Life Sciences Discovery through Interdisciplinary Collaboration

University at Albany scientists are advancing knowledge across a broad spectrum of research in the life sciences with special emphasis on cutting edge investigation into the structure and function of biologically active molecules.

Scientific research is coalesced around core interests in RNA science and technology, neuroscience, microbiology, molecular evolution of disease and molecular and cell biology. Founded on the philosophy that scientific discovery is a multidisciplinary, collaborative and highly interactive enterprise, the Life Science Research Initiative is based on a dynamic approach to scientific discovery and education. Discovery occurs at the frontiers and intersections of science and Life Sciences faculty provide a critical focus for collaborative discovery across traditional departments as well as with other University at Albany and regional scientists. The Life Sciences Building houses these activities as well as the RNA Institute.

Featured article from the Spring 2016 Newsletter

Alternative Careers in STEM

Often students spend 6+ years doing nothing but research. Then some realize that they don’t like bench work and don’t want an academic position. But the problem is that they aren’t qualified to do anything else since they never ventured out of lab. This roadblock, as well as others, such as personal insecurity, the stigma of leaving academia, and overwhelming workload, prevent students and post docs from useful exploration of non-traditional careers. Resolving this problem hinges on support from faculty, who must both encourage and support alternative career paths. Below are ways faculty, students and post docs can help foster an environment that is open, honest, and supportive of diverse science careers.

  • Be receptive to other options and diversify your interests by participating in outside activities and groups that expand your skills
  • Maintain a two-way, open, and honest relationship between PI/mentee
  • Enhance career preparation early in graduate school through lectures, seminars, networking opportunities and individual development plans (IDPs)
  • Allow connections with mentors outside of academia, including alumni

I gave a talk on this topic to the WISH. The Women in Sciences and Health group is a cohort of female faculty, studying across diverse disciplines, such as biology, chemistry, atmospheric sciences, psychology, and math. It was apparent at the luncheon that these issues already are on the minds of students, post docs, and faculty. With the poor academic job outlook and withering funding, graduate students need to be absolutely aware of other career options. The hardest part, starting the conversation, is over and we can now work on some of the above points. Overall, there are many ways to achieve a supportive environment without taking away from traditional academic research. Ultimately, I hope these changes will lead to happier, healthier graduate students and post docs, who will help stimulate the future of science.

Cathleen Green
Biology Graduate Student

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