Washington Update

NASEM Roundtable Aims to Foster Inclusivity in STEMM Research Ecosystem

By: Nabila Riaz
Wednesday, February 21, 2024
The Roundtable on Mentorship, Well-being, and Professional Development, established by the Board of Higher Education and Workforce at the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM), focuses on ongoing improvements and innovations in effective mentorship and professional development practices and programs. Its aim is to create and maintain an inclusive and equitable higher education and STEMM research ecosystem. Specifically, the roundtable (RT) concentrates on the role of identity, inclusion, personal agency, and well-being (e.g., mental, financial, social, etc.) in mentoring relationships and the career development of graduate students and postdoctoral scholars in STEMM fields.

The RT is using a set of guiding goals and approaches to 
  • Identify beneficial practices with varying levels of supportive evidence.
  • Catalyze the creation of a national research-practice learning network.
  • Create a resource, such as an online guide, to both highlight existing ecosystems for mentorship and work on integrating well-being and professional development.
  • Investigate how systemic changes can be implemented across the STEMM developmental ecosystem, including at the individual, department (academic) or group/team (workforce), institutional (academic) or company (workforce), state, and national levels.
The RT hosted its inaugural workshop, Addressing the: “Knowing-Doing Gap,” in November 2023, taking an intersectional approach to examining the challenge of translating existing theory (knowing) into effective interventions (doing). The workshop aimed to assist in understanding and developing strategies to bridge current systemic and cultural barriers to the support and promotion of graduate students and postdoctoral scholars in the STEMM research ecosystem. The workshop concluded with two breakout sessions discussing culturally responsive Practices in mentorship, well-being, and professional development, and defining and assessing mentorship, well-being, and professional Development at the Institutional Level.

On January 31, the RT held an open session to explore the current landscape and history of graduate student and postdoctoral scholar labor movements. Panelists, including graduate students, postdocs, an associate dean, and staff, discussed the history and necessity behind members of the STEM ecosystem turning to unionization and collective bargaining, as well as the evolving expectations of STEM graduate students and postdoctoral scholars. The panelists also shared lessons that the STEM community can learn from the movement towards unionization and collective bargaining.