Yale Ciencia Academy for Career Development

Enhancing Biomedical Training and Diversity Through Networks, Community, and Outreach


Funding for the Yale Ciencia Academy (YCA) has been renewed! The focus and funding cycle for Phase 2 of YCA wil be slightly different than it was in the first five cycles. You can read more details about these changes in this blog post.




Program Description 

The Yale Ciencia Academy is a FREE year-long (January - December) program that provides graduate students with opportunities for mentoring, peer support, and networking; for developing skills that are important for career advancement; and for contributing to their communities through science outreach.

The program has several components:

  • Conversations with successful scientists and mentors – Online video chats with role models and mentors who are in a variety of academic and non-academic careers. These conversations include Q&A sessions where professionals share their experiences, insights, and practical advice on diverse topics, including having careers in and outside of academia, getting funded, securing a postdoc, and work/life balance.
  • Moderated peer discussions – Online video discussions between program fellows to facilitate networking, peer mentoring, and community building. During peer discussions, participants have the opportunity to discuss topics including mentoring concerns, important milestones, and common challenges in graduate training, and addressing the imposter syndrome.
  • Workshops for skills development – The program features professional development workshops (online and in-person) on topics including: 
    • Defining and working towards professional goals
    • Mentoring
    • Scientific teaching
    • Effective communication
  • Science outreach & leadership – Participants have the opportunity to impact their communities through science outreach activities like the publication of popular science articles or podcasts or visits of local schools. See examples of our fellows' outreach projects from 2016 and 2017.
  • Annual face-to-face meeting – In-person meeting of all participants during the AAAS conference in February, to extend opportunities for networking and professional development.

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  • Become part of an online global community of graduate students, scientists, role models, mentors and peers.
  • Attend the AAAS conference for the annual YCA program meeting, all expenses paid.
  • Network with diverse and accomplished set of scientists, leaders, and peers.
  • Receive professional development training to improve your skills and foster your career advancement.
  • Contribute to your community through science outreach.
  • Create and receive feedback on an Individual Development Plan.
  • Receive a certificate of completion, commemorative pin, and LinkedIn badge at the end of your program year.
  • Receive recognition as a Yale Ciencia Academy Fellow through a press release, as well as on the Yale Ciencia Academy website and social media channels.
  • Receive recognition for your outreach project through a press release.


A maximum of 40 participants will be selected each year. Participation in the program is limited to doctoral students who:

  • are enrolled at a fully accredited PhD, MD/PhD, DSc or PsyD training program;
  • are U.S. citizens or permanent residents (as required by the NIH);
  • have demonstrated interest in biological, biomedical or behavioral research; and
  • state their commitment to developing skills for continued professional advancement.

All participants must commit to:

  • Participating in at least 6 of 8 video-chats with science role models, to be scheduled one weekday per month from 7:00-8:30pm ET;
  • Participating in at least 4 of 5 peer-discussion chats, to be scheduled one weekday per month from 7:00-8:30pm ET;
  • Participating in 3 of 4 online professional development workshops per year (lasting 2-4 hrs);
  • Attending an annual in-person workshop at the Annual American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) conference (February 13-16, 2020) in Seattle, WA;
  • Completing a science outreach activity of the student’s choosing (e.g. contributing a science article for the general public, visiting a school, recording a podcast, etc.). See examples from 2016 and 2017.

Students who complete all required activities will receive a certificate, commemorative pin, and LinkedIn badge in recognition. 

This program is available to all individuals regardless of race, color, religion (creed), gender, gender expression, economic status, age, national origin (ancestry), disability, marital status, sexual orientation or military status. 


To apply to this program, students need to submit the following on or before the deadline of November 10, 2019:

  • A short online application with their contact information, as well as information about their field of research, departmental and institutional affiliation.
  • A brief essay (3000 characters maximum) from the student stating how the program will support their professional advancement and complement their research training.
  • A brief explanation of why they are interested in the program's outreach component.
  • A two-page resume or curriculum vitae that highlights education, research experiences, leadership and professional development activities or awards, and science communication and outreach activities, if any.
  • A letter of recommendation from a mentor (e.g. PhD supervisor, graduate program advisor, etc.) emphasizing how the student will benefit from participating in the program.
  • A form signed by the student’s research supervisor stating their support for the student’s participation in the program. This may be either a thesis or departmental supervisor, depending on the student's stage.  


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Check out our Frequently Asked Questions!

You can email us at yca@cienciapr.org or contact Janet Desmarais (YCA Program Coordinator) directly.

Watch our Live Q&A Event from October 9, 2018, to learn more about the program. YCA staff and current YCA fellows answer questions from event attendees about their experience in the program and how they have benefitted from it.

About Ciencia Puerto Rico

CienciaPR is a nonprofit organization that connects over 10,500 Puerto Rican and Hispanic scientists, students and educators worldwide through an innovative online platform. By leveraging its community’s collective knowledge, the organization has created thousands of resources to improve science education and help forge the next generation Hispanic STEM leaders. 

About the Yale Ciencia Initiative 

CienciaPR is part of the Yale Ciencia Initiative, an effort of the Yale Center for Teaching and Learning to expand access to scientific knowledge, experiences, and careers among communities or populations traditionally underrepresented in, or underserved by, the scientific enterprise.

The Yale Ciencia Initiative aims to promote:

  • Research and scholarship in the development and study of interventions that utilize science networks to enhance the engagement and participation of people from diverse backgrounds in science.
  • Collaborations with faculty and programs within Yale to increase recruitment and retention of underrepresented groups in science and to enhance outreach to Latino communities.
  • Translation of the CienciaPR model to other countries and communities and provide a home for the sharing of best practices in the development and implementation of culturally relevant science education and science networking efforts.

This program is funded by grant 1R25GM114000 from the NIH/NIGMS