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Professional Development


To develop Trainees’ communication skills, 

  • Through the course sequence, forum, and symposium, Trainees will gain skills in communicating with their peers and colleagues and break down the scientific, cultural barriers through collaborative projects, presentation, and discussion.  
  • Through internships, Trainees will gain the experience in communicating with others in potential future career setting or with policymakers to shape future science policies.
  • Through the outreach activities,  Trainees will learn how to engage and communicate their scientific interests with the public.
  • Each Trainee will gain skills in written communication with a wide range of stakeholders through proposal development, contribute to authoring a blog post on the program website highlighting program activities each year tailored toward the general public, and compose an annual summary of their research, service, and teaching activities.

Leadership and Management

To foster leadership and management skills, 

  • Trainees will plan, organize, and invite internal/external speakers for the research forum and annual symposium. 
  • Trainees will participate in various committees for the training program to shape our direction.
  • Trainees will also co-organize recruiting events, outreach activities, and the program retreat to have the first-hand experience in event planning.
  • Trainees will have the opportunity to participate in campus-wide workshops aiming at improving leadership and project management skills from MSU Graduate School. 


  • Trainees whose career goals include college-level teaching may pursue a Certification in College Teaching available through the MSU Graduate School.
  • Trainees will be required to have one semester serving as a teaching assistant or teach part of a course as an instructor to gain authentic experience in running a class.
  • Trainees will be asked to build a Teaching Portfolio documenting evidence of teaching including their overall experience, factors influencing their effectiveness in teaching, and how the courses they teach may benefit from infusing interdisciplinary contents/examples.


  • Trainees who have passed their comprehensive exams will serve as the peer mentor of a junior Trainee to provide advice and support and simultaneously acquire mentoring skills. 
  • Trainees will have opportunities to mentor undergraduate researchers from multiple sources, including their home research group, departmentally required undergraduate capstone research experiences, and/or REU students. 
  • Twice per year in the biweekly forum, an informal discussion on mentoring will be held in which participants will analyze effective and ineffective mentoring strategies.

Career Advancement

  • During year 3 and 4 of training, Trainees preparing for internship opportunities and interviews will be encouraged to participate in workshops offered by the Graduate School on career planning. Workshops topics include: ‘Developing Your Written Credentials and Preparing Application Materials: CV’s, Cover Letters, and More’ and ‘The New Job Search: How to be Resilient and Expand Your Career Opportunities’. 
  • Trainees will also be encouraged to take on training in student entrepreneurship offered by the MSU Innovation Center to broaden their career horizon.