Changing Academic Incentive Structures


Hi, I’m Rob (he/him)! I was thrilled when Fay Lin asked me to be on GradChat! I have always been impressed by the time and effort she puts into mental health advocacy and I am excited to discuss academic incentive structures and how they affect us as individuals and communities. 


Over my last 9 years of grad school and postdoc-ing, I’ve been involved in many non-research focused initiatives. These include co-founding BigBio and the UCLA Bioinformatics Student Retreat, running a student funding survey across the Graduate Program in Biosciences departments, and mentoring Big Summer undergraduates. Throughout these experiences, I have gained an appreciation for how incentive structures can help and hinder our progress. I hope our discussion will help you understand, account for and manipulate the incentive structures impacting your career and personal development so you can better achieve your own goals.


One of my personal goals is to encourage a better work-life balance in academia. I think it’s important to share our non-work lives, let’s not pretend to be machines! Ask my friends about me and they will likely talk about group hikes, that I bike commute to UCLA or that I live on a sailboat! My best grad school friends are those who adventure with me on week-long backpacking trips deep in the Sierra and Los Padres. But ask a different group and you might hear about our biannual outings to the Griffith Park Shakespeare Festival or our shared love of the LA Opera. You might hear about how I’ve taken to making block-printed postcards #covidhobby @postartcards (IG)!


On the research side, I work in two areas, the first is developing computational and statistical methods for detecting complex genetic interactions affecting human phenotypes and disease risk. The second is disease subtyping to inform drug trials using electronic medical health records data available in biobanks.


I’m excited to be on GradChat and to hear your questions!

Rob (@robertpaulbrown) will be talking over the @PhD_Balance Instagram account tomorrow before joining Susanna Harris and Fay Lin on Saturday's (08/29) Grad Chat to talk about changing academic incentive structures.

Grad Chat is live-streamed on YouTube Saturday's at 3 pm EDT/12 pm PST/8 pm BST! Use this link to set a reminder for Grad Chat on Saturday [Youtube Live link].

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