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Excellence Everywhere - National University of Ireland, Galway

Excellence Everywhere - National University of Ireland, Galway

RESPONSIBILITIES

RESPONSIBILITIES BEYONDTHE LABORATORYAs a scientist at a research-oriented university ora research institute, you may focus principally onresearch. But you may also be required to teachclasses and to train the people who work in yourlaboratory. In addition, you may have to performvarious administrative functions at your institution,and if you are a physician, you may also have tolook after patients.TeachingYou may find juggling your teaching and researchresponsibilities to be a bit overwhelming at first.No matter when your teaching duties begin, takethe time to prepare for them. If there are any“how to teach” courses offered on campus, takethem, and if you can, ask permission to sit in on afew of your colleagues’ lectures to see how theyhandle their classes.Bear in mind that teaching gives you an opportunityto meet students who may be interested in doingresearch in your laboratory. There is much moredetailed discussion about teaching in Chapter 8,“Teaching and Course Design.”Launching a research career in biomedicalsciences in low-resource environments indisease-endemic countries is a huge challenge.Success may depend more on creativity andluck than the extent of knowledge about thesubject. In these environments a genius isbest defined by Thomas Edison’s adage—90%perspiration and 10% inspiration.”Moses Bockarie, Papua New GuineaCommittee WorkYou may be expected to participate in one or morecommittees or groups at a university. Althoughyou should take this responsibility seriously, youalso need to be judicious in your choice of assignments.Some committees are very labor-intensive.Others may deal with politically sensitive mattersthat may be difficult for a new researcher. Othercommittees may deal with matters irrelevantto your concerns as a scientist. So, before youaccept a committee assignment, ask for a detaileddescription of what will be expected of you interms of time commitment and the nature of thedecisions to be made. It may help to talk withyour colleagues about which committees areimportant to your success and which are potentialtime-wasters.Your university may have a number of committeesthat take care of issues such as promotion offaculty, hiring new faculty, ethics, human subjectsresearch, laboratory safety, teaching, awards, andlong-term planning for the university. If you areasked to serve, try to find out about the meetingschedules and workloads of these committees.Generally, committees that are responsible forcase-by-case review of individual applications orprojects are the most labor-intensive. However,the workload of a policy committee that initiallysounded light may suddenly expand when it findsitself dealing with a “hot” issue.Many committees, however, do give you a goodreturn on your time investment. Serving on asearch committee for hiring new staff may giveyou a voice in deciding who a new colleague willbe. You might also want to be on a committeethat puts together a seminar program or scientificmeeting. This will give you a chance to inviteleaders in your field to visit your institution, aswell as being a good way to bring in scientistswith whom you may want to collaborate. Work onan admissions committee for graduate studentsmight be worthwhile because it will introduce youto students who could work in your lab. A goodstrategy is to try to get on a committee whereyour expertise will be useful but you will not beoverburdened. Ask the head of your departmentand senior faculty for advice on balancing committeework with your other obligations in the earlyyears of your career.26 excellence everywhere

SCIENTISTS ANDTHE OUTSIDE WORLDIf you are based at a university or research institute,you may owe allegiance to several constituencies—to the university or research institute that supportsyou, to your profession, and to the generalpublic that stands to benefit from your research.To keep your outside activities appropriate, youneed to be aware of the university’s or institute’srules and expectations with regard to:n Service in professional associations.n Conflict of interest and conflict of commitment,including limits on consulting activities.n Relationships with the news media and withgovernment and political agencies.n Participating in industrial labor actions (strikes).ConsultingAs your career develops, you may find opportunitiesto consult with commercial entities such asbiotechnology or pharmaceutical companies inyour own country and abroad. Both you and yourhome institution stand to benefit from relationshipsthat extend your reputation, add to yourknowledge and skills, and may result in practicalapplications of your discoveries. In addition, youmay welcome the added income. But remember—the institution that employs you may have primaryclaim to your labor and your allegiance.Many universities with faculty involved in this kindof work have developed explicit guidelines limitingthe extent of a staff member’s work with otherparties. It is critical that you know your institution’spolicies regarding your work outside the scope ofuniversity or research institute employment andyour relationships with outside parties. If you areat an institution where such guidelines are notin place, it is still prudent to check in with thoseabove you before you take on a significant outsidecommitment.Public ServiceAs your career progresses, you may be calledupon to serve on boards of directors or commissions,or testify before government bodies on themeaning of your work or its ethical or public policyimplications.Treat these invitations as a serious responsibility.Again, letting those above you know that you havebeen invited to participate is important. If you areworried that your superiors will take these opportunitiesfor themselves or resent you for havingbeen offered such opportunities, talk to a trustedadvisor about how to proceed. It may help to havea letter of invitation that clearly specifies that yourexpertise is the reason for the invitation.Remember, anything you say in public will reflecton your institution. It is easy to be misunderstoodor quoted out of context. Practicing what youwant to say before the event will help you deliveryour message clearly.You may also have opportunities to participatein educating the public about science and how itaffects them, at schools or at community events.These opportunities can be both enjoyable andrewarding.The people you should get to know locallyshould also include politicians and publicservants in the appropriate governmentdepartments. You will need their support ifyou require funding from UN organizationslike the World Health Organization and aidagencies like USAID.”Moses Bockarie, Papua New GuineaENTRY AND RE-ENTRY: establishing yourself as a scientist in a new job27

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