Pipelines of Opportunity for PhDs and Postdocs at Rutgers, with Yvonne Gonzalez – Ep #27

What happens when postdocs and PhDs are part of an educational institution but seem to slip through the cracks? Ideally, the school would go to work rectifying the situation as it did at Rutgers University. Here to discuss her work with postdocs at Rutgers is this week’s guest, Yvonne Gonzalez.

Yvonne has over ten years of experience in the development and management of several multi-million dollar education and workforce development projects aimed to increase the recruitment, retention, and advancement of women and minorities in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields.

Supporting the Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs, Yvonne helps university leadership maximize talents and opportunities for individuals and the institution by developing strategies that build capacity and advance faculty development initiatives university-wide.

Most recently, Yvonne pioneered Rutgers’ first Faculty Learning Community, now called Faculty Leading Change, and Rutgers’ first faculty-to-faculty mentoring program, called the Rutgers Connection Network Mentoring Program, which has resulted in increased levels of productivity and career satisfaction for faculty.

She also oversees the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs, which supports postdoctoral researchers and their faculty mentors by providing a central hub for professional development opportunities, knowledge sharing, and community building.

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

  • [1:00] Mark introduces his guest, Yvonne Gonzalez.
  • [3:15] What led Rutgers to establish its own office of Postdoctoral Affairs?
  • [5:45] Why is science communication such a popular topic lately?
  • [8:00] Is advocacy considered a “dirty word” in the scientific community?
  • [11:30] Why is “servant leadership” so important?
  • [13:30] Do postdocs see themselves as leaders?
  • [15:00] How Rutgers is resourcing postdocs.
  • [17:00] Addressing post Broadening Experiences in Scientific Training (BEST) funding.

Connect with Yvonne Gonzalez

Resources & People Mentioned

We rise by lifting others

What is the point of advancing in your career or your field of study if you fail to help others along the way? In her conversation with Mark, Yvonne mentioned this wonderful quote, “We rise by lifting others.” That quote gets to the heart of what Yvonne is passionate about, servant leadership.

Consider those that helped you to the point you find yourself today on your career path. Where would you be without that teacher that nurtured and encouraged your interests? Would you have ever mapped out your path without a mentor? We don’t have to have huge swaths of people left behind if we consider treating people as we would want to be treated in their situation. In big ways and small, there has been someone there to give you a nudge in the right direction. You can do that for someone else.

Why “Advocacy” shouldn’t be a dirty word in the scientific community

If you’ve been paying close attention to the academic and scientific communities, you may have noticed a recent rise in discussions around science communication. For too long, we’ve had brilliant researchers who toil away without the skill sets needed to communicate their work to a larger audience. In this unprecedented time of resources and opportunity, we need more scientists and researchers who can articulate the relevance of their findings.

Closely linked to the topic of science communication is the subject of advocacy. It seems that advocacy is known as a “dirty word” of sorts in the scientific community. Yvonne believes that advocacy is only a dirty word for those who don’t know how to do it well. How do we change the conversation and make advocacy something that more postdocs and researchers engage in? It all comes down to pushing through discomfort to build the skills necessary to advocate for your field of study. With each opportunity you take to stand up and speak out for your work, the easier it will become.

Learn more about advocacy, science communication, and more from Yvonne’s expert perspective by listening to her full conversation with Mark on this episode of When Science Speaks.

Connect With Mark and When Science Speaks



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