Symposium FFF: Educating and Mentoring Young Materials Scientists for Career Development

This symposium aims to explore ways to achieve more advanced approaches to mentoring young scientists so that they can make the best use of their talents in today’s highly competitive job market. In a broader context, this symposium complements the recently launched MRS Mentoring Program. The central theme of the symposium will highlight the idea that succeeding in research and academic careers requires special skills (often referred to as “soft professional skills,” with special emphasis on communication skills, career development and choosing the right career path) that go beyond scientific knowledge.

These skills are essential for materials scientists in the early years of their careers. This symposium will also be structured as a venue for exchanging ideas, encouraging diversity and sharing best practices pertaining to career planning and applying for academic and research positions, publishing and presenting scientific results, securing research and establishing outreach programs to the community. In addition, focus will be given to topics including writing/organizing a Curriculum Vitae, knowledge of the peer review system, the role of scientific meetings and networking and, finally, the role of ethics in modern science.

In a broader context, while members of the materials science community may have a vague notion of the larger context in which their contributions are made, sustained study and reflection about the materials scientists’ relation to this context are often missing in the contemporary academic curriculum and research milieu. For example, every time a researcher communicates his/her work to a larger audience, he/she is involuntarily involved in an educational activity, affecting others’ methodological approaches and motivation. Promoting ways for greater clarity and inspirational content of scientific communications thus presents a vital issue on which the sustained thriving of (materials) science depends.

Topics will include:

  • Mentor-student relationships: best practices for advising students and providing informal career development and training
  • Linking research to the community: developing informal science outreach programs (panel discussion)
  • Engaging society with the importance and role of modern (materials) science
  • Scientific outreach to underrepresented minorities
  • Enhancing oral and written communication skills for different contexts
  • How gender roles affect diversity in modern (materials) science and engineering
  • Choosing a career path: the job market for graduates in (materials) science and engineering (industry, national labs and academia; advantages and disadvantages)
  • Best practices for securing research funding in modern (materials) science
  • Publish or perish: publishing quality papers; having an impact
  • Alternative career paths for materials scientists
  • Successful career development programs (e.g., NSF ADVANCE programs)
  • Advanced, inquiry-based, participatory and hands-on teaching methods
  • Responsible conduct of materials research education
  • Applying scientific models in new contexts

A tutorial entitled “Safety First—Enhancing Safety in Academic Research Laboratories” is tentatively planned. Further information will be included in the MRS Program that will be available online in January.

Invited speakers include:

John Baglin (IBM Almaden Research Ctr.), Yves Chabel (Univ. of Texas at Dallas), Bruce Clemens (Stanford Univ.), Wendy Crone (Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison), Mildred Dresselhaus (Massachusetts Inst. of Technology), Brian Grenon (Grenon Consulting), Thomas LaGrange (Lawrence Livermore National Lab), Mary Lynn Realff  (Georgia Inst. of Technology), Richard Siegel (Rensselaer Nanotechnology Ctr.),  Magaly Spector (Univ. of Texas at Dallas), Enrico Traversa (King Abdullah Univ. of Science and Technology, Saudi Arabia).

Symposium Organizers

Vuk Uskokovic
The University of Illinois at Chicago
Richard and Loan Hill Dept. of Bioengineering
Colleges of Engineering and Medicine
851 South Morgan St.
Chicago, IL 60607-7052 
Tel 415-412-0233, 

Marilyn L. Minus
Northeastern University
Dept. of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering
334 Snell Engineering Center
360 Huntington Ave., Boston, MA 02115-5000
Tel 617-373-2608,

Li (Emily) Liu

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Dept. of Mechanical, Aerospace, and Nuclear Engineering
110 8th St., JEC 5046, Troy, NY 12180
Tel 518-276-8592,

Eric D. Marshall
IBM, Semiconductor Research and Development Center
FEOL Logic Process Development - 42J
2070 Rte. 52
Hopewell Junction, NY 12533
Tel 845-894-5884,

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