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The Moffitt Postdoctoral Association and Cancer Biology Student Organization hosted the 2023 Junior Scientist Retreat at Hunter’s Green Country Club on Sept. 8. Postdocs, research scientists, and graduate students from all of Moffitt’s program areas came together to engage in discussions around the theme of Sustainability in Science Careers and network with peers and invited guests.

Attendees at the Junior Scientist RetreatThis year, the committee, led by Yaakov Stern and including Miguel Gomez, Rebecca Bekker, Cherell Cottrell-Daniels, Jodie Wong, Tabitha Boeringer, Alicia Bjornberg and Eleonora Pelle, introduced several new features to the program and worked hard to organize an event that fostered a meaningful exchange of ideas.

After a rousing icebreaker game of Family Feud, featuring Tampa and science-themed prompts, the day kicked off with a keynote address by Stephanie Millar of My Green Lab, a nonprofit organization that works with scientists to make research more sustainable. Stephanie’s talk was informative and inspiring and described evidence-backed changes scientists can make to their everyday practices in the lab to lessen the environmental impact of their research.

The first break-out sessions of the day, “Navigating Career Options for International Trainees,” “Diverse Paths to Research Careers,” and “Beyond the Bench,” were highly informative. Moffitt trainees benefited from the expertise of legal specialists, medical liaisons, and industry researchers in basic and population sciences. It was clear that the career advice given by the speakers was invaluable, as many of the conversations started in the sessions carried over into the afternoon networking and career fair (a JSR first!).

Junior Scientist Retreat

Attendees and invited guests shared lunch and conversation over the course of the afternoon, and representatives from Merck, USF Health, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Nanostring, and Moffitt Talent Acquisition joined the event to talk about career opportunities and build connections. To encourage fun conversations as well as career-centered ones, attendees joined in a game of networking bingo before the afternoon panel sessions on “The Future of Computational Biology” and “Sustainability at the Bench.”

These discussion panels were an excellent springboard into one of the new features of the JSR, the trainee discussion forum. Attendees gathered around three central questions regarding sustainable science careers and challenged themselves to address some of the greatest challenges currently faced by Moffitt scientists. These facilitated discussions generated actionable ideas and provided a space for attendees to reflect on how they can implement the most impactful ideas shared throughout the day. Witnessing the incredible intelligence and dedication of Moffitt trainees on display during these discussions lent the end of the day a real air of hope for the future of cancer research.

Thank you to all who attended for engaging so fully in the day’s programming, and to the organizing committee for their work to put on a unique and enriching event.