As part of their training, our students just finished up their year-long course, a mandatory seminar for first-year trainees, which is listed under the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology as a 2 unit course. The seminar is devoted to the application of basic ecological principles to the understanding and resolution of environmental problems of both local and global natures. Current problems are approached through a combination of readings, group discussions, and visiting speakers.
From guest speaker Dr. Sherri Hunt, students took away two main messages: it is important to be mission driven, and that you must always have a contingency plan. Dr. Hunt is the Assistant Center Director for the Air, Climate, and Energy (ACE) Research Program and a Geoscience Program Director for the National Science Foundation (NSF). For PhD students and trainees looking to continue their research, she suggests that students must first know their audience. At the end of the day, we are a network of professionals dedicated to research in order to affect change; everyone needs clean water, air, and a sustainable climate. One of the first tools students must master in order to continue promoting change is the ability to connect the dots for their reader, and emphasize the legibility of content, references, and citations.
Kenneth Schiff is the Deputy Director for the Southern California Coastal Water Research Project and is responsible for helping manage day-to-day operations, supervising and mentoring senior level staff, and developing the long-term vision of the research agency.
Ken posited four questions for our trainees aimed at helping them decide on a career path:
- What are the pay and benefits?
- How much freedom do you have to do what you want to do?
- Can you market? No matter which sector you’re in, you’re trying to get money to do your job, so you have to market your job.
- Outside of academia, how does your research matter to the general populous and fit into other people’s research?
Lauren Lyon is the Graduate Student liaison at UCI. She has worked at both private and public higher educational institutions, and outside of higher education, has worked in K-12 and with local non-profits providing counseling services. Lauren’s passion is helping students find purpose and meaning in their careers. From Lauren in a session aimed at improving job hireability through requested materials in the application process such as resumes, CVs, and cover letters, students learned that the best approach to crafting these materials to stick with the classics. By adhering to typical formatting, hiring committees are able to find the information they need to value your application appropriately.
As the development of our training course and the increased involvement from community partners continues, we look forward to the new cohort of R2R trainees and the successful careers of our current students!