EEB graduate student orientation seminar

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EEB 5100 (Planning for a career in EEB) - FALL 2020

This 1 credit seminar course is intended to provide orientation information to incoming EEB graduate students, although it is open to other students; we strongly advise new students to take it. The course will meet for about 75 min, once a week, to discuss topics related to professional development with a rotating cast of faculty, grad. students, or other EEB-connected people.

Meeting time: Tuesdays 3:45-5

Location: usually online; info. will be emailed

Course coordinators: Elizabeth Jockusch, Chris Elphick

Grading: Officially, letter grades are assigned in this course; in our minds, it's graded on an S/U basis (but there are significant paperwork hurdles to doing that officially). Regular attendance and participation constitutes satisfactory performance, for which students will earn an 'A'.

Tentative syllabus (subject to change)

Date Presenters Topic Resources Notes
Sept. 1 Chris Elphick,

Elizabeth Jockusch

University/department structure and resources; Degree ontogenies Elizabeth's presentation
Chris's presentation
Homework: build (or update) a professional web site--complete a draft website to share during the next class period.

Pdficon small.gif Paul's very helpful instructions will get you started.

Sept 8 Paul Lewis Communicating your work: web sites Homework: Identify, for next week's discussion, 3-5 characteristics of good scientific questions
Sept 15 Dan Bolnick,
Yaowu Yuan
Formulating good scientific questions Alon 2009 on choosing good scientific problems

Schwartz 2008 on the importance of stupidity in research
E. O. Wilson on scientific discovery
Founding of the NSF: text pdf
Good and less good reasons for choosing a question
Dan's blog posts on finding inspiration and fads
Predictability of transformative research
100 Questions in Ecology

Homework: identify, for next week's discussion, a person or activity that greatly influenced your learning
Sept 22 Kurt Schwenk,
Annette Evans
Developing as a teacher Graduate Certificate in College Instruction

Learning style quiz
Field courses narrow achievement gaps
Specimen-based research courses
Benefits of Active learning for inclusivity

Homework: Identify, for next week's discussion, 3-5 qualities that you look for in a mentor
Sept 29 Chris Simon,
Sarah Knutie
Mentoring Good mentoring

Getting mentoring

Homework: come up with three questions for next week's alumni panel - email to Chris, before Monday morning
Oct 6 Sacha Spector,

Erin King,
Krissa Skogen,
Sarah Bois

Alumni panel: Careers outside academia Homework: track the hours you spend on work this week (for discussion next week)
Oct 13 Jill Wegrzyn,
Mark Urban
Work-life balance Homework: come up with at least three questions for next week's grad. panel - email to Chris, before Monday morning
Oct 20 Christian Polania, Andrew Stillman, ________, __________ Grad panel: TAing, research & anything else you want to talk about! Homework: Identify at least 1 annual conference specific to your discipline
Oct 27 Cindi Jones,
Carlos Garcia-Robledo
Conferences and professional societies Identify at least 3 journals relevant to your discipline; look up the impact factor, read the instructions to authors for each of the journals, and figure out the cost of publishing in each.
Nov 3 Robi Bagchi,
Bernard Goffinet
Communicating your work: publishing Homework: do all of the following
  • Identify an ethical dilemma you have faced during work/school that you are comfortable sharing with the class
  • Read UConn's code of conduct, especially the Research Principles section
  • Look up the code of conduct for one professional society, meeting or academic institution of your choice
Nov 10 [Pam Diggle,
Gene Likens (watch the video here)
Scientific ethics UConn RCR training
Homework: Identify a piece of science outreach that has influenced you in some way
Nov 17 Margaret Rubega,
Holly Brown (NAS Research Associate in Science Education; EEB alum)
Outreach and communication outside academia Homework: bake a pie!
Dec 1 Kent Holsinger What do you aim to accomplish in grad school (and beyond)?

Useful readings: Some modest advice for graduate students: Steve Stearns and Ray Huey
The full exchange is on Ray Huey's page:

Stephen Stearns's later reflections:

Nature editorial on life outside of academia
Nature perspective on choosing alternative careers

Advice for new graduate students

Advice on a range of topics from Science magazine