FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE | September 18, 2018

American Chemical Society, University of Massachusetts Medical School awarded ‘Innovations’ funding to improve STEM career planning

WASHINGTON, Sept. 18, 2018 — The American Chemical Society (ACS) and the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester, Massachusetts, are enhancing employment preparation in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) with a nationwide project to measure the impact of career development planning for graduate students and postdoctoral researchers.

Career roadmaps, known as individual development plans (IDPs), are popular tools for charting paths for professional growth in many employment sectors. The new project, called Impact Indicators and Instruments for Individual Development Plans, will create a toolkit for assessing the impact of using IDPs in graduate studies and postdoctoral training.

“The process of preparing individual development plans is iterative, involving self-assessment, career exploration and goal setting,” says ACS’ Jodi Wesemann, Ph.D., the project’s principal investigator. “Having a standard way to evaluate this process will empower universities and organizations to expand and improve the use of IDPs.”

The project was awarded nearly half a million dollars over three years by the National Science Foundation’s Innovations in Graduate Education program, which supports the piloting, testing and validation of innovative approaches to graduate education.

ACS will lead the nationwide project, which seeks to define core goals and measureable outcomes for the IDP process, to develop and test ways to demonstrate changes in students’ actions and attitudes as a result of participating in IDPs, and to recommend strategies for identifying how and why IDPs work in specific contexts.

“The toolkit will help us as educators test variations in our use of individual development plans in different contexts, so that we can apply the scientific method to hypothesize, test and redesign our teaching strategies — just as we would experiment in the lab,” says co-investigator Cynthia Fuhrmann, Ph.D., of the University of Massachusetts Medical School. “This will open up a world of possibilities for research into the use of IDPs in a variety of different educational contexts.”

Fuhrmann brings to the project expertise as a pioneer in the use of IDPs for scientists, as one of the co-designers of myIDP and an innovator in the use of IDPs through her work at University of Massachusetts Medical School.

Wesemann and her ACS colleagues Corrie Kuniyoshi, Ph.D., and Joerg Schlatterer, Ph.D., also co-investigators for the Impact Indicators and Instruments for Individual Development Plans project, are key players in the design and use of ChemIDPTM, the career-planning tool ACS developed specifically for those in the chemical sciences.

Earlier this month, ACS was awarded more than $2.3 million for its role in the Inclusive Graduate Education Network Alliance to help underrepresented students transition from undergraduate to graduate education in the chemical sciences. With these two projects, ACS will receive more than $2.8 million in new National Science Foundation funding to strengthen and promote U.S. graduate education.

The American Chemical Society, the world’s largest scientific society, is a not-for-profit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress. ACS is a global leader in providing access to chemistry-related information and research through its multiple databases, peer-reviewed journals and scientific conferences. ACS does not conduct research, but publishes and publicizes peer-reviewed scientific studies. Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.

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