Get ready for our next curator! Dr Adriana Bankston (@AdrianaBankston) is Associate Director of Fundraising and Strategic Initiatives at Future of Research, a nonprofit organization with a mission to champion, engage and empower early career scientists with evidence-based resources to improve the scientific research endeavor. Adriana is currently the Associate Director of Fundraising and Strategic Initiatives at Future of Research.
Adriana received her bachelor’s degree in Biological Sciences from Clemson University and her PhD in Biochemistry, Cell and Developmental Biology from Emory University. She was a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Louisville, where she developed an interest in improving training and policies affecting graduate students and postdocs at the national level. Here’s her story through and out of science in her own words.
I grew up in a family of scientists, so I’ve always been exposed to the world of biomedical research. My personal journey in science began through a summer research experience in college, which prompted me to do more benchwork and eventually graduate with my PhD from Emory University. My research training is mostly in skeletal muscle biology, which I ended up in because of the advisor I chose in graduate school. She taught me both how to think like a scientist and how to be a good writer and presenter of my work. This field of work was challenging but had a lot of potential for impact through using muscle stem cells and rodent models.
During postdoctoral training, I became interested in non-academic career options. I organized a seminar series and local symposia for trainees at the university, which eventually evolved into a national interest in how we are training the next generation of scientists. At the same time, I became involved with the non-profit organization Future of Research, where I worked on a project looking at postdoctoral salaries nationally. I am passionate about this work due to the potential for institutional change, which is necessary for improving the research enterprise. I seek to leverage my interest in policies affecting early career scientists into a science policy career where I can make broader impacts on the enterprise.
Our research at Future of Research started with monitoring the compliance of U.S. institutions with the Fair Labor Standard Act (FLSA) as related to postdoctoral salaries, followed by obtaining actual salary amounts and creating a site (postdocsalaries.com) for self-reporting of salaries and benefits. This work peaked me interest in studying the postdoctoral position as a whole, and the impact which data and stories can have on effecting change.
Our goal is to make the research enterprise more sustainable for future generations of scientists by empowering early career researchers to maximize their ability to lead and make intellectual contributions to science and society. Our postdoctoral salary work in particular aims to increase transparency around a population that is both understudied. Given the value that postdoctoral researchers bring to the enterprise, increasing transparency around this segment of the workforce is imperative to improving the entire system, which is largely funded by taxpayers.
Besides my job at Future of Research (currently in fundraising), I am also the Director of Communications and Outreach at JSPG. Other leadership roles related to training and policy include working with the Advocacy Committee of the National Postdoctoral Association and the PhD Outcomes Committee of the Graduate Career Consortium.
One of my hobbies is photography, and I hope to one day have a professional camera to exercise this more. I also like Dan Brown books, movies with a good action plot, and enjoy spending time with my dogs and taking them for walks. Ideal Day Off? Since I live in San Diego, probably spending the day at the beach with a cooler full of snacks and good company.