By Nico Setiawan and Derek Reichel
Graduate students are challenged to develop as scientists and professionals. Our advisers train us in experimental techniques and scientific communication, but we may often ignore opportunities for training in other important skills, such as networking, collaboration, and community outreach, which can be vital in a professional setting. The AAPS University of Kentucky (UK) student chapter emphasizes these underappreciated aspects of professional development and plans events for its members to fill these needs. As a result, our members learn valuable skills that allow us to become more successful scientists in the future.
Our chapter works toward achieving the broad goals of AAPS by extending and enriching the scope and domain of pharmaceutical sciences in three ways: by bringing professionals from academia, industry, and government regulatory agencies to the university to share their expert knowledge; by organizing pharmaceutical conferences to exchange knowledge and boost scientific cooperation; and by providing graduate students with opportunities to network with others. This year, we invited three guest speakers to UK: Joseph Polli, Ph.D., the worldwide director of Drug Metabolism and Pharmacokinetic (DMPK) and in vitro drug metabolism at GlaxoSmithKline; Mikolaj Milewski, Ph.D., a senior scientist at Merck; and Melissa Howard, Ph.D., the vice president of clinical services at Symbiotix. We were able to learn from these speakers by meeting with them and listening to their seminars. We also held several professional development workshops on topics such as grant writing, qualifying exam preparation, and Endnote. These workshops have taught us valuable communication and presentation skills.
In addition to inviting professionals, our student chapter has planned and hosted the 47th Annual Pharmaceutics Graduate Student Research Meeting (PGSRM). This conference brought over 150 graduate students from more than 10 universities to our campus. Participants were invited to showcase their research and interact with their peers and industry representatives. PGSRM had four guest speakers, 20 podium presentations, and over 60 poster presentations. Planning and hosting this conference allowed us to exchange valuable research knowledge and promote scientific cooperation among the participating universities.
Finally, our student chapter has conducted several community outreach events. We held demonstrations at UK engineering day, an event for K–12 students interested in science and engineering. We were also invited to Barren County High School to discuss the importance of pharmaceutics science and demonstrate some of its applications. These two events allowed us to showcase our research to an interested audience and to spark interest in young scientists.
In conclusion, our student chapter helps its members by stressing underappreciated aspects of professional development during its events. Our guest speakers and workshops have helped our members to network with speakers and with each other. Planning and hosting PGSRM has let us interact with many graduate students and share our knowledge with each other. Outreach events have allowed us to communicate our research and promote our field with unique audiences. By teaching and fostering these unique skills, our events help our students become more well-rounded scientists, which has allowed our members to be successful in industry, academia, and regulatory positions.