Vol 8. Issue 26 / September 15, 2008
By Mika Ono
There's no standing still with the Scripps Research Network for Women in Science (NWIS), which is in the process of launching a variety of dynamic new initiatives.
Last Monday, for example, NWIS held its recently introduced monthly coffee hour on the La Jolla, California, campus. The topic of the day was journals' scientific review process, a subject that sparked a lively, candid, and highly practical discussion.
Participants—who included about a dozen graduate students, research technicians, staff scientists, postdocs, and faculty members—shared their thoughts on issues such as where to submit your paper, how the review process differs among journals (and fields), how journals select reviewers, what to do if your submission receives a critical review, and the relative virtues of high-impact versus medium-impact journals.
"We had a great exchange," says Crystal Moran, a Ph.D. student at the Scripps Research Kellogg School of Science and Technology and the current chair of NWIS, "So far, the coffee hours have focused on career-related topics, but we plan to branch out to include such areas as scientific controversies and science in society."
Research Associate Namandje Bumpus of the Johnson lab notes, "I've been getting a lot out of the coffee hours. For me, it's nice to have the opportunity to get to know other women from all over campus in an informal setting. The discussion is stimulating intellectually, too."
The coffee hour topic for October will be "getting through graduate school." NWIS coffee hours are held the first Monday of every month from 3 to 4 PM in the Faculty Club Tennis Room. Everyone is welcome, no RSVP is necessary, and refreshments are served (look for Starbucks coffee, a variety of tea, and outstanding chocolate-covered pretzels).
Support, Guidance, and Opportunity
On a larger level, NWIS, which was formed on the California campus five years ago, aims to provide support, guidance, and opportunity for female scientists at Scripps Research. Its mission also encompasses creating awareness of issues that affect scientific career development and success, promoting diversity at Scripps Research, and making a positive difference in the culture of science for the benefit of the entire scientific community.
"Women still take on unique challenges with a scientific career," says Scripps Research Professor Bridget Carragher, "so groups aimed at providing support and mentoring for women have a positive role to play. I have been delighted at the diversity of people involved with NWIS, including students, postdocs, and staff, as well as the opportunity it provides me to interact with an interesting and energetic group of women."
NWIS members, in turn, are delighted when faculty members participate and share their perspective.
Johanna Heideker, a Ph.D. student at the Kellogg School and current vice chair of NWIS, notes, "It's an exciting time to be involved in NWIS. There's an influx of new people and ideas, and renewed ties to the Scripps Research Society of Fellows."
One of the new ideas at NWIS is a fluid organizational structure that enables individuals to get involved as their time and interests permit. No year-long commitment is required; you can choose to be involved with a specific event or issue without needing to join the executive committee.
NWIS initiatives currently in the works include a "Careers in Science" event planned for the spring, participation in the WASC reaccreditation process, exploration of the issues involved with balancing family and career, and coaching for students preparing for committee meetings, qualifying exams, or thesis defenses.
These plans reflect Moran's ambitious goals for NWIS. "I want NWIS to represent scientific excellence, encompassing all of the facets and necessary components of success," she says. "In addition, I hope NWIS will serve as a reservoir of encouragement and resources for its members and the Scripps Research community as a whole."
In keeping with NWIS's broad objectives and open perspective, men can and do attend in NWIS events.
NWIS holds monthly organizational meetings on the second Tuesday of every month. For more information on meetings and other topics, see the updated NWIS website or contact Moran at email@example.com.
Send comments to: mikaono[at]scripps.edu