What’s your New Year’s resolution?

The New Year’s holiday is a great time to sit back and reflect on what you’ve accomplished in the past year, what you hope to accomplish in the coming one, and what you’ll need to do to make that happen. But finding a focus and figuring out an approach can be overwhelming. So, for some inspiration, we asked a variety of scientists one question: What are your career-related New Year’s resolutions?



– , doctoral candidate in biochemistry and molecular biology at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada

– , research fellow at the University of Warwick in Coventry, U.K.

After I qualified as a Ph.D. candidate, I began investing time into career and professional development and had purchased some business cards. After 3 years, I have only given out 47!  This year, as I enter the job market, I resolve to distribute the remaining 453.

– , doctoral candidate in molecular biophysics and biochemistry at Yale University

I’m doubling down on a commitment to address real-world problems. This starts with engagement—not just disseminating my science, but listening to people from across the spectrum and working together to develop scientific solutions. I need to constantly remind myself to be patient and perseverant as this mode of working can take years to bear fruit.

– , associate professor in the Department of Ecosystem Science and Sustainability at Colorado State University in Fort Collins and co-founder and chairman of Growcentia, Inc.

My resolution is to get my first job beyond academia, ideally in the writing/editing world.

– , postdoctoral fellow in plant science at Dartmouth College

2017 will be full of personal change: I will become a father in February, finish my Ph.D. in the spring, and transition to a new faculty job in the summer. My New Year’s resolution is to maintain a healthy work-life balance during this exciting time. As I continue to learn and develop my scientific skill set in a new field of study, I hope to maintain a sense of wonder, both in my research and in my time with my family. To accomplish this, I plan to carefully consider the costs and benefits of offers to give talks or take on other extra responsibilities. I will graciously but firmly reject opportunities that would detrimentally affect my ability to spend time with my family or take care of my personal health, and/or that would make me feel too stressed about my workload so that I can maintain my physical and mental health. As a public health scientist, how can I ask people to change their habits if I can’t even take care of myself?

– , doctoral candidate in public health at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor

– , associate professor of psychiatry and medical genetics at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada

My career-related resolutions are to write every day, to learn something new every day, and to go to the gym more often.

– , postdoctoral fellow in plant genetics at Iowa State University in Ames

Professionally, the highest priority I have for my group right now is publishing the papers we are working on. My group is now 6 years old, and for the first few years, most of my time went into setting up the group, training people, acquiring funding, and laying the foundations for our projects. Now, it’s time to share the results of this with the rest of the word, and there are several manuscripts I would like to see completed in 2017.

In terms of my personal life, I used to be an avid dancer, photographer, and pianist, but the stresses of being an early-career PI meant that I couldn’t dedicate as much time to any of these as I would like. My hope for 2017 is that now that things are falling into place, I can reinvigorate at least one out of the three. Working hard is a really important requirement, but dedicating time to the things I love makes me happy, and being happy makes me a better scientist. I am committed to reminding myself of that in 2017.

Finally, to make all this happen, my biggest challenge for 2017 is time management: There are only 24 hours in a day, and almost a third of that is sleep, so I want to make the most of all the hours that are left!

– , professor of cell and molecular biology at Uppsala University in Sweden

– , doctoral student at The Rockefeller University in New York City

– , postdoctoral fellow in animal welfare and ethics at i3S at the University of Porto in Portugal

I’ve made a number of New Year’s resolutions aimed at promoting LGBTQ individuals (like myself) and our allies in various science careers. First, I resolve to learn more about the challenges that LGBTQ scientists face, starting with online resources and reaching out to visible supporters in my workplace. Second, I will work to further support LGBTQ scientists—whether students, early-career, or otherwise—for example by developing safe spaces by initiating diversity-focused conversations during weekly lab meetings and visible signage on my office. Third, I will educate fellow scientists about how to recognize and address anti-LGBTQ bias and harassment in the workplace and classroom. Finally, I will advocate to promote change within my workplace and laboratory against harassment and bias to promote the equality of LGBTQ scientists. Basically, my resolutions are to learn, support, educate, and advocate for LGBTQ scientists as well as people from other underrepresented groups.

– , postdoctoral fellow in plant genetics at Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania

My resolutions for next year are to teach, learn, and repeat. I want to share the joy of teaching with students and colleagues and revive my inner student by learning new lab techniques during my sabbatical stay in Germany. Oh, and I guess it would be useful to try to learn some German too!

– , professor of medicine at the Autonomous University of San Luis Potosí in Mexico

My 2017 New Year’s resolution is to spend more time communicating science to the public. The last few months have made it clear to me that strong bonds between scientists and nonscientists are essential, but that we frequently get stuck in our own circles. These relationships not only facilitate the dissemination of science, but also allow scientists to learn from the public regarding the research that is most needed. In 2017, I pledge to spend time throughout the year visiting grade schools and after-school programs to read stories about science to young children. My second resolution is to use my position as a scientist to advocate for better policy. Often scientists are told to keep out of politics, but policy needs to be informed by science. Now more than ever it is important that scientists work with politicians to develop policies that protect human rights by protecting the environment. My personal goal is to educate myself about current and proposed policies, and to reach out to my local representatives to ask for their support in policies that are evidence-based.

– , assistant professor of biology at Occidental College in Los Angeles, California

I have two main career-related New Year’s resolutions: one is to teach at the university level and the other is to prepare for a research stay abroad. My long-term career aspiration is to combine research with teaching, but nowadays it is very difficult to become a professor. And so the first milestone I have identified to reach this goal is to gain teaching experience by giving seminars to university students. Then regarding my second New Year’s resolution, next March I will be entering the second year of my Ph.D. and I believe it is very important to gain experience in other laboratories. Therefore, I need to start thinking about where I can go, what kind of experiments I should do, which laboratory may have the facilities I need … and I have to start making contact with them.

– , doctoral candidate in neuroscience at the Institute of Biomedical Research of Barcelona in Spain

My resolution for 2017 is to collect, analyze, and publish more data! When I left the lab for the library several years ago, I assumed that was the end of my direct participation in the research process. However, since then, my work helping researchers manage their data has evolved to a place where I am now ready to start collecting data of my own. I already have a series of projects lined up for 2017 to investigate how practices related to research data management and software preservation relate to systemic issues in science like openness and reproducibility. In the new year, I hope not only to begin these projects in earnest, but to carry them forward into new research questions, new collaborations, and more new projects.

– , postdoctoral fellow at the California Digital Library in Oakland, California

– , doctoral candidate in fisheries at the University of Washington in Seattle

Margaret Siple is a doctoral candidate in fisheries, not marine ecology.

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