Ian Krout ’22M (PhD) on Honing Your Skills Beyond Research
Monday, February 26, 2024
Listen on Apple, Spotify, or YouTube Music.
Ian Krout, a 2022 graduate of our Toxicology Ph.D. program, currently serves as a postdoctoral fellow at Emory University School of Medicine and an assistant professor at Kennesaw State University.
In this episode, he discusses his current role as a bench scientist, primarily focusing on sequencing and data analysis, contributing to research investigating how pesticide exposure may interact with the gut microbiome to influence the progression of neurodegenerative diseases.
Reflecting on his academic career, Krout explains how he discovered the Toxicology program at the University of Rochester and why he chose it for his graduate training, highlighting the program's focus on collaboration, interdisciplinary work, and professional development. He also shares his experience in finding the right postdoctoral opportunity, emphasizing the importance of setting goals, seeking feedback from committee members, and exploring research that aligns with one's interests.
Krout offers advice to graduate students, encouraging them to maximize their educational experiences by leveraging available resources and embracing opportunities for personal and professional growth.
Intentionality in Career Planning: Take a deliberate approach to identifying and applying for postdoctoral opportunities. Setting clear goals and aligning them with your career aspirations helps you prioritize programs that offer meaningful advancement opportunities.
Utilizing Resources: Use the resources available at academic institutions; from career talks and workshops to faculty committees, you can gain valuable insights and personalized feedback on potential career paths.
Networking and Collaboration: Engage with your peers and faculty members in the academic community. Prioritize a collaborative environment and foster connections and partnerships with those around you. Be proactive in your engagement and take the initiative to maximize your learning and networking opportunities.
Reflective Practice: Introspection is crucial for your academic development and personal growth. Seize opportunities to develop and hone your skills beyond research so you can adapt to new roles and responsibilities, becoming a more well-rounded scientist.
Living in the Moment: Remember to appreciate the present while focusing on future goals. Enjoy your academic journey by finding a work-life balance that allows you to approach your studies enjoyably and sustainably. Value your holistic development as both a person and a scientist.
- 06:56: "...the Toxicology program...being really unique and opposed to the other programs that I looked at and the fact that they focused on collaboration and interdisciplinary work as opposed to competition and sort of trapping yourself in one discipline, which I found with a lot of the other graduate schools I looked at. And so with that focus on collaboration, it made the program really welcoming and it made it so that interdisciplinary work could occur between labs, between graduate students even.
- 08:38: " I made it a point to try to take advantage of any career professional development opportunities that came my way. And a lot of that happened through myHub with Eric Vaughn and Elaine Smolock at the Writing Center. I participated in a number of career talks and professional development workshops that really allowed me to see the breadth of opportunities that were available for PhDs and hone in my own career aspirations. So utilizing all of these things made me just a more well-rounded scientist, not only because professionally I looked better, but I was taking the skills that I learned in things such as leadership and management workshops back to the bench."
- 09:00: "I also took part in the science communication group Thinkers and Drinkers, where we were able to focus on how do we communicate our science to individuals outside of the scientific field. So, not only was I doing the research, but I was working on how to communicate that research to others to make it so that my Ph.D. was not only at the bench but was also interactive with translating that research to individuals who are the constituency of the research that we're completing."
- 13:09: "Knowing what my goals were and knowing what I wanted to achieve in the next three and next five years really made it so that I could sort through my options as next steps and find something that fit my role."
- 21:08: “Don’t be afraid to reach out to people like Eric and Elaine. If you have an idea or you have something you need help with, they're amazing and more than willing to help. … reach out, get involved, do as much as you can."
Research Update from Steve Dewhurst
Thursday, February 8, 2024
Twice a year—in February and in March—the Office of Graduate Education and Postdoctoral Affairs (GEPA) at the School of Medicine Dentistry (SMD) hosts "Discover UR SMD Weekend" for applicants to our PhD programs. The event provides an opportunity both to showcase research at the Medical Center, and to reflect on what makes UR a special place.
Highlights of SMD’s research activities in 2023 include a total of $265 million in research funding, and some 382 newly funded clinical trials (315 of them industry-supported)—underscoring the impact of the CTSI’s Office of Clinical Research, which is led by newly recruited director, Ashlee Lang. A related highlight is the growth of cancer-related funding at the Wilmot Cancer Institute to a record high of $30.3 million, including $13.1 million in support from the National Cancer Institute (NCI).
While funding is essential for the conduct of research, it is not what makes SMD special. Our special sauce, to use a signature phrase of one of my favorite people at UR, lies in the combination of our unique resources, our institutional culture, and above all, our people.
In that regard, new SMD Dean and URMC CEO, David Linehan, sets the tone. I’m excited that my new boss is an accomplished physician-scientist with a two-decade history of continuous research support from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). But, I’m even more excited that—in the words of my colleague, Calvin Cole (assistant professor of Surgery)—"he is a very caring individual" who "leads with his heart." If you haven’t already, check out Dr. Linehan’s message to all of our learners.
One of the best parts of Discover UR SMD Weekends are the dinners that faculty members host in their homes. Nathan Smith, associate dean for Equity and Inclusion in Research and Research Education regularly gathers students and faculty in his home because "it creates an environment that is warm and inviting, making it easier for visiting students, current students, and faculty to connect with one another." That experience was borne out in the words of one applicant who emailed Nate to say that "I was genuinely impressed by the sense of camaraderie and inclusivity within the program's group. The conversations I had with faculty and fellow applicants left me with a strong sense of community and belonging."
Finally, Discover UR SMD Weekends also provide an opportunity to put the spotlight on our amazing learners. A few examples include:
- John Miller, a PhD candidate in Microbiology and Immunology, won first place in the 2023 America's Got Regulatory Science Talent competition, held by UR CTSI. With his presentation "Stopping Runaway CAR-T Cells", Miller earned the opportunity to present directly to FDA representatives this spring.
- Lily Cisco, a graduate student in Cellular and Molecular Pharmacology and Physiology, worked with faculty members John Lueck and Charles Thornton to successfully reverse muscle dysfunction in myotonic dystrophy type 1 (DM1) in mice. In Lueck’s words, "She is a rockstar graduate student and surely a future leader in research."
- Raven Osborn, a 2023 graduate of the Translational Biomedical Sciences program, recently accepted a position at Eli Lilly and Company as a research advisor in Translational Pathology Bioinformatics. As Raven wrote on LinkedIn, this "role comes with so much professional and personal alignment.... I am overjoyed that all the advice about ‘good things being on the way’ has come to fruition." As one of her co-mentors, along with Juilee Thakar, I’m totally thrilled for her.
Steve Dewhurst, PhD
Vice Dean for Research, SMD
Vice President for Research, UR
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Download: Highlights of SMD’s Research Activities in 2023