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Environmental Factor, April 2015

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NTP trainees get practical support before SOT

By Kelly Lenox

Following in the footsteps of the successful 2014 flash mentoring and poster session (see story), scientists in the National Toxicology Program (NTP) helped predoctoral and postdoctoral trainees prepare for the 2015 Society of Toxicology (SOT) annual meeting with a March 16 speed interviewing and scientific poster session.

Building on success

“Several mentors volunteered to do it again, which was great, because we were only taking volunteers,” said planning team member Sue Fenton, Ph.D., smiling. “And several mentees who couldn’t be here last year were first in line,” added Angela King-Herbert, D.V.M., also on the planning committee. Other planning team members included Darlene Dixon, D.V.M., Ph.D.; Michelle Hooth, Ph.D.; and Nigel Walker, Ph.D.

The team planned both a speed interviewing and poster session, to help trainees prepare for the brief discussions and actual interviews they will have at SOT. Speed interviewing was a practical choice, said Fenton, who emceed the session, because 60 percent of managers form their opinion of a job candidate within 10 minutes.

Practical experience

The planning team prepared questions and each interviewer randomly selected one to ask of the interviewees. The trainees had 5 1/2 minutes at each station — one minute to introduce themselves, and the remainder to answer the question.

The fast-paced sessions were followed by a debriefing, in which trainees and mentors shared what they learned. Trainees voiced a consensus that the hardest questions included being asked to explain their work to a fifth grader, and to name the qualities that set them apart from other candidates. They were much more comfortable with questions such as whether they preferred working on a team or individual basis.

The day ended with a scientific poster session, which gave trainees practice explaining their research to NIEHS and NTP staff — this time at a level a little higher than fifth grade.

  • Walker asked pelch

    Walker, left, asked Pelch and others to share a time they solved a problem. Several mentors echoed the theme that specific stories were far more memorable answers than general responses. (Photo courtesy of Kelly Lenox)

  • Fenton speaking

    Fenton’s good humor helped keep the speed interviewing session moving on schedule. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)

  • Ngalame talking to masten

    Masten, left, listened to Ngalame as she described her feelings about working on a team vs. individually. During the debriefing, he said some of the best answers from participants included being energized by a team environment, liking the opportunity to learn from others who had skills they didn’t, and appreciating teamwork because it enabled greater achievement. (Photo courtesy of Kelly Lenox)

  • King-Herbert talking to Filgo

    During the poster session, King-Herbert, left, quizzed Filgo, who is a predoctoral fellow in Fenton’s group, on details of his research. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)

  • Dixon talking to Quist

    Dixon, left, learned about the approach Quist took in studying the effects of perfluorooctanoic acid on liver function. Quist’s abstract won the SOT 2015 Roger O. McClellan Student Award. (Photo courtesy of Steve MCCaw)

  • Tucker Talking to Yitang Yan

    Tucker, right, enlightened Yitang Yan, Ph.D., of the NTP Molecular Pathogenesis Group, on her research as a predoctoral fellow in Fenton’s Reproductive Endocrinology Group. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)

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