The Yale Ciencia Academy promotes the participation of diverse fellows and facilitators.
Over the past five years, we have trained five cohorts and a total of 194 biomedical and health sciences doctoral students from at least 71 institutions in 28 states and Puerto Rico.
Phase I of the program (2015 - 2020) was open to doctoral students in the biomedical and health sciences at all stages of training and with a range of career interests. The majority of fellows were from backgrounds underrepresented in academia in terms of gender (71% women), ethnicity (86% Hispanic), race (11% African American, 1% Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander), disability (7% disability), family educational attainment (36% first-generation college graduates), undergraduate college (68% minority-serving institutions), and place of birth (12% naturalized citizens). Students were also diverse in terms of their training stage (40% of students were in years 1-2 of their PhD, 41% in years 3-4, and 19% in year 5 or beyond), their candidacy (51% had passed their quals), and research interests (23% neuroscience, 16% cancer, 15% cell & molecular biology, 12% microbiology, 9% health sciences, 8% psychology, 6% immunology, etc.).
During Phase I, we were also successful in recruiting a large number (n=138) of scientific role models that reflected the diversity of the students. These were 60% female, 56% Hispanic, and 10% African American and represented a variety of career outcomes, work sectors, types of academic universities and appointments, and ages, to demonstrate to students that there are many ways to be successful in science.
Data from our first three cohorts shows that YCA has improved PhD completion (93% YCA vs. ~50% for biomedical PhDs); enhanced mentoring, communication, and planning skills and self-efficacy; and empowered doctoral students from diverse backgrounds (71% female, 96% URM) to be more intentional about their careers. Of students who graduated that were surveyed in 2019, 26 (59%) are completing postdocs; others are: seeking additional training (7%); working as lecturers (7%), in industry (7%), in science non-research careers (e.g., science policy, 11%); or taking time off (9%). Out of all surveyed alumni, 83% still had a clear idea of the long-term career they wanted and 79% knew what they needed to do to achieve their preferred career.
After the program, 68% of fellows were more knowledgeable about career options available to them, 53% had more clarity on what they needed to do to achieve their preferred career, 43% understood better how to find information to achieve their goals, and 55% could better find and talk to people to advise them about their career goals. Notably, 44% of fellows were clearer about the career they wanted after the program. This is important, as studies show that many students become more confused about what career to pursue as their PhD progresses.
Phase II of YCA (2021 - 2025) builds on the strategies and trainings that resulted in doctoral students being more proactive and intentional towards their career goals during Phase I. We have tailored our innovative interventions to address the needs and training gaps of underrepresented minority (URM) students during the PhD to postdoc transition in response to recommendations from YCA alumni as well as a review of the literature.
*Data presented is based on the first 3-4 cohorts. We will update this page soon with data from our last cohorts.
As part of the YCA program, our fellows are required to create and implement an outreach project of their own choosing, using the skills gained from our outreach and science communication workshops. Since 2016, YCA Fellows have completed 190 outreach projects including blogs, newspaper articles, op-eds, and podcasts; lesson plans for educators and school visits; panels, workshops and conferences; public lectures; new science communication and advocacy initiatives; and hurricane relief efforts. Below, we link to projects we have highlighted to illustrate some of the impact our fellows have had on their communities.