Category Archives: Biological Sciences

The New York Botanical Garden 2015 Spring Professional Development Series Follow Up

Dr. James Boyer

Dr. James Boyer

For the first time in my four years at Fordham I set foot in Larkin hall, home of the biology department, to hear Dr. James Boyer address graduate students regarding his professional experiences. Dr. Boyer is Vice President of The Stavros Niarchos Foundation for Children’s Education at the New York Botanical Gardens. His lecture was designed to provide biology students with first-hand information regarding job opportunities outside the traditional paths of teaching in classrooms or working in labs. Due to the fact that I’m not a biology student but, have cultivated a deep love for the Botanical Gardens through the many runs and exhibits during my time at Fordham, I wondered what I would take away from the lecture.

Dr. Boyer mainly catered to the specific needs of biology students; however, managed to effectively impart knowledge that would be valuable to any graduate student. He reminded attendees that all research and academic endeavors are important – even if they do not pursue a career in academia. This is a relief to those who fear all the hard work they have done during their time in academia will be overlooked. In fact, he reminded students to remain up-to-date on advances in their field, continue to seek new knowledge, and always strive to improve.

He urged us to remember that graduate students are masters of learning who have been conditioned to be flexible and highly adaptable. We have been ingrained to be independent thinkers and leaders, and have obtained the ability to speak both eloquently and technically on a matter. It is with these skills, applicable to a variety of job opportunities, that graduate students enter the workforce.

Lastly, Dr. Boyer successfully dispelled the common misconception that graduate school limits students to careers in academia. Instead, it has prepared us to excel in a variety of career opportunities both within and beyond education.


Sarah Brennan

Applied Psychological Methods

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Filed under BGSA, Biological Sciences, Graduate Students, GSAS Futures

Women in STEM Fields

As anyone with their pulse on higher education and/or trending twitter topics knows, female leadership and opportunities for women are being discussed, created, and critiqued around the US and the world. This February, Columbia and NYU invited scholars to New York to join the dialogue; they hosted the Womensphere Summit and Awards on Innovation, Invention, and Exploration.

This meeting was produced and moderated by Womensphere (and creator Analisa Balares), whose goal is to increase women’s presence in leadership roles across the board, through mentoring initiatives and community building. GSAS, our professional development initiative GSAS futures, and Fordham Biological Sciences department sponsored three female students to go attend this cutting-edge event.

Below, students Beth Ansaldi, Chelsea Butcher, and Marly Katz describe the event and the important dialogues that came out of it.


Women and men in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) from across the globe convened on February 25th and 26th, 2015 to inspire and initiate the advancement of women in STEM disciplines. Day one of the summit incorporated inspiring and insightful talks by distinguished speakers from a broad range of institutions representing academia, entrepreneurship and industry. Several themes from the speakers’ most potent ideas emerged. Key advice delivered at the summit to emerging women leaders in STEM include:

  1. Adaptation: Constantly change yourself. Ironically, what gets you to one point in your career may not be what enables you to push past that point. How you build a life and a career is a continuous and creative project requiring many iterations.
  2. Figure out your niche. Figure out what differentiates you from your peers.
  3. Outside of your comfort zone is where the magic happens.
  4. The ability to learn is the only skill you really need to succeed.
  5. Be self-aware. Know your strengths and weaknesses.
  6. Cut your losses and be able to let go. Learn from your mistakes, and failed projects and move forward.
  7. Surround yourself by strengthening alliances. Find complements, not replicates to your own strengths. Innovation is the product of collaboration between people with diverse backgrounds.
  8. Authenticity. Represent yourself honestly, aligning your words and actions with your self.

Day two, a smaller and more intimate event, focused on promoting the advancement of female entrepreneurs from STEM fields.  Many attendees had projects and inventions in mind, while others, just starting out, were hoping to gain insight for future endeavors.  A number of topics were covered including identifying business opportunities, building teams and networks, and developing business models.

One of the main themes of the day was money and how to acquire enough of it to build and maintain a successful business. Once you propose a product or project, how do you overcome the hurdle of financially supporting it from start to finish? One strategy discussed was crowdsourcing, or soliciting contributions from a large group of people.  This can be achieved by posting your proposed plan or project on a crowdsourcing website.  The project creators choose a deadline and funding goal and provide rewards to those who donate.  A number of sites were discussed, including the following:

  1. Kickstarter – The most popular website, with the highest site traffic.
  1. IndiegogoThis site has no application process and is accessible world-wide,  allowing it to host a wide variety of projects and inventions.
  1. Plum AlleyAlthough not as well known as the first two, this site prides itself    on helping female entrepreneurs achieve their goals, with 75% of the                               audience (i.e. donors, funders) being women.

Although all of these websites offer the opportunity to showcase and receive funding for your projects, it also affords the opportunity for you to support other innovators through funding contributions!

We are pleased to have been given the opportunity to attend the Womensphere Summit and Awards on Innovation, Invention, and Exploration.  For more information on advice for women in STEM fields and entrepreneurial tips, attend our workshop on Wednesday, April 1st at 4 pm in Larkin 150!


Beth Ansaldi ‘16

Chelsea Butcher ‘17

Marly Katz ‘17

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Filed under Biological Sciences, Conference, Graduate Students, GSAS Futures, STEM, Upcoming Event