As part of our year-long programming, ABRCMS will periodically publish blog posts of interest to students, faculty, and other individuals associated with ABRCMS.

Use Clear Figures to Tell a Story with Your Data

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Check out the recording of the August 2019 ABRCMS Online webinar that dives into details about data preparation and presentation in the biomedical sciences.

Also check out the recording of the September 2019 ABRCMS Online webinar that explores ways to make your data tell a compelling story to any audience.


Figures are central to a scientific manuscript. A clear figure with an informative figure legend should leave the reader with a general understanding of the experiment. In a recent webinar, Dr. Peggy Cotter shared some pointers to help alleviate challenges scientists experience while creating figures.


A Letter to Research Mentors: How to Support Your Trainee’s Non-academic Career Development

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Dear Research Mentor,

I’m writing to you on behalf of your trainees (postdocs and graduate students) who aren’t interested in a “traditional” academic career - whether they know it yet or not.

While we, your trainees, are glad you’re here to mentor us in academic research, that might not be the best path for us. 

Between the increasingly competitive nature of tenure-track positions and the plethora of other careers available to Ph.D. holders, fewer than 35% of biology Ph.D. graduates stay in academia, tenure-track (15%) and non-tenure track (18%) combined.

For those who choose to remain in academia, the path seems straight and narrow. Publish. Postdoc. Publish more. Apply. Every academic researcher has been there and knows how to help facilitate their trainees’ success.


ABRCMS Hurricane Relief

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Local vision, international mobilization: first steps in restoring Puerto Rico's scientific community after Hurricane Maria

The devastation wrought by Hurricane Maria on Puerto Rico beginning on September 20, 2017 was catastrophic. While stories of the storm's lingering effects have been well-publicized, the damage to Puerto Rico's scientific community has been largely underreported.

Classes for newly returned students in Puerto Rico were canceled as a result of the storm and its devastating aftermath. Many campus facilities were either destroyed outright or damaged beyond immediate repair. This included not only buildings but also laboratories and other facilities used by scientists ranging from undergraduate, graduate, and postdoctoral students to professors.

Unfortunately, it was impossible to recover the samples and data that were destroyed by the storm, some of which represented over a decade of work. However, the scientific community banded together to minimize the amount of time these scientists would lose continuing or, in some cases, restarting their work. Under the direction of Dr. Juan S.Ramirez Lugo, President of the Caribbean Division of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and a plenary speaker at the 2018 Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students (ABRCMS), a funding program was created to support these scientists through grants and financial aid. AAAS was joined by the Puerto Rico Science, Technology and Research Trust (PRSTRT) and Ciencia Puerto Rico in fundraising for and publicizing this important effort. Through this program, funds were available for temporary relocation to continue research as well as the restoration of facilities.

Critical to the success of this project were the over 450 offers of laboratory space and facilities—as well as personal accommodations—from universities, hospitals, and private companies, as well as a handful of individuals. This outreach was not only from the Puerto Rican scientific diaspora but fellow scientists all over the United States as well as France, Italy, and Hong Kong.

As inspiring as these efforts are, they are ultimately temporary solutions. Without repairs to or reconstruction of scientific facilities, many Puerto Rican scientists will find the challenges to continuing their work in Puerto Rico insurmountable. Those who want to remain in the field may have to permanently relocate, as many already have, and others may be forced to end their studies or careers entirely. Given that many residents of the island still lack power, rebuilding is not likely to begin in the short term. Continuing efforts, as well as an international commitment to this community, will be required in the meantime.

The 2018 Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students is proud to present Dr. Ramirez Lugo as one of our plenary speakers on November 16.


What Lies Beneath—Data Preparation and Interpretation

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Research in the biomedical sciences has become increasingly reliant on large data sets to provide meaningful experimental validation. However, dealing with large data sets presents challenges that are distinct from those experienced by most biomedical researchers doing data evaluation, processing, and presentation. How do we begin to make sense of these expansive data sets while ensuring statistical quality and experimental validity?

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