OHBM Women Faculty Launch+: A Digest and Lessons from Our First In-person Meeting at OHBM 2023 in Montreal
OHBM Women Faculty Launch at 2023 Annual Meeting in Monreal
Lead reviewer: Lavinia Uscatescu
I designed the background connectivity graph first, referencing the ideas of other OHBM SIGs,” Dr. Chen described. “The connectivity graph captures both brain mapping and community.” She is also proud of the racial and ethnic diversity of the women faculty figures. “I hope the logo conveys how women faculty from diverse cultural, racial, and ethnic backgrounds can work together as a community to provide peer support and address common challenges faced by women PIs in the human neuroimaging field.
WF-SIG Launch Event, OHBM 2023
We officially launched the WF-SIG at the OHBM 2023 meeting in Montreal. The launch event was led by the inaugural chair of the SIG, Dr. Jean Chen (Professor, University of Toronto) and attracted more than 100 members of the OHBM. More than half the attendees were faculty, and the rest comprised junior women researchers, and allies. Dr. Chen introduced her vision for the OHBM WF-SIG to be an organization that promotes equity and inclusion in science, while offering support and learning opportunities. By advocating for the recognition of women neuroscientists, our aim is to create a future in which women faculty in OHBM will thrive and achieve their scientific goals and impact.
We then introduced the executive team of the SIG (check out this blog post to learn about the initial members):
● Dr. Molly Bright (Secretary, Northwestern University),
● Dr. Hyang Woon Lee (Chair-Elect, Ewha Womans University),
● Dr. Ruchika Prakash (Secretary-Elect, Ohio State University),
● Dr. Marta Garrido (Past Social-Events Officer, University of Melbourne),
● Dr. Linda Mah (Diversity and Inclusion Officer, University of Toronto),
● Dr. Jingyuan Chen (Arts Officer, Harvard Medical School),
● and Dr. Audrey Fan (Communications Officer, University of California Davis).
Our advisors are Dr. Aina Puce (Professor, Indiana University) and Dr. Randy Gollub (Professor, Harvard Medical School).
Keynote speaker: Randy Gollub
Dr. Randy Gollub, the past OHBM Council Chair and a current Advisor of the WF-SIG, served as the keynote speaker to welcome the attendees. She shared her own research journey and leadership roles, emphasizing how OHBM has been a throughline in her career.
My work spans so many domains and technologies,” Dr. Gollub remarked, “that [OHBM] is where I can find the best people with whom I can do the things I want to do.” Through her experiences in this interdisciplinary community, Dr. Gollub finds that one of her central roles is propelling others into successful leadership positions. In her own journey, she has leveraged leadership roles to make the meaningful changes that she believed in. For instance, she decided to serve on the Program Committee in 2013-2016 to ensure that translational neuroscience would receive its due emphasis at OHBM meetings. She also initiated the formation of the Communications Committee in 2015 as a hub for communication within the organization and public engagement.
From these experiences, Dr. Gollub’s advised women PIs to make themselves as visible as possible, whether through traditional or atypical means. She also advised women PIs to attend every meeting prepared, such that if an opportunity arises to effect change, they will have the necessary information with which to speak up.
Interactive networking at the launch meeting
Sparked by the keynote and the ensuing discussion, participants were encouraged to interact in real time through the Menti app. Through these interactions, the SIG solicited discussion and feedback on unique challenges and opportunities for women PIs, as well as the topics and activities that the SIG should pursue. The attendees were geographically diverse (spanning 4 continents and over 10 countries) and revealed the majority of faculty attendees to hold a position of Associate Professor or higher.
Participants were also encouraged to form at least one new connection and to make concrete plans for follow-up interactions. The goal of this one-on-one interaction was to foster a deeper sense of community, emphasizing that each female scientist is not alone and without support.
Broadening our impact: mailing list and follow-up
A key takeaway from the SIG launch is that many participants are not yet PIs. In follow-up discussions, the SIG executive committee therefore unanimously voted to also involve non-PI women in appropriate SIG events. We believe this will benefit women OHBM members across all career levels, and foster mentorship. We have now included Dr. Naomi Gaggi (New York University), the new chair of the Student-Postdoc SIG, as the trainee representative, to share the perspectives of “up-and-coming scientist” with the WF-SIG. Furthermore, Dr. Sharna Jamadar (Associate Professor, Monash University) has also joined as the new Social-Events Officer.
“This really matters to me, as my pre-faculty self would have immensely benefited from being active in that room,” shared SIG secretary, Dr. Molly Bright (Assistant Professor, Northwestern University). Dr. Bright is spearheading a mailing list that is inclusive of diverse membership levels. To receive updates about the SIG, OHBM members can subscribe to the email list by clicking here.
Further Insights: Suggestions for future events
There have been various proposals for future activities, such as regular online meetings or satellite events, especially at the next year’s OHBM conference in Seoul in June 2024. We are always open to any new ideas.
Lead reviewer: Lavinia