The Transition to Doctoral Student

BCMB Academic Program Manager and esteemed alumna Lesley R. Brown, PhD, shares some comments on the graduate student experience.  

Congratulations to our newcomers! You have been accepted into the Biochemistry, Cellular & Molecular Biology [BCMB] graduate program at Johns Hopkins, and you are, quite naturally, on top of the world. The journey to BCMB is long and arduous, but you have shown that you are up to the task. Hopefully, you have caught your breath, because the second leg of the trip has begun. No matter what you think you know about graduate school, the reality is bound to be quite different. Different is good; it’s even better when you have prepared for it. While there is no one formula that will guarantee success, going in with the appropriate expectations will make your transition easier.

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Question of the Month

Every issue  of BCMB News will contain a “Question of the Month” with one or more possible answers. The objective is for us, as a BCMB community, to learn more about each other.  We hope you will participate in the poll and enjoy!  

-Saif Al Qassim

Question of the Month:  Why did you choose to join the BCMB graduate program? Was it a difficult choice? What factors went into making your decision? Although there are many factors that must have gone into your decision, we only list 4 common answers below.

REMEMBER! If you choose “other” and submit your own answer, you may be selected to have your response featured in the next issue! So take 3 minutes of your time, tell us your story, and you may get lucky!

Which BCMB professor are you?

It is the start of a new academic year, and new students will be meeting their BCMB professors for the first time. If you’re just arriving at Hopkins this seems a bit overwhelming, as there are currently 107 faculty listed on the BCMB roster (though there are likely more). Let me help you out by describing just six of the professors who you will likely meet during your first days of class. For the rest of you, let’s take a trip down memory lane. Late summer is the perfect time for reflection about your scientific disposition, so let’s all answer the question “Which BCMB professor are you?”.
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Alumnus Profile: E. Loren Buhle, Life Sciences Executive at IBM

Each month, BCMB News will highlight an esteemed alumnus of the program.  This month, contributor Tom Schaffer interviews Dr. E. Loren Buhle, Life Sciences Excecutive at IBM.  

Dr. E. Loren Buhle attended the BCMB program from years 1980 to 1985, completing his thesis work in the lab of Ueli Aebi in the Department of Cell Biology.  Beginning as a tenure-track professor, he segued into the pharmaceutical industry and later his current position at IBM by creatively parlaying the skills he acquired during his graduate work. His career arc demonstrates the utility and potential of a BCMB PhD beyond more traditional academic career paths in the life sciences.

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Publication spotlight: recent student publications

Publication spotlight is a series designed to showcase noteworthy BCMB publications from students and faculty. If you have a recent publication that you are proud of, tell us about it.

-Matt Shirley

BCMB students are constantly producing high quality publications, though sometimes it may be difficult to follow a colleague’s work which falls outside your own field. That is why this first issue of the Publication spotlight will focus on a roll-up of this year’s publications from BCMB students. A list of hard-earned publications follows: Continue reading

Faculty jobs may be few, but other options are numerous

Much of the science community has been keeping a watchful eye on graduate student education.  Over the summer, this topic has made headlines as the NIH released a report of recommendations for improving education, and BCMB itself has been instituting new changes, policies, and programs to try and improve the graduate school experience.  BCMB student Laurel Oldach reports on some of the latest information on the outcomes of graduate student education.  

According to the numbers, most Ph.D. candidates studying today will not go on to jobs in the traditional postdoc-to-tenured-professor career path.  The Washington Post reports that just 14% of new Ph.D. scientists get a tenure track job within five years of earning their degrees, with about a quarter eventually landing faculty positions. Meanwhile, the number of biomedical Ph.Ds has doubled in the last twenty years.  The average age at which scientists move into tenure-track positions has steadily increased, while the proportion who are able to find such positions has decreased, reflecting a shortage of the academic jobs that many students anticipate when they begin graduate school. Last year, the NIH commissioned a working group to investigate young scientists’ prospects and find a way to address the mismatch between the Ph.D. workforce and the academic job market.

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