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  1. This resource has been adapted from the webinar Transitioning from the Bench to a Career in Science Policy, which took place June 15, 2021. Watch the full recording on Neuronline. Dr. Nicole Catanzarite chaired this webinar. She is a neuroscience policy liaison in the DC Metro Area Chapter of SfN and a former Early Career Policy Ambassador with SfN. Introduction with Dr. Nicole Catanzarite Everyone, thank you for attending our webinar, “Transitioning from the Bench to a Career in Science Policy.” My name is Nicole Catanzarite and I’ll be chairing and moderating this webinar. On the agenda for today, we will cover an introduction to science policy and discuss some skills for success. You'll hear from our panelists who will tell their stories and talk about the various career sectors that they are in, which include the federal government, a regulatory agency, policy consulting, and government relations. Then we will discuss some resources for you to use to transition into a career in science policy, and then we'll have some time for Q&A. So again, my name is Nicole Catanzarite. I’m chairing this webinar and currently I am a neuroscience policy liaison in the DC Metro Area Chapter of SfN and a former Early Career Policy Ambassador with SfN. Our panelists in the order that they will be presenting are: Vijeth Iyengar from HHS, Kimberly Maxfield from the FDA, Amy Hein from Ripple Effect, and Adriana Bankston from the University of California. First, we just want to give you a bit of a definition of science policy. Science policy is concerned with the allocation of resources for the conduct of science towards the goal of best serving the public interest. Some topics include science funding, career and workforce development, and translation of scientific discoveries into technological innovation. Some goals of science policy include promoting commercial product development, competitiveness, and economic growth and development. When you hear about science policy, you might have heard that there is science for policy and policy for science. There are two sides to science policy. Science for policy involves scientific findings used as the basis for the development of public policy, while policy for science involves government laws, regulations and policies that affect the practice of science. There are some essential skills for science policy that you might want to keep in mind as you hear the panelists stories. Think about whether you've started to develop these and think about how these kinds of skills apply to the kind of work that our panelists are doing. Some of these skills include acquiring a broad knowledge of science and applications, the ability to learn about new issues quickly, and the ability to communicate technical concepts to diverse audiences concisely and accurately. If any of you are already involved in outreach, through your graduate programs or postdocs, you might already have experience with another set of skills: consensus building, networking, and relationship building. Speakers Vijeth Iyengar, PhD Vijeth Iyengar is the brain health lead and technical advisor to the deputy assistant secretary for aging at the Administration for Community Living (ACL), an operating division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Most recently Iyengar completed a nearly year-long secondment as a Policy Advisor to the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (WH-OSTP) where his portfolio focused on the role of emerging technologies in the areas of brain health, dementia, and neuroscience. In his role as brain health lead, he oversaw the development, dissemination, and data collection of a request for information that sought input on ways to assess changes in cognitive health status among homebound older adults. Iyengar received his bachelor’s degree from Tulane University, and his doctoral degrees from Duke University. Amy Hein, PhD Amy Hein is the senior director with Ripple Effect. Hein received her PhD in neuroscience and psychology from the University of Colorado. She has worked in a number of scientific and policy positions, with the National Academies of Science, NASA, and the American Psychological Association, including key work on a Congressionally requested study to assess U.S. higher education. Adriana Bankston, PhD Adriana Bankston is a principal legislative analyst at the University of California Office of Federal Governmental Relations in Washington, DC. Prior to this position, Bankston was a Policy & Advocacy Fellow at the Society for Neuroscience. She is also the chief executive officer and managing publisher of the Journal of Science Policy and Governance, a biomedical workforce and policy research investigator at the STEM Advocacy Institute, and a member of the Engaging Scientists and Engineers in Policy (ESEP) Coalition Steering Committee. She earned her PhD in biochemistry, cell and developmental biology from Emory University. Nicole Catanzarite, PhD Nicole Catanzarite serves as the NeuroPolicy Liaison in the DC Metro Area Chapter of the Society for Neuroscience and previously served as a Society for Neuroscience Early Career Policy Ambassador. Catanzarite received her PhD in neuroscience and cognitive science from the University of Maryland. Kimberly Maxfield, PhD Kimberly Maxfield is currently serving as a guidance and policy lead in the Food and Drug Administration Office of Clinical Pharmacology (OCP) with a focus on the intersection between drug development, policy, and regulation of therapeutic proteins. Additionally, Kimberly helped establish, develop, recruit, and mentor fellows for the OCP Fellowship for training in policy development and regulatory science, a fellowship program aimed at identifying new leaders for the advancement of new drug development and promote therapeutic individualization through policy evaluation and development. She received her PhD in pharmacology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine. Her doctorate focused on the systematic dissection of tumor cell biology through pan-genomic high throughput screening for the rational design of new therapeutic and dose combinations. Prior to joining the OCP, she completed two fellowships at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine and the FDA in health policy and regulatory science, respectively. These fellowships focused on the clinical implementation of immunotherapies, drug development paradigms in oncology, and the public health impact of FDA external engagement.
  2. This resource has been adapted from the webinar Transitioning from the Bench to a Career in Science Policy, which took place June 15, 2021. Watch the full recording on Neuronline. Dr. Vijeth Iyengar is the brain health lead and technical advisor to the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Aging at the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Dr. Vijeth Iyengar Being trained as a cognitive neuroscientist, I’m very familiar with SfN and have fond memories (somewhat) of that mad dash and scramble to submit and prep abstracts and posters for annual meetings and the sheer joy of being able to share one’s work with the community. A brief bio was shared of each of the panelists so instead of re-telling you what's in it, I thought I’d spend a few minutes sharing my journey from academics and graduate school to a role in the US Federal Government that sits at the intersection of research, programmatic design, implementation and evaluation, and public policy. I'm trained as a cognitive neuroscientist and commenced graduate work in about 2010 in a lab that employed functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to examine the neural mechanisms of episodic memory in humans across the lifespan. This was really fascinating and invigorating work and I was surrounded by smart, supportive, and capable colleagues and advisors throughout the process. I recall from day one of graduate school that I was dead set on an academic career--your typical tenure track position at an academic or research institution. About 4 years into my graduate school, just after receiving my masters and en route to a PhD, I begin to realize that, for me, there was an imbalance that didn’t sit well with me of what I call the time to impact ratio. This sentiment was also echoed by other peers across other labs. Specifically, one could spend many months and years on a project and the outcome, i.e., a publication, could be appreciated by few or, if you're super lucky, by many. I was envisioning more of an impact that was not so many degrees removed from the end user, a beneficiary of my research. In parallel, around that time the US Federal Government was pushing out exciting new initiatives, such as The BRAIN Initiative, and beginning to infuse the principles of behavioral economics into the design of public policy. This was the beginning of how neuroscience and psychology would help shape public policy for years to come. At that time—around 2013 and 2014--careers in science policy or adjacent to science policy, as described by Nicole, were discussions of non-tenure-track paths and they weren't so common. Now, they have become normalized. That is great to see. While in graduate school, I decided to change paths and start to re-engineer my resume to make it more appealing to a career in public policy, government, and this intersection of science, policy, and programmatic design. After dozens, if not hundreds, of informational interviews, coffee chats, and calls it became clear that there were two paths for me to pursue this new passion. One was consulting and the other was applying to fellowships that would serve as pathways for me to enter the Federal Government. I applied on a whim, some would say, to the Presidential Management Fellowship (PMF), a two-year fellowship operated by the US Office of Personnel Management (OPM) and was selected through an exhaustive screening process to be a PMF Fellow to the US Administration For Community Living, an operating division of the US Department of Health and Human Services. I started this fellowship in September 2016, about five years ago. The agency's mission, which I'm involved with now, is to maximize the independence, well-being, and health of older adults, people with disabilities across the lifespan, and their families and caregivers. Additionally, the agency is a critical component of the US Federal Government's efforts to provide services and supports to older adults--a population group that is going to grow in the coming years and decades to come--people with disabilities, and their families and caregivers. Briefly, my role at the agency falls under three broad buckets: One, as a program officer for the agency's Alzheimer’s disease programs initiative, I provide management oversight and technical guidance to dozens of grantees nationwide that are implementing evidence-based and scientifically grounded interventions for family caregivers in prisons and with dementia. Anything from reducing caregiver stress and burden to applying the latest science to improving the care for persons with dementia fall under the purview of this grant program. As the agency's brain health lead, I leverage a lot of the technical skills and expertise I acquired through graduate school and follow the latest advances in our scientific understanding of the modifiable risk factors in maintaining one's brain health to curate and create educational programmatic activities and content for beneficiaries of our agency’s grant programs and other activities. A lot of this work is held in conjunction with other operating divisions within the US Department of Health and Human Services, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes on Aging. And, finally, as a technical advisor to the US Deputy Assistant Secretary for Aging, I developed briefs, talking points, presentations, and web content to facilitate current work activities on topics of aging brain health in long term care services. In addition, I facilitated his engagement with global efforts on aging, including representation from the United Nations and the World Health Organization. Listed below are some of the goals of the agency and some of the skills that I found particularly useful when carrying out the duties, roles, and responsibilities I had while at the agency.
  3. This resource has been adapted from the webinar Transitioning from the Bench to a Career in Science Policy, which took place June 15, 2021. Watch the full recording on Neuronline. Dr. Kimberly Maxfield is a policy lead in The Office of Clinical Pharmacology at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Dr. Kimberly Maxfield My name is Kimberly Maxfield. I am currently a policy lead at the FDA. I’ll spend a few minutes talking a little bit about how I landed in this position. I did not know this job existed when I was in graduate school, so ending up here was very much a real-time decision-making process for me. However, unlike some of my other colleagues in my doctorate work, my transition probably started before I went back to get my PhD. I always knew I was interested in public health and policy related activities. I spent quite a bit of time before applying to go back to school doing informational interviews to decide what kind of background I needed to be a successful policy maker in public health. The sort of consistent advice I got at the time was that technical expertise is extremely important to be an effective policymaker. That is the reason why I went back and focused on technical expertise. Once I was in graduate school, I think I had a very similar experience to Vijeth where, after about a couple of years, I started developing this expertise. How do we then translate this into policy? At this point, the early twenty-teens, nobody knew what I was talking about with regards to science policy. In the academic field, science policy is mostly specific to getting more funding. Of course, funding is very important, but it is a very small piece of the whole puzzle. I ended up doing some activities through graduate school outreach communication, but my actual jump was when I applied to the Christie Myrzian Technology Policy Fellowship that's offered through the National Academies of Sciences Engineering and Medicine. The Christie Myrzian fellowship is a three-month fellowship that is offered once a year. I moved from my graduate work to DC with this three-month fellowship to work in the Board of Health Care Services. Through this experience, my whole world expanded about what it meant to be someone in science policy and what it meant to have a technical background. That’s basically how I learned about regulatory science, met people the FDA, and then was able to move over to the FDA. I started as a program manager and a regulatory scientist and then moved over to policy lead about two years ago. It was a wild ride, it was very exciting, but each step I took was into an unknown. It sounds like a nice story when you look back and tell it, but I can assure you that each step it was deciding what to do and being excited about learning. It was a very exciting time. The advice I would give to people who are thinking about this transition is just don't give up. There's no right way to transition. No one has the same story, so you'll find your way and your niche. Science policy is tolerant of broad backgrounds and perspectives. That is one of the reasons I enjoy being in science policy. Don’t get discouraged, there is a need out there. In my current job as a policy lead, I work at the FDA. As most people are probably aware, the FDA works on approving safe and effective use of medical products. I specifically work on drugs in The Office of Clinical Pharmacology. In clinical pharmacology, we work to optimize the dose and the dosing regimens for therapeutic products. The questions we work on are things like: is it better to do dose A or dose B? Is it better to administer a drug every day or every other day? All those instructions you get from your doctor and your pharmacist are from clinical studies and research figuring out how a drug affects the body and how it will then lead to or not lead to a clinical outcome. I work, specifically, with therapeutic proteins, so I do a lot with monoclonal antibodies, small peptides, and everything in between. I work on anything from actual reviews themselves—-i.e., when sponsors submit applications—to developing guidelines and guidances, to stakeholder outreach, to writing papers, etc. I’m just one policy lead in my office, and I have a particular portfolio. There are five policy leads in my office, and we each have a unique portfolio. For example, there's another lead who looks at pediatric drug development, somebody who looks at the drug-drug interactions—making sure that when you take more than one drug they don't interact with each other. Others investigate other comorbidities like renal impairment or hepatic impairment. Another topic of study is gender differences or race differences in a particular response. All these factors influence dosing recommendations. I look forward to continuing to work at the FDA long term and cannot recommend it enough.
  4. This resource has been adapted from the webinar Transitioning from the Bench to a Career in Science Policy, which took place June 15, 2021. Watch the full recording on Neuronline. Dr. Amy Hein is a Senior Director of Strategic Staffing at Ripple Effect. Dr. Amy Hein As you look at what options you have next, I just wanted to highlight the importance of science policy fellowships. I did a PhD in neuroscience. I went to all the SfN conferences and presentations and I did the abstract submissions. During my postdoc, I realized I wanted that higher level perspective, but I also had practical reasons for thinking about next steps. I married into the military and realized very quickly that that was going to involve a lot of relocation. It was unlikely to fit into an academic career or even a Federal Government career, both of which require you to be in a particular location. I started looking into what other options would be better suited to frequent relocation and allow for some more flexibility, so I did two different fellowships. You've heard about a couple already, including the Mirzayan fellowship with National Academies of Science. That was the first one, and it definitely gave me the bug for science policy. Then, after going back to my postdoc for a little while, I went into the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Science and Technology Policy Fellowship. If you haven't heard of that look it up. The Mirzayan fellowship is a three-month fellowship that gives you a quick dose and throws you in. The AAAS fellowship is a one- or two-year fellowship. There are a couple of different avenues to get into the AAAS fellowship through different professional societies, as well as the AAAS directly. In that fellowship, you usually get placed with a federal agency supporting it directly. That’s a valuable opportunity to get an in-depth and longer perspective of supporting the Federal Government. When I participated in the AAAS fellowship, I was at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) supporting Their Science Policy and Planning Office. It was a great opportunity with great networking relationships, but I wanted to get back closer to the science. We keep talking about wanting the high level perspective, but I felt like that was too high and wanted to be closer to actually advising on science and back to some of my technical roots. The next two positions I had with the AAAS fellowship supported the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA) and Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs (CDMRP). Through these roles, I made the jump into government contracting. We talked about how science policy has to do with funding and resources. Part of that is the oversight and management of federal programs and research programs, so I supported the government as a federal contractor on both of those subjects. I joined Ripple Effect for the second one. The other piece just to point out here is that I got both of those job opportunities through connections through the fellowships. I got hired to support DARPA because of a connection I made through my Mirzayan fellowship with an alumnus from that program, and I heard about Ripple Effect through a connection with the AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellowship. These examples illustrate the power of the networks and partnerships that I formed through the fellowship programs. I’ve been with Ripple Effect for six years now and after being a science officer I moved over to more of the program management side of things. I have really enjoyed working with scientists. A lot of what I do is talk to people--whether it's the government or trying to hire new people--and telling them about sort of opportunities that exist in the policy consulting sphere. I find I really enjoy doing that. In terms of the job goals for policy consulting and government contracting, they're very similar to the things you've already heard, so the second bullet there talks about some of the different support areas. It can be everything. It can be strategic planning, program administration, meeting facilitation, and program evaluation. It’s not specific to a particular content area; the content depends on what your consulting subject matter expertise is. The sky is really the limit there, and consulting will continue to be a way to bring in new expertise to the science policy arena. The difference is the role in policy consulting (as opposed to federal/academic arenas) is to provide expert advice, deliverables or products, and general support services too. In the case of Ripple Effect, we have federal, private, and nonprofit clients. Obviously, the Federal Government is one of the biggest customers out there in the policy world because they have a lot of money. However, there are also opportunities to consult to private industry, pharmaceutical companies, nonprofits, professional societies, etc. There are a couple different avenues, and they each have different feels and flavors, but the main focus and real driver is this focus on customer service. In this case, we are supporting the mission of the client that we're working with. HHS has a particular mission. NIH has a particular mission. Whatever agency or company you're working with will have their own goals. Your role is to help support them and, of course, part of that is thinking about their needs and providing support they need. I wanted to highlight a couple skills in particular. My colleagues have done a great job and there's a lot of similarity across the skills discussed in previous talks. Communication is absolutely a skill that needs to be underscored. The ability to talk about your own skills, particularly your transferable skills, and your research or past projects is vital when looking for jobs. Written communication skills are one of the most important things I look for in hiring. Some different skills for the consulting world I want to highlight are entrepreneurship and partnership. Sometimes people say “Oh, I don't want to be in academia because I’m tired of writing grants. I don't want to have to be fighting for funding all the time.” If that’s the case, consulting might not be the best option for you. As a consultant, you're often either independent, working for yourself as a small business or with a small business, or you may be working with a large business. In any of those cases, you still need to get gigs, get jobs, get contracts, and get clients to pay for your services. Therefore, part of it involves proposal writing, grant writing, or partnerships and networking with those potential clients. In addition, you need to be able to work with potential partners. People that you meet and talk with oftentimes may need skills that you and your organization don’t have, so we have to partner with another company. We might bring great skills in science policy or technical skills, but maybe we don't have some of the IT skills or some of the cyber skills or something else. For that reason, partnerships and networking are important. Flexibility is another key area in terms of a skill you need to have to be able adapt to customers’ demands. Things change all the time and consultants need to be able to be responsive to that. There is also the value of flexibility in consulting for the consultant. I mentioned that I went into consulting partly because I knew I needed location flexibility. I've also been part-time twice in my career so far. I had different personal reasons that I wanted to work part time and that was accommodated. This type of flexibility is one of the benefits of consulting that is not always available in other career paths. The last two bullets I have are about root cause analysis. I think that's something that we as scientists are often good at. We have to figure out what's wrong with our experiment, what went wrong, or what we need to do to fix something. That's often a very valuable skill in the consulting world. The government might come to you with a problem and say “Hey can you advise us here? Can you fix this?” Root cause analysis enables you to say “Yes, I can help you fix that, but it's not what you think it is. There's something else going on, something underlying that.” You can figure out how to address that root issue. Then, of course, there's always conflict that comes up in any situation. Particularly in science policy, we're often brought in to help manage stakeholders or bring diverse parties together. Those are some of the skills that are important in the policy consulting world. The job titles are probably very similar to ones that you've heard from others. Again, it's not that it's a different content area. The job titles are Policy Analysts or Program Managers in whatever field it might be in, and the specifics come from who our clients are. I wanted to point out the fellowships and internships. Those are a great way to get into science policy. At Ripple Effect, we have positions called Future Employers, so we're always trying to bring in people who are interested in the company and in those types of roles—another example of networking. That's something that you can apply to if you're interested. Maybe you're not looking for something now, but in the longer term you are, and that opportunity can help to build out that network. We also have something called a Science and Health Policy Consulting Consortium (SHPC.) If you are interested in consulting but don’t know where to start, or don’t know what resources are available, you may want to check out SHPC. SHPC is a group of people who are like-minded and who are interested in the consulting world that we brought together to be able to share resources and lessons learned. SHPC also exists to make it known that we're interested and available if there's ever partnerships or opportunities that come up. Please look at both those if those are things that might be interesting to you.
  5. This resource has been adapted from the webinar Transitioning from the Bench to a Career in Science Policy, which took place June 15, 2021. Watch the full recording on Neuronline. Dr. Adriana Bankston is the Principal Legislative Analyst at University of California working in Federal Government relations. Dr. Adriana Bankston Previously to my position now, I was a fellow at Society for Neuroscience, so it's great to be here today talking to all of you. My path in policy started tied to the academic space. I've really been interested in and thinking about how we can improve institutional policies for next generations of grad students who are going through on different career paths. Like many other panelists you have heard, I was also interested in academic career for a while. I didn’t start thinking about policy until my postdoc when I was again exploring this area. I was looking for my own path out of academia to try and figure out how to use my PhD to help improve society. A lot of my path to my current role was very exploratory. I started trying different things, doing a lot of informational interviews, trying to understand what the different positions and policies were and what people are doing day to day. In academia, I was interested in the pipeline questions and using that as a thread to move forward. Over time, I transitioned from academia and volunteered with several nonprofits that were either working on the economic system or looking to help students transition into policy careers. Training and policy bridge my interest, and that's a tip for you: volunteering. It can go a long way in gaining different experiences and skills through different organizations and nonprofits. The transition lasted about two and a half years, and then I did my fellowship with SfN in 2019 similarly to a few other stories here. I moved cross country from California to DC for a six-month fellowship. I did not have a plan afterwards, but that's oftentimes how things work. You just have to take the opportunity. I really enjoyed my time in DC. The fellowship is in the Advocacy and Training department. I really got to do a lot of everything that I enjoy—policy, advocacy, and training. I also got to learn how to advocate for research funding, what the right policy docents are, what it means to go to the hill for Hill Day, which is part of the fellowship, and I got to help a little bit with our training portfolio. In the meantime, it was a difficult transition in that I started to network and meet people for the next step and had to figure out what the next job was going to be. I had a number of interviews and then ended up in my current role here, in the University of California system. In this position, essentially, we are the federal arm of the UC system, and we advocate for priorities of the system in DC. This job comes with exciting times and can really be challenging partly because working for a system is a little tricky. You have to try to advocate on behalf of a number of universities in DC. At the same time, it's obviously one of the most prominent systems in the country and it's very exciting to be here, especially now with the new administration and changes that affect our priorities. This position is very much an advocacy role where we advocate for the system with Congress, the administration, and federal agencies. This means that there's a lot of meetings with different stakeholders to try to push priorities of the system and see what that looks like in the community, who else is advocating for those things, how we can push for things together on the Hill, and so on. As my title says, we analyze the impact of legislation related to federal policy on university research. This is variable, so that's one piece of advice. When you're transitioning from the bench to policy or going from being a specialist to a generalist, you really need to be able to do a little bit of a lot of different things during your day and shift priorities. There's a lot of issues that you might imagine the system advocates for on the research side, including funding, as well as the pipeline. These issues, such as students staying in research, are especially relevant with the pandemic, so I do enjoy that part. A lot of my job is to serve as a liaison between the researchers and the policymakers at briefings of the Hill and other events. We showcase the value of federal research funding by having faculty, students, and postdocs talk about what they work on in the lab. There’s also a lot of writing, which is something I would also advise you to try and develop now. The type of writing you may have to do includes drafting policy docents, priority docents, letters to the Hill, and so on. There’s always the advocacy side but learning how to write these docents is also important. These writing skills take some practice, which sometimes happens on the job. Because we are a large system, we work with each campus in the system. Part of our job is to answer questions and to research what grants or programs from federal agencies campuses are interested in terms of, so that's the agency side of things. We go to The National Science Foundation (NSF) to meet with program directors on certain issues that our campuses have questions about and we advocate for the pipeline (i.e., trainees in the system) as well as for research funding. There are a lot of research questions, so we intersect with other universities that have similar priorities and other higher education associations like AU and APLU. It's an interesting role to be in, especially at this time. Many of the relevant skills have already been covered. Writing is a big part of my job. Learning how to translate your research for non-academic audiences goes a long way, whether you do it through blogging, op-eds, or other avenues. Teamwork and collaboration are two other important skills, because there's a lot of collaboration in this job. There are a lot of common projects across the different areas, and you have to be able to work with people from different backgrounds. It is also important to be able to respond to federal issues quickly because things in DC do move quickly, which is part of the exciting part of the job. You do have to be on your toes all the time and see what's going on and respond. It can also be challenging if you're the kind of person that likes to plan your day because you may not always be able to. Another key ability is prioritizing and pivoting between projects because you're likely to be working on a number of different things during the day. Job titles: Analyst is pretty common and up the ladder you think about Director or System Director. These are common titles in federal relations.
  6. Q&A with All Panelists This resource has been adapted from the webinar Transitioning from the Bench to a Career in Science Policy, which took place June 15, 2021. Watch the full recording on Neuronline. Q: Hi Nicole, I’m an incoming Neuroscience PhD student at GW in the fall. I’m highly interested in getting involved in science policy however I can and would love any tips or thoughts on getting involved in the DC metro area. Thank you. A (Nicole Catanzarite): The first thing that I would recommend is to join the DC chapter of SfN. I would also recommend applying for SfN’s Early Career Policy Ambassador Program. Q: What kind of starting salary range can people anticipate in your various kinds of sectors and positions? A (Vijeth Iyengar): I think there’s always hesitation when talking about salary. It's an important thing to talk about. In the US Federal Government, there is something called a General Schedule (GS) and it's a combination of your years of work experience, your expertise, and at what level you're coming in. If one was to come into federal government with a PhD, you're likely to have a higher GS level, which is accompanied by a higher salary, than if you come in with a master’s or a bachelor's. The GS levels and associated salary for a particular position are publicly available, but it's a unique combination of years of experience, expertise, and your fit with the job. I would encourage you to enter in some of the job titles mentioned earlier to get an idea of the ballpark for particular positions. For instance, at my agency at the US Department Health and Human Services, there's an Aging Service Program Specialist. That's one position series and position title you can enter into a USA Jobs search and get a get a picture as to what the range of salaries would be depending on the GS level. Other think tanks and non-governmental organizations might have different ranges, but the GS is incumbent on years of experience and how you fit into the job. That’s a diplomatic way of answering that question, but hopefully it gives you enough resources to be able to get a range in mind. Thanks. A (Amy Hein): I can add a thought, too. I agree with all of those pieces and I would say that even in the contracting and consulting world, the GS is a good place to start. We often look at the schedules and scales. If you have a PhD and a few years of experience, maybe we're talking about GS 12. That might help give you some sort of ballparks. Keep in mind that if you're making a career transition to a field in which you don't have much experience and you're trying to leverage those transferable skills, it might be a lateral transfer. You might even be willing to take a lower salary to get your foot in the door, so don't be afraid to do that. Salary is, of course, an important piece, but one of the things I’ve learned over the years is that it is often not the most important. Get to know the culture of the place you're going to go work for. If it doesn't match what you're looking for, think about how that position sets you up on a longer career path or trajectory and whether that is the trajectory you want to be on. For example, think about whether flexibility is important to you. Do that internal searching for what's important to you and look at the full picture of the position to see if it aligns with the other pieces as well. A (Kimberly Maxfield): I wanted to add that salary negotiation still applies to the government and the GS scale. Negotiation is almost more important because the GS is set up with pre-determined intervals. The slope of advancement is almost always the same, so where you start is going to determine your y-intercept. Where you start is important in the government. There are opportunities for promotions, but as everybody probably has heard, HR in the government is notoriously horrible. That is correct; I can confirm that. I would encourage everyone to negotiate for that reason. Q (for Kimberly Maxfield): Do you read research or participate in the experiments to come up with the ideal dosages? Are you participating in any of bench research or digging into the articles, or is your position not involved in that kind of stuff anymore? A (Kimberly Maxfield): I’m not at the bench at all. Pharmaceutical companies will come in during their development. This is a part of the Food and Drug Association (FDA) that I think is not discussed a lot externally because it's all proprietary, so the details cannot be discussed. That said, the most impact the FDA has is during the drug development when the sponsors (pharmaceutical companies) come in asking how to set up their program at various stages--phase one, phase two, phase three, pre-clinical, or non-clinical. They want to know what the best dose is from a clinical pharmacology perspective. We have the most impact at the end of phase two, which is, basically, where the company is trying to figure out what population the drug is going to work in. That's when they're trying different regimens, different dosing levels, etc. The sponsors submit a meeting package to us, and we will have an open, honest, and scientifically-based discussion about what we think the best path forward is with the best risk benefit profile. I’m not at the bench at all, it's all reading submissions from companies and literature and talking to stakeholders. FDA does fund its own research. Often, the portfolio is nowhere near as big as the National Institutes of Health (NIH), but when there are regulatory questions that need to be answered, the FDA does conduct research. An example of FDA-funded research might be whether an auto injector for subcutaneous delivery can be used equally well in the shoulder or the thigh and whether different sites change the exposure for the patient. I work with the group in my office who does the benchmark to do that research, but I do not do it. Q: Do any of you have advice for: 1. Transitioning from an academic research position? 2. Staying in an academic research position and getting involved in science policy, especially in a case where your institution or employer doesn’t want you to take time away from your research and other institutional duties? 3. Transitioning mid-career? A (Amy Hein): I can answer be part of that with the front knowledge that I was not an academic tenure track professor, but I have hired many into different kinds of roles. I think it depends a little bit on what you are looking for in science policy. If you think about it broadly, there's many kinds of roles. You've heard about a number today already. We talked about some of the different fellowships and getting involved in different professional societies. I think part of it is figuring out how to talk about the roles you’ve already held and the skills that you already have as a tenure track professor. You may be serving on different committees. When you're in a committee, you may already be involved with stakeholder engagement, coordination, and other pieces. You're also mentoring or doing classes. Communication skills are part of teaching and other duties that you have as part of your role already. You may even have opportunities within the job duties of your current title to lead up a work group, like a journal club group. All those things are additional and not part of the bench part of the scientific world, but these experiences allow you to talk about other skills like strategic planning. There may be something going on in your institution or your division that you can talk about related to planning. It's a matter of keeping your eye out for that type of opportunity and figuring out how to talk about those transferable skills and experiences. You have to think of how to write it on your resume and talk about it in the interview. A (Vijeth Iyengar): I would also say writing is important, even mid-career. You want to be identified as a thought leader in a particular science policy issue space. I think a lot of this goes back to the question that was directed to Kim. You might be used to the bench or to driving your own research program. Then you transition from the bench to government work, in my case, but you still have that itch to be involved in bench work or to get more intimately involved in the science. To scratch that itch I tried to write as much as possible (pending clearance, review, and approval processes) for my agency on issues of importance in the aging, long-term care, or even neuroscience-informed public policy debate. If you're mid-career, you already have all that expertise. In that case, I think it's a matter of getting your name out there, not just from the academic side, but also in science policy on a particular policy debate. You can take one side or the other and articulate why a policy area is of importance. Oftentimes, if it's in the right venue, a lot of folks like policymakers on the Hill and folks in government will read those articles and will reach out to you. Then you’ll be able to have a relationship from that article and from that thought leadership you put into a public space. That’s one answer to that question. I will continue to write. Now there's all sorts of venues--Nature, Nature Aging--in the aging space where they have a policy perspectives section or a type of article focused on policy. Even Neuron has a policy perspective and neuro views. If your writing gets enough traction within government, then you can build some sort of relationship there. I’ll close very quickly. The National Science Foundation (NSF), Defense Advanced Research Projects (DARPA), and other agencies have folks that are faculty at research institutions serve as service program officers or managers for an extended period. Perhaps they take a sabbatical from their university. That's another way to get in the system, so to speak, and get your name out there. A (Adriana Bankston): If you're early career, again, putting up a blog for volunteering with nonprofits and societies is a good idea because it can really help you build connections and the skills that you need and demonstrate that you can generate deliverables. Maybe your advisor wants you to be in the lab all the time, and you're dealing with that. I do think that there are ways to get involved on the weekend, or you might be able to involve your advisor in some of the things you’d like to do. That's something that I did. I organized an event on my research and my advisor attended. I was able to get professional development out of that and my adviser was also happy with the event. On the other side of things, and this comes up a lot, are the mid- to late-career options. I will say that I think, as you’ve probably seen, a lot of these fellowships are for people in the early part of their career and applications are limited to a certain number of years post PhD. The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), I believe, is more open, but there are other ways to transition. I think that if you get enough experience and make the right connections, there are ways to transition without needing a fellowship. Q (for Amy Hein): Could you speak a bit about the difference between policy consulting and management consulting? A (Amy Hein): I think that question is interesting. I'm not 100% sure what they mean. I think of policy very broadly, so I think policy consulting and management consulting are overlapping Venn diagrams. There are parts that are different, but I think a lot of what we do and what we call science policy involves management consulting aspects. I also think the management consulting side of things relates to the science policy pieces. I think they're very related and the difference rests on whether you're pulling in that scientific expertise, understanding, and influence into the consulting that you're doing. Q: Is anyone able to speak to some opportunities in types of science policy positions outside of the DC metro area? I’m thinking about things like state government or different think tanks that might be across the country. A (Amy Hein): One thing I can add is that, especially after COVID, there's a lot more push to remote work. That’s definitely possible in the consulting world, but even in some other federal spaces there are at least discussions about remote work. I’m in the middle of the process of moving to Huntsville, Alabama. I'm going to continue working at Ripple Effect and just be fully remote. We’ve been remote for the last 16 months or so now anyway, and we've hired many folks across the country. I think private industry and the government contracting and consulting world are looking to hire nationwide because there are real talent shortages, especially if you have a particular expertise, so that might be one possibility that you'd have. Adriana, you might know more about different policy-related opportunities across the country through academic institutions. There are some think tanks. I used to follow Rand and they have some office space in California, so depending on where you are there definitely are possibilities. It's just a matter of finding that network and learning the things that exist there. A (Adriana Bankston): There are some state fellowships. There’s not a lot of them, but I can see this becoming a trend where different states are developing more of them. I think it's a different type of impact, but state-level work may be able to make a larger impact sometimes. Some of the things that exist in DC exist elsewhere as well. As you mentioned, there are think tanks and universities. Depending on the kind of policy that you want to do, there's probably some sort of setting for policy. There may not be government agencies and societies, I think both of those are in DC, but other sorts of settings that you can look at in your state. A (Vijeth Iyengar): I can also say that the US Government has many regional offices across the country so that's another opportunity. Feel free to reach out to the panelists via Linkedin, Twitter, or Instagram. If you do, please mention this webinar and a short description of what you are interested in. Thanks for reading!
  7. This resource has been adapted from the webinar Transitioning from the Bench to a Career in Science Policy, which took place June 15, 2021. Watch the full recording on Neuronline. Resources for Transitioning from the Bench to a Career in Science Policy This section will discuss some resources and opportunities that you can start considering and getting involved in if you're interested in transitioning to science policy. Such opportunities include involvement in societies and organizations. SfN is a big one. Adriana, the last panelist you heard from, and I co-chair the neuro policy committee of the DC Metro Area Chapter of SfN, so if you're interested in attending more events like this feel free to join the chapter. Currently, all our events are virtual, and we may continue to do some virtual opportunities in the future. Many panelists have mentioned the AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellowship. AAAS also has a CASE Workshop each year that you can apply to attend. The Journal of Science Policy and Governance (JSPG) is a great journal for early career researchers to get involved with submitting policy memos and writing policy briefs. National Science Policy Network (NSPN) is another organization that you might like to check out. Your university might also have a science policy group; many of them do. Another way to get involved is attending advocacy meetings and hill days. SfN has an annual Hill Day each year, which many of you might already know about. If you apply for SfN’s Early Career Policy Ambassador Program, that will give you an opportunity to attend one of those hill days. The Rally for Medical Research holds a hill day every year as well, so those are two big ones that you might be interested in checking out. Attending these hill days basically involves meeting with your legislators--the ones that represent your district--and speaking about advancements in neuroscience and the importance of strong funding for The National Institutes of Health (NIH), The National Science Foundation NSF, and Veterans Affairs (VA). There are also many volunteer and leadership opportunities. If you're currently a grad student, you can do things like get involved in your university senate graduate student government and get involved in any kind of outreach opportunities within your department or program. Serving on those committees and organizations is a great way to gain communication and leadership experience that will be valuable to you in science policy. Finally, you can find fellowships and internships in nonprofit organizations, Congressional programs, and Federal and State Government programs.
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