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Building National Capacity for Inclusive, Evidence-Based Practices in PhD Professional Development

In recent years, universities, professional societies, and funding agencies have increased investment in the career development of PhD trainees, leading to an influx of new professionals into the field and establishment of new programs.  Though the culture of PhD career and professional development has long been one of sharing best practices, such sharing within networks has been inefficient for changing the broader higher education ecosystem. Moreover, the field of PhD career and professional development--and graduate education more broadly--lacks resources and infrastructure for rigorous evaluation and research that can inform continued evolution of educational practices. As we push to enhance graduate education to better address scientists' professional development and the wealth of careers that STEM PhDs pursue, there is a national need to build capacity to better connect research to practice, test the effectiveness of educational approaches, and disseminate effective practices in a way that will support their adoption and adaptation across various educational contexts, in ways that enhance diversity, equity, and inclusion in science. 

I am honored to be leading a cross-stakeholder initiative, Professional Development Hub (pd|hub), to facilitate the spread of evidence-based practices in STEM PhD career development. The initiative was initially developed by a working group brought together by the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, and co-chaired by Bruce Alberts and me. pd|hub's development and activities have been supported by ASBMB, the Burroughs Wellcome Fund,  National Science Foundation, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and National Institutes of Health. Our actions are shaped by the pd|hub stakeholder workshop (report) hosted in July 2019 at Janelia Research Campus, bringing together employers, training directors and university leaders, career development professionals, scientific societies, higher education professional associations, education researchers and evaluators, students and postdocs, funders, and disseminators. 

Through pd|hub, we are developing a new framework--the pd|hub Collections--for supporting the dissemination of evidence-based practices in graduate and postdoctoral education. This framework achieves this by a) peer-reviewing and curating concise, diverse collections of educational models for various professional development competencies, b) providing resources, training, and ongoing consultation to universities or organizations (“implementation sites”) to facilitate efficient adaptation, implementation, evaluation, and evolution of the featured models, and c) incentivizing, recognizing, and supporting educators seeking to disseminate their work. We are leading a study of the effectiveness of this framework, as well as a cross-site evaluation to measure outcomes of these educational approaches across diverse educational contexts. 

More about this initiative > 

Key colleagues on this work:
People of pd|hub

Grant support and sponsorship for project:
American Society for Biochemistry & Molecular Biology
Burroughs Wellcome Fund
National Institute for General Medical Sciences, National Institutes of Health (grant no. 1R25GM139076) 

Activities sponsored by:
National Science Foundation  (grant no. 1848789, DGE-NRT)
Howard Hughes Medical Institute

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