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Professional Development 
Opportunities at Texas A&M

The Center for Teaching Excellence offers workshops on enhancement of the teaching practice, curriculum development, STEM teaching development, teaching portfolio development, etc., for those interested in an academic career.

Texas A&M is a member of the Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching and Learning (CIRTL) Network. CIRTL is an NSF Center for Learning and Teaching in higher education. CIRTL uses graduate education as the leverage point to develop a national STEM faculty committed to implementing and advancing effective teaching practices for diverse student audiences as part of successful professional careers. The goal of CIRTL is to improve the STEM learning of all students at every college and university, and thereby increasing the diversity in STEM fields and the STEM literacy of the nation. Texas A&M-CIRTL offers a professional development program for postdoctoral researchers.

Some of the activities offered by the professional developmental program through the Division of Research at Texas A&M, including grant-writing workshops, are available to postdoctoral scholars.

Making the Right Moves is an excellent resource and guide to scientific management for postdocs in the STEM fields.

 

Career Development 
Opportunities at Texas A&M University

The Texas A&M Career Center offers a number of workshops that postdoctoral scholars are welcome to attend on a space available basis. An example of workshops that have been offered in the past can be be found here. For a current list of workshops open to postdocs contact the Career Center.

 

NSF and NIH Plans

The National Science Foundation Proposal and Award Policies and Procedures Guide includes the requirement that postdoctoral mentoring plans be included in all research proposals requesting funding to support postdocs. Mentoring plans are to be described in a one page supplementary document (see Chapter II, Section C, 2j) and will be evaluated under the Broader Impacts review criterion (see Chapter III, Section A).  A sample mentoring plan can be found here.

The National Institutes of Health strongly encourages the use of individual development plans (IDPs) on NIH-sponsored training and research awards.

One tool that can be used to meet NIH's suggested IDP criterion is the Individual Development Plan for Postdoctoral Fellows developed by the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB). This tool provides a planning process that identifies both professional development needs and career objectives. FASEB’s also offers A Career Planning Tool for Postdoctoral Scholars and a Sample Annual Review. The American Association for the Advancement of Science/Science Careers offers an online a tool for developing Individual Development Plans.

The Texas A&M center for Teaching Excellence has developed an Individual Development Plan (IDP) template for graduate students that can be adapted to postdocs.

 

Mentoring Resources

Texas A&M has created a Compact Between Graduate Students and Their Supervising Faculty to offer guiding principles intended to promote and support a positive mentoring relationship between graduate students and their supervising faculty. This compact is also useful for postdoctoral scholars. Compact Form

The American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC) has created a Compact between Postdoctoral Appointees and Their Mentors, which is "intended to initiate discussions ...about the postdoctoral appointee-mentor relationship and the commitments necessary for a high quality postdoctoral training experience." The AAMC suggests various ways it can be used in order to create mutual expectations for training between postdocs and their mentors.

The AAMC also has created a Compact between Biomedical Graduate Students and Their Research Advisors, which "is intended to support the development of a positive mentoring relationship between the pre-doctoral student and their research advisor." The AAMC suggests possible uses for the compact which sets broad guidelines to initiate discussions about the student-mentor relationship.

The Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) provides Resources for the Development of Early-Career Scientists.  One of these, “Making the Right Moves: A Practical Guide to Scientific Management for Postdocs and New Faculty” provides a collection of practical advice and experiences from seasoned biomedical investigators. Included among many chapters is Mentoring and Being Mentored. The guide is available in either PDF or free printed form.

 

Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR)

Both NIH and NSF have training grant requirements for graduate students and postdoctoral scholars for responsible and ethical conduct of research.

  • For NIH requirement click here.
  • For an NIH RCR Training SOP click here.
  • For NSF implementation of RCR click here.

 

The Division of Research's Research Compliance and Biosafety units at Texas A&M offer training in the Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR).  Training is offered by the Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative to familiarize researchers with research misconduct, data management, conflict of interest, collaborative science, responsible authorship, mentoring, peer review, animal research, and human subjects research.

The University of Illinois hosts the National Center for Professional & Research Ethics. The Center, sponsored by NSF, gathers and disseminates ethics resources, including educational curricula and online courses, reference materials, scholarly and research literature, and resources available for use in RCR education required by NSF and other funders of research. In addition, the site’s interactive community offers a place where users can publish and share scholarship, discuss ethics-related issues for professionals and researchers, and develop and share new course offerings.

The Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Research Integrity provides an extensive listing of a wide variety of RCR resources.

For examples of RCR programs at other institutions see:

 

For resources related to RCR from professional organizations 

  • The National Academy of Engineering Online Ethics Center provides resources for the exploration of issues in the responsible conduct of research among students, postdoctoral fellows, and research fellows in a modular course in research ethics, as well as providing case studies and commentaries written by graduate students and postdocs.
  • The American Psychological Association has organized a list of the nine areas that RCR encompasses, as defined by federal agencies, and links to resources that investigators can use to obtain the information and training needed.