AAAS has selected the members of its first Multidisciplinary Working Group (MWG), which will focus on workforce development in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine (STEMM). These individuals span career stages, from a doctoral candidate through deans and directors, and come from both academic and non-academic organizations.
At the first convening of the working group in May, AAAS charged the members of the Empowering Career Pathways MWG with creating new and flexible entry points and intersections for STEMM careers, challenging traditional benchmarks of success, identifying new incentives for recruiting and retaining talent, and examining approaches to support professional and personal development.
“A major focus of this first working group is redefining what a successful career looks like and who a scientist could and should be,” said Willie E. May, AAAS president-elect and vice president of research and economic development at Morgan State University. “Expanding and changing perceptions about who belongs in STEMM and who STEMM is for is germane to the mission of AAAS and, by extension, at the core of this first multidisciplinary working group.”
Working group members from academic institutions bring experience from large research-intensive universities and smaller, primarily undergraduate-serving and private colleges as well as a community college and a premier urban HBCU. Several members work specifically in advancement for students, postdoctoral fellows, faculty and professionals. Two members work at foundations, and others bring an industry perspective to the group.
The disciplines represented include biosciences, psychology, chemistry, ecology, engineering, public health, geography and education. In addition, there are members with non-STEMM educational backgrounds who have spent their professional lives in sectors that support and promote science and scientists.
“We have formed an exceptional group across a range of perspectives, not only from different career stages but also from diverse STEMM disciplines, geographic regions, professional sectors and lived experiences,” said Julie Rosen, the AAAS director of strategic initiatives tasked with managing the working group.
Working group members recognize firsthand the myriad barriers faced by students and young professionals with marginalized or under-represented identities, or who come from international, first-generation or non-traditional training backgrounds. They have committed to centering diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility across all the outputs of their efforts.
Other issues the working group raised during its first meeting include the difficulty of leaving or re-entering an academic career pathway, the biases favoring individuals with science degrees compared with those having specialized training without degrees, the critical need for good mentors, and the exclusionary structures and practices of the education system beginning in childhood through advanced training.
“I’m excited to see that the first Multidisciplinary Working Group is finally taking shape and that it will tackle such long-standing, almost intractable issues that persist in the STEMM workforce,” said Morton Ann Gernsbacher, the Vilas Research Professor and Sir Frederic Bartlett Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and member of the AAAS Council that oversees the working group.
Much work faces the group in the months ahead. AAAS has challenged them to develop actionable recommendations to address the topics they decide to tackle and present at the Annual Meeting in February 2024.
“While the group has an ambitious agenda, I can’t wait to see what they develop over the next months,” said Sudip Parikh, AAAS CEO and executive publisher of Science journals. “AAAS must be bold in our vision to lead concerted efforts such as these to change culture, thinking, and policy across the scientific enterprise.”
As the working group solidifies its outputs, information will be made available and shared through the AAAS Empowering Career Pathways in STEMM Multidisciplinary Working Group page.
The members of the inaugural working group are:
- Katherine Bailey; The Kavli Foundation
- Monica Ramirez Basco, Ph.D.; Clinical Psychologist, Author, Citizen Scholar
- Matthew L. Blank, Ph.D.; Assistant Professor; Center for Educational Outreach, Baylor College of Medicine
- Randi Chmielewski; Rita Allen Foundation
- Endia J. Crabtree, Ph.D., B.C.M.A.S., C.D.P.; Senior Clinical Evaluation Scientist, Clinical Product Risk, Boston Scientific Corp.; Board Certified Medical Affairs Specialist; Certified Diversity Professional
- Joel Ducoste, Ph.D.; Associate Dean of Faculty Advancement and Professor of Environmental Engineering, North Carolina State University
- Rachel A. Figard, M.S.; Ph.D. Student and Graduate Research Associate, Engineering Education Systems and Design; Arizona State University
- Gia Grier McGinnis, DrPH; Executive Director, Center for Community, Service, and Justice & The York Road Initiative, Loyola University Maryland
- Giovanna Guerrero-Medina, Ph.D.; Executive Director, Ciencia Puerto Rico; Director for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Wu Tsai Institute at Yale and Yale School of Medicine
- Jeremiah A Henning, Ph.D.; Assistant Professor, Department of Biology, University of South Alabama
- Robert Hickey, Ph.D.; Professor of Geography, Central Washington University; Executive Director, AAAS-Pacific Division
- Piyush Kumar, Ph.D.; Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Environmental Medicine and Public Health, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai; and Associate Editor, Journal of Science Policy and Governance
- Charla Lambert, Ph.D.; Diversity Equity & Inclusion Officer, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory; President, SACNAS (Society for the Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science)
- Craig Milgrim, M.S.; Professor Emeritus, Biology; Trustee, Board of Trustees; San Diego Community College District
- Sumali Pandey, Ph.D.; Associate Professor, Minnesota State University Moorhead
- Glenda M. Prime, Ph.D.; Professor of Science Education; Dean, School of Education and Urban Studies and Director of the Center for the Elimination of Educational Disparities, Morgan State University
- Ashley L. Ruba, Ph.D.; UX Researcher, Meta
- Bonnielin Swenor, Ph.D., M.P.H.; Director, Johns Hopkins Disability Health Research Center; Associate Professor, Johns Hopkins School of Nursing, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine
- Jacob Swiatek; Program Manager, Envisioneering Inc.
- Susi (Sturzenegger) Varvayanis; Cornell University