Dr. Megan Bohn

Dr. Megan Bohn is Assistant Director for Postdoctoral Affairs at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. But she didn’t jump into that role straight out of postdoctoral work. First, she served as Adjunct Assistant Professor at Georgetown University, followed by Academic Program Manager in her current office. While a fellow at the NICHD, she worked with Dr. Karl Pfeifer from 2011 to 2015, researching molecular mechanisms of gene expression of the imprinted gene cluster H19/Igf2.

Check out our Q&A with Dr. Bohn to learn more about her transition into a postdoctoral affairs office:

Q: Did you always know that you wanted to have a leadership role in shaping postdoctoral training? What led you to this career path?

A: I did not initially begin my science career with a specific eye on postdoctoral training, but I did always know that I wanted to shape higher education in the sciences. Throughout my education and training as a biochemist, I gravitated toward roles that allowed me to develop my teaching and academic leadership skills at undergraduate, graduate, and postdoctoral levels.

Q: Can you tell us a little about the role of an assistant director in a postdoctoral affairs office?

A: My primary duties center around analyzing and improving training for postdoctoral fellows and developing or co-developing new training in collaboration with other offices and teams in the university. I provide individualized career counseling to fellows. On the administrative side of the work, I also participate in helping shape postdoctoral policies. Much of my work is to actively manage communications with the fellows and maintain positive relationships with the various university stakeholders that affect postdoctoral training.

Q: What do you find most exciting about being an assistant director?

A: When I’ve helped postdoctoral fellows get to where they want to go in life or I’ve empowered them to solve a major problem in their careers, I feel like my work has meaning.

Q: What do you find most challenging?

A: Actually, it’s the same answer to the previous question.

Q: Is there a moment that stands out as particularly rewarding during your time in the Postdoctoral Affairs Office at Johns Hopkins?

A: I recently adapted the concepts behind design thinking/life design to run a 90-minute workshop for postdoctoral fellows to develop action plans for managing their careers. I was nervous about doing this because there are some aspects of life design that don’t seem compatible with the postdoc experience, but the energy, engagement, and feedback from the participants of the workshop turned out to be quite positive. I feel like that meeting made an impact on the attendees.

Q: Where do you seek out mentorship for your career development?

A: I make it a point to seek about mentorship on small levels from as many people as possible, be that other mentors, my old bosses, or new people who are doing something I would like to learn about. I have recently gone back to seek advice from NIH OITE staff.

Q: What activities or resources at NIH helped prepare you for your career transition?

A: NIH OITE as well as the NICHD Office of Education.

Q: Do you have any advice for fellows who are thinking about entering a similar career field?

A: Volunteer or do a work detail in this area. Get as much exposure as you can to the people doing this kind of work. Attend the National Postdoctoral Association annual conference. Look back on your past experiences: do you have teaching and leadership experience in an academic setting that qualifies you for this type of work?

If you have additional questions for Dr. Bohn, please email her at msampl14@jhmi.edu.