Comments from Former PAMT Trainees
The biggest impact that PAMT had on me was to provide me with access to many professional development opportunities (e.g., meeting NIDA people, discussions of grant writing, learning how NIH is set up,discussions about the review process), that I think will help me become a more successful researcher, in terms of being able to publish, obtain grants, and find an academic job. In addition, it allowed me the freedom to continue working on projects/papers that I had started prior to being a PAMT fellow. This process was able to occur more independently than if I had been an RA on the projects. PAMT also helped me to establish connections with more senior faculty that I might not have been able to form on my own. Since I already had strong interests in both prevention and methodology, I don't think that PAMT shaped my trajectory in terms of the direction my work was going. Instead, it allowed me to expand on the work I had already started and exposed me to new ideas and ways of thinking about my own work.
Overall, I think I benefited a lot from being PAMT. Thanks for a great two years!!
I found the group meetings with visitors to the Methodology and Prevention Centers to be particularly cool. One of my absolute favorite things about PAMT was that it kind of became a tradition (or something) to ask each of our visitors to talk about their career paths, and what they do and do not like about their current positions. These meetings were REALLY interesting.
In addition, the visit from the NIDA program people was absolutely fantastic. This should definitely happen every other year at the very least. No one should miss out on that – if they cannot come here, we should definitely go there.
My pre-doc fellowship definitely had an effect on my career trajectory. I think that it has allowed me to position myself just the way that I wanted as my professional career begins. A couple of years ago it was starting to look like it was going to be difficult for me to pursue my interest in gambling using the methodologies in which I was interested to the degree that I wanted to in my dissertation. If I wanted to work in the exact area that I wanted, I was going to have to apply for external funding because it was difficult to fit my work into Linda’s component of the Methodology Center grant. In addition, I think that it gave me the tools that I need to position myself as a methodologist in the gambling field who is particularly interested in prevention – a unique position in the field that I am very excited to fill. Basically, I think that this fellowship helped jumpstart my career in gambling. I don’t know what I would have done without it – my dissertation was exactly what I wanted to work on, and it is going to result in at least two conference presentations and a paper in the gambling field. In addition, it freed up my time to be able to work closely with Stephanie and Linda on multi-process models, the methodological area that I hope to work in for some time to come.
I found the annual meetings with Ed to be reassuring. PAMT is SO flexible and SO individually tailored, I was often worried that I might not be doing everything I could be or should be to meet specific requirements of the program. It was great to touch base and go over a game plan for the year, primarily to make sure that everything was on target in terms of the program and to let him know how things were developing in terms of my own game plan. Plus, it helped make the program seem really personal.
Thank you so much for putting together the PAMT program, and for providing this sort of training experience to the graduate students. The whole experience was fantastic, and I definitely would not be where I am without it! Ed, thank you so much for everything you have done for all of us over the last two years.
For me, the two-mentor requirement was extermely helpful! As you know, I came into PAMT with a broad interest in methods, but no clear direction. Based on my research interests, Linda suggested that I meet with Stephanie. For me, this collaboration has been the most signficant result of being a PAMT trainee. I forsee Stephanie being an important component of my dissertation and plan to continue collaborating with her in the future--eventhough my PAMT funding will end soon.
I think the meetings with Ed were a good way to just "check in"--it was nice to know that you were looking out for us It was also a good way to discuss our semester goals and travel plans.
Do you think this fellowship had an effect on your career trajectory? How?: Yes, I believe this fellowship affected my career trajectory. As I mentioned above, I believe it opened the door for an important collaboration between myself, Stephanie (my methods mentor) and Mark (my prevention mentor). Through this collaboration, I have clarified the topic for my dissertation. Also, PAMT has increased my overall knowledge of how a national agency like NIDA works and has allowed me to make connections with key individuals in that arena (although I have yet to take advantage of them).
Thanks for all of your help over the past two years! I've really enjoyed being a PAMTer
Overall, I thought the PAMT experience was very valuable. I had the opportunity to publish papers with faculty I would otherwise probably not have been able to work with (Ed Smith & Linda Collins), both because my time was paid for by fellowship and because I was encouraged to pursue additional research experiences. In addition, the visitors we as PAMT trainees were invited to meet (especially the NIH program staff) provided great insight into opportunities for us. I didn't expect that I would benefit so much by learning about the NIH grant process as I did, and I am certain that I would never have applied for the NRSA without the extra push from PAMT! I felt automatically supported as I did apply, and I think both having been a PAMT fellow and having feedback from PAMT faculty really strengthened my application.
I definitely think PAMT positively altered my career trajectory. Getting on an external funding track is so important as I look for opportunities after I complete my Ph.D., and I have more confidence that it's attainable for me to get funding, even in a competitive market, with the resources and experiences PAMT has provided. Also, just being part of a group of such highly-motivated and productive peers and faculty who are pursuing a variety of research interests has been encouraging for me as a I think about my career.
The two-mentor idea was great in principle. However, for me, it was messier than that! I worked with a whole bunch of people (Ed, Linda Caldwell, Linda Collins, Jenn, Eric, Mike), and did not stick to my little plan. I think at least requiring nomination of two people for the application encourages people to talk to and solicit the support of faculty they might otherwise not work with. It seems like a flexible system, so I think it's fine.
I think the meetings with Ed were helpful. It was an opportunity to think about my plans and bounce them off of someone else (and bring up a trip to South Africa!!) I think it's important to make sure that you know what people are up to (the good things and the struggles) so that we're all in it together.
Thanks for all your work on this program and with me, in particular!