Spring to Action 2019 Recap

On April 6th NE GWiSE hosted our second annual Spring to Action Summit at Harvard University. Each year, the summit is held for local schools to tackle issues present in academia and STEM fields. At the summit, attendees and invited speakers dissect the issues and devise tangible plans to advocate for systemic change within research institutions.

This year the summit focused on mentorship in academia and the sciences. Attendees convened to discuss the needs of mentees and the mentorship resources available on campus and at work. The summit delved into what it means to be an excellent mentor, and how to build strong mentor-mentee relationships. Local universities compared their current mentorship programs, discussed their strengths and weaknesses, and strategized ways to improve them.

NE GWiSE volunteers welcome attendees during registration.

The event kicked off just before noon with a keynote address from Tamara Brown, current Director of Sustainable Development and Community Engagement at Praxair, Inc. and Founder of Tech Savvy, a science conference promoting STEM careers for girls. Tamara is former president AAUW’s Buffalo New York branch, and has been recognized for her outreach efforts being named Champion of Change by the White House in 2011 and a Hero of the 500 by Fortune 500 in 2014.
In her speech Tamara stressed the importance of both sides of the mentoring relationship and by saying “Roads were made for journeys not destinations. Mentorship was made for an acknowledgment that you are not on that road alone.” She advised NE GWiSE that mentees should proactively engage mentors in their success through open conversation; ask what you will need to succeed, ask to be challenged, identify the ways you can benefit from the mentorship you receive. She advised mentors that their roles are admittedly difficult, but that their presence and engagement is more important than striving for perfection. She acknowledged that the predicament of being a good mentor is that they must not dictate the actions of their mentees, only offer support and guidance.

Tamara Brown delivers the Keynote Speech at Spring to Action 2019.

After Tamara’s speech, attendees divided into two groups to participate in workshops led by Dr. Avital Rodal (Associate Professor of Biology, Brandeis University) and Dr. Kylie Huckleberry (postdoc, Northeastern University).

Avi discussed the importance of seeing mentoring relationships from both mentor and mentee perspectives, and how to align the goals of each side. She stressed the benefit of seeking multiple mentors, it not only provides a variety of perspectives, but can be invaluable when conflicts are encountered.

Brandeis Professor Avital Rodal leads a workshop on how to see mentoring relationships from both mentor and mentee perspectives.

Kylie workshopped how to practice effective mentorship. Attendees shared their own experiences with mentors in science and focused on what separates good mentors from bad mentors. The workshop helped attendees identify the qualities and skills required for mentorship excellence, and how they can practice these skills in their future roles as mentors.

Dr. Kylie Huckleberry leads a workshop on practicing effective mentorship.

Over lunch, the results of NE GWiSE’s mentorship survey were discussed. Surprisingly, 100% of graduate women in science voiced the desire for stronger mentorship, and 67% stated a lack of obvious mentorship programs at their schools. NE GWiSE constituent universities presented what mentorship programs and resources are available at their institutions, giving attendees information on what programs to look for and how improve those at their own schools. During the first Breakout Session, attendees discussed actions that could be taken to improve mentorship in academia and STEM fields.

Summit attendees brainstorm what action can be taken to improve mentorship in science.

After the first Breakout Session, panelists Dr. Kıvılcım Kılıç (Research scientist, BU), Dr. Shaun Patel (Neuroscientist and Bioinformatician, HMS and MGH), Dr. Simina Ticau (Senior Scientist at Alnylam Pharmaceuticals), Dr. Caroline Uhler (Associate Professor,MIT) and Mounika Vutukuru (PhD candidate and GWISE President, BU) were invited to share their opinions on mentorship. Kıvılcım encouraged attendees to advocate for themselves and recognize that the list of potential mentors is endless. Caroline shared that she likes to recognize what has been done as opposed to focusing on what that is left to do, and that even as a professor she still has many mentors. Shaun advised prioritizing and committing to being a mentor, make time for your mentees and integrate mentorship into your everyday schedule. Simina highlighted the variety of ways success may be achieved; she encouraged mentees to find their own path, and mentors to motivate and encourage mentees through failures. Mounika emphasized the importance of finding the right mentor; mentees should be able to relate to mentors and see themselves in their position one day.

From left to right panelists: Dr. Kıvılcım Kılıç, Dr. Shaun Patel, Dr. Simina Ticau, Dr. Caroline Uhler and Mounika Vutukuru

Before closing, attendees discussed concrete strategies to improve mentorship for graduate women in science at their own institutions. Armed with action items to change mentorship programs at their schools, attendees enjoyed a final networking social as the summit came to a close.

Spring to Action 2019 attendees pose for a group photo with Keynote Speaker Tamara Brown.

Thank you Meaghan Collins for taking these photographs.

Register for Spring to Action 2019!

Registration for our second annual Spring to Action event is now open! This year, the summit will address mentorship roles and relationships, and how to optimize your experiences in grad school and beyond.
We will discuss how to navigate mentor/mentee dynamics and common road blocks that impede professional relationships. We will also hear about current mentorship opportunities available at local graduate schools and discuss ways to improve or add mentorship programs.

We welcome all affiliates of all genders from our partner schools who are interested in the topic to attend. Come to any part of the event, lunch, snacks, and coffee will be served throughout the day.
Spread the word by sharing our flyer!


10:20-11am: Registration (inside Pierce Hall Room 100F)

11-12pm: Keynote speaker, Tamara Brown (Director of Sustainable Development and Community Engagement, Praxair, Inc.)

12-1pm: Session 1, Workshops led by:
Dr. Avi Rodal (Associate Professor, Brandeis)
Dr. Kylie Huckleberry (postdoc, NEU)

1-1:45pm: Lunch

2-2:30pm: Breakout Session 1

2:35-3:35pm: Panel on mentorship featuring:
Dr.Kıvılcım Kılıç (Research Scientist, BU)
Dr. Simina Ticau (Senior Scientist, Alnylam Pharmaceuticals)
Dr. Shaun Patel (Neuroscientist and bioinformatician, HMS and MGH)
Dr. Caroline Uhler (Associate Professor, MIT)
Mounika Vutukuru (PhD candidate, BU)

3:45-4:30pm: Breakout Session 2 and debrief

4:30-5:30pm: Mocktail Hour – network and connect with your peers in STEM

Open Meeting Recap

We had a great meeting tonight! Thanks to everyone who attended, we had fun meeting newcomers and hope to work with you more as members of NE GWiSE!

Attendees of the NE GWiSE January 2019 Open Meeting

We made progress finalizing the details for our upcoming #Spring2Action summit just a few months away: Saturday April 6th at Harvard! However we’re still recruiting volunteers, panelists and workshop leaders. Sign up to get involved with a planning committee: here. Contact us if you would like to recommend or participate as a panelist or work shop leader: new.england.gwise@gmail.com

Sign up to help with Spring to Action 2019

We need your energy to make this year’s Spring to Action a success! The planning committees have been formed – sign up here to help with planning logistics, inviting speakers, budgeting, food, social media, and more!

Spring to Action: Roles and Relationships: A Summit on Mentorship in Grad School and Beyond
When: Saturday, April 6th, all day event (~9am-4pm)
Where: Harvard University

The purpose of this event is to help schools identify mentoring-related programs, provide resources for their implementation, improve current programming, and devise metrics to quantify the impact of programs. The day will include an inspiring keynote speaker, panels of mentees discussing their experiences, a mixture of workshops, and an optional mocktail hour for networking and socializing!

Below are descriptions of the planning committees. As a committee member, you will be expected to attend meetings, contribute to discussions, and help with action items.


Speaker/panel: brainstorm topics of talk/questions, contact speakers, coordinate necessary logistics of speakers, write panel questions (questions for keynote too if do fireside chat)
Breakouts/workshops: brainstorm topics, contact workshop/breakout leaders, coordinate necessary logistics of speakers including supplies, write discussion questions and worksheets, coordinate debriefs/summaries
Media/Publicity committee: swag, advertisements (flyers, articles, FB, Twitter, Eventbrite RSVP, etc.), photography
Funding: look into fundraising/sponsorship, identify how much each school can contribute and collect those funds, make
a budget, make sure costs are shared fairly after the event (coordinate reimbursements as necessary)
Food: order breakfast, lunch, water, and snacks for event, tablecloths, take care of food logistics day of
Logistics: book rooms, supplies, schedule, room setups and A/V; coordinate set up, event itself, and clean up
Survey analysis: summarize and quantify results/statistics from the “mentoring resources” surveys at each school

We welcome all to help us plan our event- whether you’ve been involved with NE GWiSE before or not!
Please email new.england.gwise@gmail.com if you have any questions or want to find out other ways to get involved.

NE GWiSE Open Meeting

Start your new year by getting involved with NE GWiSE! We are having our first open meeting of the year January 28th, 6:30-7:30pm at Harvard.

Join us to learn more about NE GWiSE, or to get more involved! We are actively recruiting new members, event volunteers, and executive board positions. Opportunities include joining a planning committee for our upcoming Spring to Action event, and shadowing current board members for a position you are interested in starting next year.

Sign up for our Open Meeting :
When: Monday, January 28th, 6:30-7:30 pm
Where: Harvard campus (room TBA)
RSVP here

Holiday Cheer and Spring to Action II

Happy Holidays from us to you!
Thank you Brown University for hosting our December meeting. We had a productive discussion, and managed to sneak in a holiday party while we were there!

Check out our NE GWiSE holiday coasters! This craft was the brain-child of our Professional Development Chair Kristina Wright. We had a great time designing these and holiday cookies.

At the meeting we finalized a date and location for our second annual Spring to Action Summit! This year the event will focus on mentorship and relationships in grad school and STEM.

The purpose of this summit is to help schools identify mentoring-related programs, provide resources for their implementation, improve current programming, and devise metrics to quantify the impact of programs. The day will include an inspiring keynote speaker, panels of mentees discussing their experiences, a mixture of workshops, and an optional mocktail hour for networking and socializing!

Mark your calendars for Saturday April 6th, and stay tuned for more details!

Want to be involved in the Spring to Action Summit? Sign up here to help join a planning committee! 

Summer Retreat 2018 Recap

Last month NE GWiSE hosted our second annual Summer Retreat at MIT on August 17th. Each year, the retreat is held to bring the constituents of NE GWiSE together to network, meet new members, and socialize around a central topic. Since we often play dual roles as both mentees and mentors, we focused this year’s retreat on Navigating Power Dynamics & Building Confident Mentalities as STEM graduate students in academia.

Summer Retreat 2018 attendees pose for a group photo on the steps of MIT’s Walker Memorial.

The day kicked off early with breakfast and a keynote lecture from MIT Professor of Astrophysics Sara Seager. She walked us through the milestones of her academic career leading up to her present day success. As she described her research and the methods she has pioneered to identify exoplanets, she paused at key points to recount anecdotal interactions with peers, mentors, and colleagues. At every stage of her career, she recounted instances of sexism and imbalanced power including being underestimated, having her ideas dismissed by colleagues, and even being bullied by male colleagues threatened by her success in academia.

Professor Sara Seager speaks to NE GWiSE about her research and career path.

Although frustrating to hear she has faced such obstacles, it was also heartening to learn how she addressed and ultimately overcame these challenges throughout her academic track. Professor Seager generously continued to share her advice to attendees in a Q&A session after her talk. It was a cathartic morning as the issues Professor Seager encountered were clearly shared experiences by many attendees.

Following Prof. Seager’s words, NE GWiSE school representatives from Boston University, Brandeis, Harvard, MIT, Northeastern, and Tufts gave updates on their plans for the academic year. Each school discussed challenges they have been facing as student-run organizations and their goals for the future. Each check-in addressed how each school will contribute to and benefit from NE GWiSE in the next year. We will use this feedback to keep momentum up and move forward as a graduate student consortium.

NE GWiSE Co-Chairs (left to right: Molly Bird, Mandy Carey, Farimah Mapar) address the Retreat attendees.

Over lunch, the attendees from different institutions got to meet each other and socialize before re-grouping for workshops in the afternoon. Three workshop sessions addressed strategies to prepare and overcome the obstacles graduate students are unfortunately bound to encounter as they continue their careers in STEM fields. The first workshop session equipped attendees with strategies of how to interact with superiors, and how to form meaningful mentor-mentee relationships. The second session discussed power dynamics, and privilege in STEM, and how to maintain professional relationships. The final session focused on empowerment, how to respond to misused power, and mindful decision making.

Dr. Sarah Hokanson Director of Professional Development and Postdoc. Affairs at Boston University leads a workshop on strategies for conflict management.

The day concluded on a high note with more socializing and Trivia. Prizes were won and new friends were made. The 2nd Annual Summer Retreat was a huge success. We hope our attendees left the day feeling better equipped to face the challenges that their career trajectories may hold. As women in STEM, the obstacles we face can be daunting, we must stay united and help each other rise above the biases against us.

Thank you to all the Summer Retreat attendees, all the GWiSE groups composing and funding NE GWiSE, and to MIT for hosting this fantastic event. All photos taken by Ping Xu.

Tag your Summer Retreat photos #negwise

We are excited to see everyone tomorrow for our 2nd annual NE GWiSE Summer Retreat

We encourage all attendees to snap and tag photos throughout the event with #negwise. A prize will go to best photo of the day! Follow us on Instagram and Twitter @ne_gwise

Please read over the details for tomorrow below:

Check-in will begin at 8:30AM in Building 3, outside Room 270 (77 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge). The day will start promptly at 9:30, please arrive early to check-in. Empowerment is our goal; dress in what makes you feel confident! Note that a light breakfast, full lunch, and snacks will be provided throughout the day. 

To be more environmentally friendly, we ask that you bring your own water bottle for the day. Water refill stations will be available. We are also limiting the amount of items printed for the day. Maps, program, speaker bios etc. can be found in the public Google Drive folder here: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1KqP7bdESSB9iEFjLEgN8tUU1wsQi7Lx4?usp=sharing.

For those unfamiliar with MIT, the buildings are numbered not named: location 3-270 is Building 3, room 270. We encourage attendees to use public transport, walk, or bike to the location! Parking is very limited, only street parking is available.

Official Announcement

We are pleased to announce the full details of this year’s Summer Retreat!

NE GWiSE Summer Retreat 2018

Navigating Power Dynamics & Building Confident Mentalities

Who: All students, staff, and faculty from our partner schools, including Boston University, Brandeis, Brown, Dartmouth, Harvard, MIT, Northeastern, and Tufts

What: This will be a day long event featuring Keynote Speaker Professor Sara Seager of MIT, and workshops exploring ways of navigating the power dynamics involved with being a graduate student in academia. Light breakfast, lunch, and snacks will be provided throughout the day.  The retreat will include Trivia at the end of the day!

When: Friday, August 17th, 2018 from 9:30 A.M. – 4:30 P.M (arrive early for registration).

Where: MIT, 77 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge MA 02139.  Directions.

Why: Graduate students often find themselves in unique situations within the academic power hierarchy, trading roles as both mentees and mentors. These structures and power dynamics can have a profound impact on graduate students’ mental health and ultimately their career trajectories.

At the 2018 NE GWiSE Retreat, we will explore ways for graduate students to navigate power dynamics and build confident mentalities.

Please spread the word and register here.

Full Schedule

▪ 8:30-9:30 Registration & Breakfast

▪ 9:30-10:30 Welcome & Keynote Prof. Sara Seager

▪ 10:30-11:30 NE GWiSE & School Updates

▪ 11:30-12:15 Workshop 1: Engagement with Superiors

▪ 12:15-1:30 Networking Lunch

▪ 1:30-2:15 Workshop 2: Engagement with Trainees

▪ 2:15-3:00 Workshop 3: Fostering Healthy Mentalities

▪ 3:00-4:30 Social/Trivia

▪ 4:30-4:45 Concluding Remarks

▪ 5pm ~After Party~ location TBA!