1) What is the NextGen Association?
The NextGen Association for Postdocs and Graduate Students is a volunteer-run association of academic trainees affiliated with the Broad Institute who work closely with the Office of Academic Affairs to sponsor professional development and social activities and serve as an advocate for trainees with Broad administration. The Association also serves as Broad’s representatives with the Boston Postdoctoral Association (BPDA)
2) When was it founded? Driving factors?
The NextGen Association was founded in 2011 by a group of postdocs and graduate students to address unmet needs for career development and community building.
3) What are the current goals of the Association?
The Association aims to promote the building of community among the academic trainees working at the Broad by sponsoring professional enrichment and career development events and social activities, and to serve as advocates for academic trainees with the Broad administration.
4) How does one become a member?
All postdocs and graduate students affiliated with Broad Institute and the Forsyth Institute are members. This includes all trainees at partner institutions with affiliation to Broad. No registration is required to join.
5) How is the association organized?
There is an executive board of chairs (two co-chairs and at least one vice-chair) elected annually by popular vote. The top two highest vote getters are appointed to co-chairs, the remaining candidates are appointed vice-chairs. The Office of Academic Affairs handles all aspects of the election and vote counting.
There are also executive members, called “officers,” who volunteer in an area that most interests them and serve different functions for the Association.
6) How does one become a chair?
Any postdoc or graduate student affiliated with Broad Institute or the Forsyth Institute can become a chair. Each summer, the Office of Academic Affairs issues a call for nominations for chairs. A trainee can nominate himself/herself or a colleague. The Office of Academic Affairs collects the nominations and drafts and distributes an election ballot to the community. Voting takes place during National Postdoc Appreciation Week (annually, third week of September).
Current board for 2020-2021:
- Elena Torlai Triglia, PhD, Co-chair
- Victoria Beja-Glasser, Co-chair
- Lisa Cervia, PhD, Vice-chair
- Nasim Jamali, PhD, Vice-chair
- Sean Moran, PhD, Vice-chair
- Charalampos Harris Lazaris, PhD, Vice-chair
- Martine Therrien, PhD, International Officer
7) What does a chair do?
Co-chairs and vice-chairs oversee the operations of the NextGen Association. They facilitate the monthly planning meetings. This includes working with OAA to set the agenda, lead the meeting, and track resulting action items. They also actively enlist volunteers by spreading the word to their peer groups and inviting people to planning meetings.
They also outline and summarize goals for the association and trainee community. Chairs work to assess the needs of the trainee community through surveys and discussions with their peers. They define these needs and make recommendations to administration to impact institutional policies.
They serve as the representatives of the trainee community at Broad. In this capacity, they may be asked to serve on various planning committees within administration or recommend other trainees for these roles (for example, serving as the trainee representative on the Mentoring Committee). They also represent Broad Institute on the Boston Postdoc Association and with the National Postdoc Association. OAA provides funding for two chairs to attend the NPA annual meeting (for 2020 in San Diego, CA).
All duties can and should be divided among the co-chairs and vice-chairs.
8) How does one become an officer?
Any postdoc or graduate student affiliated with Broad Institute or the Forsyth Institute can volunteer to become an officer. They can volunteer at any NextGen planning meeting and in any area that interests them. The executive board appoints them.
9) What does an officer do?
Officers focus on a specific area of need, working closely with the Office of Academic Affairs to strategize and execute goals and report back to the committee the status and outcomes of projects.
Areas of need include:
- Professional Development Officer: working with OAA to organize programs to support the professional development of trainees at Broad. This includes strategizing new event topics, identifying and inviting speakers and collecting feedback from attendees. PD officers also review the Professional Development timeline annually.
- Community & Social Officer: working with OAA to organize social and community-building events. This includes organizing the monthly socials and planning external activities such as pub crawls and ski excursions.
- Management and Budget Officer: working with OAA to handle the logistics of the association, such as managing the budget, overseeing data collection regarding association-sponsored activities, and determining the financial feasibility of enacting new programming.
Other possible areas:
- Postdoc/Grad Student Seminar Series: working with OAA to organize an ongoing seminar series for the trainee community
- Industry Bridge: Working with OAA to strengthen Broad’s ties to the many local companies to help Broad trainees interested in non-academic careers to learn more about possible careers, openings, and networking opportunities.
- Alumni Officer: working with OAA to sustain a network of Broad academic alumni by implementing an exit survey and maintaining relationships with outgoing trainees.
- Distinguished Lecture Series: working with OAA to organize an ongoing series of Distinguished Lectures, inviting senior faculty and the community.
10) What is the Office of Academic Affairs’ role?
The NextGen Association is part of the Office of Academic Affairs. OAA manages the election process for the executive board and serves as an ex-officio member of the association.
OAA also appropriates the budget, maintains records, distributes communications and publicizes events.
In addition, OAA ensures that duties are distributed evenly among chairs and volunteers and offers guidance and assistance in planning all programming.
11) What are some examples of NextGen Association achievements?
- Launched and organized the Annual Trainee Retreat, most recently held in October 2019 at the Samberg Conference Center. (Save the date for the next Trainee Retreat - September 30, 2021)
- Developed the “Facing Forward” series, a lecture with senior Broad leadership discussing how they overcame challenges in their careers. The series launched with Institute Director Eric Lander with plans to invite other key scientific leaders of the Broad community.
- Successfully drove the “Junior Voice” workstream within the BroadNext10 initiative, leading to a round of trainee funding which not only funded trainee projects, but also taught and mentored applicants and awardees on submitting proposals, refining their scientific vision, and managing their awards.