Help your students ind advice on taking charge of their graduate education with the student-targeted pamphlet How to Make Your
Chemistry Graduate Education Work for You, available for download at
Encourage Students to Develop
Independent Research and Critical
Have students plan, write and defend their own research proposals
Give students the opportunity to help you review articles or research proposals
Train Students to Become Responsible
Give students training on recording, interpreting, and storing data
Ensure students are trained on laboratory safety procedures
This pamphlet is based on Challenges in Chemistry Graduate Education: A Workshop Summary, which records the presentations made and ideas exchanged at a 2012 Board on Chemical Sciences and Technology workshop. This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under award number CHE-1147410 and by the National Institutes of Health under award number N01-OD-4-2139, TO#273. Unlike the Academies’ expert consensus reports, workshop summaries do not contain indings or recommendations, and don’t necessarily represent the views of the National Research Council.
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As an advisor, you…need to let people ind their own path. You need to let them come up with their own ideas even if you don’t think they are good ideas. They need to work through this process.
—Jennifer Schomaker, Assistant Professor, University of Wisconsin
Help your students gain the skills
they’ll need to succeed in their
Encourage Students to Start Thinking
About Careers Early
Set up practice interviews for your students to prepare them for their job search
Encourage students to consider non-traditional careers
Help your students to network, perhaps by putting them in touch with former graduate students who have gone on to careers in their areas of interest
Opportunities for chemists are changing.
Although graduate enrollment in chemistry and chemical engineering programs is on the rise, so too is unemployment among new chemistry graduates, which increased from about 4 percent in 2000 to more than 10 percent in 2009 and 2010. Pharmaceutical companies are paring back their research divisions to reduce costs, and increasingly are opening research and development facilities in Asia rather than in the United States to take advantage of growing markets and trained work-forces there. At the same time, universities are under signiicant iscal constraints that threaten their ability to hire new faculty members. Future funding of chemical research may be limited as the federal budget tightens.
confronting chemistry. What’s more, with increasing compe tition for research funding, there can be little time to focus on training graduate students.
However, making sure your students acquire the diverse skills necessary for life beyond graduate school not will only help them land jobs in their chosen careers—it will also make your laboratory a more productive and positive environment. These tips ensure your students get all they can from their time in graduate school.
Play an Active Role in the Success of
Graduate Students in Your Laboratory Encourage potential graduate students to do
rotations in several laboratories to ind the best it
Help your students graduate on time. Deine goals to ensure they stay on track
Set expectations for student conduct (see box)
Develop a policy for dealing with conlict within your research group
Establish family-friendly policies and encourage a supportive atmosphere to reduce the attrition of women in graduate chemistry education.
Help Students Build Interdisciplinary
Expose students to a range of disciplines by inviting other faculty members to speak about their work
Encourage students to work collaboratively with other laboratories.
Suggest students takes classes and attend seminars in topics outside their ield
Help Students Build Leadership Skills Support students who take on extra activities
such as managing student-run seminars
Encourage experienced graduate students to mentor incoming graduate students and undergraduates
Educate your students about the process of securing research funding
Help students build teaching skills and become strong written and oral communicators
Allow students to assist you with developing lesson plans, giving lectures, and teaching laboratory classes
Ask students to write the irst drafts of research proposals and papers. Then, edit the drafts and provide constructive feedback
Encourage your students to attend conferences, and help them prepare poster presentations and talks
Set Expectations for Student Conduct
Faculty advisors often have difering expectations for laboratory life than their students, and this mismatch can lead to conlict. If you’d like your lab to run smoothly, you may consider developing a manual with your students that lays out the expectations in writing. Questions to consider include:
✦ How much time are students expected to work in the lab?
✦ How often will you meet to discuss progress?
✦ How will you set goals?
✦ What steps should students take to report a mistake in their research?
Change has already come. We can view this as an opportunity for our community and for the United States, or we can passively react to change and have it imposed on us.
—Matthew Platz, National Science Foundation
Students [need] to deine their goals: “I want to present a paper or I want to go to a meeting this year so what do I need to get done by this date and how am I going to assess that.”
—Julie Aaron, DeSales University In this turbulent job market, it’s important to ensure
that graduate chemistry education adequately prepares students for life after graduate school. This means equipping students with the skills they’ll need to succeed in their chosen career, be it in academia, industry, or beyond.