How the Landscape is Changing for Postdocs, with Dr. Chris Smith – Ep #20

What recent changes have altered the landscape for postdocs? Are there more opportunities out there or fewer? What are universities and professional associations doing to help postdocs navigate these changes? Dr. Chris Smith joins the podcast to shed light on this critical topic.

Chris’s work focuses on training a scientific and biomedical workforce that is flexible and well-prepared to take on the challenges of the 21st Century. He has over ten years of experience conducting neuroscience research investigating the role of dopamine in reward, valuation, and decision making processes in the human brain.

Chris currently serves as the Postdoctoral Affairs Program Manager at North Carolina State University. He holds a BS in Neuroscience from Furman University and a Ph.D. in Neurobiology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

What You’ll Hear On This Episode of When Science Speaks

  • [0:45] Mark introduces his guest, Dr. Chris Smith.
  • [3:00] Chris talks about his childhood and what led him to his career path.
  • [6:50] How did Chris get involved with postdoc affairs?
  • [11:40] The postdoc landscape is changing, are universities adapting?
  • [17:50] What is Accelerate to Industry?
  • [23:45] Be flexible and explore as many opportunities as possible.
  • [27:30] Chris’s professional goal for 2019.

Connect with Chris Smith

Resources & People Mentioned

The changing postdoc landscape.

As a postdoc, how much were you exposed to alternative career pathways beyond typical roles in academia? Did your university set you up for success in this new postdoc landscape or have you found it challenging to find a good route? According to Chris Smith, the landscape for postdocs has changed significantly over the last ten years and many universities and associations have been slow to adapt.

Thankfully, some institutions like Vanderbilt and their Biomedical Research Education and Training (BRET) program are leading the way by making more data available for postdocs as they explore career options. Chris also highlights the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and their Broadening Experiences in Scientific Training (BEST) program as a practical solution addressing this growing need.

Be flexible and seize opportunities that come your way.

As the economy continues to shift and evolve over the next decade, are you prepared to make any necessary pivots in your career? Or do you feel secure that your current or ideal career path will be unphased by shifts in the economy and academia? Leaders in the postdoc field encourage researchers to expand their skill set at any opportunity they get so they’ll be adequately prepared for an uncertain future.

In his conversation with Mark, Chris points to a recent paper published by the BEST group and the Public Library of Science (PLOS One) revealing that faculty wants their students to explore possibilities outside of academia. Chris also encourages postdocs to be flexible as they navigate their careers, he says that they should look for opportunities to develop transferable skills like writing on a wide range of topics.

To get the full scope of Chris’ informative conversation with Mark, make sure to listen to this episode of When Science Speaks.

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