View a 508-compliant PDF of this issue here: NICHD_Connection_2013_03.pdf

Everything evolves: organisms, relationships, government, and even how we do science evolves. We are practicing in a very different scientific landscape than a few decades ago. A lot of variables have influenced this: new technologies, global communication patterns, funding mechanisms, the ratio of trainees to academic positions, evaluation rubrics, team-science, and the list goes on and on.

Given this fluid atmosphere in science, young researchers are pioneering uncharted territory as they map career trajectories. I have no doubt that every fellow at the NICHD can be successful in his or her career choice, but don’t be surprised if it takes a bit of planning. Which brings me to the theme of this month’s issue: making a plan.

Our contributors have penned wonderfully thought-provoking articles. Jeffery Head shares his own considerations on planning in his “Thoughts of a Postbac” column, where he compares the planning process of younger trainees to those in more senior positions. He also discusses his own planning endeavors.

While chatting about career planning with an NICHD fellow who was struggling to balance work and family life, I learned that part-time research options for those who need them are confusing and ill defined. The new “Keeping the Thread” program attempts to address this concern, but this fellow was skeptical. To help fellows who have similar concerns and questions, we have included a candid Q&A session with Dr. Sarah Daugherty, an NIH postdoctoral fellow who has navigated part-time research for several years.

Please also plan to check out the recent research from the Pacak lab in this month’s “Hot Off the Press” column. The group’s plans to develop new drug therapies in the treatment of metastatic pheochromocytoma are well on their way.

As you make your own plans, you may realize that your strengths as a scientist come in various forms. For some, those strengths are best suited to an academic, tenure-track position. For others, a certain skill set may not be utilized to the fullest behind the bench or in the lab. Policy makers, communicators, teachers, consultants, and other non-academic careers in science are all important pieces of the overall picture. Dr. Yvette Pittman covers four basic steps to identify and realize your ideal career in science using the myIDP website.

Whatever career path fits you best, reaching your goals will likely require planning. I know it’s easier to go about life without worrying about tomorrow, assuming something will pop up and carry you to your next step. But the fact of the matter is that today’s world is extremely competitive. Act now to secure your place in the future. Make a plan.

Your Editor in Chief,
Shana R. Spindler, PhD

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