The Secrets for Success

the annual symposium by OHBM Student and Postdoc SIG


The Mentorship and Career Development symposium is an annual initiative by the OHBM Student and Postdoc Special Interest Group (SIG) dedicated to trainees and early career researchers. This year, the theme of the event is ‘The Secrets behind Success’.

As indicated in a recent Science commentary by Wei Ji Ma, PhD, smooth career paths are very rare in academia. Naturally, researchers promote only their achievements, which easily evokes imposter syndrome in others. The positive bias gives an impression that academic success is effortless and it is easy to falsely draw the conclusion that you fail more often than your peers. In 2010, Melanie Stefan from California Institute of Technology launched an initiative to share stories of failure along with stories of success by keeping track of rejections. She proposed combining these stories into a CV of failures or an anti-CV. This concept highlights that even seemingly flawless scientific careers have their shadows. The concept was warmly received in the scientific community, and found a number of followers. In 2016, prof. Johannes Haushofer from Princeton University followed Melanie’s advice, and published his own anti-CV. As the author admits, the document received even more attention than his research achievements. Since then, it became clear that there is a need to share the everyday experience of being rejected, and that talking failures and detours should become an integral part of mentorship in academia.

Therefore, in this panel, we will discuss strategies to overcome everyday issues in academia, with particular focus on how to manage yourself when facing failure. Dr Lucina Uddin from University of Miami, will give a talk entitled ‘Failing Better’. Dr. Lucina Uddin was born in Bangladesh, and immigrated to the United States with her parents at a young age. She completed an undergraduate degree focusing on neuroscience and philosophy at UCLA, where she continued her graduate studies. After receiving a PhD in cognitive neuroscience from the psychology department at UCLA in 2006, Dr. Uddin completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the Child Study Center at NYU where she expanded her research into neurodevelopmental disorders. For several years she worked as a faculty member in Psychiatry & Behavioral Science at the Stanford School of Medicine, taking a short break in 2010 to teach at the Asian University for Women in Chittagong, Bangladesh. She joined the psychology department at the University of Miami in 2014. Dr. Uddin’s research examines the organization of large-scale brain networks supporting executive functions across the lifespan. Her current projects focus on understanding dynamic network interactions underlying cognitive inflexibility in neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism. She is the recipient of an NIMH BRAINS award, a NARSAD Young Investigator award, a Slifka/Ritvo Innovation in Autism Research award, and the 2017 OHBM Young Investigator award.


Furthermore, since the PhD bubble arised, there is a growing demand for industry positions for PhD graduates. We also observe this trend in our international Mentorship Programme, where the amount of enquiries for industry-based mentors increases every year. In order to meet the growing demand for successful transitions between academia and industry, the symposium will also feature a talk on how to smoothly switch between an industry and a scientific career.

Professor Thomas Nichols, PhD (University of Oxford), will introduce his experience with research and industry, and explain how to get the best out of both worlds, in a talk entitled Life in Academia and Industry (and back). Prof. Nichols is a statistician with a solitary focus on modelling and inference methods for brain imaging research. He has a unique background, with both industrial and academic experience, and diverse training including computer science, cognitive neuroscience and statistics. After serving on the faculty of University of Michigan's Department of Biostatistics, he became the Director of Modelling and Genetics at GlaxoSmithKline's Clinical Imaging Centre, London. He returned to academia in 2009 moving to the University of Warwick, taking a joint position between the Department of Statistics and the Warwick Manufacturing Group. He joined the Big Data Institute in 2017.


The symposium will be followed by the first edition of the Lunch with Mentors (register here to take place on the~waiting list). In this event, the OHBM trainees (students and Postdocs) will have the opportunity to engage in informal conversation on career development with both new and established PIs, as well as industry experts over a 45 minute catered, pre-registered lunch. The aim of the event is to inspire and motivate the next generation of OHBM researchers, giving them an opportunity to learn from the experiences of the invited mentors. A particular emphasis will be put towards initiating relationships of peer-mentoring, where trainees will be able to better discuss the opportunities, but most importantly the challenges posed by the current situation of neuroscience academia at a global scale.   



Time: Tuesday 19th, 12pm-12:45pm

Room: Summit 1, Suntec Centre Singapore

This event is supported by OHBM and Wellcome Centre for Integrative Neuroimaging (WIN).