STEP program aims to aid PhD students in career search


NYU has received a five-year grant totaling just under $2 million to create the NYU Science Training Enhancement Program, which will be run as a partnership between the NYU School of Medicine and the rest of the university to train biomedical graduates and postdoctoral students in their career paths.

The leaders of NYU-STEP are director of` NYU Langone Medical Center postdoctoral office Keith Micoli, associate director of the NYU Washington Square postdoctoral office Christine Ponder and biology professor Carol Reiss.

NYU-STEP is one out of 10 programs in the country funded by the National Institutes of Health, which awarded the grant, and is based on pilot programs developed by Micoli and other programs at NYU.

Reiss said the program will provide graduate and postdoctoral students with training resources they do not currently have.

“Research training, at the doctoral and postdoctoral levels, teaches many important critical thinking and research skills, but does not develop other professional skills and often does not provide trainees with career directions outside the academic research model,” Reiss said.

NYU-STEP offers formal courses, workshops, symposia, panel discussions, network building and internships. They will occur while the students are completing their research to allow them to assess their interests and skills in regards to what career they want to pursue.

“In the spring, second-year graduate students in the biomedical sciences at Washington Square will be able to register for a one-credit Individual Development Plan course,” Ponder said. “We plan to offer many individual career development seminars.”

Students have already started enrolling in the introductory course and more programing will begin in coming months.

Chemistry graduate student Thomas Carberry, who is writing his thesis, said he enrolled in the program to explore different career opportunities.

“I’d hope the program can give insights into the potential jobs for Ph.D. holders, since the current job market for professorial positions is slim and constant research seems rather monotonous for me,” Carberry said.

The NIH was unable to comment about the grant because it can only comment on the current government shutdown.

Reiss said the program directors are not sure if the medical center grants office received the federal money yet.

“We received the ‘Notice of Award,’ but I do not know if the medical center grants office received the electronic transfer for year one,” Reiss said. “As of the end of last week, we did not have an internal account set up to charge against, but they may just have been busy with other things.”

A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, Oct. 8 print edition. Neela Qadir is a deputy news editor. Email her at [email protected]