Spring Refresh: Updating your IDP Tool & Goals

Spring is the perfect time to refresh your goals and update your IDP tool. Recently I attended the Creating and Owning Your Individual Development Plan workshop hosted by The Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching and Learning (CIRTL) and learned some great tips. Next month, they are having a follow-up workshop called, I Completed my IDP…Now What? If these workshops sound interesting you can check out more of their resources on the CIRTL website. (more…)

#ThankYourMentor – National Mentoring Month: My Science Mentoring Story

Happy New Year and Happy National Mentoring Month. Throughout the month we have seen posts, Tweets and stories about the importance of mentoring. This is why The National Mentoring Partnership (MENTOR) and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health started National Mentoring Month back in 2002. National Mentoring Month focuses national attention on the need for mentors to ensure positive effect in young people. 1 in 3 young people will grow up without a mentor. Mentoring makes a difference, especially for underrepresented students who are interested in STEM fields. When students have science mentors it gives them the opportunity to learn about different science career options and build a positive support system.

Since today is the last event of National Mentoring Month (#ThankYourMentor day) what better time to share how mentoring has made an impact on my science journey. I believe in the impact of mentors and encourage you to mentor someone new. In honor of #ThankYourMentor day I am going to share a few of my mentoring experiences.

As I mentioned in my Mentoring Series, mentoring at all stages is essential for students in the STEM fields, especially underrepresented minority students.  (more…)

A Bit More About Mademoiselle Scientist + The Importance of Having a Science Community

This month I celebrated my 4th Blog Anniversary and I decided it was a great time for me to share a bit more me and why I started Mademoiselle Scientist . My name is Martina and I am a toxicologist, science communicator, and STEM education advocate. I started Mademoiselle Scientist as a way to share my journey as a woman in STEM and support the next generation of scientists. I am passionate about all things STEM: research, mentoring, education and outreach. I want to help scientists succeed, students excel and share information that I have learned along my journey. I see myself as a mentor sharing advice I wish I would have known when I was getting started in STEM.

Early in my journey, there were not many resources like we have today. I remember taking a Minorities in STEM Freshman Seminar Class at Penn State and that was the first time I saw a large group of students who looked like me that were aspiring scientists and engineers. A few years later I found myself surrounded by even more scientists and engineers at the National Society of Black Engineers National Convention. Now I am seeing an increasing number of scientists and engineers who are in leadership roles in higher education, science policy, research and science communication that as a freshman I did not see.

It is incredible to see science, education and research change, but it is also amazing that I have this platform. When I started my Mademoiselle Scientist I did not think that my experiences, the information I learned along the way and resources would turn into a science community. I just wanted a way to help scientists, especially college and underrepresented students learn that they too can become scientists and engineers.

Every day the science community is growing. When I started Mademoiselle Scientist there were only a few blogs out there. Out of the few blogs, I read there were not many blogs that shared information to help scientists, college students and those thinking about graduate school. Also, I did not see many blogs run by minorities or women in STEM. Today there is a platform for everyone.

A Few of My Favorite Blogs in the Science Community: (more…)

Black History Month Edition: My Experiences Participating in Research Training, Mentoring Programs & Science Organizations

In honor of Black History Month I was inspired to share my experiences participating in research training, mentoring programs and science organizations. I am grateful for all of my experiences and mentors that helped me become the woman in science that I am today. Coming from an inner city neighborhood and entering a big rural state university was like a dream. My main goal was to get a great education and learn as much as possible to prepare for a STEM career. Everything after that was an added bonus. I joined science organizations and reached out to science peers for support. For the first time I was able to see people in STEM that looked like me and I was determined to use the many resources that my university offered.

I participated in science programs such as the Women and Science and Engineering Orientation and the Minority Undergraduate Research Experience Program. These programs taught me the importance of leadership and strong mentoring.  I gained research experience, scientific knowledge and confidence that I could pursue a science career. This inspired me to use my science background not only to include research but include helping other scientists, especially underrepresented groups.

I encourage everyone to seek mentoring, the earlier the better. If you are looking for science mentors check out research training programs, mentoring programs and science organizations. There is a mentor for everyone. As a Gates Millennium Scholar (GMS) later I went on to become a mentor in the GMS program. Then when I entered graduate school I served on the Graduate Student Association to help first-year graduate students transition.

I am passionate about helping the next generations of scientists. STEM is challenging and fun, but rewarding. At times in the midst of progress I was faced with moments of negativity. There were people who told me that I did not belong and that I would not achieve my goals. I did not let their negativity stop me. I’m sure most of us have experienced negativity or felt alone in science at one point. Don’t let that stop you. Keep moving forward, pave the way and soon there will be others like you in your career. (more…)

Different Types of Mentors and My Mentoring Experiences

In my last blog post I shared how self-mentoring and understanding what you need in a mentor is the first step when finding a mentor. One of my first mentors was my aunt who is an electrical engineer and she gave me so much insight on my career. In high school I had a mentor that took me under her wing and helped me work on my Gates Millennium Scholarship (GMS) Application. I was so happy when I found out I got the GMS Scholarship, especially after opening a rejection letter from my dream college. These are just two examples of how mentors played a role in my life and I am grateful that they were my mentors. Fast forward years later one of my professors told me that I will need different types of mentors.

Different Types of Mentors: (more…)

Self-Mentoring and Understanding What you Want in a Mentor

Welcome to my preview of my mentoring series. Now that the season is warming up it is a good time to attend social events on campus to network and be a part of the community to scope out potential mentors. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you do not find a mentor right away because it takes time. Throughout my journey as a woman in STEM I had many types of mentors and have learned a lot from my mentoring experiences. Mentoring like any relationship – it is a partnership and commitment.

Self-Mentoring and Understanding What you Want in a Mentor:

1. Update myIDP tool:
The myIDP tool helps you stay organized, reevaluate and update your goals. When you update the myIDP tool you will be able to see what things you need to talk to a mentor about and what things you need to reflect on before making the next move.

2. Use your resources:
There are many resources available and many of them are free. Use the internet as a resource to find what you want in a mentor. Find articles, blogs, like The Thesis Whisperer and Tenure, She Wrote) and people (Dr. Amy Freeman, Dr. Monica Cox and Dr. Renetta Tull) who are doing what you would like to do. This is a great way to find out what career pathways you want to explore. If you are looking for a good book check out my recommended books on my useful book list and seasonal reading lists.

3. Remember your role:
When you self-mentor you are playing a double role. You are a mentor and you are a mentee. Think about the strong points you want in a mentor and focus on using these points as a way to self-mentor. This will help you be a better mentor to others and help you find the right mentor. (more…)

Resources for Scientists using MOOCs: Coursera vs Edx.org

If you have been following Mademoiselle Scientist you know that I enjoy learning. Whenever I find a resource I have to share it. My two favorite resources for online learning are Coursera.org and Edx.org. These two Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) sites are perfect if you want to learn something new now.

courseraedx

After a few years of using both of these MOOC sites: Coursera.org and Edx.org I have a good feel for what they have to offer. Both sites offer tons of courses in various subjects taught by professors from universities around the world. Whether you want to earn a certificate, learn a new subject area, enhance your knowledge for your career or enroll in a multiple-course specialization unit Coursera.org and Edx.org are perfect for you.

Both MOOC sites have apps available for smartphones and tablets which make learning on-the-go easy. I prefer to use my computer to take my courses and I like to use Microsoft OneNote to take notes. It helps me keep the information organized with a digital notebook feel. 

After using both MOOCs I can honestly say you can’t go wrong with Coursera.org or Edx.org. Both will give you a great digital learning experience to help you in your career. Whether you are an undergraduate, graduate, professional or thinking about learning something new I’m sure you will find a course that fits your needs. I recommend creating an account for both to keep track of what courses are available. There are so many courses and you don’t want to miss out. (more…)

Superwoman: Achieving Work-Life Balance

As many women agree, society can put pressure to do it all – to be a superwoman. Sometimes we might want to do it all, but then there are times we cannot. That is okay because we are human and we all need balance. Whether it is a “yes” or a “no”, establishing boundaries, knowing your limits and expressing yourself is key. “No” is a complete sentence that needs no explanation and it is not being rude. Do not fall trap of being voluntold. A superwoman asserts herself and is confident. If you want to learn more about being more assertive in the workplace check out the book, Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office by Lois P. Frankel.

Besides this Lois P. Frankel’s book I recommend reading Dr. Amy Freeman’s book about work-life balance, Stress Less: 10 Balancing Insights on Work and Life. I did a Mademoiselle Spotlight on her last year and talked about how she is an inspiration to me as an Black Woman in STEM. She is a wonderful mentor and in her book I learned so many things about how I can achieve work-life balance. (more…)

10 Gift Ideas for Scientists II:

Looking for a science gift idea? What do you give to the scientist or engineer that seems to have it all? Will they like it? Will it be cool enough? You will find a gift here for every scientist on your list with a great mix of quirky and practical.

10 Gift Ideas for Scientists II:

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1. Books:

Stress Less: 10 Balancing Insights on Work and Life by Amy Freeman, Ph.D. and the Secret Thoughts of Successful Women: Why Capable People Suffer from the Impostor Syndrome & How to Thrive in Spite of it by Valerie Young. I read these books recently and I would highly recommend them to any women who wants to be successful in her career or life in general. Books are always a great gift and I always look forward to adding a good book to my collection.

2. Erin Condren Life Planner:

If the scientist in your life has a busy schedule and prefers a paper planner instead of electronic get them a planner. Recently I’ve been hearing a lot about the Erin Condren Planner so I decided to add it to the list. The planner has a lot of space for writing notes and add items throughout the day. If your recipient is looking to go further in planning consider customizing the planner.

3. Elemental, Spice Rack Set:

This is such a fun, but quirky science-themed gift for the scientist in your life that loves to cook. Plus it will add a bit of science charm to their kitchen.

4. S’well Bottle:

No matter what a drinking bottle that will keep your drinks cold or hot will never go out of style. I like the metallic ones. This bottle will keep your morning cup of tea hot for hours. I’m sure your PI would like this gift. If you want you can pair this gift with a set of gourmet tea or coffee.

5. Pi Tie Bar: 

If you know a guy that is crazy about numbers give him this stylish Pi Tie bar to enhance his style. I know a few math geeks and engineers that would appreciate this gift. Plus it’s a nice statement piece that I know he would like because it’s very unique. If you want to go the extra mile pair this gift with a stylish tie. (more…)

Resources for Scientists: Online Learning Using Edx.org

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are online courses that make learning about different subjects accessible to all. With the internet at your fingertips you can learn a new topic/skill that will help elevate your STEM career. After taking several Coursera.org courses I decided to explore other MOOC sites and I came across Edx.org.

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Image Credit: Edx.org

Edx.org has a different look than Coursera.org and from my first glance at the site I can tell that Edx.org wants the online learning experience to be user-friendly. Before you take a course on Edx.org there is a free self-paced DemoX course that will help you get familiar with how Edx.org works. (more…)