Redefining Success Stories – Introduction

As scientists and academics, we are all familiar with the talks given by respected group heads, both men and women, about balancing work and life, and what paths they took to get to their successful careers. And while these talks do open our perspectives as to what is and isn’t feasible if we choose the traditional academic path, they continue to push the subconscious perspective that the only success for those pursuing a scientific PhD, is to end up in the academy as the head of a group.

For most, this can cause anxiety and other mental health issues when the values and sacrifices needed to reach this level of what is considered success don’t match with our own. Add this to the fact that very few faculty positions are actually available for people finishing their postdoc, and you have a recipe for many leaving the traditional tenure track career path. This has gotten to the point where staying in academia, as opposed to leaving, has become the “alternative” career path (See this episode of HelloPhD for dealing with issues when stepping off the academic track).

There needs to be a conversation in scientific academia about shifting our values and definition of success from what we publish and produce, to the impact that we have on our own well-being and those of others. In order to help with that, Labmosphere will be featuring blog posts on successful scientists who decided to step off the academic tenure track and are having an incredible time as scientists, but more importantly as human beings. If you know someone who fits this description, and would like for me to interview them on the site, please send me a nomination email with their information, and help us redefine scientific success.

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Fátima Sancheznieto

Dr. Fátima Sancheznieto, PhD has recently completed her postdoctoral training at the UW-Madison school of medicine, where she studied the environmental cues important for blood stem cell formation during development. Fátima was trained in peer support by the Oxford University counseling center and since then has advocated for systemic and cultural changes to improve the mental health and training environments of graduate students and postdoctoral researchers. She has served on a working group for the Next Generation Researchers Initiative at the National Institutes of Health and is currently the President of Future of Research, a nonprofit organization that advocates and empowers early career researchers. Her current research focuses on studying the training environments of early career researchers

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