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National Workshop Brings Career Development Help to Sandia Postdocs, Student Interns

The American Chemical Society’s ACS on Campus is bringing career development workshops for scientists and engineers to Sandia National Laboratories’ postdoctoral fellows and interns, only the second time the program has come to a national laboratory.

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The American Chemical Society’s ACS on Campus is bringing career development workshops for scientists and engineers to Sandia National Laboratories’ postdoctoral fellows and interns, only the second time the program has come to a national laboratory.

ACS on Campus will kick off the evening of July 19 with a Science Café presentation and a panel discussion on alternative careers in science. The daylong program July 20 at Steve Schiff Auditorium, video-linked to Sandia/California, includes workshops on publishing, writing grant proposals, finding collaborative research opportunities, careers in industry and higher education and effective communication about why science matters.

“This is an important program that is of value to our next generation of scientists,” said Jennifer Taylor Howell, program manager in the ACS Membership and Scientific Advancement Division, who is helping organize the event. “These are the people we’re looking at to lead us. We certainly want to invest in them.”

The program, presented in coordination with Sandia’s Postdoctoral Professional Development Program, or PD2P, is being offered to the Labs’ estimated 200 postdocs and 300 to 400 student interns, who are split between Sandia’s New Mexico and California sites.

The postdoc community in particular is living between two worlds, said geochemistry department postdoctoral appointee Stephanie Teich-McGoldrick, PD2P workshop chairwoman in New Mexico. She and PD2P statistics chairman Morgan Alley, a postdoctoral appointee in the international chemical threat reduction department, are helping organize the ACS event.

Sandia’s postdoctoral appointees are temporary employees who recently received doctoral degrees. They come to Sandia to develop additional technical and professional skills, said Teich-McGoldrick.

“ACS on Campus is great for us,” she said. “It’s a full day of program material that would be very hard to do ourselves.”

ACS on Campus made its debut in 2010 at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn., and has been presented around the nation and overseas in Germany, Italy, China and elsewhere. It will travel to Los Alamos National Laboratory on July 23-24.

ACS first presented the program at a national lab in July 2011 at Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois. It went well, and ACS representatives asked Nancy Jackson, a Sandia manager who is the immediate past president of ACS, if Sandia would be interested in a similar program.

ACS wants students to gain new skills and an awareness of what resources are available so they’re better equipped to advance in their careers, Howell said. Although ACS is behind the event, workshops have been tailored to interest postdocs and student interns from all disciplines.

“The goal is to help build community and help the next generation of scientists moving forward,” Howell said. “The American Chemical Society is invested in the future of the science.”

The basics of ACS on Campus don’t change just because it’s presented at a national laboratory.

“There are so many students and postdocs at the national labs that it’s a good place to get in touch with them also,” Jackson said.

PD2P, which began in 2007, provides a way for Sandia’s postdoc community to meet each other and develop professional skills. Sandia’s Student Intern Program has year-round, summer and academic year co-op programs in technical and business-related opportunities for students from high school to doctoral candidates. ACS publishes 39 journals and is the largest professional organization in the world with more than 164,000 members.