Last week I traveled to the American Phytopathological Society (APS) headquarters in Eagen, MN to attend the Office of Education (OE) midyear meeting. The goal of this office is to understand what educational goals the APS can spearhead for the benefit of the membership. I joined this office to promote undergraduate activities in APS and my role on this Office is even more valuable to me now. Among other things the OE is working on best practices for undergraduate recruiting and developing trainings for first time reviewers for the APS journals. In addition to learning about the latest initiatives in education, I had interesting discussions about broader topics important to Plant Pathology Departments. For example, we had an informal discussion about P&T (promotion and tenure) processes in Plant Pathology departments around the country. This was very valuable to me as I think about the new position we are trying to fill and how to mentor all faculty, postdocs, and students effectively. What is clear to me after years of service in APS, is that I always get as much as I give and much of it is unexpected.
Another of our discussions was about how to avoid the SOBs (Same Old Bodies) in our selection of leaders. It turns out that when APS leadership begins to think of nominees for positions on boards or leadership of initiatives, we think of those that have lead well for APS in the past. The SOBs are asked to serve, speak, or lead again and again. Yet again we are looking for new volunteers that lead effectively, accomplish the goals with which they are charged, keep commitments, and are enthusiastic about the topic they are asked to lead. Early career professionals including faculty, postdocs, and graduate students can strategically use service to their scientific society to help build their careers, but it is difficult to identify these would be leaders. As a long time leader in APS, I frequently recommend people for positions on offices, boards, and committees and would be glad to recommend members of PPEM for leadership roles. Leadership from our department in APS is one way to get the word out about our dynamic department. As part of what I am thinking of as “The State of the PPEM” meeting in January (see below), I would like to briefly discuss strategies for using professional service to advance your career. Please review the committees listed on the following links.
I would be glad to help you strategize which will provide you multiple benefits in your career development. Service is a wonderful educational opportunity, that will benefit you, the department and APS. I hope you will be strategic in thinking about your service and feel free to discuss it with me when we next meet again.
Have a fine week.