There are many ways to get involved in Growing up in Science. Below, we have a few ways to participate, from less to more work:

Forward the Science   article

You can find it here. Thank you!

Tweet your own story

Use the hashtag #growingupinscience.

Discuss your stories in a small group

For example at a recurring student lunch.

Invite Wei Ji for a Growing up in Science talk

I will consider all invitations for remote talks, especially from universities that lack mentorship resources.

Start your own series

Starting your own series is not hard. Here are some pointers:

  • We typically hold one event each month and I would not recommend a higher frequency. If your area, program, or department does not have enough people to sustain a monthly, multi-year series, you could reduce the frequency or join forces with another area, program, or department. The latter is nice because you get to meet new people. Moreover, GUIS stories usually transcend academic field boundaries.
  • You will need a moderator. I recommend that a faculty member moderates, because it is often easier for faculty than for a postdoc or a graduate student to ask other faculty tough questions and ask them to go into more depth on personal issues. (But maybe you are/know a fearless student or postdoc!) If you are planning more events than a single moderator is willing to commit to, consider having two alternating moderators.
  • I usually send out invitations in August for the coming academic year. My invitation text reads:

Dear [name],

I would like to invite you to speak in "Growing up in science" this year. As you probably know, this series features one faculty member's story at a time, with a focus on doubts, struggles, detours, and failures throughout all stages of their career.

The primary goal is not to offer boilerplate career advice, but to examine in some depth and in the context of a broader narrative the hidden human factors of working in academia. For more information, see

If you are interested, please indicate on which of the following Fridays you would be available:

[list of all options]

The time is [time], and the location is [location]. I look forward to hearing from you!

Thank you,

  • In my invitations, I try to balance departments (at NYU, there are three involved), subareas (e.g. systems/computational and cellular/molecular neuroscience), and gender. I usually invite at least one guest a year who is also an administrator (e.g. Dean or Institute Director) and at least one who has chosen a non-academic path (e.g. data science). I also reserve one date a year for an open discussion about a topic that fits within the GUIS theme.
  • About three weeks before the event, I send the following email to the guest:

We look forward to having you at "Growing up in science" on Friday [date] from [time] in [location]. Please arrive 10 minutes early.

Attendees will mostly be students and postdocs in the Center for Neural Science, Psychology, and the Neuroscience Institute; faculty members occasionally attend. You will have 25-30 minutes to tell your life story, with an emphasis on past and present struggles, failures, insecurities, conflicts with advisors/mentors, work/life balance, etc. The rest of the time will be for discussion. I will be your moderator.

The event will be about your personal path - the behind-the-scenes of your career, whether generalizable or not. Students and postdocs typically take away from GUIS sessions that they are not alone in their struggles, that one can thrive in spite (or maybe because) of those, and that professors are (somewhat) human. Sometimes, speakers get asked scientific questions. Please gently dismiss those, because there are other venues for them.

Specific topics could include but are not limited to:

  • How did you decide to do what you do?
  • How did/do you deal with strong/wrong expectations (from family, teachers, yourself)?
  • What alternative careers did/would you consider?
  • Did/do you ever feel like an impostor, and how did/do you cope with that?
  • How did/do you balance personal and professional life? Did you encounter major dilemmas or conflicts?
  • What is psychologically hardest about working in academia?
  • How do you accommodate different personalities in your lab? Any major conflicts?
  • What do you consider your weaknesses?
  • What regrets do you have - e.g. in career choices, work/life balance, or in running your lab?
  • We also welcome discussion of gender disparity and bias.

In the email announcement, I will send around both your official bio and your "unofficial story". For examples, see Could you send me both an official and an unofficial story by [date one week before the event]?

Thank you and let me know if you have any questions!

  • I usually send three announcements to my mailing lists: a week in advance, a day in advance, and the morning of. This might be too much though; the appropriate frequency depends on the standards of the mailing list. In the announcement, besides giving date and place, I include the speaker's official and unofficial stories, and give a link to the website.
  • Your area, program, or department might have someone managing a common calendar. Send the full schedule to them as soon as you have it, so that they can list each event on the calendar without you having to worry about it every time.
  • I do not allow slides or other aids during the event. Just sitting in a chair and talking.
  • As moderator, I usually give my guest free reign to tell their story for 25-30 minutes, and I only occasionally ask for clarification. Important exceptions: The moderator should steer the speaker away from scientific content, because there are other venues for that. One way is to gently interrupt and say something like "I would like to come back to that friction with your advisor." Similarly, the moderator should steer the speaker away from boilerplate career advice.
  • Important: I recommend that you do not record the sessions. Recording might hold your guest back from speaking freely.

Please contact me at weijima at nyu dot edu if you have any questions. Good luck!