Why Graduate Students, Postdocs and Early-Career Faculty Should Attend ASMCUE
In 2012, Dr. Amy Briggs, an Assistant Professor of Biology at Beloit College attended the ASM Conference for Undergraduate Educators (ASMCUE) for the first time. “That conference was transformational for me; it was the most friendly, fun, inspiring, and engaging conference I had ever attended, and it made me want to become a part of that community and get further involved,” she said.
Briggs, who studies plant pathology and molecular genetics, now has another research interest: ways of teaching and learning science. Briggs got started in education research in graduate school, where she participated in the University of Wisconsin at Madison's HHMI Wisconsin Scientific Teaching Program. There, she learned about active learning, assessment, and inclusivity, and how to incorporate these in her classroom. After becoming a visiting professor at Beloit, she applied to and participated in ASM's Biology Scholars Program (BSP). The research project centered on student misconceptions in molecular biology Briggs designed during BSP is the one she presented at ASMCUE and ultimately published in the Journal of Microbiology & Biology Education (JMBE).
“Presenting my poster [at ASMCUE] was very helpful,” Briggs said. “It was great getting feedback from the ASM community. In fact, the then-editor in chief of JMBE stopped at my poster and encouraged me to submit a manuscript—that little nudge made a big difference.”
Briggs notes that, as a microbiologist, it’s easy to feel out of your element when writing an education research manuscript if you haven’t been trained in that field. Community feedback at conferences can be helpful. Her advice for those looking to publish their first education research article is to draw on a network of peers like the one at ASMCUE for support and collaboration, and to “Just get it written up and get it submitted! The first manuscript is likely to be rejected, but you need the feedback to get over the inertia of writing for a field different from the one in which you were trained.”
Even if you’re not yet ready to present or publish your work, ASMCUE has a variety of content geared towards graduate students, postdocs, and early-career faculty. This includes networking opportunities, introductory sessions on teaching techniques and assessments, roundtable discussions on teaching issues, access to leaders in a variety of fields, a job-seeking lounge, travel awards, and more.
Dr. Bradley Coleman, Co-Director of the Harvard Medical School Curriculum Fellows, attended his first ASMCUE in 2016 as a postdoc. “What I love about all of ASM’s teaching programming is that it has things to offer to people at all stages in their career,” he said. “ASMCUE is an amazing opportunity to find like-minded instructors doing amazing things and is a constant source of inspiration and community.” Andrea Rediske, a graduate student at the University of Central Florida, feels the same way. "I began attending ASMCUE 9 years ago. My involvement with ASMCUE inspired me as an adjunct professor to pursue a Ph.D. in science education. I've benefited both professionally and personally from becoming involved in this wonderful conference."