Careers for Toxicologists at Primarily Undergraduate Institutions: Everything You Need to Know

Chairperson(s): Karen E. Stine, Auburn University at Montgomery, Montgomery, AL; and Wade H. Powell, Kenyon College, Gambier, OH.

Endorser(s): Career and Resource Development Committee Education Committee Postdoctoral Assembly

Primarily Undergraduate Institutions (PUIs) offer a substantial proportion of the available tenure-track faculty positions in the life sciences. For toxicologists interested in careers that combine research and teaching, a PUI can provide an excellent setting for interdisciplinary research collaborations and the opportunity to introduce undergraduate students to toxicology, in both the classroom and the laboratory. But the process of preparing for, finding, interviewing for, and launching a PUI career differs in terms of strategy and approach from that for a faculty position at a research university, often leaving graduate students and postdoctoral trainees with few role models and limited information on where to start to pursue this career path. This session, from the 2017 SOT Annual Meeting, brings together PUI toxicologists at different career stages to discuss the roles available for toxicologists in traditional academic undergraduate-oriented departments, and to provide advice on how to strategically navigate the competitive job market for tenure track positions at PUIs. Strategies also will be offered for laying the groundwork for success in the critical first few years on the job. The topics discussed will include: (1) a broad overview of the job responsibilities and expectations for PUI tenure-track faculty members; (2) what to expect from the hiring and interview process, and how toxicologists can prepare and present themselves as qualified candidates for PUI positions; (3) strategies, tools, and resources for achieving early successes in both the research and teaching aspects of the job. The session will conclude with a panel discussion, giving postdocs and graduate students considering this career option the opportunity to further explore these topics and others that were not explicitly covered.