellows’ academic life. Throughout their tenure they attend, present, and participate in these CVR sessions which truly keep our academic family tightly knit. Thus, both the progress of a fellow’s science and career development are monitored by the full faculty. The result is that our fellows get a wealth of appropriately constructive feedback.
Our “it takes a village” approach is also reflected in the faculty’s commitment to the developing a fellow's independence. The key element in our mentoring is to assure that post-doctoral fellows identify their aspirational goals and formulate a clear path to achieve them.
These goals can be academics, industry, or other paths—including science policy, journalism or intellectual property. We have implemented a special mentoring program for Center post-doctoral fellows. We believe it is prudent that fellows are assigned a career mentor distinct from their research director. The career mentor is in place to review with the fellow their career goals and provide another voice in the management of work-life balance. The fellow and mentor meet annually and use an individual development plan (IDP) to help in this process. This career mentor in no way interferes with the progress of their science, but rather is an objective bystander with whom the fellow can discuss and chart the near-term course of their career. We believe that this system, minimizes any intrinsic conflict of interest between the development of the post-doctoral fellow’s career and the aspirational goals of a laboratory PI.
UMU maintains a post-doctoral career office that helps guide fellows and provides resources for self-development. Post-doctoral fellows must leave any institution with strong technical and analytic skills and, for those that wish a career in academics, with a project and skills to get that project funded. Our institution and department support grant writing skills in multiple ways. Post-doctoral fellows and junior faculty are encouraged to take grant-writing seminars given on campus. The office of Post-Doctoral Affairs maintains a wide range of programs to assist in career planning and skill development. In addition, the Department of Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences supports (part-time) a senior scientist, Dale Hunter, PhD, JD; who is available to assist in grant and paper preparation for members of the department.
Networking is critical for next steps in a Fellow’s career. Thus, the Center and Department maximize the exposure of our fellow’s to the broader academic community. Developmental support is available for Fellow’s travel and all Fellow’s actively participate in the Barlow Seminar Series, attending both lunches and receptions for the seminar speakers. Finally, we invite all our women fellows, students and faculty, as well as interested men, to the Annual WEAVR luncheon at ARVO. This is great networking opportunity for them. Thus, we assure maximal exposure of our fellows, by a variety of mechanisms to leaders in the ophthalmology and vision research community.