The Communication Factor

Supporting excellence in communication

IBB Post-docs Ready for High Stakes Communication



Why Professional

From time to time people ask why professional is in our name. As the president has explained in the new vision statement, Rice educates the whole person in its degree programs, linking experience inside the classroom to events and contexts outside it. A student’s future plans are part of the long-term context.

On campus, term papers, lab reports, lectures, discussions, and so on characterize academic life. Off campus, communication practices vary much more. A doctor-patient conference will be quite different from a biochemist’s study or a bioengineer’s design proposal.

A team presentation or written report inside the classroom can never be exactly the same as one delivered in industry, but situated practice helps students reason analogously once they encounter audiences on the job.

Communication assignments in first- and second-year courses help students use language processes they already know to learn new subjects. Later assignments can help students understand the voice and role they will need in industry and not-for-profit organizations. Workshops for graduate students help them choose the enhancements they need individually.

Preparing students to lead through excellence in communication is our mission. Helping graduate students and undergraduates develop the versatility demanded by these different situations and audiences is why “professional” is part of the Cain Project’s name.

Post-docs and graduate students hone their analytical and research skills, but to win a tenure-track faculty position, they must communicate their experience and expertise to hiring committees. Rice graduate students and post-docs who attended the “Interviewing for Faculty Positions” workshop in February will be ready.

The Cain Project’s Tracy Volz and Mary Purugganan presented this workshop on academic interviews and job talks as part of a career development series co-sponsored by the Institute for Biosciences and Bioengineering.
Workshop participants learned to

  • Analyze situation and audience
  • Organize their knowledge and experience
  • Convey confidence and professionalism
  • Give great job talks
  • Handle questions
According to Volz and Purugganan, candidates for faculty positions should learn as much as possible about their prospective employer, reflect on their own strengths, and analyze their past work experiences.

Table of Contents
IBB Post Docs Ready
Writing a Paper for Publication
Using Technical Spanish
Engineers Without Borders
Redesigned CEVE Course
Dr. Volz discusses interviewing and job talks with graduate students in an IBB graduate student workshop.

To make a good first impression, candidates should assemble a job portfolio that includes evidence of their research productivity and professional development. This portfolio should contain

  • Curriculum Vita
  • Research statement
  • Teaching philosophy
  • Papers and grants, especially if primary author
  • Lab or technical skills
  • Mentoring or supervising junior people in lab
  • Service (to department, institution, community)

In science and engineering, the job talk is most often used to assess a candidate’s ability to teach, so it’s important to deliver a high quality talk. However, candidates may also include sample syllabi, assignments, or teaching evaluations. The final test comes “on your feet,” handling questions. Workshop participants practiced strategies for organizing answers during an interview.

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Spring Newsletter 2006X