PMF

WELCOME TO MCB GRACE MALATO!

Grace is looking into the camera and smiling. There are tropical trees in the background and she is wearing a gray tshirt and holding a green sive full of Rhoadsia altipinna, a small western Ecuadorian Tetra fish which appear rainbow.

Hear from MCB biologist Grace Malato.

What is your educational background?

I received my Bachelor of Science degree in Wildlife Biology with an emphasis in Aquatics from the University of Montana, Missoula. I then received my Master of Science degree in Biology from DePaul University in Chicago, Illinois.

What is your position? When did you start working in MCB?

I started as a Biologist for MCB in January 2017, just after the New Year. I am here as a Presidential Management STEM Fellow (PMF STEM), which is a program that we previously featured on the MCB blog.

What attracted you to work for NSF?

I have had the opportunity to work in a variety of research settings that combine molecular tools with ecological concern; I love the excitement that comes with discovery. After seeing how important but challenging interdisciplinary research can be, I was curious about the bigger picture. I am excited to work at NSF to contribute to the scientific community at large and to be a part of an organization providing critical funding for innovative research.

What have you learned so far from your position?

I have learned, in my short time at NSF, so much about the inner workings of the merit review process as well as how funding and research priorities are set. I have learned just how much work goes into reviewing proposals as well as how decisions on funding influence the future of science.

2016 Top 6: Our Most Popular Blog Posts of the Year

We greatly appreciate your continued support of the MCB Blog! In 2016, we were very pleased to see MORE visitors, an INCREASE in views per post and total blog views, and 104 NEW followers who read our blog weekly!

Meet the Editors who craft and edit MCB blog posts. Read our blog policies. Share Your Science with our readers. Tell us what you like to read most and provide feedback on how we can continue to improve. You can also contact us online or reach out to program staff from MCB at Your Meeting.

Here is a quick look at our top 6 most popular blog posts of 2016.

(1) IN HONOR OF DR. KAMAL SHUKLA

This grouping of photographs shows Dr. Kamal Shukla smiling with NSF and MCB staff during work events.

(2) EXPLORING NON-ACADEMIC SCIENCE CAREERS: ASSISTANT DEAN FOR DIVERSITY INITATIVES IN THE NATURAL SCIENCES IN PRINCETON UNIVERSITY

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(3) EXPLORING NON-ACADEMIC SCIENCE CAREERS: SUPPLEMENTAL FUNDING FOR CAREER DEVELOPMENT

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(4) MEET THE SUMMER 2016 INTERNS AT MCB!

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(5) EXPLORING NON-ACADEMIC SCIENCE CAREERS: PRESIDENTIAL MANAGEMENT FELLOWSHIP

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(6) NSF FACULTY EARLY CAREER DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM

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Exploring Non-Academic Science Careers: Presidential Management Fellowship

What do you want to be when you grow up? It’s a difficult question for many people to answer. Do you want to pursue science but don’t know what options are out there? Do you have a degree in science but don’t know what your next career move should be? Are there any options outside academia? For reasons related to recent trends in funding and employment opportunities, the scientific community is looking for information regarding opportunities outside the traditional academic environment.

This series will highlight options that allow you to use your scientific expertise in ways that you may not know are out there! This is the first post of what we hope become the widely read Blog theme: Exploring Non-Academic Science Careers.

My name is Reyda P. Gonzalez Nieves. Since I was a kid, I had a passion for science. It was the one subject in school where I excelled. It was also because of science that I am able to be here today. Science saved my life, literally. Time passed and as I got older, I realized that I wanted to pursue studies in cell molecular biology. I got my Bachelor’s in Biology from the University of Puerto Rico at Bayamon Campus and my PhD in Molecular and Cell Biology from Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda MD.

I have always believed that you should pursue what you are passionate about. Early in my PhD studies, I realized that traditional academia was not for me. But…what else could I do with a PhD in science? That question kept me up many nights. I didn’t want to be away from science, but I didn’t know what direction I should take. The thought of not pursing a post-doc was crazy in the eyes of others. I started looking into different options, but in all honesty it was really hard. I was scared that I would regret my decision. Most importantly, I was scared that the outcome was not going to be ideal. I wished I had more information or a person who made a similar step outside of academia to talk to.

During my search, I found the Presidential Management Fellowship (PMF). The PMF program is administered by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management. This program focuses on training future leaders in the federal government. It is prestigious and includes a two-year fellowship that, upon completion, offers you the opportunity to become a permanent federal employee. You will need a MA/MS, Ph.D., or J.D. degree in any academic discipline to be eligible to apply. Graduate school really trains you well for something like this, because it is a highly competitive process to become a PMF fellow.

As a PMF fellow, you have the opportunity to experience what it’s like to be a government employee in all aspects. You have the ability to make a positive impact in the agency you are appointed to work in. It also provides you with an opportunity to participate on a detail assignment, which is four to six-months as a fellow in another office or agency outside of your primary appointment. Back in 2014, the PMF Program piloted the PMF STEM track with the goal of identifying and training future STEM leaders for Federal government service. You can find all the STEM degrees solicited for the 2016 STEM track here.

I was hired in April of 2014 as a Presidential Management Fellow in the Molecular and Cellular Biosciences Division at the National Science Foundation (NSF). I currently work as a Biologist. My position is completely different from my work as a graduate student. Now, I am able to see and contribute to the other side of grant proposals. As a graduate student I applied for grants. As a Biologist at the NSF, I help the Division and Program Officers with the proposal cycle. I work on special projects for Senior Management and Program Directors. I manage the Division blog, analyze statistics, gather data, mentor summer interns, assist Program Directors during scientific grant review panels, assist Principal Investigators with Sharing Science, and much more. I have the opportunity to take classes and attend conferences to further my professional development. It has been an amazing and rewarding experience.

My advice to those who are thinking about what to do with their scientific degrees is to pursue what inspires you. If it is academia, go for it. If it is not, that’s okay. My point is that there are always hurdles along the way, but if you are pursuing something you are passionate about, it will all be worth it in the end. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or to pursue something that for others seems impossible. I am very glad that I applied to the PMF program. In the end, only YOU will know what is best for you.

There is clearly a need in our community for information about Non-academic Science Career Opportunities. Our goal with this Blog theme is to show our readers alternate avenues outside of a traditional academic path. If you know of a great alternative way to use your science degree and want us to highlight the opportunity for readers, let us know!

Welcome to MCB Arvin Tahami!

Hear from Arvin Tahami, the newest member of the MCB Division.

What is your educational background?

I have a masters degree in Biotechnology from California State University, San Marcos.

What is your position? When did you start working in MCB?

I started two weeks ago as a Presidential Management Fellow. I work as a Biologist in MCB.

The Presidential Management Fellowship program is led by the Office of Personnel Management to recruit recent graduates from graduate programs into federal service. Recently OPM has added an additional STEM track designed specifically for recent graduates with a background in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. My appointment is in the PMF STEM track.

What attracted you to work for NSF?

Scientists working on important projects to advance our basic understanding of science rely on funding from organizations like the NSF to carry out their work. My role at the NSF allows me the unique privilege to play a part in making sure that our nation’s top scientists, working on worthy projects with the potential to have the highest impact, can apply to the NSF for the funding they need.

What have you learned in the first two weeks of your position?

I am very excited to be a part of MCB. Everybody here is very passionate about our mission. So far I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to observe a couple proposal panel reviews. It has been very fascinating watching scientists debate the merits of each proposal being reviewed. Peer review is central to the advancement of science. Using this process to evaluate funding proposals is very fitting with the foundation’s mission. I’ve learned a great deal about how review panels evaluate proposals by watching them in action.

Meet the Editors

 

Dr. Reyda Gonzalez-Nieves Presidential Management Fellow

Dr. Reyda Gonzalez-Nieves, PMF

Dr. Reyda Gonzalez-Nieves acquired a Bachelor’s degree in Biology from the University of Puerto Rico in 2003. After graduating with an undergraduate degree she was accepted as a fellow to the Hispanic Association of Colleges and University Fellowship Program. During this fellowship, she worked at the Food and Drug Administration as a microbiologist from January 2003 to December 2003. She was accepted into the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences Molecular and Cell Biology Doctoral program in the fall of 2005, where she completed her doctoral degree in August of 2012. During graduate school, she successfully applied and was selected for the Presidential Management Fellowship (PMF). The PMF program is a highly competitive fellowship for all academic disciplines that focuses in training future government leaders. She started working at NSF on April 07, 2014 and  is currently working as a Biologist in the Molecular and Cell Biology division in the Directorate for Biological Sciences.

Dr. Chloe N. Poston, AAAS S&T Policy Fellow

Dr. Chloe N. Poston is currently a AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellow in the Division of Molecular and Cellular Biosciences, where she plans to work on topics related to broadening participation in STEM and communicating the impacts of science with the public. Prior to her placement at NSF, Dr. Poston was a post-doctoral scientist at Eli Lilly and Company. She earned her masters and doctorate degrees in Chemistry at Brown University where her research interests focused on global proteomic analysis. During her doctoral studies, Dr. Poston served as the graduate representative on the university’s Diversity Advisory Board. In addition, she chaired the planning committee for the Graduate Students of Color Conference from 2010-2012. Dr. Poston is passionate about STEM education and outreach, and taught 9th grade biology for a year through the NSF Graduate STEM Fellows in K-12 Education program. She has also served as a Mentor to undergraduate students through The Leadership Alliance and FASEB MARC Peer Mentors Program at ABRCMS meetings since 2010. Dr. Poston is a proud graduate of Clark Atlanta University and continues her outreach through her blog called The Poston Collective, which discusses relevant topics at the intersection of STEM, policy, education, and diversity.