Mission

Thriving in Science seeks to empower graduate students and postdoctoral researchers to become more engaged, resilient, and creative scientists by directly addressing the real-world (often personal) challenges that are encountered in the course of a career in scientific research.

 

Traditionally, scientists are trained to approach problems in ways that are inherently objective and rational. However, there is a broad and growing awareness that many of us are poorly prepared to address the subjective and emotional issues that naturally arise in the early stages of a career in science. Nearly every graduate student and postdoc will have to navigate a number of challenges that are unique to academic science: having papers rejected, being scooped by a competing lab, dealing with funding, handling disagreements about authorship, etc. There is a prevailing culture in science that, as scientists, we should be expected to ignore any feelings that arise as we confront these adversities. In reality, doing so often leads to negative, unintended consequences that lead to us simply not doing our best science - we can lose motivation, have trouble thinking "outside the box," and question pursuing a profession that sometimes leaves us questioning our self-worth.

Thriving in Science seeks to address the personal challenges that specifically hinder scientific development by providing opportunities to discuss topics ranging from minimizing anxiety and managing interpersonal relationships to adopting strategies to recognize and prevent professional fatigue. As is now widely recognized within the scientific community, these aspects of our professional training are critical to a successful career in science and yet are often not adequately included as part of graduate and postdoctoral training. This shortcoming is adversely affecting not only the day-to-day lives and professional aspirations of younger scientists-in-training, but also the long-term, collective success of academic science as a whole.

Many fields outside of the hard sciences - business, education, management, organizational behavior, industrial and clinical psychology, etc. - have studied these problems in great detail and have in some cases developed effective, proven strategies to address them. This forum aims to serve as a conduit through which these resources can be brought to the graduate student and postdoctoral populations at U.C. Berkeley. A central component of this effort will involve providing a setting within which these scientists can seek advice and share ideas with a diverse group of peers that can serve as a broad network of professional and personal support.