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S.I.T.E. program

Invited postdoc exchange between Texas A&M University and other veterinary schools (TBD).

 

 

Background: For many young scientists and professionals, the postdoctoral period represents a critical time-frame for fostering their future career. During this 3-5 year span postdoctoral scholars are expected to further develop skill sets that will enable them to progress in their respective field and function independently. The skills needed to complete a successful career transition include but are not limited to: conducting meaningful research, securing funding, writing manuscripts, teaching experience and communication. Successful postdoctoral tenure should include the opportunity for success in all of these areas.

Rational: Communication is at the essence of scientific progression. Yet, enhancing communication ability, particularly verbal communication, is a difficult task in part because the short-term nature of the postdoctoral period rarely allows for opportunities for oral presentations at national or international conferences.
Specific Aim: The long-term goal of this proposal is to create a mechanism that will enhance the communication skills of postdoctoral researchers and residents. The aim of this particular proposal is to establish an "invited speaker" exchange program between the postdoctoral associations at Texas A&M University, North Carolina State University, and University of Georgia.

Format: Both researcher and resident members of the postdoctoral association at Texas A&M University will be given the opportunity to speak during the spring semester. The titles and abstracts of the presentations will be sent to the postdoctoral association at North Carolina State and the University of Georgia from which two will be selected to present their findings (one to each university). In turn, the University of Georgia and North Carolina State University will send abstracts to the postdoctoral association at Texas A&M University from which two (one from each university) will be selected to present their findings.
Anticipated Outcomes: The establishment of the postdoctoral exchange will enhance the training potential of postdoctoral scholars at each of the collaborating institutions. These efforts should be exemplified when submitting proposals for external postdoctoral grant applications. Moreover, the opportunity to meet new faculty, peers, future collaborators, and give an "invited presentation" will provide additional incentive to enhance the communication ability by all members and an invaluable experience for those selected. These goals directly parallel the mission statement of the postdoctoral association which is to "improve the quality of the postdoctoral experience and to facilitate the long-term success of our members in a manner that will also prepare them for future employment."
Design and Requirements: The primary motivation driving this proposal is to provide an opportunity for enhancing communication skills among postdoctoral researchers at Texas A&M University. This will be accomplished by providing a competitive incentive for postdoctoral researchers to present their current research through the implementation of an invited post-doctoral exchange agreement between Texas A&M University, University of Georgia, and North Carolina State University. This exchange will proceed as follows: the post-doctoral association members at the participating universities will submit a list of titles and abstracts to the reciprocal university, in this case Texas A&M will send to North Carolina State and University of Georgia, North Carolina State will send to Texas A&M and University of Georgia, and University of Georgia will send to North Carolina State and Texas A&M University. From these abstracts, the postdoctoral association at the respective universities will chose one member from the received abstracts from the other participating institutions to present their finding in the form of a 40-45 minute presentation to the faculty, staff and students of the respective university.

Because the primary goal of this proposal is to provide a means to enhance communication ability, members wishing to participate must meet the following requirements:
• The individual must be an active member of the postdoctoral association at Texas A&M University.
• The individual must be a senior level postdoctoral researcher or resident (i.e. not in their first year of postdoctoral training or residency).
• The individual must agree to attend a minimum of six organizational meetings during the year.
• The abstract for their presentation must be submitted by April 2, 2012.
• The individual must give an oral presentation at one of the postdoctoral meetings or the graduate student/postdoctoral symposium.
Failure to meet the requirements will result in ineligibility for participation in the exchange program.

Potential Problems and Pitfalls: We acknowledge that an increase in individual communication ability is not an easily measurable outcome. However, it is generally accepted that repetition enhances communication ability. As such, we believe that by increasing exposure of our members to scientific presentations (given by peers), giving presentations in supportive environments, and encouraging the participation of each member in the program it is likely that each member's ability to communicate will be enhanced.

We have recognized that abstract quality may not reflect the quality of the presentation. In order to ensure that the members at North Carolina State University and the University of Georgia will receive a quality presentation, each oral presentation will be peer evaluated and ranked on a scale of 1-5 with a score of 5 being of highest quality and 1 being of low quality. Only presentations with an overall value of 3 or better will be considered for the exchange. Feedback sheets will be provided to the presenters to assist in growth and development of communication skills.