The New Year’s holiday is a great time to sit back and reflect on what you’ve accomplished in the past year, what you hope to accomplish in the coming one, and what you’ll need to do to make that happen. But finding a focus and figuring out an approach can be overwhelming. So, for some inspiration, we asked a variety of scientists one question: What are your career-related New Year’s resolutions?
- Benjamin Martin, doctoral candidate in biochemistry and molecular biology at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada
In the competitive, fast-paced world of academia, I would like to remain authentic to myself while pursuing my research interests and fulfilling my career aspirations. As a researcher, I resolve to contribute to discussions about the pervasiveness of gendered discourses and how we can disrupt them. As a teacher and mentor in a post-truth era, I would like to contribute toward developing students’ critical thinking skills and nurturing and supporting the next generations of scientists and researchers. As a colleague, I resolve to be helpful and collegial—and to contribute to a friendly, supportive, and diverse workplace characterized by fruitful dialogue and constructive criticism. On a personal level, I resolve to enjoy work as part of my life but not live only to work; to protect time for myself and my beloved ones; and to stay healthy, physically and mentally.
- Charoula Tzanakou, research fellow at the University of Warwick in Coventry, U.K.
After I qualified as a Ph.D. candidate, I began investing time into career and professional development and had purchased some business cards. After 3 years, I have only given out 47! This year, as I enter the job market, I resolve to distribute the remaining 453.
- Tenaya Vallery, doctoral candidate in molecular biophysics and biochemistry at Yale University
I’m doubling down on a commitment to address real-world problems. This starts with engagement—not just disseminating my science, but listening to people from across the spectrum and working together to develop scientific solutions. I need to constantly remind myself to be patient and perseverant as this mode of working can take years to bear fruit.
- Matthew Wallenstein, associate professor in the Department of Ecosystem Science and Sustainability at Colorado State University in Fort Collins and co-founder and chairman of Growcentia, Inc.
My resolution is to get my first job beyond academia, ideally in the writing/editing world.
- Ian Street, postdoctoral fellow in plant science at Dartmouth College
2017 will be full of personal change: I will become a father in February, finish my Ph.D. in the spring, and transition to a new faculty job in the summer. My New Year’s resolution is to maintain a healthy work-life balance during this exciting time. As I continue to learn and develop my scientific skill set in a new field of study, I hope to maintain a sense of wonder, both in my research and in my time with my family. To accomplish this, I plan to carefully consider the costs and benefits of offers to give talks or take on other extra responsibilities. I will graciously but firmly reject opportunities that would detrimentally affect my ability to spend time with my family or take care of my personal health, and/or that would make me feel too stressed about my workload so that I can maintain my physical and mental health. As a public health scientist, how can I ask people to change their habits if I can't even take care of myself?
- Kevin Boehnke, doctoral candidate in public health at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor
My New Year’s resolutions are about continuing and strengthening my conscious commitment to engaging with the complex issues that women in academia face and encouraging others to do the same. My top four resolutions are amplifying women's voices in meetings; calling out gender-biased practices and policies and pushing for redress (for example, through unconscious bias training); acting as a mentor, sponsor, and champion for junior women who are navigating early stages of their academic faculty careers; and nominating women faculty members for awards and celebrating their accomplishments.
- Jehannine C. Austin, associate professor of psychiatry and medical genetics at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada
My career-related resolutions are to write every day, to learn something new every day, and to go to the gym more often.
- Jacqueline Campbell, postdoctoral fellow in plant genetics at Iowa State University in Ames
Professionally, the highest priority I have for my group right now is publishing the papers we are working on. My group is now 6 years old, and for the first few years, most of my time went into setting up the group, training people, acquiring funding, and laying the foundations for our projects. Now, it's time to share the results of this with the rest of the word, and there are several manuscripts I would like to see completed in 2017.
In terms of my personal life, I used to be an avid dancer, photographer, and pianist, but the stresses of being an early-career PI meant that I couldn't dedicate as much time to any of these as I would like. My hope for 2017 is that now that things are falling into place, I can reinvigorate at least one out of the three. Working hard is a really important requirement, but dedicating time to the things I love makes me happy, and being happy makes me a better scientist. I am committed to reminding myself of that in 2017.
Finally, to make all this happen, my biggest challenge for 2017 is time management: There are only 24 hours in a day, and almost a third of that is sleep, so I want to make the most of all the hours that are left!
- Lynn Kamerlin, professor of cell and molecular biology at Uppsala University in Sweden
I recently finished my Ph.D. and have decided to set down my pipette to explore the world of science in government. My immediate resolution is to figure out how I can put my communication talents into advocating for science in an effective way, and more specifically how I can talk to folks who have views that are different from my own. I don't exactly fit the stereotype of a dispassionate scientist; instead, I’m prone to fiery polemics, which is not the most diplomatic of skills. But I’m trying to take to heart some advice a mentor gave me: It is better to be kind than to be correct. So, as I look to the dawn of a new presidential administration and stage in my career, I’ve also resolved to start listening more so that I can learn to advocate from a place of understanding.
- Maryam Zaringhalam, doctoral student at The Rockefeller University in New York City
I have many resolutions; here are two of them. I want to define my own research and career path and become increasingly autonomous regarding what I do and how I do it—and be able to secure the funding that will help me achieve this. I'm going to learn how to say “no” more often, and have the courage to say “yes” when a challenging opportunity presents itself.
- Nuno Franco, postdoctoral fellow in animal welfare and ethics at i3S at the University of Porto in Portugal
I've made a number of New Year's resolutions aimed at promoting LGBTQ individuals (like myself) and our allies in various science careers. First, I resolve to learn more about the challenges that LGBTQ scientists face, starting with online resources and reaching out to visible supporters in my workplace. Second, I will work to further support LGBTQ scientists—whether students, early-career, or otherwise—for example by developing safe spaces by initiating diversity-focused conversations during weekly lab meetings and visible signage on my office. Third, I will educate fellow scientists about how to recognize and address anti-LGBTQ bias and harassment in the workplace and classroom. Finally, I will advocate to promote change within my workplace and laboratory against harassment and bias to promote the equality of LGBTQ scientists. Basically, my resolutions are to learn, support, educate, and advocate for LGBTQ scientists as well as people from other underrepresented groups.
- Jason Cantley, postdoctoral fellow in plant genetics at Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania
My resolutions for next year are to teach, learn, and repeat. I want to share the joy of teaching with students and colleagues and revive my inner student by learning new lab techniques during my sabbatical stay in Germany. Oh, and I guess it would be useful to try to learn some German too!
- Patricia Pérez-Cornejo, professor of medicine at the Autonomous University of San Luis Potosí in Mexico
My 2017 New Year's resolution is to spend more time communicating science to the public. The last few months have made it clear to me that strong bonds between scientists and nonscientists are essential, but that we frequently get stuck in our own circles. These relationships not only facilitate the dissemination of science, but also allow scientists to learn from the public regarding the research that is most needed. In 2017, I pledge to spend time throughout the year visiting grade schools and after-school programs to read stories about science to young children. My second resolution is to use my position as a scientist to advocate for better policy. Often scientists are told to keep out of politics, but policy needs to be informed by science. Now more than ever it is important that scientists work with politicians to develop policies that protect human rights by protecting the environment. My personal goal is to educate myself about current and proposed policies, and to reach out to my local representatives to ask for their support in policies that are evidence-based.
- Amanda Zellmer, assistant professor of biology at Occidental College in Los Angeles, California
I have two main career-related New Year’s resolutions: one is to teach at the university level and the other is to prepare for a research stay abroad. My long-term career aspiration is to combine research with teaching, but nowadays it is very difficult to become a professor. And so the first milestone I have identified to reach this goal is to gain teaching experience by giving seminars to university students. Then regarding my second New Year’s resolution, next March I will be entering the second year of my Ph.D. and I believe it is very important to gain experience in other laboratories. Therefore, I need to start thinking about where I can go, what kind of experiments I should do, which laboratory may have the facilities I need … and I have to start making contact with them.
- Mireia Tarrés Gatius, doctoral candidate in neuroscience at the Institute of Biomedical Research of Barcelona in Spain
My resolution for 2017 is to collect, analyze, and publish more data! When I left the lab for the library several years ago, I assumed that was the end of my direct participation in the research process. However, since then, my work helping researchers manage their data has evolved to a place where I am now ready to start collecting data of my own. I already have a series of projects lined up for 2017 to investigate how practices related to research data management and software preservation relate to systemic issues in science like openness and reproducibility. In the new year, I hope not only to begin these projects in earnest, but to carry them forward into new research questions, new collaborations, and more new projects.
- John Borghi, postdoctoral fellow at the California Digital Library in Oakland, California
I have a bunch of resolutions, but a few are to develop some great new project ideas; publish some great papers; develop a teaching philosophy; mentor, inspire, and teach someone; recognize and enhance the skills that make me unique and excellent; and further develop my own idea of what “success” means.
- Margaret Siple, doctoral candidate in fisheries at the University of Washington in Seattle
*Correction, 4 January, 4:18 p.m.: Margaret Siple is a doctoral candidate in fisheries, not marine ecology.
More from Careers
My New Years Resolutions
We asked the Education World Tech and Teacher Teams: What are your New Year's resolution this year -- professionally speaking? What will you do to become a better employee...colleague...educator...supervisor...mentor...? This is what they said
"My PNYR," Doug Johnson told EW, "will be to use fewer acronyms. I think I'll join the AAAA -- Association Against Acronym Abuse.
"Nah, I could never keep that one.
"Instead, I'll be studying how one might make change in schools a more humane endeavor. Most change theories and advice center on effectiveness rather than on kindness, building human potential, and educational climate.
"I've had Canadian education change expert Michael Fullan recommended to me twice lately. I really like his Six Secrets to Change:
- Love Your Employees
- Connect Peers with Purpose
- Capacity Building Prevails
- Learning Is the Work
- Transparency Rules
- Systems Learn
"I am resolved to do change efforts -- with heart.
"And figuring that out will be more challenging to learn than using a new gadget or some new software, that's for sure.
Cossondra George is resolved to have heart as well. "My professional resolution is to be positive in all situations," she said; "to look for the good in other staff members; and to find ways to encourage them to grow and learn. I want to be more proactive in sharing exciting new ideas and research with other teachers, at my own school and beyond. In order to do that, I need to build strong personal learning networks, and find ways to mesh those networks to effectively share ideas among us all."
Linda Villadniga agreed, saying, "In order to become a better employee/co-worker/mentor, I will work collaboratively within and outside my department, sharing ideas and strategies with younger teachers, but also listening to their ideas and strategies to get a fresh approach. I think there needs to be more cross-curricular activities to engage students more actively, so they can see the value of studying another language.
"I also plan to fine tune my AP Spanish Language curriculum so students feel comfortable going into my exam and I resolve to attend at least one more AP workshop."
Matt Shea also plans to "continue learning in the new year. Im working on my masters degree to understand education and our teaching staff better. That learning will aid me in designing more professional development for our teachers and staff; professional development that will reach the bottom line, which is this: teaching students to become lifelong learners. Therefore, 2010 will be a year of absorbing educational practices, as well as best practices, for integrating technology into the lives of our students in the classroom."
Best practices for technology integration also are on the mind of Nik Peachey, who told us, "My New Year's resolution will be to read more (keeping up with what's going on at the moment is so important), and to try to write with more depth. I write quite a lot of articles and blog postings, but I'd like to start working on stuff that really makes people think a bit more deeply about the use of technology in teaching and learning."
Mary Kreul agreed. "My professional resolution is to work harder to share ways to incorporate technology into teaching and learning with my colleagues. Last week, a colleague asked about starting a class blog with her students, so we're going to meet after winter break to plan how to include additional colleagues in that venture. I enjoy collaborating with colleagues, so Im looking forward to having fun as we work together to make exciting changes to our teaching."
Organization is another topic on the minds of our team members this year. "Im going to try to get and stay organized," Amy Davis told us -- "to stay on top of paperwork, grading, record keeping, and so on. I also plan to make sure I say and/or do something positive to a coworker every day. Sometimes, we get so caught up in the hustle and bustle of our own classroom and responsibilities, we neglect to make a point to be outwardly positive and encouraging of others. You never know when someone might just need a good word -- and it will make you feel better too."
"My goals for the new year," said Julia Timmons, "are to
- get organized. Its always my goal to be better and better organized.
- become a better listener. Public radio recently had a great broadcast on that topic and it made me think. The right to speak comes with the inherent assumption that everyone also has the right to be heard.
- offer more and better training, integration help to my teachers. My big push this year is Web 2.0 tools; working with my staff to help students become better digital citizens."
Debra Hovens resolutions are perhaps the most practical and concrete. She told Education World, "I'm going to respond to my students' email within 24 hours; update my blog more regularly; and learn to use one new online tool every month ... I hope! Well, I'll at least try."
Stress, of course, is always an issue for busy teachers. "My main New Year's resolution is one Im working on already, but one I definitely want to see improvement in for the new year," said Janice Friesen. "Im determined to deal better with stress and information overload. The stress I feel at times affects all my professional roles. I plan to meditate more regularly, and to be brutal in dealing with e-mail lists (getting off those I mostly tend to delete). I plan to take more deep breaths and to remind myself to relax, instead of tensing up as the day goes on."
"I have several New Year's Resolutions," Lucy Gray noted...
- "to relax and rest more, so I'm prepared for stressful times.
- to read more. I have stacks of books I've been intending to read.
- to develop and use a task list, so I'm more on top of deadlines.
- to fully explore the plethora of iPhone apps I've downloaded this year. I want to use some of them to their full potential!"
"I want to find inner peace," said Laura Jones -- "to better balance my life at school, so I can feel more relaxed during the day."
Wally Fullers resolution for this year was a little different -- and quite ambitious. "There's always time for everything," Fuller said. "My resolution is not to shortchange my students; to give them as much of my time as I can give. Not an easy task, but an achievable goal."
John Thompson, however, had the most ambitious goal of all. "I think Ill just strive to be a better person," he said, "and let that spill over into my professional life."
Article by Linda Starr
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