Upcoming events by the OHBM Student and Postdoc Special Interest Group at the 25th OHBM annual meeting, Rome 2019


edited by Ayaka Ando, Chiara Caldinelli and Marzia Scelsi

The OHBM Student and Postdoc Special Interest Group (SP-SIG) are back in action for OHBM’s 25th annual meeting in Rome! This year, we are preparing new editions of our successful events that took place in Singapore: the annual Mentoring and Career Development Symposium, the Lunch with Mentors and the Monday Night Social. Thanks to our sponsors, the Child Mind Institute, the Montreal Neurological Institute, the Wellcome Center for Integrative Neuroimaging and PLOS, we have expanded the scope of our activities to feature brand new events in the form of workshops. So, stay tuned!

The annual Mentoring and Career Development Symposium

& the Lunch with Mentors

Firstly, on Tuesday 11th June, 12pm-12:50pm, we will launch the third edition of the annual Mentoring and Career Development Symposium entitled Secrets behind success vol. 2. In this symposium, we will further dig into the personal stories by successful PIs, and their personal take on what it takes to develop a career path in academia. As indicated in the recent Science commentary by Wei Ji Ma, PhD [1], smooth career paths are rare in academia. Naturally, researchers promote only their achievements, which often 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 Dr. Melanie Stefan, then 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 an anti-CV. This concept highlights that even seemingly flawless scientific careers have their shadows [2]. The concept was warmly received in the scientific community, and found a number of followers [3]. In 2016, prof. Johannes Haushofer from Princeton University followed Dr. Stefan’s advice, and published his own anti-CV [4]. As Dr. Haushofer admits, the document received even more attention than his research achievements. Since then, it has become 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. For instance, Dr Veronika Cheplygina is leading a blog entitled How I fail [5], which has been very well received by the broad scientific community.

In our symposium, Dr Melanie Stefan (in collaboration with Dr Veronika Cheplygina) and Dr Danielle Bassett will discuss their own journeys towards success in academia: namely, how they embraced and overcame their failures, how they tackled burn out from the competitive academic environment, and how they learned to navigate and build a life-long career in academia. The managers of the annual Mentoring and Career Development Symposium are: our Chair, Ayaka Ando (University of Heidelberg), Career Development and Mentoring manager, Natalia Bielczyk (Stichting Solaris Onderzoek en Ontwikkeling) and Career Development and Mentoring manager-elect, Meena M. Makary (Harvard University). Please feel free visit our website or contact us via ohbmtrainees@gmail.com if you have any questions.

The annual symposium will be directly followed by the Lunch with Mentors event, which will take place on Tuesday 11th June, 1:10pm-2pm in the dedicated SP-SIG room (Studio Rooms 1, 2 and 3 Student and Postdoc SIG Space). In this event, the OHBM trainees (students and postdocs) will have the opportunity to engage in informal conversations on career development with both new and established PIs, as well as industry experts over a 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 on initiating and successfully maintaining peer-mentoring relationships. Trainees will be able to discuss any challenges they may face during their academic path and the potential opportunities for their future careers. Trainees will also have a chance to choose to sit with mentors either from academia or industry depending on their interests. The following mentors have been invited to participate this year:

  • Danielle Bassett, University of Pennsylvania, USA

  • Melanie Stefan, University of Edinburgh, UK

  • Lucina Uddin, University of Miami, USA

  • Daniel S. Margulies, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, France

  • Alex Fornito, Monash University, Australia

  • Adeel Razi, Monash University, Australia

  • AmanPreet Badhwar, University of Montreal,Canada

  • Daniele Marinazzo, Ghent University, Belgium

  • Michael Greicius, Stanford University, USA

  • Rainer Goebel, Maastricht University, the Netherlands

  • Susan Bookheimer, Unviersity of California, USA

  • Nina Preuss, NITRC & Preuss Enterprises, Inc., USA

  • Patrick Britz, Brain Vision LLC, Germany

There are limited number of seats for this event. Please register for free using the link. The manager of the Lunch with Mentors is our Career Development and Mentoring manager-elect, Meena M. Makary (Harvard University).

OHBM Student and Postdoc SIG & Neuro Bureau presents:

The 10th Monday Night Social - A Celebration of Open Science

No conference would be memorable without a proper party! Last year, we had a blast with breathtaking views from the rooftop of one of the tallest buildings in Singapore, at 1-Altitude and Altimate. This year, immerse yourself in the retro atmospheres of “La Dolce Vita”, and join us in the sophisticated setting of Vyta at Villa Borghese.  Experience with your own eyes the legendary beauty of the gardens of Rome, and brace yourself for a night of unforgettable fun, with free finger food and drinks, music, and en plein air entertainment! The event will take place on Monday, June 10th from 8pm to midnight, and is intended to create a relaxed atmosphere, bringing everyone together for a night without barriers between junior and senior researchers. During the night we will also announce the winners of the annual Neuro Bureau’s Brain-Art competition!


The organisers for this year’s Monday Night Social  are our Social Coordinator, Chiara Caldinelli (Trinity College Dublin) and Social Coordinator-Elect, Navot Naor (University of Maryland). For further information or questions about this event visit our website or contact ohbmtrainees@gmail.com.


This year, the scope of the SP-SIG activity expands! If you participated in last year’s OHBM annual meeting in Singapore, you may have attended the Open Science SIG room, where the OHBM Hackathon and a number of discussion sessions took place. We saw this as a great example from our colleagues, and this year, we will also have a dedicated room for additional SP-SIG activities in Studio Rooms 1, 2 and 3 (Parco della Musica)! This space will have two roles:

Firstly, it will be an open space for mentors and mentees of the International Online Mentoring Programme [6] to meet. We welcome your visits, and we would also appreciate feedback on the programme, as well as capturing good memories with group pics! If you are not a programme participant, but are interested in participating next year, you might also visit this room to talk to one of the programme coordinators, Natalia Bielczyk and Meena M. Makary, who will be also be present at the SP-SIG space during the conference. They will be able to answer any questions you might have.

Secondly, we will host a number of equality and career development-oriented workshops in the room:

Topic I: A series of #MeToo workshops

In the wake of the #MeToo movement over the past two years, we have felt that the students and postdocs of the OHBM community would benefit from receiving training to help handle difficult situations that may arise in the reality of our gender-unequal world. Towards this end, we propose to host a series of workshops focused on providing education and skills-based trainings in optimizing responses to conflict, sexual misconduct, and consent. While the need for these workshops arose in response to the #MeToo movement, the theory and skills taught in these workshops apply broadly across all aspects of academia and work relationships. We believe these workshops will be largely helpful for facilitating trainees in managing their interpersonal relationships with one another and their superiors. The workshops will be facilitated by Emma Kaywin, a conflict mediator and sexual health educator in New York City. This series of workshops will be coordinated by our Social Media Coordinator, Aki Nikolaidis (Child Mind Institute). Please find the detailed agenda for all the #MeToo workshops below.


Workshop 1 - Dealing with Difficult Situations in the Workplace

Day: Monday 10th June

Time: 12:00-1:00 PM

Venue: Student and Postdoc SIG Space (Studio Room 3)

Description: In this session, participants will learn about and discuss the most complex situations that occur in the workplace, and how to counteract them through evidence-based practices. The presenter will focus predominantly on microaggressions -- those words and actions that, while often seen as harmless on their own, can in total make for a toxic work environment. Participants will be given the tools to intervene -- both for themselves and as bystanders on behalf of others -- and will practice these skills through role play exercises.

Workshop 2 - Consent Fireside Chat

Day: Tuesday 11th June

Time: 5:30 - 7:00 PM

Venue: Student and Postdoc SIG Space (Studio Room 3)

Description: In the wake of the #metoo movement, everyone’s discussing consent and worrying about what is and is not allowed. So let’s have a chat about consent, shall we? Join us in discussing questions such as: What is consent? How do I provide consent? How do I take it away? How can I create a work environment where everyone on my team feels safe? The chat will be peppered with interactive games and activities to practice consent skills.

Workshop 3 - Optimizing Conflicts in Situations of Lower Power

Day: Wednesday 12th June

Time: 12:00-1:00 PM

Venue: Student and Postdoc SIG Space (Studio Room 3)

Description: This session will provide a practical, evidence-based model for evaluating conflict and identifying optimal communication styles to support conflict resolution. Based on Dr. Peter Coleman’s model of “Making Conflict Work”, this workshop will take participants through an assessment of their natural conflict styles and offer methods for improving communication in difficult situations. Discussion will be focused on conflicts where participants have less power, such as with PI’s, faculty members, or other more senior colleagues. Role plays will solidify the didactic portion of the workshop and give participants a chance to practice diverse communication skills.

Workshop 4 - Sexualised Situations and How to Handle Them: A Practicum

Day: Wednesday 12th June

Time: 5:30 - 7:00 PM

Venue: Student and Postdoc SIG Space (Studio Room 3)

Description: The #metoo movement has brought to the forefront the ubiquity of unwanted sexualized situations, many of which take place in workplace interactions. In this practicum, we will work through a set of generalized, de-identified examples of workplace-based sexual harassment, identifying possible solutions and practicing skills for setting boundaries, bringing up difficult topics, and intervening on behalf of others who are the targets of sexualized harassment.

The room will also be open for a 1-on-1 Discussion with Emma Kaywin

Day: Tuesday 11th and Wednesday 12th June

Time: 2:00 - 5:00 PM

Venue: Student and Postdoc SIG Space (Studio Room 3)

Description: Emma Kaywin is a conflict mediator and sexual health educator in New York City. She will be facilitating the series of workshops focusing on providing education and skills-based trainings in optimizing responses to conflict, sexual misconduct and consent violation. She will be available for a 1-on-1 discussion for any questions regarding this topic or the workshops. Open to everyone.  

Topic II:Career switching’ workshop

Even though the majority of PhD graduates eventually leave academia, there is little amount of service dedicated to assisting early career researchers in defining their core competencies, searching for employers, and getting their dream jobs in industry. In this workshop, we will discuss how to best position yourself on the market on the basis of all your past experiences, including both hard and soft skills. Furthermore, we will discuss the demand for PhDs in different branches of industry. We will also discuss how to avoid mistakes in job applications, cover letters, phone and in-person interviews. This workshop will be coordinated by our Career Development and Mentoring Manager, Natalia Bielczyk (Stichting Solaris Onderzoek en Ontwikkeling) and our Secretary, Marzia Scelsi (University College London).


Day: Thursday 13th June

Time: 12:00-1:00 PM

Venue: Student and Postdoc SIG Space (Studio Room 3)

12:00 PM - 12:15 PM - The job market landscape for PhDs

Natalia Bielczyk, Stichting Solaris Onderzoek en Ontwikkeling, Nijmegen, the Netherlands


12:15 PM - 12:30 PM - Core competences and transferable skills

Marzia Scelsi, University College London, London, UK


12:30 PM - 1:00 PM - How to get your dream job?

Patrick Britz, CEO & President of Brain Vision, LLC

We are looking forward to meeting you all in Rome! If you have any questions about any of the events, please feel free to contact us at ohbmtrainees@gmail.com.


[1] http://science.sciencemag.org/content/357/6354/942

[2] http://www.nature.com/naturejobs/science/articles/10.1038/nj7322-467a

[3] http://www.veronikach.com/how-i-fail/

[4] https://www.princeton.edu/~joha/Johannes_Haushofer_CV_of_Failures.pdf

[5] https://veronikach.com/category/how-i-fail/

[6] https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/ejn.14320

Natalia Bielczyk