Developing programs for undergraduates, graduate students, and postdoctoral scholars in genomic education.
About Melanie Sinche, NCC
Melanie Sinche is currently the Director of Education at The Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine in Farmington, Conn., developing programs for undergraduates, graduate students, and postdoctoral scholars in genomic education.
Prior to this position, she served as a Senior Research Associate in the Labor and Worklife Program at the Harvard Law School, where she conducted survey research on careers for PhDs in science. She was also the Founding Director of the FAS Office of Postdoctoral Affairs at Harvard University, held the same position at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and served as a consultant to the National Institutes of Health in building the first NIH Career Services Center for over 9,000 intramural trainees.
Her current research explores employment patterns of recent science and engineering PhDs. Her work also addresses skills and experiences required to enter different scientific occupations, and illustrates whether these were developed in the educational/training period of the PhD or on the job, thus contributing to the national discussion of efficacious training of PhD-level scientists and engineers.
Melanie received her Bachelor's degree from Colgate University, and graduate degrees from the University of Michigan and North Carolina State University. She is also a National Certified Counselor with a career development focus. She currently holds a contract for a book on careers for PhDs in science with Harvard University Press, to be released in the fall of 2016.
A national sample of PhD-trained scientists completed training, accepted subsequent employment in academic and nonacademic positions, and were queried about their previous graduate training and current employment. Respondents indicated factors contributing to their employment decision (e.g., working conditions, salary, job security). The data indicate the relative importance of deciding factors influencing career choice, controlling for gender, initial interest in faculty careers, and number of postgraduate publications. Among both well-represented (WR; n = 3444) and underrepresented minority (URM; n = 225) respondents, faculty career choice was positively associated with desire for autonomy and partner opportunity and negatively associated with desire for leadership opportunity. Differences between groups in reasons endorsed included: variety, prestige, salary, family influence, and faculty advisor influence. Furthermore, endorsement of faculty advisor or other mentor influence and family or peer influence were surprisingly rare across groups, suggesting that formal and informal support networks could provide a missed opportunity to provide support for trainees who want to stay in faculty career paths. Reasons requiring alteration of misperceptions (e.g., limited leadership opportunity for faculty) must be distinguished from reasons requiring removal of actual barriers. Further investigation into factors that affect PhDs' career decisions can help elucidate why URM candidates are disproportionately exiting the academy.
Receiving a Ph.D. in a scientific field generally involves a lot of very hard work. How does this rigorous process translate to job performance and satisfaction when so many now pursue non-traditional research paths?