Season 1 Episode 6

Listen to the episode here!

Ashley Juavinett, Ph.D., teaches the next generation of neuroscientists. As an assistant teaching professor at an R1 university, she fulfills her three requirements of teaching, service, and scholarship with a mix of tasks which include developing interactive and dynamic neuroscience courses, directing programs for students, teaching undergraduate courses, and doing science writing.

During graduate school, Ashley went out of her way to get more teaching experience than what her graduate program required. She taught high school students, taught undergraduate students, developed curricula, and guided a neuroscience module for a high school class, all while conducting research during her PhD. During this time, Ashley also tuned into the aspects of her day-to-day life and recognized her passion for teaching and outreach.

In this episode of Translate Your Training, Ashley describes how she uses her training from her PhD to juggle her responsibilities as a teaching professor. We learn about the process of becoming a teaching professor, the pros and cons of staying in academia but away from the research lab, and how a passion for mentoring can translate into a fulfilling career and a book deal. Ashley briefly talks about her first book, So You Want to be a Neuroscientist, which demystifies the path to a career in neuroscience for aspiring young scientists.

You can buy Ashley’s book, So You Want to be a Neuroscientist, here:

Main points and take-aways from this episode:

  • The teaching professor track is a parallel track to the research faculty track at R1 universities. They share the same tenure schedule—with eligibility for tenure after six years—and the same set of core responsibilities. The core responsibilities of teaching, service, and scholarship differ with research faculty in time dedicated to each task and how they fulfill their scholarship responsibilities. 
  • Ashley focuses on developing and teaching new classes, directing programs for students, and science writing rather than doing research and writing grants. Most teaching professors also have summers off!
  • As part of the service and scholarship responsibilities of their job, teaching professors may also conduct education research, develop curricula, run programs, and create outreach programs. 
  • If you want to become a teaching professor, the most important thing to do is TEACH! You are expected to have taught not just as a TA but as an “instructor of record” where you are the main instructor. This can be done at your institution, or a local community college. 
  • During graduate school you develop several skills that are useful in teaching and in several other careers. These skills include project management, science literacy and critical thinking, writing, and collaborating and mentoring other people.
  • Take ownership of the things you have developed when applying to jobs. 
  • During the interview process for a teaching professor position, you will have to give a teaching demonstration and a traditional chalk talk like research professors. 
  • Tune in with what draws you in. Take time to recognize what you like and don’t like for a career. 
  • You can be happy doing other things outside of academia.

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