Promising News for Lyme Disease Vaccine

Promising news on the lyme disease front, a new vaccine successfully navigated Phase 2 clinical trials, showing to be safe and effective for prevention at administrable doses at the end of last month. Valnera, a French Biotech company, brought their VLA15 vaccine through Phase 1 last year as the drug was fast tracked in 2017.  

In the last few months near the end of Phase 2, Pfizer jumped on board for a $130 million buy-in and additional research & development monetary aid this April.  Pfizer benefited with a nearly $2 or ~5% rise in its stock when the positive Phase 2 news came out in July, which has been maintained through this month and was much needed after the Covid-19 pandemic drop in the market.  Valnera likely benefits from having a big pharma’s resources to get through the very expensive Phase 3 trials and the bring-to-market stage.  While we have a few more years to wait for Phase 3 and availability to the public, this news is a glimmer of hope for us outdoors people. 

Some history. A vaccine has been long awaited since the last one went out of production in 2002. The old vaccine targeted only one type of Borrelia while this new one targets six of the most common types in both the US and Europe. Very exciting!

7 Things You Can Do to be a Better Virtual High School Teacher

  1. Align your course with the values and expectations of the school.

The principal or headmaster of the school is the captain of the ship and establishes the school culture and values.  From the school administration, you should also have a clear idea of expectations for both yourself and your students.  With this combined knowledge, the best virtual high school teacher transitions this from the classroom to the virtual learning space.  

Do you use certain vocabulary or phases that reflect the school culture? Do you have shared experiences or traditions? Use these in your virtual classroom.  One example is that in my school we have a strong culture of honor and trust. During our transition to a virtual learning space at the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, I made sure that I upheld my word and was honest with them about changes.  I also trusted my students when they would mention internet issues etc.  

  1. Be clear about expectations of class time and assessments.

Clear communication is the hallmark of a great teacher and that stands true for a virtual teacher.  Communicate all expectations of this virtual experience such as the format of assessments, homework, lectures, etc. I especially want to note expectations during tests/quizzes for notes, textbook/course website, internet searches, peers, tutors, etc. This might appear in the form of an email, syllabus, assignment handout, and on your course website (such as Canvas).  

When the transition occurred, my colleague and I met early to decide how we are going to assess the students for the next month [at that point we did not know we were not returning that school year].  We then communicated THE PLAN with the students as soon as possible, even communicating what we weren’t sure about yet, which for us was lab assignments.  When the governor closed all schools for the year, we maintained our expectations and kept going with our curriculum and format.  The students appreciated the clear communication and learning format that was consistent throughout our virtual learning period.   And for the most part we covered the same material as we would have in the same time frame in a normal school year. 

With that same vein of thought, if you are team teaching, make sure that you are all on the same page.  I am really lucky to work within two great teaching teams.  Virtual teaching did present some troubles with being on the same page.  We were working via email and had limited time to Zoom with each other, compared to swinging around my computer chair in our shared office space.  Regardless we already had a great working relationship, which was fundamental to a synchronous virtual learning experience for all chemistry students.  My colleagues were also great sounding boards at the time about reasonable expectations of the students as we faced this new challenge. 

  1. Set a schedule for the course and stick to it!

Teenagers thrive on knowing things and find comfort in a system, despite their statements of otherwise.  This means that they thrive if they know what is expected of them that week. If you have a course website, I highly recommend communicating this schedule on a calendar function or as a part of your website. 

Our students appreciated that we also set a consistent schedule of due dates for assignments and lectures from the very beginning and stuck to it.  We had homework/projects/labs due on M/W, lectures on Tu/Th, and quizzes/tests on Fridays.  There were no surprises and we rarely had a student forget about a quiz, lecture, or test. 

  1. Make resource videos yourself

,This actually has a lot to do with consistency in content delivery and building a connection with the student.  I have taken a few online classes myself such as Coursera’s Mountains 101 course [highly recommend!]. Despite never meeting any of my instructors, I felt like I could trust them and had positive feelings toward them by the end of the course.  This course had the instructors in the resource videos. However, when I took another online course, which had resource videos without any humans, I did not have the same positive feelings toward the course creators. Moreover I did not end up wanting to continue with the next level course with the same teachers unlike with the Mountains Courses (please make a 201!).  This speaks volumes for building a connection between the student and the teachers.

The same is true for high school students and virtual learning that replaces a traditional experience.  If you prepare the resource videos, which admittedly takes a few hours to prepare, the students will feel a closer bond to you the teacher.  This is helpful for student engagement and completion of assignments.  

To make them, I ended up using Zoom, recording meetings with just myself, using the shared screen function or just the video function.  Loom is a great free option that I’m exploring more in 2020-2021 school year. Regardless of your recording software, you should keep the videos to 10 minutes and, at the beginning of each video, listed three major content points that I was going to cover.  My students would watch these resource videos before my next lecture, which then could mostly consist of solving problems [adopting an active learning style].  The students could also watch the resource videos later for help with homework and studying for a formative assessment.  In a survey that I sent to my students during our Covid-19 virtual learning experience, the students said that they wished that they had my resource videos during the normal school year and that they were a great lifeli

  1. Be responsive by email and communicate your working hours to the students.

Admittedly I burnt myself out with being too responsive by email when we went to virtual teaching and I was having a tough time with all the screen time toward the end.  I can only offer what I would do next time and that would be to adhere to stricter working hours and have definitive breaks – advice that I gleaned from how-to’s on work-life balance when you work from home. Good luck! 

  1. Consider creative assignments like infographics, videos, or a FlipGrid discussion.

I hate to bring this up, but it is an important consideration – cheating.  One way to avoid that and also give your students an outlet for creativity is to have non-traditional assignments.  I did this with our end-of-the-year project.  Typically we have a powerpoint and 2-page paper about an every-day redox reaction.  During the Covid-19 pandemic, we had to switch gears a bit and offer a project on an earlier topic.  With my co-teacher on board, we ended up doing infographics about energy.  The students were asked to put together two infographics, one on a traditional energy resource and one on an alternative energy resource, along with a 1-page paper on each topic.  We recommended getting a free account with Canva and having at least 5 statistics about the energy source. 

It was a lot of fun and I received some really neat and creative infographics.  Some students told me how glad they were to have a different assignment and to not have to write a lot, which was being ramped up for the humanities classrooms during our virtual learning period. I included a non-science example about leadership and The Lord of the Flies, which again would help to connect assignments and our virtual learning experience to the school’s values. 

  1. Communicate personally via email if there is a problem with an assignment submission.

Another helpful piece of feedback from my students was about personal touch.  Every time an assignment was missing or the submission was corrupted, I sent a personal email to the student, friendly in nature and indicated that I was just checking in, in case there was an error.  One student thanked me for the personal touch and mentioned how other teachers would not have taken the time. Admittedly this might have led to exhaustion on my part down the road, but it helped to foster the teacher-student relationship and the school’s culture, which I spoke about earlier. 

I found out from a colleague that you could send helpful reminders through our learning platform (Canvas) by selecting an email option to all of those who haven’t submitted.  On Canvas, it was easy to personalize the email a bit too with a message and sending it to select students.  The latter was helpful in not bothering students who already communicated etc.

Well this is what I learned from Spring 2020. New challenges await for 2020-2021 school year. If you have thoughts or suggestions, feel free to drop me a line through the contact me page.

Another Drug to Fight Lyme Disease

Lyme disease was a big part of my youth, from tick-checks as a Girl Scout to always wearing long sleeves, pants, and a hat on a hike. This month researchers reported in Scientific Reports that they have identified two FDA-approved antibiotics, azlocillin and cefotamine, to treat doxycycline-resistant Borrelia burgdorferi.

In my mid-20s, I contracted Lyme disease near where the disease was first found, good old Lyme, CT while I was going to Grad School at Yale. The standard treatment is a course of doxycycline for 2-4 weeks. Yet the hard reality is that detection is difficult with an unreliable clinical test and if you don’t catch the onset of the disease quick enough, you may have symptoms for life, even after you finish the course of antibiotics. Here is a recent review in Scientific Reports on the lyme disease clinical test and developments on tick-borne illnesses.

This is daunting for us hikers on the East Coast, especially with the rise of another tick-borne disease called Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. RadioLab, a NPR podcast, featured Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever in an interesting story, Alpha Gal, about how a tick bite and the disease led to a red-meat allergy. All very scary for hikers in Eastern United States.

Here is the slightly good news. Researchers from Stanford University, UCSF, and Loyola College have found that azlocillin and cefotamine separately decrease growth of the drug-resistant bacteria that cause Lyme disease and are even more effective when used together. The research was initially performed in cell cultures and then in mice, but not yet in humans.

Now the downside is that doctors still need to use the standard pill-form antibiotics like doxycycline for a traditional presentation of these tick-borne diseases. Both azlocillin and cefotamine are given intravenously, which means going to a hospital daily or more to receive the drug from an IV drip. Doctors will likely try these already FDA-approved drugs in patients presenting challenging cases and report the outcomes in the coming years. But in the meanwhile, let’s hope a better test comes out.

LinkedIn – Your Network

In this post, I will discuss creating and strengthening your LinkedIn network. Along the way, I will share examples and tips.

Your LinkedIn Network


networkingThere are two schools of thought on LinkedIn networks:

  • Open to All – connect to as many people as possible, even if you don’t know them
  • A Close One – connect only to people you know and whose emails you would answer.

Personally, I prefer the latter option and dabble with the former.

Ninety-five percent of my network consists of people that I actually know. If I saw their name in my inbox or in my LinkedIn mail, I would open their message and vice versa. My reason is that if another connection asked me to introduce them to one of my other connections, then I want to be able to say “yes, I could introduce you to that person” rather than “sorry friend, I don’t really know that person.”

The counter argument is that you never know. A random connection might lead to a job opportunity. Plus having a large network (500+) on LinkedIn marks you as a LinkedIn Pro. Lastly, you can always develop that initial connection at a later time into a deeper one. Recruiters, for example, tend to follow the ‘open to all’ option, but that comes with their job description.

The type of network you have is a personal choice and you will need to see which one fits your style. Regardless, I will share my strategies of turning a cold contact into a true connection.


Cold LinkedIn Invites

Cold networking is very difficult. Vickie, the CNSPY blogger, wrote a post on this subject. The take-home message is the same for LinkedIn.

Personalize your LinkedIn invite!

You have a 300-character limit. I restrict my message to reminding them where/when we met and suggesting a specific collaboration for the future, such as hosting them at Yale for a CNSPY event. Alternatively I might ask them a question about something they said. You want an honest exchange of information and/or resources, a give and take. The only way to get good at cold emails and cold LinkedIn invites is to practice.

Receiving a Cold LinkedIn Invite 

Every now and then, I receive a LinkedIn invite from someone I do not recognize. After a while of feeling awkward and not knowing what to do, I developed a strategy and have had some fulfilling experiences as a result.

Is this person someone you want to connect with? First, I look at their LinkedIn profile to assess if s/he is a troll or a real person. I familiarize myself with their basic information and jot down particular experiences that I would like to learn more about. Then I respond to their cold invite with:


This approach opens up an opportunity for a cold contact to become a true connection. For me, this strategy works one out of five times. Cold networking is difficult, but it can be incredibly rewarding.

My Success Story on Cold Networking via LinkedIn

In Fall 2015, I received a cold LinkedIn invite. I followed my strategy by first looking at her profile. She was a founder of a company that connects academic scientists with programmers. The academic scientists receive assistance on program development to answer unique academic questions, while the programmers are challenged to develop new algorithms and gain experience on different problems. Her idea was not only innovative but also useful for the Yale community.

Being proactive, I responded using my above strategy. We exchanged a few emails and had a phone call to discuss her Ph.D. experience, her career after graduate school, and her company. From our conversations, I knew that other Yale science trainees would benefit from her insights and experiences.

So I invited her to CNSPY’s Annual Networking Event (ANE). She said yes and then offered to lead a seminar on networking strategies, Networking 101, before the ANE, to help our members.

Cold LinkedIn networking can lead to great opportunities for not only a deeper connection for you, but for others too. You should be open to cold networking and to strengthening cold contacts into deeper connections.


LinkedIn InMail

This tip comes from Vickie Schulman, the CNSPY blogger.

LinkedIn recently changed its mailing feature. A few years ago, you could send a message to anyone. But now, you must buy into their Premium service to send a message to anyone who is not a first-degree connection.

With a free account, you can only send messages to your first-degree connections and 300-character invites to everyone else.

To counter this limitation, people have been providing their email and contact information directly on their website.

Here is Vickie, explaining this issue more:

“If you aren’t already friends with someone (or linked with someone), you can’t send them a message or use the InMail service. Recruiters (or anyone for that matter) have to pay for a premium LinkedIn account in order to send InMail to someone they don’t already know. So sometimes, recruiters will go for the low-hanging fruit – someone who willingly gives away their contact info on their profile, even if that person may not be the best candidate in order to save their company some money.”


In essence, LinkedIn is moving toward more buy-in options to market their Premium service. One way to circumvent the inability to send messages through LinkedIn and their character limits is to provide your email address directly on your profile such as the end of your summary section.


Strengthening and Staying Current with Your Network

LinkedIn is a great platform for strengthening and staying current with your network. It offers a few services to help you do this:

  • Notifications on profile changes in your news feed
  • Daily suggestions on how to stay connected with your network such as “Jon Doe has a new job. Do you want to say congrats?” These suggestions appear in the right column of your home page.
  • Returning endorsements. When someone endorses you, LinkedIn automatically prompts you to do the same and to others of your network.
  • Emails about what’s going on in your network.
  • Suggestions of people you may know

These features and more are incredibly helpful ways to stay up-to-date with your network and to strengthen it.


In closing, LinkedIn is a dynamic resource for networking and maintaining a healthy, strong network. I wish you the best with your LinkedIn experience and hope that my tips and insights have helped you in some way! Please send me an email or LinkedIn to let me know specifically. I welcome all feedback.


First published on CNSPY’s blog in Aug 2016

LinkedIn – The Experience Section

In this post, I will address the meat of your LinkedIn profile, the experience section and skills & endorsements. Along the way, I will share examples and tips.

Reminder: Turn off the notifications when you edit these sections. Learn more here.


Entries of Experiences

My first version of my LinkedIn profile consisted of information copied and pasted from my CV. This is a good first step. With each iteration of my LinkedIn profile, I find better strategies to convey information and will share these throughout this post. But the CV strategy is a good start. To make an entry, each experience must be added individually.

  1. At the top of the experience section, you will see a ‘+ position’ Click on this.
  1. Provide the job title, place of work, and time period. If possible, select the place of work as a group already on LinkedIn. Pictures and logos can convey information faster than the written word.
  1. Provide a description. List your key responsibilities and successes for each experience. I recommend using bullet points for ease of reading. You may also want to include numbers and statistics.
  • “As a TA, I designed learning outcomes and prepared materials for discussion section. I held review sessions, co-wrote three exams, and graded and evaluated ~20 students.
  • “During my presidency, CNSPY organized 20 events, and developed a blog and podcast. I raised over $2,500 for CNSPY events.”

For research and teaching experiences, I also provide a sentence or two on the research topics and a brief course synopsis. You should consider including conference information related to a particular research project.

  • Researched very long abortive transcripts (VLATs) from coli RNA polymerase on a T5 N25 promoter variant with in vitro roadblock transcription.
  • Presented a poster at the 2010 American Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Anaheim, CA (Poster 679.7)


Experiences to include

  • Research experiences – summer internships, graduate work, undergraduate work, rotations. More on rotations – if the rotation led to a publication or a poster at a conference, then I would include it. You made a worthwhile contribution and should showcase it.
  • Workshops or presentations you’ve given on a topic – this will demonstrate your expertise.
  • TA-ing, tutoring, or teaching positions – this will reveal your life-long dedication to teaching if you are going for a teaching position.
  • Leadership experiences – this is important for consulting and team-leading opportunities.
  • Teamwork experiences – this is relevant for those going outside academia.

Remember: You need to review the wording to ensure clarity and brevity. Like your CV, it’s a work in progress.


Media in the Experience Section

“A picture is worth a thousand words.”

LinkedIn also provides the option of media uploads for each experience entry. I think this a fantastic tool. I commonly see photos, but you can also upload videos etc. I recommend two per experience entry and only high-resolution media.

What to provide? You want to use these media uploads to demonstrate your skill set. This is another marketing tool. For example:


  • Teamwork and collaboration. I uploaded a lab photo and a group photo of CNSPY.
  • Laboratory Experience. I put up a picture of me in lab.
  • Communication Experience. A photo of me presenting in front of 100+ people.


Other examples include:

  • A picture of you instructing a class.
  • Education Outreach. Picture of you helping at a science fair.
  • Writing Experience. Links to your blog or other projects you’ve worked on.

These photos and media uploads must enhance your experience entry and have a purpose. My goal is to convey skills through photos. On the first glance, recruiters may not take the time to read the details of my experiences. But the photos will draw their attention and subtly convey my messages.

Note: Provide simple captions.


Recommendations of Your Experiences

 This is a relatively new, neat feature. Recommendations are statements made by co-workers, colleagues, clients etc, who are first-degree connections. These statements can be incredibly helpful and some say more valuable than endorsements, which I will discuss later.

The recommendations come in different flavors:

  1. Short with two sentences, or
  2. Long with a couple of paragraphs.

Regardless, the common element is specificity. Just like a letter of recommendation, the LinkedIn recommendation must be specific and provide insight into you as a professional!

Before you send a request:

  1. Choose the recommenders wisely. You can only have three recommendations per experience entry.
  1. Talk about the recommendation first with your recommender. Let your recommender know which skills and key words you want to be conveyed on your profile.

How to request a LinkedIn recommendation:

  1. Go to your profile and click the down arrow to the right of the button near your profile picture.


  1. Click Ask to be recommended from the dropdown.
  1. Choose one of your positions (The related experience must be present on your LinkedIn profile first.).
  1. Name your recommenders. You can have up to three for each experience entry.
  1. Click Send. You can ask your connections to write a recommendation of your work that you can display on your profile.


  • Put some time between recommendations. Stagger them out. Plan ahead so that they do not all appear just before you go on the job market.
  • If you are writing one, I stick to short and sweet. Be direct and avoid vague statements. Provide concrete examples.

Note: 3,000 character limit.


Skills & Endorsements

The skills & endorsement section is a quick survey of your skills. In this section, first-degree connections confirm your strengths with one click. It is similar to liking a post or photo on Facebook. Recruiters can skim the list and see if your particular set of skills match the position that they are trying to fill. Search filters will also pick up these endorsements.


At the same time, you can build your professional identity through this section. First you can list your skills. Second, you can delete endorsements. This might be helpful if you are trying to demonstrate expertise in complex procedures or if you are trying to move away from the bench. This section, like other features of the LinkedIn profile, help you market yourself as unique and valuable.

Added Bonus. This is a great way to interact with your network. You can endorse others. In general, if you endorse someone, they will endorse you back.


  1. As scientists, we tend to promote our technical skills. Do not forget to include softer skills like ‘science communications’ and ‘grant writing.’
  2. If you want a particular trait to stand out, say ‘teamworking,’ ask a few friends to endorse you. There is no harm in this. For example, I endorsed ‘leadership’ and ‘teamwork’ for a fellow CNSPY board member, who was applying for a consulting position.


Two caveats:

  • LinkedIn will make suggestions of possible skills to your connections to endorse. For example, I routinely get endorsed for PCR, but I did not list this skill in my profile. Again you can delete these endorsements.
  • From my own profile, I know that some of my connections endorsed me for skills that were not a part of our interaction. For example, how would my fellow CNSPY board member know that I do PCR well? I know this and recruiters will too. This is why recommendations might be a better way to convey your skills. At the same time, I do love the ability to quickly evaluate someone’s skills. In conclusion, there are positives and negatives with the endorsement section.



You can also add publications to your LinkedIn profile! I highly recommend this. For scientists, publications are our bread and butter. They demonstrate our skill sets in peer-review manner and reveal how we think, our skills at logic and the scientific method.

In a publication entry, you are able to list the authors in the same order as on the publication and provide a link to the paper. When you do this extra step, you help out your network. The publication will appear on the profiles of the other authors.



If one of the authors is not on LinkedIn, fear not. You can just add their name.

The publication section is another great way to showcase your success as a science professional.


In closing, the experience section on your LinkedIn profile is a great marketing tool. It has many special features that allow you to go beyond the written word with media and endorsements.

LinkedIn – Editing, the Photo, and Marketing Yourself in the Headline

LinkedIn! In a series of four posts, we are delving into LinkedIn and discussing its advantages for science PhDs. In this post, I will go over some basics of the LinkedIn profile – editing your profile, the profile picture, and your professional headline. Along the way, I will share examples and tips.

What is LinkedIn?

LinkedIn is an online platform that helps you “build and engage with your professional network.” The basic premise is that you have an online profile similar to a CV and you can connect with others, establishing a visible professional network.

In this post, I will focus on creating your professional identity, your LinkedIn profile. Your profile is a window into your professional journey and may be your first interaction with recruiters, hiring managers, potential bosses, and other scientists. Ergo you must present yourself professionally, with both images and words.

Editing Your Profile – Turn OFF the Notifications
First, I encourage you to edit your profile at least twice a year or whenever a major career change happens.

Second, when you edit your profile, turn off the notifications. Your network doesn’t need to know that you changed a little thing in your experience section.
The notification feature is great for letting your network know that you switched jobs or got a big award. But otherwise turn off this feature.


The Profile Picture

A profile picture is necessary! For me, my eye passes over people without profile pictures. I cannot connect the name with a real-life person. A profile without a profile picture does not seem genuine, while, in comparison, one with a photo engages the eye. This is also an opportunity to appear warm and inviting. Take advantage of the chance to build a sense of trust with someone before you even meet them!

A few tips. I have chatted with several recruiters about the profile picture and picked up a few suggestions.

  • In the picture – ONLY YOU. Some people put up their wedding photo. I understand that this is a significant moment and you both look wonderful. But I am confused whose profile it is. Be direct. Have a photo of you, by yourself.
  • Background – Neutral, Outdoors. The goal of the photo is for them to look at you. Don’t let the eyes of the recruiter get distracted by your surroundings. The lighting should be even and of good quality. Avoid shadows on your face and behind you. Also keep in mind the rule of thirds. The rule of thirds in photography suggests that in a headshot, your face should only occupy 1/3 of the image. If the picture is just your face, it is not visually appealing. Alternatively if your face is too small, a connection might not recognize you.
  • Apparel – Professional dress. Dress in business casual with business jackets and collars. Myself, I prefer professional sweaters and dresses.
  • Facial Expression – SMILE!!! No sexy or cute face. Have a warm smile. Be you!
  • Quality – Medium. Professional photographers and high-quality cameras are nice. But I don’t have these. I asked my cousin who works for a TV news station to take and edit my photo. Maybe you can ask a friend with a quality camera to take your photo. If not, use your phone. There are some great apps that provide free filters to edit your photo. Adobe Photoshop is also a great program. The goal is to have a strong, clear image of YOU!! Avoid graininess, shadows, and weird enhancements.


The Professional Headline

When people look you up, they first see your professional headline. It is a statement of who you are professionally, such as Biochemist. I encourage you to use the professional headline as a marketing device.

  • If you are trying to apply for positions outside of academia, try a title like Biochemist, rather than Graduate Student. By doing this, recruiters searching through LinkedIn Premium might find you more quickly.
  • Or you could reword your position. Instead of Graduate Student, how about D. Candidate or Pre-doctoral Fellow.
  • Do you have a fellowship? Try NIH (Insert Award Code e.g. K99) Post-Doctorate Fellow at Yale.

Observations: Some people are putting check marks and adjectives into their professional headlines. I am not a fan. Let your audience judge if you are a Successful Biochemist. Your experience and publications speak for you.

Note: The professional headline has a 120 character limit.


Simplify Your LinkedIn Page Web Address

LinkedIn provides a letter and number code for your LinkedIn page. However you can simplify it to your name or a simple handle.

How to:

First, click on the gear icon next to the web address on your profile. Hover your mouse to the right side it for the gear icon to appear.


 A new page will load. On the right side, there will be a banner with the edit option for the web address. I used my name. Luckily it’s unique and was available. If your name is not available, use alternatives like ‘TVallery’ or ‘tenayavallery_biochemist.’ Remember to stick to professional handles.


In closing, the LinkedIn profile is for professional purposes. Ergo you should approach your profile picture and headline through a lens of professionalism. Good luck!

Please reach out to me to provide feedback or ask questions. I am happy to help.

MUST: Maximum Use of Supportive Therapy

shutterstock_114113191I recently read an article in Science, Saving lives without new drugs, by Jon Cohen.  In the article, officials suggest that new drugs might not be the most feasible solution to reducing the 70% fatality rate in Africa to the 25% fatality rate in the Western World, in cases of Ebola.  Specialists advocate for MUST, Maximum Use of Supportive Therapy, which has been the key tool for treating Ebola in the Western World and includes basic intervention to reduce dehydration and secondary infections in Ebola patients.  As a result, MUST strategies decrease the stress on the body and help to focus the body’s energy on combating Ebola.

And so I advocate that science trainees should apply ‘Maximum Use of Supportive Therapy’ toward networking.  The comparison is direct.  Taking one approach to networking is not going to give you the best results.  Instead you should approach networking from a variety of different angles, and one simple way to achieve this is to shift your mentality from what you need/want at this moment to a long-term giving mentality.  In other words, identify, make, and develop opportunities for others.  Through ‘Maximum Use of Supportive Therapy’, you will be able to create a strong, healthy network that will help you succeed in a scientific career.

The ‘Maximum Use of Supportive Therapy’ for networking includes:

  • Identifying what you can give to others.
  • Carrying through and making opportunities for others.
  • Taking advantage of opportunities offered to you and remembering to pay-it-forward.
  • Seeking out opportunities for personal growth, to build upon what you can offer to others.

Identifying what you can give to others.

One secondary obstacle to networking is thinking you do not have something to offer more established scientists.  This mentality is wrong.  You do have something to offer.

First, you are a science trainee at Yale.  Yale is a highly sought after network.  You can invite an established scientist to Yale.  This could be for a student-run seminar, for WISAY’s Distinguished Woman in Science Award, for a post-doc career event, or for your department/training grant’s seminar.

Second, look to your own network.  Can you help your former PI by introducing them to someone who would be a great post-doc for their lab?  There are many more possibilities and you just have to look around for them.  Look to Vickie’s blog post on giving for more.

Carrying through and making opportunities for others. 

This is critical for establishing a healthy network.  You never know when someone ‘at an earlier stage of their career’ will rise to a position of power.  Likewise you never know what someone might be able to share with you (knowledge, connections, etc).   Take the time to get to know people and to do what you can for others.  This could include your co-workers, visiting speakers, the students in your section, the administrative people in your department, your librarian, and the ones that I personally always strive to know, your janitors.

When it comes to personal interactions, my golden rule is to try to make another person’s day easier or brighter.  This goes back to Vickie’s blog on smiling in the elevator. These actions can be as simple as a movie recommendation, as complicated as trying to help someone find housing in New Haven, CT, or as important as putting someone’s application forward to the hiring committee at your Alma Mater.

Taking advantage of the opportunities offered to you and remembering to pay-it-forward

Now this may seem selfish.  You may think to yourself, ‘How am I ever going to pay them back?’ Please don’t think this way.  The future is unknown and you may be able to help this person in the future.  Moreover realize that a network is a dynamic system.  Someone advised your adviser, who is now advising you.  There is a pay-it-forward aspect to helping people.  Remember those who have helped you and try your best to either give back to them or to help others in the same way.

My favorite example is from my time at Mount Holyoke.  I was working on a project proposal and an upper year in my department asked how I was doing.  I told her truthfully that I was struggling on my proposal and, surprisingly, she took the time to hear me out and to make suggestions.  Two years later, I was an upper year talking to a younger student about the same proposal assignment and I was able to help her with suggestions.  The wrong thing to do in this situation would have been to say ‘Oh don’t worry. I’ll figure it out myself’ or ‘I don’t want to trouble you.’  Take advantage of opportunities offered to you.

Seeking out opportunities for personal growth, to build upon what you can offer to others.

Try something new.  Let’s say you are in an organization and you know that someone is working really hard, every week to write a blog post.  You also know that people get tired and that the Holidays are around the corner.  So you take it upon yourself to give that person a week off.  This is also an opportunity for you to try something new, work on your communication skills and reach out to other people.

My advice to you is to seek out new opportunities.  Join a leadership of a club or volunteer with an organization.  Skill development can happen in any setting.  CNPSY might be for you, might not.  Email me if you are interested. [] But it is important to realize that you can grow and give back at the same time.

As a closing note and this comes from Vickie, “in many cases of ‘medical miracles,’ the patients succeed because of a positive attitude…positive attitudes come from having support from a group”.  Remember that ‘Maximum Use of Supportive Therapy’ in networking can lead to a ‘miracle’ in your career.


Originally published on the CNSPY Blog – 12/3/2014

LinkedIn vs. Research Gate

LinkedIn! In a series of four posts, we are delving into LinkedIn and discussing its advantages for science PhDs. In this post, I will discuss two popular online platforms used for scientific networking: LinkedIn and ResearchGate. Along the way, I will share examples and insights. Here we go!

LinkedIn Logo

Without doubt, you must have a LinkedIn account. LinkedIn is the Facebook of the professional world. Everyone has it and it is a great resource for staying up to date with your colleagues, companies/organizations related to your field, etc.

Launched in 2003, LinkedIn is a website that connects professionals of all careers, not just scientists. This highly visible website evolves rapidly to meet our needs as professionals and is a gateway to networking.

LinkedIn has the following features:

  • Online resume that goes beyond the paper copy. Include media, logos, links, and recommendations.
  • Visual representation and updates on your network
  • Reminders and helpful tools to strengthen your network
  • Opportunity to follow companies and form your own interest groups
  • Job postings
  • Where recruiters hang out

If you want to transition out of academia, LinkedIn is a great tool for that. You can follow companies you are applying to as a way to prepare for your interviews! You will also have access to job postings.

One negative, LinkedIn has also been evolving as a business, with LinkedIn Premium. Some features that were once free are now only available through LinkedIn Premium.

Some of you may be thinking about buying into the LinkedIn Premium package.  I caution you against that. Personally the free LinkedIn account serves my needs and has led to a few exciting opportunities. Moreover I have asked a few recruiters about this. They likewise cautioned against the Premium account, saying “Why pay for something you can get for free?”

On a whole, LinkedIn is essential for young professionals, even scientists. I strongly recommend you first open an account, develop your profile, and build your network. LinkedIn is an online gateway to your professional world and to new opportunities.

Research Gate

Launched in 2008, ResearchGate is a publication-centered network for scientists online.

ResearchGate has some research-specific features.

  • You are able to upload PDFs of your publications, which helps the scientific community access your research despite journal fees.
  • Receive stats on your publications e.g. number of reads and citations
  • Fellow users are able to direct their questions about your research to you.
  • You may follow and connect with colleagues and others in your field or a field you are trying to break into.
  • Similar to LinkedIn, you may also find jobs through this website and receive endorsements of your skills.
  • You will receive updates on publications coming from peers and connections

This online platform is very science heavy. You will not find as many recruiters on ResearchGate as compared to LinkedIn. But ResearchGate is great for connecting with peers in science and has a feel of ‘open-access.’


Personal Recommendation

I have accounts on both. But I will fully admit that I use my LinkedIn more.  I do like the stats and open-access nature of ResearchGate, but I have not found ResearchGate to be as community-based as LinkedIn. LinkedIn has a lot of group activity, and a lively news feed. ResearchGate on the other hand is slow moving at the moment. Although I love the idea of ResearchGate, I have not received one question yet on my research. I really hope to one day. My standpoint may change with the growing number of business-centered changes to the LinkedIn platform. Other users, myself included, may find ResearchGate more friendly and less corporate-like compared to LinkedIn.

In closing, you should have accounts on both LinkedIn and ResearchGate. I encourage you to invest the energy to develop your LinkedIn profile. In the next three posts, I will go over the basics of LinkedIn and to provide some insights into a few neat features of LinkedIn.

  • LinkedIn vs. ResearchGate
  • Basics Part I: Editing, profile picture, and professional headline
  • Basics Part II: Experience section – media, recommendations, endorsements, and publications
  • Basics Part III: Invites and InMail


Originally posted on CNSPY’s blog on 6/22/2016.