Becoming a Resilient Scientist

myCHOICE is excited to partner with the BSD Office of Postdoctoral Affairs in hosting this webinar/workshop series, originally developed by the NIH Office of Intramural Training & Education.

Navigating research training, the career exploration process, research environments, and the stress of life can seem overwhelming and lead us to doubt ourselves just when we need confidence the most. The goal of this series is to help you develop the resilience you need to navigate challenging situations in school, work and life. The series will consist of six webinars, each followed by a small group discussion the following week. The webinars will highlight emotional intelligence competencies needed for academic success and for thriving in research careers. We will discuss the cultivation of skills to help you realize resilience and identify and deal with obstacles that get in your way. While you may participate in any of the webinars, it is best to participate in the entire series as the material relates and concepts will be developed throughout the series. Webinars will be led by the NIH Office of Intramural Training & Education, while group meetings will be led by local UChicago facilitators and attended by only UChicago trainees.

The dates and times of workshops and group discussions in the series are: 

Part I: An Introduction to Resilience and Wellness
Webinar: Jan 26, 1 – 3 PM (or watch later) attend seminar through this link
Group meeting: Feb 3, 11 AM – 12:30 PM 
We all experience setback and disappointments in science, work and life. In this webinar we will look at seven key elements of resilience with a focus on building habits that promote healthier responses and resilient behaviors in the face of set-back in educational and work environments. 

Part II: Understanding Cognitive Distortions, Imposter Fears and Stereotype Threat
Webinar: Feb 15, 1- 3 PM (or watch later) attend seminar through this link
Group meeting: Feb 24, 11 AM – 12:30 PM
We tell ourselves stories about what is happening to us and around us. In this webinar we will explore how our self-talk is generated and look at ways our self-talk can either help us be more resilient or how it can hurt us and hold us back. We will look at two important elements of our self-talk, cognitive distortions and imposter fears and explore ways to recognize internal messages and input from others that distorts our views of our abilities and accomplishments. 

Part III: Emotions and Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace
Webinar: March 8, 1 – 3 PM (or watch later) attend seminar through this link
Group meeting: Mar 17, 11 AM – 12:30 PM 
Emotions can play a critical role in how we communicate, navigate relationships, and manage conflict. In this webinar we will discuss Emotional Intelligence and emotions and how they influence our resilience as scientists. 

Part IV: Self-Advocacy and Assertiveness for Scientists
Webinar: March 30, 1 – 3 PM (or watch later) attend seminar through this link
Group meeting: April 7, 11 AM – 12:30 PM
We all need to develop the skills needed to be assertive and to advocate for ourselves, especially in hierarchical environments where we sometimes feel we do not have a voice. In this webinar, we will discuss how to set boundaries, communicate expectations, ask for feedback and discuss difficult issues with friends, mentors, colleagues and supervisors. 

Part V: Developing Feedback Resilience
Webinar: April 20, 1 – 3 PM (or watch later) attend seminar through this link
Group meeting: April 28th, 11 AM – 12:30 PM 
We all need feedback to grow and learn but we often become defensive and are unable to learn from the feedback we receive, even if it is delivered well. In this webinar, we will talk about why receiving feedback is so difficult and explore ways to stay calm and engaged when receiving feedback. We will also talk about giving feedback in a calm and assertive way so that our voice can be heard. 

Part VI: Managing Up to Maximize Mentoring Relationships
Webinar: May 10, 1- 3 PM (or watch later) attend seminar through this link
Group meeting: May 19, 11 AM – 12:30 PM 
We all need mentors to support and encourage us throughout our educational and career journey. In this webinar, we will talk about the mentoring relationship in research environments with a focus on improving your relationship with your PI, finding mentors and on improving communication and interpersonal interactions. The webinar will help clarify what you need from your supervisors and mentors and address how to get what you need from these important interactions. 

Before registering consider the following commitments that will help to ensure the most successful workshop experience:

  • The six webinars build on each other so the most value will be had from attending all sessions.
  • The small group nature of the series will rely on engaged participation from everyone; we expect that participants will come prepared to actively engage in group discussion.

About the NIH Office of Intramural Training

The NIH Office of Intramural Training & Education (OITE) is a division of the Office of Intramural Research (OIR), Office of the Director (OD). Our mission is to enhance the training experience of students and fellows on all of the NIH campuses. We work closely with the Training Offices in the NIH Institutes and Centers to help trainees in the Intramural Research Program (IRP) develop scientific and professional skills that will enable them to become leaders in the biomedical research community. The OITE is extending its services to the extramural community.  Many of our workshops, seminars, and career development resources are available to individuals outside the NIH as online materials or via videocasting

About the Group Facilitators

Vipul Sharma, PhD
Assistant Director, BSD Postdoctoral Affairs

Vipul is the Assistant Director, BSD Postdoctoral Affairs at the University of Chicago and the current Co-chair of the Diversity Task Force of the National Postdoctoral Association. He received his doctoral degree in cardiovascular developmental genetics from the Institute of Genetic Medicine, Newcastle University, UK and completed his postdoctoral training at Washington University in St. Louis, USA. During his postdoctoral training he served as the Outreach Director and Executive Council Member of the campus’ postdoc association. He also collaborated with the university’ Office of Postdoctoral Affairs and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Office on projects championing postdocs. He is passionate about graduate and postdoctoral programs directed towards mentorship, advocacy, policy making, and increasing representation and diversity. Vipul uses he/they pronouns.

Abby Stayart, PhD
Director, UChicago myCHOICE

Abby Stayart, PhD, is the Director of myCHOICE, the University of Chicago professional development program for STEM PhDs. In this role, Abby has developed a wide variety of career development programming, including a career-focused weekly seminar series, a broad variety of mini-courses, internships, and career-themed treks to industry hubs across the country. Abby oversees all aspects of the program and is the primary liaison with academic, administrative, and trainee partners across the University campus, and recruits alumni from across the country to participate as speakers, instructors, and mentors in the program. As a member of the BEST Consortium Steering Committee, Abby headed up the career taxonomy working group that collaborated with other academic and non-profit entities to develop the 3-tier career outcomes; she led and published a research effort to investigate the reliability of that taxonomy. Through national conference presentations and speaking engagements at universities and institutions nation-wide, Abby advocates for the legitimization of the language of career choice for STEM PhDs.

Prior to pursuing a career in academic administration, Abby was an adjunct biology instructor at Loyola University Chicago and, while a postdoc at UChicago, was deeply involved with the Biological Sciences Division Postdoctoral Association (PDA) where she founded and chaired the Committee for Teaching and Outreach, and resuscitated a dormant Committee for Postdoc Orientation. Also through the PDA, Abby advocated on behalf of postdocs in university negotiations to develop a consistent parental leave policy and the revision of the existing postdoc grievance policy. Abby received bachelors degrees in gender studies and biology, at the University of Chicago and Rockhurst University (Kansas City), respectively; she earned a PhD in Genetics from the University of Chicago in 2012. Abby uses she/her pronouns.

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