We’re launching a new series on the Naturejobs blog called Ask the expert, where you, our readers, get to chose what questions our experts answer. However, we’ve decided to ease them in slowly and will be providing the questions for you to vote on. Over time, we will open this up and ask you to provide us with questions.
Meet our first expert, Dr Jim Gould, the Director in the Office for Postdoctoral Fellows at Harvard Medical School.
What is your scientific background?
I have a PhD in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from the University of Louisville where I studied Akt-mediated TGF-beta secretion in diabetic nephropathy. Then I went to the National Cancer Institute of the NIH where I did two postdoc fellowships, the first examining the hedgehog/Gli pathway in carcinogenesis and the second determining the metabolic regulation of the proline redox cycle.
Why did you decide to leave academia?
I never left, I just left the bench. My decision was based on on three things: a) I was terribly interested in doing what I currently do; b) I was very good at it and had developed a reputation; c) I didn’t see a future in research for me and I felt I could do more good by helping others do their research better.
What do you currently do?
I am currently the director of the HMS/HSDM Office for Postdoctoral Fellows where I oversee the professional development of nearly 1000 postdocs. I deliver career-focused programming, I counsel postdocs on their job search and networking adventures and I help develop and implement reasonable postdoc policies.
Why did you decide to take on the role you have now?
I never expected to be running a postdoc office straight out of my postdoc. The opportunity was perfectly timed and I jumped at at the chance to do what I dreamed about doing at a great institution like Harvard Medical School. Unlike my progression through academic research, this was a strategic and well thought out move.
How do you want to help scientists in their careers?
I want to help them by lowering the hurdles to success so they can focus on the endpoint. I want to help them by flattening the learning curve so they can move faster and further along their trajectory. Finally, I want to help them by advising them to approach their career with the same enthusiasm, rigor, and thoughtfulness in which they approach their science.
Tell us something interesting about yourself.
People are always surprised to find out how very competitive I really am in all things, especially sports. They meet me under such innocuous circumstances, at the office, at my daughter’s school, on the T and are so surprised by my demeanor when they see me playing basketball or watching football.
Our first few options focus on career skills and exploration. Please vote in the poll below and let us know which question you would like Dr Gould to answer.
NB: Julie and Jim are not related!