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Office of Professional Development Events

The Office of Professional Development (OPD) positions graduate students and postdoctoral researchers for success in their careers at UMass and beyond. Building upon the academic and technical expertise of the scholars we serve, OPD provides professional skills training to cultivate strengths in the areas of career preparation, communication, grants and fellowships, personal development, and teaching. Our extensive programming—created in collaboration with a far-reaching network of partners—prepares participants to thrive in academia, industry, government, and the non-profit sector.

Upcoming events are described below, but be sure to check out the full program for the spring semester (organized by month/competency)! Check back often, as events are continually added and updated. To contact us please call 413-545-6001 or email

Postdocs are encouraged to take advantage of a special professional development grant to support career advancement. 

Grants and Fellowships

NIH grants: The Right Grants for the Right Time (Part of a day-long program)
Tuesday, April 3rd – 9:00-10:30am 
S340 Life Science Laboratories (LSL) South
Early career researchers have access to a variety of funding opportunities – fellowships, training grants, K99R00 and research grants (R03, R21, R15 or R01). Should you apply for a large grant right away or first build a successful funding record by securing a series of smaller grants? Join Dr. Jerry Heindel, retired NIH Scientific Program Administrator (NIEHS), for a discussion about funding opportunities and how their intentional sequencing and alignment can inform a long-term funding strategy. Co-sponsored by OPD, TEFD, and the UMass Postdoc Association. Pre-registration is required. 
Grantsmanship: How to Write a Winning Research Proposal (Part of a day-long program)
Tuesday, April 3rd – 11:00am-1:00pm 
S340 Life Science Laboratories (LSL) South
After more than two decades as NIH Scientific Program Administrator (NIEHS), Dr. Jerry Heindel has a keen sense of what goes into a strong proposal. He will provide advice about what to do (and not to do) to craft a competitive proposal.  A good idea is not sufficient. He will  focus on grantsmanship, the art of writing a winning proposal.  He will also lead an interactive lunchtime discussion about the role of a program officer in the proposal process and how grant applicants can establish effective working relationships with their program officers. Co-sponsored by OPD, TEFD, and the UMass Postdoc Association. Lunch will be served and pre-registration is required.
Understanding the NIH Grant Review Process (Part of a day-long program)
Tuesday, April 3rd – 1:30-3:00pm 
S340 Life Science Laboratories (LSL) South
Drawing upon his more than two decades of experience as NIH Scientific Program Administrator (NIEHS), Dr. Jerry Heindel will provide inside perspective about the proposal review process.  How do study sections actually work? How can knowing that help you prepare a better applications? What are Reviewers looking for? What are some things to avoid? Come learn from an expert and bring your questions!  Co-sponsored by OPD, TEFD, and the UMass Postdoc Association. Pre-registration is required. 


Summer 2018 Dissertation-Writing Retreats
Application Deadline April 16, 2018
Make progress on your dissertation this summer! These retreats are designed for graduate students from all disciplines at the dissertation-writing stage. Accepted applicants will have sustained time to write, gain practice setting writing goals, and develop strategies for planning, drafting, and revising. Session 1: June 4th-8th, 9:00 am-4:00 pm. Session 2: July 16th-20th, 9:00 am-4:00 pm. Co-sponsored with the Writing Center. Click here for more information. Complete this form to apply.
Translating Your Ideas into a First Draft
Monday, March 26th - 10:00-11:15am
528 Goodell
How to we turn our brainstorming sessions and early research into a first draft? Come to this workshop to get concrete strategies for managing your ideas, organizing your thoughts, and putting your ideas down in writing. Pre-registration required.
Multilingual Writers Series: Proofreading and Copyediting Skills
Monday, April 2nd - 12:00-1:30pm
Proofreading is one of the most fraught stages of the writing process, and for multilingual writers, it can bring up feelings of inadequacy and uncertainty. This workshop will cover when and how to integrate proofreading into one’s writing process, and through activities on common error patterns and pattern analysis, writers will walk away with strategies to make their proofreading and copyediting more efficient and effective. Please bring a piece of writing you are willing to share and would like to proofread. Pre-registration required.
Open Access & Copyright for Theses and Dissertations
Wednesday, April 4th - 2:00-3:00pm
538 Goodell
What is the benefit for choosing open access for your dissertation or thesis? How can your copyright choices help or hurt your scholarship? In this workshop, librarian Erin Jerome will present an overview of open access, copyright, and fair use as it relates to your thesis or dissertation. We will also allow for plenty of time to discuss your thoughts and questions about these issues. Co-sponsored by the UMass Libraries. Pre-registration required here: 
Submitting Your Thesis or Dissertation? ScholarWorks, Copyright, and Your Options
Tuesday, April 3rd - 10:30am-12:30pm 
OR Wednesday, April 4th - 3:00-5:00pm 
OR Friday, April 6th - 3:00-5:00pm
OR Tuesday, April 10th - 10:30am-12:30pm 
538 Goodell
Are you submitting your thesis or dissertation this semester? Do you have any last-minute questions about how to submit to ScholarWorks? What is open access? Should you request an embargo? Erin Jerome (the Open Access and Institutional Repository Librarian) will host “office hours” to answer any of your questions about the thesis or dissertation submission process. Drop by anytime during the times listed above! Co-sponsored by the UMass Libraries. Pre-registration requested here
Effective and Engaging Popular Science Writing
Friday, April 6th - 10:30am-12:00pm 
Campus Center 174-76
Considering a career in popular science writing? Or are you hoping to improve the way you write about your research for the general public? Join our panelists, Joanna Klein, a science journalist who has written for The New York Times, David Eisenhauer, Public Affairs Officer for the Fish and Wildlife Service, and Hugh Powell, senior science editor at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, for a discussion on popular science writing as a genre, challenges in writing for the general public, and the realities of being a professional science communicator. Pre-registration required . Co-sponsored by That’s Life [Science].
Setting Writing Goals By the Numbers 
Wednesday, April 11th - 3:00-4:15pm
538 Goodell 
When a writing project seems insurmountable or we don’t know where to start, breaking it down into its components is a great way to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Come to this workshop with something you are reading (in a genre which you will write or are currently working), and have the opportunity to see how your own similar project can be broken down into manageable sections with reasonable timelines. You can then use this analysis to create a template for your own writing project. Pre-registration required. 
Outreach and Public Engagement Summit
Wednesday, April 11th – 1:30-4:30pm 
Design Building Room 170 & Atrium
Are you interested in connecting your research/scholarship with public audiences? Join us for this interdisciplinary event featuring a Professional Panel and Idea and Resource Exhibition. The Summit will bring together people interested and/or involved in outreach and public engagement on campus and beyond to get connected, informed, and inspired. 
Making the Most Out of Your Reading (or How to Not Read Forever)
Thursday, April 26th - 3:00-4:30pm
538 Goodell  
How do you know when you’ve read enough? Come to this workshop to learn practical skills for critical reading and writing to make moving toward effective synthesis easier – and faster.   Pre-registration required.


The Autism Spectrum and Neurodiversity in Higher Education: Enabling Connective Teaching and Learning (TEFD Diversity Lunch Talk)
Wednesday, April 4th - 11:30am-1:00pm
917 Campus Center 
How can Autism (and Neurodiversity more generally) enrich university teaching and learning in radically inclusive and inventive ways? In this interactive and interdisciplinary workshop, Dr. Anne Ciecko (Associate Professor, Communications) will share, via presentation and discussion, a unique toolbox of theory, research, mediations, and practical applications that enable and affirm connective possibilities of neurodiversity in higher education. Open to faculty, post-docs, and grad students. Pizza lunch will be served. Sponsored by TEFD. Pre-registration  required. 
Navigating the Classroom Space Between the Professor and Students
Thursday, April 5th – 10:00-11:15am 
162-75 Campus Center
Graduate student instructors and teaching assistants navigate a classroom space between the faculty member and undergraduate students. Within this space, rich learning can occur; but it can also represent a space of complexity and power differentials. This interactive discussion will explore a set of complex scenarios involving disagreement and missed cues in order to develop skills in boundary-setting, negotiation, and difficult conversations. This session is presented by Dr. Becky Wai-Ling Packard, Chancellor’s Leadership Fellow-in-Residence , and co-sponsored by OPD and CIRTL@UMass. Pre-registration  is required.
Dis/Comfort in the Classroom (International Scholars Forum)
Monday, April 9th - 10:15-11:45am
301 Goodell
There are many reasons why we might feel uncomfortable in the classroom: mismatched expectations, inappropriate comments or sensitive topics, a lack of shared cultural background with our students, questions that force us off-script, or limited experience with student-centered teaching practices. This interactive workshop will give you opportunities to reflect on and discuss how to better embrace these moments as learning opportunities (for you and your students). Part of the International Scholars Forum for international faculty, postdocs, and grad students co-sponsored by TEFD. Pre-registration  required.
5 Things to Do on the Last Day of Class
Wednesday, April 18th - 1:30-2:45pm
528 Goodell 
By the end of the semester, we are all exhausted and overworked. How can we end the semester with the same enthusiasm that we had at the beginning? This workshop will present five things that you can do on the last day of class to help students reflect on their learning, the course content, and their successes. Pre-registration required.
Teaching Portfolios and Statements: An Overview
Friday, April 20th - 1:30-2:45pm
538 Goodell 
This workshop will explain how to develop a teaching portfolio that demonstrates your effectiveness as an instructor. Topics will include the purpose, content, and format of the teaching portfolio and development of a teaching statement. Pre-registration required.
Teaching Statements: An Interactive Workshop 
Friday, April 27th - 1:30-3:15pm
538 Goodell 
A teaching statement is a critical document for graduate students and postdocs who anticipate a career in teaching, whether at the college level or elsewhere. This interactive workshop will give you the opportunity to begin work on your teaching statement. In addition, we will review examples of teaching statements to identify strengths and best practices. Pre-registration required.

Career Preparation

Career Conversations: A Career in Medical Affairs
Wednesday, April 4th - 12:15-1:15pm
174-46 Campus Center
Have you heard of Medical Affairs, but wonder what it is? Are you hoping to leverage your scientific expertise in a role away from the bench? Erin Amato (UMass alumna) and Eric Gustafson will lead a discussion about Medical Affairs, opportunities in the field, and how to successfully transition from academia to Medical Affairs consulting. Zipher Medical Affairs is a boutique consulting company that provides strategic, tactical and operational services to pharmaceutical companies in oncology and other therapeutic areas. Zipher anticipates rapid growth, with diverse consulting opportunities across all levels. Come learn more! A pizza lunch will be served and pre-registration is required.
Career Conversation: Dr. Stefan Gross, Agios Pharmaceuticals
Thursday, April 19th - 3:00-4:30pm 
S330 Life Science Laboratories (LSL)
Stefan Gross, Ph.D. has served as biochemistry lead and launch team member in multiple startup ventures and is currently Director, Enzymology at Agios Pharmaceuticals. As the second employee, he played a key role in building Agios from a paper concept to a multibillion dollar public and commercial company that produced six first-in-class clinical compounds within six years of launch. Learn more! In this session, Dr. Gross will talk about his own career trajectory and offer tips to help graduate students and postdocs prepare for interviews and negotiate job offers. This is an open discussion, so bring your questions! Pre-registration is required.
New England Future Faculty Workshop
July 10, 2018 – Apply by May 1st
Held at Northeastern University, Boston, MA 
Applications are being accepted for the New England Future Faculty Workshop for Underrepresented Groups in STEM Fields (NE-FFW). The NE-FFW is designed specifically for women and/or underrepresented minorities (men and women) in STEM fields who are late-stage PhD students and postdoctoral scholars and interested in an academic career. This one-day workshop focuses on the academic job search and includes faculty-led interactive discussions and peer-to-peer interactions. View the flyer for more information. Apply here.

Personal Development

Networking Advice For People Who HATE Networking
Tuesday, April 10th - 1:00-2:00pm 
538 Goodell
You know you need to do it. Research shows that networking influences hiring, salary growth, and job satisfaction. Before you head to your next professional conference or social gathering, join this interactive workshop to move beyond your dislike and develop an action plan for this essential skill. Pre-registration required.
Understanding and Combating Impostor Syndrome
Tuesday, April 17th -1:00-2:00pm 
528 Goodell 
Impostor syndrome describes the experience of discrediting successes (good grades, degrees, promotions, awards) as products of timing or luck, rather than personal achievement. Left unchecked, imposter syndrome can interfere with academic progress and professional success. This interactive workshop presents strategies to recognize and productively deal with these feelings. Pre-registration required.