Summer Social Media Update

Beachcombing in Antarctica.*  Image credit:

Seasons change and so do social media communication strategies!

For the last handful of years, we’ve maintained a CSUPERB LinkedIn Group page. We’re pulling the plug on that page and going dark due to changes in LinkedIn’s policies.  We’re planning to migrate to a new CSUPERB Alumni LinkedIn page this summer during our annual outreach to graduates.

CSUPERB program updates and “what we’re reading” content will migrate to a new monthly newsletter.  I’ll issue a newsletter the fourth Friday of each month. If you’ve been missing updates here at the blog, you might like the newsletter. You can subscribe (and read the inaugural issue) here:

While push email newsletters are spiffy – they don’t allow the back-and-forth LinkedIn Groups did. We’re looking at other platforms, like Slack, that might allow more community conversation and sharing. You can read more about Slack in science in this Nature article.

We’re having fun here in the CSUPERB office giving Slack a work-out as we get ready for the BIO 2017 I-Corps Bio-Entrepreneurship Workshop.  We’re looking forward to hosting 25 early-career researchers from universities nationwide at San Diego State University!  We are thankful to NSF and BIO for their support of the pilot workshop, as well as a small army of generous teaching team members, facilitators, and mentors from the National Innovation Network!  We’re hoping to keep a Slack #bioentrepreneurship channel open for this new community of interest and practice.

Speaking of community, former CSU Los Angeles dean and SPC member, Jim Henderson, invited me to talk with the University of Wisconsin regents about CSUPERB’s communities of practice model. They are thinking about organizing a system-wide group of researchers around regional water research. My slide deck is here, FYI. It was an honor to get the invitation to tell our story in Madison.

This week I watched an episode of Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown, featuring NSF-supported scientists hanging out at the beach in Antarctica. The scientists and support staff describe the great sense of community developed while working at one of the most remote and challenging field stations on the globe. The depiction of their research endeavors and their description of their community of practice made for great TV (maybe I’m biased!). I hope you work on fascinating systems and find similar senses of pride, community, and purpose in field stations, labs and clinics across the CSU this summer!



    Getting Off Campus: Upcoming Meetings of Note

    Over the last 3 years, CSUPERB’s FCG and SPC have emphasized the need for faculty professional development on two fronts: 1) partnering off-campus and 2) cross-campus collaborations between academic affairs and student affairs.  The first is based on the belief that research PIs might have greater impact (and grant-getting success) by working with collaborators or community organizations off-campus.  The need for help in building better cross-divisional collaborations is rooted in our desire to improve student engagement and persistence in the STEM fields. Today I want to showcase two upcoming meetings that address these two CSUPERB goals!


    The CSU I-Corps program, funded by NSF, purposefully sets aside funds to plug CSU-based researchers into surrounding regional innovation “ecosystems.”  As I said to a room of entrepreneurship educators last week at VentureWell Open 2017, “Several of our early attempts to organize regional meetings failed to lure even one academic biological sciences researcher off-campus despite pizza, beer, interesting topics, engaging speakers, or hip incubator venues. In biotech, the practice or habit of mind involved in talking with and listening to industry experts is extremely important.  Research-based product development is a highly partnered, decade-long endeavor. Identifying value-adding development milestones, de-risking strategies, and realistic paths to commercialization is something best learned alongside experts, typically found outside academia.”  PIs and students who participate in CSU I-Corps courses begin to build these networks, but diving into these ecosystems is important over the long haul if PIs want to develop solutions to health, nutrition and environmental problems.


    Just this morning, David Shaywitz wrote a Forbes article (#goodread) that highlights “the translational gap so prevalent in medicine, the space between a promising idea (often captured in an academic publication) and one that’s been successfully implemented at scale.”  This gap is what inspired students to ask for entrepreneurship training back in 2010 and what motivates much of CSUPERB’s programming.


    Next Thursday, April 6th, the Ignite22 one-day meeting in San Pedro (LA region) will feature posters and talks from CSUPERB, COAST and ARI investigators.


    So we’ve been working with enthusiastic partners, BraidTheory, COAST‘s Krista Kamer and ARI‘s David Still,* to draw together academic researchers, entrepreneurs, industry and agency professionals interested in ag tech, biotech and blue tech next week!  Ignite22 intentionally gathers a multi-disciplinary mix of expertise to inspire solutions for the problems of the 22nd century.  I hope it provides an interesting excuse to get off campus!



    If you’d like to attend to listen, learn and network – you can buy tickets at the Ignite22 website. Use the promo code CSUPERB22 to save $20 off the $50 registration!  Come with your research group and cheer on your colleagues!


    Here is the list of researchers drawn from the CSUPERB, ARI and COAST system-wide communities who will give lighting talks at Ignite22 (there is a longer list of CSU poster presenters, as well):


    • Methods for the identification of novel cancer biomarkers and therapeutic targets, Jonathan A. Kelber, CSU Northridge
    • A neural-machine interface for the next-generation, neural-controlled prosthetic arm, Xiaorong Zhang, San Francisco State University
    • A universal quantitative chronometric paper-based point-of-use device, Nathaniel W. Martinez, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo
    • A platform to identify drug targets of antibacterial compounds, Howard Xu, CSU Los Angeles
    • Unmanned Aerial Vehicles for Precision Agriculture using Multispectral/Hyperspectral Sensors and Machine Learning, Subodh Bhandari, Cal Poly Pomona
    • Converting agro-food waste byproducts to value-added food ingredients, Olive Yao Li, Cal Poly Pomona
    • Development of novel brewing yeasts by cell fusion technology, Choong-Min Kang, CSU Stanislaus
    • Towards a sustainable desal system with lower energy consumption and environmental impacts, Galen O’Toole (Achilli lab), Humboldt State University
    • An isolation chamber and system for monitoring stress and respiration in small marine organisms, Geoff Dilly, CSU Channel Islands
    • Next-Generation Fluorescent Hybridization Probes for DNA/RNA Sequence Identification, Byron Purse, San Diego State University


    Secondly, I want to point community members to a new opportunity from EdInsights’ Student Success Network. If you were inspired by the “Achieving Inclusive Student Success through Purposeful Collaborations between Academic and Student Affairs” session at the annual CSU Biotechnology Symposium – this meeting is for you!  Deidre Sessoms (CSU Sacramento), Amy Sprowles (Humboldt State University), Stephen St. Onge (Humboldt State University), and Andrea Venezia (CSU Sacramento) worked together to pilot that January workshop.  I just finished working through the 29th annual symposium analysis based on the post-symposium surveys. Despite it being our first time out with the topic and workshop format, participants hung in there with us and reported back that they will remember the things they learned…but also had a thirst for more.  If you’re in this camp, I encourage you to pull together a campus team and apply by April 9th (next Friday!) for the one-day (May 12th) meeting.


    Details are here (provided by EdInsights)


    “Using Data to Support Student Learning and Success: Opportunities and Challenges in the CSU
    10:00 am to 4:00 pm on Friday, May 12, 2017; optional networking breakfast from 9:00 to 10:00 am
    Fresno State University – Henry Madden Library


    Overview – Campuses across the country and within the CSU are using data in new ways to understand where students are facing challenges and how institutions can better support student learning, engagement, progression, and completion.


    These approaches, including predictive analysis, hold promise for students. However, they also have the potential to exacerbate inequities if they are not implemented in thoughtful and appropriate ways. This meeting provides an opportunity to explore this topic through cross-campus, cross-role dialogue. Participants will:


    • Build relationships with CSU colleagues who are involved in campus-level efforts to strengthen data use to improve student success and equity.
    • Identify and share current successes and challenges related to using data.
    • Reflect as campus teams and apply lessons to individual campus needs and contexts.
    • Create a plan to strengthen ongoing efforts on their respective campuses.

    Who should attend – Campuses are encouraged to send teams of up to five individuals, including at least one faculty member, one representative from student affairs, and one representative from institutional research. Travel expenses will be reimbursed by the CSU Student Success Network.

    Register now – Space is limited. Registration is open March 27 through April 7.”


    *WRPI holds their annual meeting that same day – if we try this again – they’ll be there!

      The National Academy of Sciences investigates undergraduate research

      I typically wait until I’ve had time to distill, study and ponder new reports before dissecting them here – but since the blog has been dark too long already I’ll write a quick post on a Friday afternoon.

      The National Academy of Science (NAS) issued an advance version of a new report, “Undergraduate Research Experiences for STEM Students: Successes, Challenges, and Opportunities,” edited by James Gentile, Kerry Brenner, and Amy Stephens.  You can download a free, e-version here:

      The NAS report is a “must read” for all CSUPERB-affiliated researchers, mentors, administrators and leaders.

      In the report introduction, Dr. Gentile writes, “Undergraduate research is in itself the purest form of both faculty teaching and student learning.” CSUPERB faculty, administrators and presidents will recognize this sentiment. We all embraced the same view some time ago, recognizing that research is “must-have” education in biotechnology-related fields.

      During campus visits this month I met faculty and administrators who opined or theorized that there might be different student benefits derived from full-time or summer undergraduate research experiences (UREs), off-campus internships and apprenticeships, or course-based research experiences.  I always answer that the student experience and impact of a collaborative student-faculty research experience is “the same as” a summer internship at a company, an I-Corps short course, or a course-based research project – as long as they are well-designed, inclusive and student-centered.  The new NAS report discusses this issue straight-on.

      Because enrollments in biology system-wide are on the upswing (to put things conservatively), offering well-designed, team-based discovery and inquiry-based projects for all students is no small challenge for faculty and administrators.

      Six years ago CSUPERB recognized we would need to be agnostic to scale high-impact, experiential learning experiences.  Since then we’ve provided seed funding to faculty system-wide to grow their labs and offer research experiences. But we also partner with R1 universities to offer experiences for stem cell researchers and biomolecular machinists. We seed large-scale curriculum changes to accommodate research projects, like the SIRIUS project at Sac State.  We fund first- and second-year students to become scientists earlier in their academic careers and look for ways to institutionalize bridge programs and learning communities.  We have also organized mentoring workshops for faculty with help from the NIH BUILD-funded campuses. We offer programs for nascent student entrepreneurs. We still hope to design and sustain themed, multi-campus, multi-disciplinary “consortia” research projects – a stretch, strategic goal we haven’t yet succeeded in piloting.

      The NAS report recommends the collection of “Data at the institutional, state, or national levels on the number and type of UREs offered, or who participates in UREs overall or at specific types of institutions.”  CSUPERB does this and studies the long-term outcomes for the student researchers we fund; system-wide we’re trying to do this better.  A small group of us – organized by Holly Unruh at CSU Monterey Bay – will be presenting our work at the 9th Annual AHSIE Best Practices Conference (April 9-12, 2017) at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

      Let me know what you think about the NAS undergrad research report. I’ll read it more carefully too.  Early reports about it feature the NAS emphasize the need for more educational research on what makes UGR impactful. Will the report inspire you to try new mentoring approaches or offer new discovery experiences to CSU students? Do you have new motivation to improve your assessment or analysis of what works in your department? Drop me an email, tweet using the #undergradresearch tag, or join the CSUPERB LinkedIn group to keep the conversation alive (especially when this blog goes dark!)!

        Thankful for the rains and rainbows

        rainbowsThis time of year the sun goes down early around 5pm here in San Diego. The early sunset has come to symbolize “high symposium” season to me each year.  As the days shorten, the CSUPERB program office goes into that impossible last gear (to 11?) juggling details for the annual CSU Biotechnology Symposium.

        We started the day today in San Diego with rain showers and a couple of rainbows (a view across Penasquitos Canyon above).  San Diegans get giddy about rain these days so the CSUPERB program office is in a pretty darn good mood.

        Rainbows aside, the real reason we’re feeling good is that the FCG/SPC committees have done top-notch work whipping the symposium program into shape this year.  We aim to get most program details settled by December 1st; we’re heading into the Thanksgiving holiday with our speaker roster and our hotel banquet order 99% complete.

        We’ll have an all-time high of 290 posters from 22 CSU campuses presenting at this year’s symposium. Did you see that Dr. Penny Boston (NASA Astrobiology Institute) will be headlining the opening plenary session on Thursday evening?  With NASA funding Rakesh Mogul (Cal Poly Pomona) organized a CSUPERB Astrobiology Network this year. To celebrate we’re featuring astrobio-themed talks and presentations throughout the symposium. On Friday morning three speakers with amazing stories will talk about turning research-based ideas into solutions (yes, including one at the International Space Station). We’ve also signed Bruce Alberts (USCF) up to talk about mentoring students and non-academic life science career paths with the Faculty Consensus Group on Sunday. We are grateful to Gilead Sciences for their symposium sponsorship; with their support we involve greater numbers of I-Corps teams, Nagel finalists and Eden competitors.  Symposium registration closes December 1st – make sure to save yourself a spot at what will be an outstanding meeting of the CSU’s biotechnology community!

        Tomorrow we have our last November Zoom meetings with the people doing the work and running the multitudes of committees: Jenn Lillig (posters), Paula Fischhaber (awards), Math Cuajungco (Graduate School Information Session), Sandy Sharp & Bori Mazzag (Biotech+Design workshop), Jill Adler-Moore & Koni Stone (professional development workshops & GRFP workshop), Daryl Eggers & Lorenzo Smith (Astrobio & Bioengineering Networks), Jim Prince (Career Networking Session), Katherine Kantardjieff (Soft Skills workshop), Stanley Maloy (CSU I-Corps), Kathie McReynolds (Faculty talks) and Mike Goldman (FCG meeting). We’ll surely uncover details that need attention but I have every confidence that working at level 11 the program office will be able to handle them!  I am exceedingly thankful to work with these dedicated, can-do, no-drama faculty and dean organizers!

        We’re also very happy to have Oscar Zavala in the CSUPERB office.  He started work a short 3.5 weeks ago as our new Student Programs Specialist.  Oscar fills the void left (or capacity built) by our two VISTA members, Shannon Palka and Paige Hernandez.  Mr. Zavala is on a steep learning curve, but luckily he has notes from the VISTA members and help from the very capable Dayna Zarate to teach him the ropes and smooth the onboarding process. (don’t even get us started at the thought Dayna’s graduating from SDSU this spring!) Not only is Oscar coordinating CSU I-Corps teams as they work toward final Lessons Learned weekend at the symposium, he’s going to send out his first batch of award letters (Howell Research Scholars) later this week. We hope he’s still feeling good (rainbows!?) about his decision to join CSUPERB! Look for him at the symposium and introduce yourselves – he’ll be the point of contact in our office for students we support and alumni networks.

        And what about that CSUPERB program office team?  Pam Branger, Tyson Gadd, James Schmitt and I have worked together as a team for a big chunk of time (not counting). It takes a high-performing team to operate at Level 11 year after year after year.  The symposium is the most visible evidence of the good work they do – but there are at least 12 other programs the office runs, involving and connecting about 1000 students, faculty and administrators in any given year. I am so very grateful to them.

        Happy Thanksgiving to the CSUPERB community across California – we’ll see you in the New Year in Santa Clara!

        CSUPERB team gathers before January 2016 symposium, Garden Grove, CA. Clockwise from bottom left: Paige Hernandez, Tyson Gadd, Julie Scalisi (volunteer), Thomas Myrick (volunteer), James Schmitt, Susan Baxter, Pam Branger, Jose Barreto Bezzera (visiting fellow), Dayna Zarate & Matthew Reyes (volunteer).

        CSUPERB team gathers before January 2016 symposium, Garden Grove, CA. Clockwise from bottom left: Paige Hernandez, Tyson Gadd, Julie Scalisi (volunteer), Thomas Myrick (volunteer), James Schmitt, Susan Baxter, Pam Branger, Jose Barreto Bezzera (visiting fellow), Dayna Zarate & Matthew Reyes (volunteer).

          2016 Howell-CSUPERB Research Scholars Program – Annual Report

          Dr. Doris Howell is a hero to many clinicians, community leaders and palliative care professionals in San Diego and across the nation. But to 165 California State University undergraduates and alumni, Dr. Howell is forever linked to their personal experience starting out as researchers and healthcare professionals.

          “I would love to thank the donors for giving me this awesome opportunity. Through this program I was able to solidify the idea and confidence that I want to continue on a path of working in a lab environment. Through this program I have developed such a strong appreciation for the scientific method and the techniques that we use to increase our understanding.” – Jason Thomas (CSU Fresno)


          2016 Howell-CSUPERB Scholars meet Dr. Howell, February 2016. Left to right: Alan Tran (San Jose State University), Dr. Howell, Karl Liboro (CSU Los Angeles), Brandon Strong (Cal Poly San Luis Obispo), and Sima Chokr (CSU Long Beach).

          Since 2001 CSUPERB has partnered with the Doris A. Howell Foundation for Women’s Health Research (DAHF) to fund mentored undergraduate research experiences. When I first joined CSUPERB, I was surprised that a local philanthropic group had chosen to fund undergraduates in this very specific way. But then I met Dr. Howell. Like many of us, she can look back and recognize the importance of mentorship along her career trajectory.

          This formidable woman truly believes in the value of engaging and supporting early-stage researchers. She would never say undergraduates aren’t ready to make discoveries or contribute to the advancement of science. Dr. Howell also recognizes the importance of encouraging young scientists to tackle women’s health issues and design studies that might guide gender-specific standards of healthcare. Long before undergraduate research was defined as a high-impact practice (apologies to Dr. Kuh!), Dr. Howell thought it was important to invest in undergraduate students. When Dr. Howell recognizes a good cause, she is very good at building consensus among her network of physicians, philanthropists, and friends at the Howell Foundation! As a result, this wonderful organization has a long history investing in the CSU’s student researchers.

          Later this week I’m meeting with the DAHF board to plan out the 2017 award process; this week we received applications from faculty-student teams across the CSU. To get ready for the board meeting, we read final reports from the 2016 Scholars, assess learning and update our outcomes database. As always, this process of “rolling up” information means that individual stories get lost; this blog post will help preserve voices from the 2016 Scholar cohort!


          Ms. Sa La Kim and Dr. Jonathan Kelber (CSU Northridge) at the 28th Annual CSU Biotechnology Symposium, January 2016.

          In this year’s CSUPERB annual report we featured Ms. Sa La Kim, who attended the American Association for Cancer Research conference in New Orleans to present her 2016 Howell-supported research project. Ms. Kim reported, “One of the most surprising [things] was that I understood much more than I anticipated. During many of the mini-symposium
          talks…delivered by Ph.D.s and postdocs…I understood the reasoning behind the work, the reason for their work, and could think of multiple follow-up experiments for their hypotheses. This also made me realize that the level of work Dr. Kelber’s students engage in is phenomenal. This level of research is the push that I believe prepares students for a higher level of education.”

          “Even though research is very taxing – having the support and camaraderie of my fellow students and mentors allowed me to make great advancements in my project.” – Cory Vierra (CSU Sacramento)

          This is the kind of mentored research experience that Dr. Howell aimed to support when the program began in 2001.  Based on final reports, we find mentorship is important to students; it’s the smotivation_howellecond most important motivating factor students (2012-2016) report – see chart above.

          “I would like to thank you for allowing me the honor of being a recipient of the Howell-CSUPERB Scholars program and for the many experiences I gained in the lab and at the conferences I attended. The research I conducted for your application process helped me to get over my fear of reading peer-reviewed journal articles. In the lab, I was able to learn new techniques, such as using enzymes to digest parts of biological molecules, how to purify using a technique called cytoplasmic purification, and how to use the larger equipment in the lab without direct assistance. Preparing for the conferences helped me learn how to bring together all of the data I collected, interpret it for a larger audience, and how to create a professional poster. Finally, presenting my research helped me to realize gaps in my knowledge base, which ultimately give me insight into how I can improve and I truly believe that I am a more well-rounded Biochemist because of it.” – Brandy White (CSU Fresno)

          Howell Research Scholars spend significant time working alongside peers and with their faculty mentors. 67% of Scholars (2012-2016) report working more than 20 hours a week on their research projects (see chart here)!  Remember –

          timeinlab_howellHowell Scholars typically take on this co-curricular activity during the academic year!  But we (and others) know that mentored research experiences lead to gains in self-efficacy, ability to self-identity as a scientist, and motivation to continue biomedical careers. The Howell Scholars self-report very large gains in all these areas, even those who had previous research experiences before being selected for these scholarships. We have the joy of reading about and observing these gains in the final reports students write.

          “Thank you for selecting me as one of the Howell-CSUPERB scholars! It was a truly exciting moment to receive the award during the last annual CSUPERB conference. The support that the donors, mentors, and the university provides to young scientists like me is what drives us to achieve even more than what we believe we can do ourselves.” – Sa La Kim, CSU Northridge

          A couple of years ago we began asking Scholars about the relationship they build with their faculty mentors.  We have only two years of data, but it’s clear that students see this relationship as important and helpful.  Not one Scholar (2015-2016) has disagreed with the statements listed in the chart below.


          Howell Scholars are typically high-achieving students even before they apply to the program.  However, Mica Estrada (UCSF) and others have noted that research experiences buffer even these students from losing interest in biomedical careers. We and others care very much about scaling these experiences to a wider pool of students. With help from partners like the Howell Foundation, we can do so!

          “I would like to thank the Howell-CSUPERB Schoolars Program for enabling me to pursue my interests in women’s health by providing the funding I needed. This was an unforgettable experience that I will always cherish.” – Alyssa Bowlsby (CSU Chico)



            Yet Another Annual Report Reminds Us Why

            One of the arcane things university administrators do is to comply with regulations.  Most of us see compliance as a necessary part of our jobs to remain good stewards of public funds, retain the trust of applicants, and justify budgets spent.  This spring Presidents’ Commission Chair Haynes and I gained authorization from CSU Executive Vice Chancellor Loren Blanchard to operate CSUPERB as a system-wide program for another five years.

            treeTo remain in good standing, EO 1103 (the CSU regulation pertaining to multi-campus programs) requires programs to issue annual reports. As CSUPERB regulars know, we’ve been issuing annual reports since 2008, long before EO 1103 was put into place. We compile reports because it’s downright fun to hear from the students and faculty members CSUPERB supports. Annual reporting also allows us to see what programs are working and which Requests for Proposals (RFPs) need tweaks.

            Each summer I spend a couple of joyful administrative months corresponding with CSUPERB-funded investigators. I celebrate faculty researchers’ wins and get all sentimental hearing back from alumni and recent graduates.  After nearly 10 years on this job, my LinkedIn network is full of CSUPERB alumni working in biotech companies or research institutes, grinding towards doctorates, and practicing law and medicine. I also see new courses and programs, seeded with CSUPERB grants or ideas planted during workshops we’ve designed, become part of how campuses across the state educate students and prepare them for life after graduation.  But, unless you’re talking with me daily, these wonderful stories from individual CSUPERB-funded students and faculty get “rolled up” into higher-ed jargon, trendlines, bar charts and graphs.

            I hope this year’s annual report (linked here) gives readers some sense of CSUPERB’s reach, influence and impact across the CSU system and the state.  Our newly redesigned website gives us a platform to expand on some of these stories and share them throughout the year. It also gives us space to archive all our annual reports in one place for a historical record. Let me know what you learn!


              So Many Research Scientists Doing Well



              The New York Times added (yet again) to the many articles about the oversupply of biomedical PhDs looking for jobs as professors.  This new article is titled, “So Many Research Scientists, So Few Openings as Professors.”

              The article concludes with this advice, “For those thinking of science as a career, said P. Kay Lund, director of the division of biomedical research workers at the National Institutes of Health, perhaps the best thing would be for a mentor to sit down with them and have a heart-to-heart talk, preferably when they’re still undergraduates.”

              I posted this on the CSUPERB Facebook page and a follower responded, “I am starting my PhD in September. Looks like I better focus on industry when I graduate.”  I was glad to see the resulting discussion. I am not sure Facebook comments count as the “heart-to-heart talk” Dr. Lund recommends – but we’re doing our best to raise students’ awareness of career path options (HT to Dr. Kelber* at CSU Northridge for jumping into the fray!).

              Of course here at CSUPERB we’re interested in finding out where the undergraduate and graduate students we support go next in their careers.** We want to know whether the education they received in the classroom and working alongside CSU faculty mentors prepared them to be ‘life-long learners’ and creative problem-solvers capable of contributing throughout society.

              Last year at annual reporting time we made our first attempt to reach out to Howell and Presidents’ Commission Scholar alumni.  This year*** we mined final reports, surveyed graduates, and followed up with about 700 undergraduate and graduate students we supported over the last handful of years. I can’t resist sharing our first cut at the data (preliminary data! thus the screen-shot quality of the figure!). Amazingly only 16% of the CSUPERB-supported students are lost to the sands of time and faculty lab websites (we loved great examples like this, this and this!); we were able to determine the remainder graduated, completed their degree programs or continue in their studies on CSU campuses.

              Our “CSUPERB alumni” are doing great things and working in fascinating organizations nationwide.  The word cloud at the top of the post adds some flavor to these rolled-up data (the bigger the font size, the more CSU alumni are working or studying in that organization****). About 26% (an earlier version of this post said 32%) of CSUPERB-supported student researchers entered graduate school (this figure mixes undergraduate and graduate student outcomes; see slightly larger figure here). The majority (58%) have degree-relevant positions in biotech companies, universities, hospitals, government laboratories and non-profit research settings.  Most are still hands-on scientists, clinicians and engineers working in research, production and design facilities.  Some of the alumni who have been working for a while (> 3 years) are working their way into management roles, gaining regulatory expertise and even starting companies.  About 10% are employed in a field unrelated to biotechnology. By including CSU I-Corps alumni, we see business students don’t always continue on in the life science industry – but some do!

              We’ll talk more about this data at the summer Faculty Consensus Group meeting Monday, August 1st. I’m looking forward to the discussion with CSUPERB’s committed and effective faculty mentors!





              *Dr. Kelber noted the NY Times article didn’t “cite any employability stats for those with PhDs vs others (it only states that most PhDs were employable).”  Some graduate schools are starting to track graduates’ career paths and even publicize the outcomes. For instance, UC San Francisco (UCSF) posted their 2012 data on a website ( The NIH, NSF and others are also improving their data collection methods, aiming to better track career outcomes for doctoral level researchers.

              **There’s a new level of controversy about linking career outcomes with higher education. It is extraordinarily inexact to try linking life outcomes to a set of genes; likewise it’s difficult to predict career outcomes on a combination of courses and co-curricular activities like undergraduate research.  So – I’ll use the classic “SEC-type disclaimer” here; our data are not “forward-looking,” it’s based on past student cohorts and can’t be used to predict individual outcomes!

              ***We did this work with the very capable help of our CSU STEM VISTA Summer Associates, Ms. Zarate and Ms. Stelter!  They investigated “last known status” of ~700 students supported on CSUPERB Major Grants (2011 – present), Howell Scholars (2007 – present), Presidents’ Commission Scholars (2011 – present), Student Travel Grants (2011 – present) and I2P/CSU I-Corps participants (2012 – present).

              ****Yes – it appears that CSUPERB-supported alumni seem to beat a wide path to UCSF…

              Word cloud image credit: