Education Board


ASM Kadner Institute Fills Needs for Member Graduate Students and Postdocs

The ASM Kadner Institute is becoming the forum where graduate students and postdoctoral scientists enhance key, but often underdeveloped, abilities in grant writing and scientific presentations. The Institute, launched in 2000 by the ASM Education Board Committee on Graduate and Postdoctoral Education, addresses a real need for pre- and early-career microbiology professionals. “There are no career preparation courses or volunteer programs in my department,” says a participant of the 2008 Institute, held 19 to 23 July at the University of Colorado at Boulder. “After graduation, students are promptly thrown out into the world and expected to succeed; some without even knowing how to properly write a research proposal or CV [curriculum vitae]. After attending the Kadner Institute, not only do I have the know-how to prepare and write both, but now I also have the confidence and ambition to continue into the unknown.” Besides focusing on the key skills above, sessions of the 2008 Institute addressed ethics concerns and spotlighted numerous career opportunities in the microbiological sciences.

With so much information to cover, the 5-day Institute is intense, and because the program is hands-on and fully participatory, prior work is required. Before the Institute, each participant prepares a 10- page grant proposal, a 10- to 12-minute research presentation, and a curriculum vitae. At the start of the Institute, attendees get a quick tour of the scenic campus (located in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains) and then time flies; most days begin at 7 AM and end around 9 PM. Each proposal, presentation, and curriculum vitae receives constructive criticism from other participants and the faculty; participants further develop their proposals and presentations individually and in small groups; and sprinkled between are discussions to take part in, workshops to attend, and practical advice on teaching and presentation techniques to receive.

While the programs about teaching and presentation were popular in 2008 (in a post-Institute survey, this year’s cohort chose “Teaching Strategies: How People Learn” and “How to Make an Effective Presentation,” as favorite sessions), Irene Hulede, ASM’s Manager of Student Programs, notes that most participants come to learn about grantsmanship and career opportunities. For this reason, the Committee on Graduate and Postdoctoral Education and ASM staff ensure that the Institute provides in-depth coverage of both topics. Seven of the 30-plus sessions in 2008 were about writing grants, particularly National Institutes of Health and National Science Foundation proposals, and 10 “Career Pathways” topics were presented by microbiologists from various career fields, especially nonacademic areas, such as biotechnology and public health. “Learning about alternative careers really opened my eyes to future possibilities outside the academic realm,” said one participant. “Many of those careers (including medical science writing and clinical microbiology) had never crossed my mind.” After several days with established scientists, discussing career challenges and opportunities and getting advice, Institute participants get a true sense of what it’s like to work in career fields ranging from public policy to patent law.

Know someone who should be a participant? The Institute, which is managed by ASM and sponsored by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the Burroughs Wellcome Fund, is open to senior-level graduate students or early-career postdoctoral scientists pursuing careers in microbiology. To facilitate networking and collaborating, applicants with a broad range of experiences and career goals are sought and every effort is made to select participants representing scientific, geographic, racial, and ethnic diversity. The application deadline for the 2009 Kadner Institute (18–22 July) is 15 May, so spread the word: tell interested graduate students and postdocs to apply now and see why the ASM Kadner Institute is the best place to plan the next stage of their careers. Visit
www.asmgap.orgfor more information.

Multifaceted Program Improves Undergraduate Biology Education

“SoTL [Scholarship of Teaching and Learning] helps us to continuously ask the question, how is teaching connected to learning?” said Anthony Ciccone, Carnegie Academy for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, gesturing to a slide projected on a conference room wall. To contemplate this question as it applies to biology education, Ciccone was joined by 20 biology faculty participants, facilitators, and speakers, some of whom traveled from as far as Australia to attend the SoTL Institute at ASM Headquarters in Washington, D.C. The Institute, held on 16–19 July 2008, helps biologists integrate research and learning.

The four-day Institute is the kickoff event for the Biology Scholars Research Residency, which provides a community of practice, consultation, resources, and tools to biology faculty who are (i) increasing their understanding of evidence-based research in biology education learning and (ii) enhancing their skills in the design and implementation of experiments that assess student learning.

Topics covered during the 2008 Institute included defining learning challenges or problems, identifying baseline evidence, framing research questions, designing studies and exploring research tools (e.g., concept maps, surveys, learning taxonomies, rubrics, and focus groups) that provide evidence about learning, working with qualitative data, gaining approval from institutional review boards, and understanding the role of SoTL in grantsmanship, publishing, tenure, and advancement.

The Writing Residency. ASM headquarters will also be home base for biologists accepted into the Biology Scholars Writing Residency as participants meet for the program’s kickoff event, the Writing Institute, on 7–10 January 2009.

The Writing Residency helps biologists who are researching student learning publish in biology or science education journals. During the Writing Institute, Scholars get not only individual writing time, which is so difficult to schedule during the academic year, but also time with editors from the leading life sciences education journals who will review manuscripts, conduct mock review sessions, and otherwise help Scholars prepare manuscripts for peer review.

Not-to-be-missed topics for the Institute include finding your voice, identifying your audience, contextualizing your work, presenting findings with conviction, understanding the review process from presubmission to acceptance—including the top reasons for rejection, and serving as a reviewer.

Biology Scholars Program. The Biology Scholars Program, established by ASM and the National Science Foundation, supports biology faculty from all sectors of higher education and all subdisciplines of the biology. The residencies are independent, but intertwined virtual programs that combine distance learning with multiday institutes. Scholars complete most of their residencies at their home institutions and document their progress via an online community where faculty mentors and Scholars share information.

Be a part of the program and its residencies by applying to be a Scholar. The deadline for applications to the 2009 Writing Residency is 19 October 2008, and that for the 2009 Research Residency is 1 March 2009. For more information, visit

ASM Represented at the 2008 Leadership Alliance Symposium

On 25–27 July, Tiffani Fonseca represented the ASM Education Board at the 2008 Leadership Alliance National Symposium held at the Marriott Hartford Downtown/Connecticut Convention Center in Hartford, Conn. The Leadership Alliance is a consortium of 33 leading research and teaching academic institutions. The consortium is dedicated to improving the participation of underserved and underrepresented students in graduate studies and Ph.D. programs and, ultimately, research professions in the academic, public, and private sectors.

The 2008 symposium theme was “Taking the Next Step: Celebrating the First 100 Ph.D. Scholars,” which celebrated the emergence of the Leadership Alliance’s first 100 alumni to earn Ph.D.’s or M.D./ Ph.D.’s and, by example, encourage others to follow in their scholarly paths.

Programs included student oral and poster presentations, workshops, panel discussions, and exhibits for 320 undergraduate students, 46 graduate students, and 113 faculty members, program administrators, and others. During the exhibits program, Fonseca shared information about ASM Education Board fellowships, career resources, biomedical research conference, and other student programs. For more information, contact