Achieving Research Independence Series

Initiated in fall 2015, the Achieving Research Independence (ARI) series was conceived as a powerful launchpad for postdocs with an academic career trajectory.


We know that many – though certainly not all – UCSF postdocs want to pursue an academic career, but the transition from postdoc to PI is not always an easy one. The most successful PIs first have a very clear research vision; they are also inspiring leaders, able to harness the talents of a team of scientists and trainees to achieve their research objectives. With these two characteristics in mind, the ARI series will prepare postdocs for the transition to independence and put them on solid footing to become effective leaders, mentors, and researchers.

"Young scientists must develop skills that are sometimes called 'soft skills,' but are, more precisely, 'smart skills.' We hope that postdocs who attend part or all of this series will feel more confident as they transition to independence, since they will have acquired practical tools to use as they establish their own lab," said Assistant Dean for Postdocs Christine Des Jarlais.

The ARI series is organized by the Office for Postdoctoral Scholars in consultation with CAIPS Director Bill Lindstaedt, and sponsored by the Graduate Division. The series will be offered through 2017, and comprises workshops and short courses on topics like these:

The Independence Conversation: How to talk to your PI about moving on – When do you bring up the subject? What is the best way to frame the conversation? How do you deal with a PI who is resistant to even having the discussion?

Scientific Leadership and Management Skills (a 2-day course) - Learn about your leadership style and how to work with others who have different work styles. Tackle other issues such as dealing with conflict, having difficult conversations, motivating your team, goal setting. Get practical tips on developing a budget and hiring the right people.

Developing an Independent Research Persona and Creating Your Niche - Branding yourself and becoming independently known is essential for developing networks, confidence, and shaping the way people perceive you. Create a public profile that fits with your future research goals.

Develop Your Elevator Speech Workshop - Your research is cutting edge and interesting, so why not learn how to convey the value of your work in a concise and meaningful way? The notion of the "elevator speech" reflects the premise that you should be able to represent your research in the span of an elevator ride—anywhere between 10 seconds and 2 minutes. During this workshop you will gain tools to craft your elevator speech as well as practice tailoring and delivering it to diverse audiences.

Setting Up Your Lab and Budget - Specific topics may include: determining priorities, buying equipment, budgeting for and hiring personnel, general timelines, and how indirect costs work.

Leading Your Own Research Group - How do you turn your lab group into a top-performing and cohesive team?

Strategies for Developing Fundable Ideas - Learn how to pitch your research effectively and sell your project. Write a proposal with a story. Develop research collaborations.

A Day in the Life of an Assistant Professor - A panel of new assistant professors talk about what information and experiences they wish they had had that would have made their first year easier, more productive, and less stressful. Speakers will be invited from UCSF, UC Berkeley, Stanford, San Francisco State University, and other nearby colleges.

Be sure to keep an eye out for programming in the Achieving Research Independence Series! Many of the events above are still in the planning stage, but all affiliated events will be listed on this page as well as under "events" on the home page.