March 8th, 2018
Training the next generation of scientists to be transparent

Scientific rigor and reproducibility have become new buzzwords, often being floated in discussions in labs, department meetings, and scientific conferences. As public confidence in science has fallen in the United States, the need for increased transparency has risen. The majority of scientists now see this issue as a significant concern, if not an outright crisis. (1) The causes for both the fall in public opinion and some of the high-profile examples that have precipitated the current situation are well beyond this article. This post will focus on three parts: first, to state what rigor and reproducibility is and what it means for trainees; second, to identify several resources that trainees will find useful; and third, to highlight the upcoming 3-part Trainee Symposium on Rigor and Reproducibility at the 2018 Experimental Biology meeting in San Diego, CA (2). Links and resources that trainees may find helpful will also be shared through the APS Trainee social media Facebook and Twitter throughout the month of March.


The NIH has made increasing transparency and rigor in science one of its top priorities. They define scientific rigor as, “the strict application of the scientific method to ensure robust and unbiased experimental design, methodology, analysis, interpretation and reporting of results. This includes full transparency in reporting experimental details so that others may reproduce and extend the findings. Investigators should apply the elements of rigor that are appropriate for their science.” (2) Simply put, this means that science should be written and presented in a way that is clear and unambiguous so that others may find similar results should they repeat the study themselves. However, the NIH definition is less than helpful in making recommendations to scientists and trainees as to what steps would make their science more transparent. Luckily, there are resources available.


In results reported in a 2016 survey, poor experimental design and flawed statistical analysis were the leading causes of irreproducibility. (1) Fortunately, most academic institutions now offer courses and seminars on these topics at no-cost or low-cost to science trainees. Many institutions also have resources such as statisticians that are available for consultation. Additionally, there are many resources available online and in-person, some of which are detailed in this Nature article (4) and an associated Nature blog article (5). There are also many resources available from societies such as the American Physiological Society, including slides and videos from past seminars and symposiums on improving scientific rigor. You can visit their toolbox for reproducibility here (6).


Finally, the APS Trainee Advisory Committee will be hosting a 3-session symposium at the 2018 Experimental Biology meeting in San Diego, CA. These three sessions, each held from 7:00-8:00 am in Room 25A of the San Diego Convention Center across 3 consecutive days (21-23 April) will feature 4 speakers who will speak directly to the trainees needs and roles in developing rigorous and reproducible science. The speakers will be discussing the role of trainees in scientific rigor, obtaining research funding, experimental design, publishing results, and much more. For more information about the symposium, you can visit the APS website here or on the EB app prior to the meeting. Here are the speakers that you can look forward to listening to during the 3 sessions:


Sunday, 21 April

  • Enhancing the Value of Research Findings: Ongoing Activities at NIH and Beyond
    Shai Silberberg, Ph.D.,NINDS/NIH


Monday, 22 April

  • Building Bridges: Learning to Work Effectively with Regulatory Committees
    Bill Yates, Ph.D., University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine 
  • Practical Applications of Rigor and Reproducibility in the Laboratory
    Sean Stocker, Ph.D.,University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine


Tuesday, 23 April

  • Publishing Reproducible Research: Ensuring that Editors, Reviewers, and Readers Have Confidence in your Findings
    Kim Barrett, Ph.D.,University of California San Diego School of Medicine


The need to have rigorous and reproducible research is only going to increase. Trainees have the potential to play an important role in the way we publicly discuss science. While trainees may have to seek out and maybe even create some of the resources they need to develop the next generation of transparent science, resources are already available at their institutions and from sources like the APS. Hopefully we’ll see you at the Trainee Symposium at EB in San Diego this April!

Ryan Downey, PhD is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Pharmacology & Physiology at Georgetown University. As part of those duties, he is the Associate Program Director for the Master of Science in Physiology and a Team Leader for the Special Master’s Program in Physiology. He teaches cardiovascular and neural physiology across several graduate level courses. He received his Ph.D. in Integrative Biology from UT Southwestern Medical Center. His research interests are in the sympathetic control of cardiovascular function during exercise and in improving science pedagogy. When he’s not working, he is a certified scuba instructor and participates in triathlons.
  1. Baker, M. (2016). 1,500 scientists lift the lid on reproducibility. Nature, 533, 452–454.
  2. 2018 Trainee Symposium — “Do it Again: How to Achieve Rigorously Reproducible Research”. American Physiological Society. Accessed 26 February 2018.
  3. Frequently asked questions — Rigor and Transparency. National Institutes of Health Office of Extramural Research. Last revised: 1 February 2016. Accessed 26 February 2018.
  4. Baker, M. (2016). Reproducibility: Seek out stronger science. Nature, 537, 703–704.
  5. Seeking out stronger science: An incomplete, non-systematic list of resources. Naturejobs — Naturejobs blog. Last revised: 28 September 2016. Accessed 26 February 2018.
  6. Reproducibility in Research. American Physiological Society. Accessed 26 February 2018.
February 20th, 2018
February 2018 social media collection: Alternative Careers

Career trajectories in physiology are often a consequence of conscious choices as well as unique, unexpected opportunities.  Young scientists may be unaware of the diverse career trajectories or the skill development required for success in these jobs.


This symposium brings together scientists working in industry, government, education and consulting to provide students, early career professionals, and mentors an overview of the varying array of scientific career options in physiology.


Individuals on the panel will share their perspectives on:

  1. job functions and responsibilities;
  2. career path trajectories;
  3. skill sets, degrees and training opportunities that will improve (or perhaps limit) one’s chances of success; and
  4. expectations and potential obstacles.

Symposium format will include a brief career trajectory description from panel participants, followed by a discussion / question-answer period and a closing breakout session to meet and interact with the speakers.



A government physiologist’s perspective:
Kathy Ryan, Ph.D.,
 US Army Institute of Surgical Research


Career opportunities for scientists in big pharma:
Michael Statnick, Ph.D.,
 Lilly Research Laboratories


Application of physiology in product innovation and business strategy
Brad Wilkins, Ph.D.,
 Nike Inc.


Transitioning from faculty to professional advisor:
Lori Seischab, Ph.D.,
 Michigan State University


Physiologists role as medical school curriculum architects:
Anthony T. Paganini, Ph.D.,
 Michigan State University College of Human Medicine

  Amanda Miller, PhD is a post-doctoral fellow at Penn state College of Medicine. She researches how the renin-angiotensin system alters the sympathetic nervous system and vascular function in mice and humans.
February 6th, 2018
February 2018 social media collection: Alternative Careers

More young scientists are leaving academia and perusing non-traditional or alternative careers. However, most PhDs do not end up in tenure-track professorships so alternative careers are really the normal track rather than the alternative. It’s important for all young scientists to explore alternative career options regardless of their career aspirations. These alternative careers open more options to PhD scientists and should not be thought of as a worse alternative to the traditional professorship track.




Post #1: This month we’re discussing alternative careers in physiology, stay tuned!


Post #2:  Should we really call non-academic jobs “alternative careers”?


Post #3: How do you decide if leaving academia is right for you?


Post #4: The job market for PhDs may not be as bad as we think


Post #5: Where do Science PhDs go post-graduation?


Post #6: Where do Biology PhDs end up working?


Post #7: How to survive the ” Postdocalypse”


Post #8: Top 10 “Alternative Careers” for Science PhDs


Post #9: Is graduate school worth it?


Post #10: Tips for exploring alternative careers


Post #11: Think outside the box!


Post #12: Tips on transferring to Industry


  Amanda Miller, PhD is a post-doctoral fellow at Penn State College of Medicine. She researches how the renin-angiotensin system alters the sympathetic nervous system and vascular function in mice and humans.
January 29th, 2018
Revisit the EB 2013 TAC symposium “Translational Research: From Bench to Bedside”

The concept of “translational science” or “translational research” is everywhere.  When you submit or review a manuscript or an abstract you may be asked if the research is translational.  When you write a grant application you will likely try to convince reviewers of the translational aspects or potential of your project.  Translational research or translational science has been a hot topic for a few years now and it will undoubtedly continue to be a hot topic for years to come.  In 2013, the Trainee Advisory Committee symposium at Experimental Biology was dedicated to providing a definition of translational science and hearing different perspectives on translational science from both a physician and a basic researcher.  The information presented in that symposium is as relevant today as it was in 2013 – so it seems appropriate to “re-visit” it here and now.


Defining “Translational Science”:

Annie Whitaker, Ph.D. (Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center)

Jessica Bradley (Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center)

For: Joni Rutter, Ph.D. (National Institutes of Health)


MD’s Perspective on Translational Science Career:

Michael Joyner, M.D. (Mayo Clinic)


Basic Science Researcher’s Perspective on Translational Science Career:

Babette LaMarca, Ph.D. (University of Mississippi Medical Center)


Steven Copp, PhD works in the Department of Kinesiology at Kansas State University. He  teaches courses related to neuroendocrinology and the autonomic control of the circulation during exercise.  His research interest is the exercise pressor reflex-mediated control of the circulation in health and disease.
January 16th, 2018
January 2018 TAC social media collection: Translational science/research

My task for the month of January was put together the social media posts for January 2018.  The topic was translational research.  Should be easy – right?  “Translational research/science” is a big buzzword in the scientific community and my thought process going into the task was that a few quick Google searches for interesting and relevant articles would be all that was required.  I started by looking for a simple definition of “translational research”.  I realized pretty quickly that I was in for a bigger challenge than initially thought.  The complexity of this topic begins with the fact that there really isn’t a universally agreed upon definition of translational science or research.  The collection of posts below are selected resources, articles, and blogs that will provide a good foundation for you to begin to understand the issues, complexities, and importance of translational research.


Post #1: The concept of translational science can be confusing.  The best place to start diving into this topic is undoubtedly with the recently established NIH National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS).  Learn about the “translational science spectrum” here:


Post #2: Read a graduate student’s take on trying to understand the similarities and differences between basic science and translational research:


Post #3:  One way of thinking about translational research is that it “bridges the gap” between basic and clinical research.


Post #4: There are many options for alternative careers in translational research that will allow you to step away from the bench.  Read about what skills you need and other related topics.


Post #5: What does it take to carve out a career in translational research? Trainees need to understand the risks and opportunities.


Post #6: Learn about the mission and scientific focuses of the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences at the NIH:


Post #7: Are you a current doctoral student and interested in receiving formal training in translational research? Consider applying for the NIH’s Clinical and Translational Research Course for Ph.D. Students.  Find more information here:


Post #8: Are knowledge translation and translational research the same thing?

Steven Copp, PhD works in the Department of Kinesiology at Kansas State University. He  teaches courses related to neuroendocrinology and the autonomic control of the circulation during exercise.  His research interest is the exercise pressor reflex-mediated control of the circulation in health and disease.
January 8th, 2018
Welcome to Trainee Talk!


The American Physiological Society (APS) and the Trainee Advisory Committee (TAC) are pleased to bring you Trainee Talk!  This blog is dedicated to:



  • Providing a place for APS trainee-related content from other various platforms (social media posts, recorded Experimental Biology presentations, etc.) to be archived in a searchable form.
  • Facilitating interactions among trainees and the APS.


The topics covered in this blog will include (but are not limited to):

  • Professional development
  • Networking
  • Preparing for conferences
  • Teaching skills
  • Government advocacy
  • K-12 outreach
  • Interviewing skills
  • Grant writing
  • Non-academic science careers
  • Work/life balance


Remember, this blog is for YOU – the trainee!  Come back often and leave your comments.  Also remember that this blog is just one of the many ways to interact with the TAC and/or other APS trainees – be sure to check out the TAC Facebook ( and Twitter ( accounts.


The Trainee Advisory Committee (TAC) is composed of a trainee representative from each of the 12 APS sections.  The purpose of TAC is to support trainees’ needs, organize symposia, provide news and information relevant to trainees and encourage active society membership.