Building Careers in the Environmental Health Sciences
The Harvard-NIEHS Center’s Career Development Program offers financial support, mentoring, professional network building, and guidance on a range of topics relevant to developing and advancing a career in environmental health research. We foster growth at all stages of career development through our various support programs and career broadening experiences, and aim to promote diversity in Environmental Health research. Direct mentoring and career development opportunities are offered by all Harvard-NIEHS Center faculty, in part through the Center Cores and Programs that they lead (please see links below) The Career Development Program is directed/coordinated by Diane Gold, who leads the Specific Aims Review Sessions.
Center Members are encouraged to meet with the Career Development Director to review the elements of the Center’s Career Development program and to identify a Center Member within a particular Research Core who will serve as their Center Mentor. Investigators are encouraged to identify someone in addition to their academic mentor (provided by their particular school or unit within Harvard), with expertise outside of their primary research area, who can provide guidance on their specific environmental health career development goals and research strategies.
Research Core Career Development Activities
The day-to-day focus of the Center’s mentoring is through its Research Cores. The Cores foster intellectual exchange and collaboration across traditional academic disciplines by addressing environmental health issues related to common environmental exposures (Metals, Organics, and Particles) that require expertise from all environmental health disciplines. The Research Cores draw participants from across departments, schools, and hospitals affiliated with Harvard University, and provide opportunities for professional networking and multidisciplinary team building through their Core sponsored seminars, talks and retreats.
Seminars and Talks – The Center, Research Cores and the Environmental Statistics Core present several seminars throughout the year featuring outside experts and talks by Center investigators. Core members work with the Core leaders to develop the line up of speakers and have the opportunity to meet with invited speakers during their visit. These seminars also provide opportunities for Center Members to present their work to the community and receive feedback. Chalk Talks presented by Core members and trainees promote communication between researchers in different specialties by providing education focused on topics rather than the work of specific individuals.
Retreats and Workshops – Core and Center-wide retreats and workshops offer opportunities to catch up with colleagues, meet new members, share ideas and form new collaborations. The all-Center Retreat is held each fall. Individual Core retreats, poster days, and workshops happen throughout the year and are announced in the Monthly Announcements, via email and on the Center Events webpage.
Pilot Project Program – Grants of up to $30,000 for pilot studies in environmental health research are available to Center Members and their trainees and collaborators. Pilot grants are meant to encourage innovative lines of inquiry, foster new collaborations and provide preliminary data to make future applications for external funding more competitive.
Facility Access Funds are available to support use of in-house or external laboratory or other services for research projects. These small grants of up to $10,000 are available year round, with no fixed application dates, and offer quick funding decisions so that services may be obtained right away.
Center New Investigators – The Center partners with the HSPH Deans and Department Chairs to identify, recruit, and provide startup packages for outstanding scholars with interests (extant or expected) in environmental health to become successful tenure-track faculty. Harvard–NIEHS Center New Investigator funds are leveraged against School, Department and other academic center resources to fund start-up packages, which typically include three years of guaranteed salary plus flexible funds for starting a research program. Candidates may be nominated to the Career Development Director, the Center Director, and the Dean for Academic Affairs at any time.
See also External Funding Opportunities.
Grant Writing Support
The Center offers content review of grant proposals on two levels:
Specific Aims Review Sessions: For investigators at all levels with upcoming grant submissions. A panel of faculty members offer review and critique of Specific Aims sections in a friendly, constructive, open session. Offered three times each year, 6-8 weeks prior to standard NIH new R01 deadlines (September, December, and April). See our Events Calendar for upcoming Specific Aims Review sessions.
Grantsmanship and Content Development Assistance – One-on-one review of full proposal drafts for new or resubmissions by senior Center Members representing several different disciplines and perspectives is available to all Center Members and their trainees. By arrangement – Contact: Diane Gold or Monica Russell.
Resources for junior investigators (fellows, etc.):
- ISEE Webinar: All Things NIH Study Section (Sept 2020)
- ISEE Webinars (collection)
- NIH Peer Review: Live Mock Study Section with Q&A (Nov 2021)
- ‘Ever Wondered What Happens During the Scientific Review of an NIH Grant Application?’ (Feb 2021)
- A Practical Guide to Writing a Ruth L. Kirschstein NRSA Grant
Community Outreach and Research Opportunities
Community Engagement Core – Environmental health investigators are increasingly expected to work with community and include community-based prevention research strategies in their portfolio. Center investigators are encouraged to participate in activities and events sponsored by our Community Engagement Core (CEC). See also, our Community Outreach listing on our Events page.
Career Development Resources at Harvard and Beyond
The Center’s health scientist-focused program compliments and leverages the more general career development resources available throughout Harvard, some of which are listed here:
HSPH Office of Research Strategy and Development encourages the scientific career development of HSPH faculty by helping to identify and successfully compete for extramural funding and by providing other resources such as Career Incubator Fund awards to HSPH tenure track assistant and associate professors, and the Taplin Equipment Grant Fund. They also offer a Faculty NIH Grant-Writing Short Course which runs from January-April.
(EH513) “Interdisciplinary Training in Environmental Health,” is a weekly seminar offered by the HSPH Department of Environmental Health. Material includes cross-training in scientific disciplines, workshops on writing scientific papers, preparing posters, networking, grant writing, oral presentations, and community based participatory research. The seminar is open to all Center Members as well as department post docs.
Harvard Catalyst offers a huge variety of Career Development resources for Harvard affiliated investigators including consulting, educational offerings, and pilot funding. Their Education Video Library including these and much more:
- Elements of Grantwriting – online unit with Tools, Writing Tips and Samples of successful grant applications
Training and Career Development Resources for Postdocs and Early Career Scientists by the National Institute for General Medical Sciences (NIGMS)
Harvard MIT ComSciCom – Communicating Science national (June) and local (January) workshops for graduate students.