The Hub


“A man may be a champion for truth without being an enemy to civility; and may confute an opinion without railing at them that hold it”

– Robert Boyle – (The Sceptical Chymist)


 Allow me to answer a few FAQ’s

TheCOM (Community of Minds) takes the concepts of community put forward by Aristotle in 300 B.C., combines them with the “Invisible” community of Boyle in 1650 A.D. and looks for ways to apply this to 21st century science, education and career. In today’s world, the number of people and resources, “Nodes,” we can add to our “Community” is unlimited. It is TheCOM’s purpose to innovate and promote new ways to identify and connect the “Nodes” in our community, new and old, into educational and professional development opportunities. SEE: About The COM
The Pub Club experience is where TheCOM evolved. The Pub Clubs, or TPCs, consisted of small groups of people (2 to 40) within the educational community who "gathered" together to take ownership of their “Academic Careers.” The “objective” of TPC was to tap into and build our own “Community of Minds” (COM) in order to best serve both the scientist & the science. The structure, meetings and special events were all designed to enable members through active participation to build and hone the “Diverse Skills” necessary to not only be accomplished scientists, but to also turn that into a successful chosen career. SEE: The Mission Going forward TheCOM will continue the practice of The Community of Minds "Gatherings" that were known as The Pub Club as "TheCOM chats."
A 2014 national study found: “College Doesn’t Prepare Students for Job Search.” The study showed: “the top three attributes that employers are currently looking for are: a positive attitude (84%), communication skills (83%) and an ability to work as a team (74%)” (required skills listed in every job posting, academic and non-academic). The Study also reported “73% of hiring managers felt that colleges are only “somewhat preparing” students for the working world. A 2011 study in BioScience Mag compared the "traditional" PostDoc with PostDocs "that balances both research and teaching.” The study showed: the second group "obtained faculty positions at a threefold greater rate than did a national sample of postdoctoral scholars.” TheCOM seeks to find new ways to identify and tap into the world around us, to innovate and support "active learning" environments that will produce whole scientists better prepared to pursue their chosen careers.
From The Founder: The genesis of The Pub Club concept was my observations at a Gordon conference in 2011. I saw firsthand how the conference experience reinvigorated and even excited a friend who had grown frustrated and depressed. The idea came: “How great would it be and how much would our science improve if we could duplicate the excitement, the interactions, the networking, the science discussions - in essence “the conference effect" - back at MSU?” Following a massive “recharge” at the 2014 MPMI conference I visited “Weigel World” and The Sainsbury Lab. These combined experiences made me determined to reach for that original “Pub Club ideal.” When I returned in September 2014, The Pub Club 2.0 was born.
The Pub Club was born of a desire to build a local community of scientists that would strengthen and invigorate the work we do as well as better prepare those of us working towards establishing careers in science. While work at the bench is an essential part of our science, history has shown that an atmosphere of collaboration and cooperation not only supports discovery but fosters it. It is our hope that the time we spend at The Pub Club will make our work at the bench more focused, more efficient and more productive. It is also our hope that participating in The Pub Club will inspire new questions, ideas and collaborations resulting in new funding opportunities and stronger science. In addition, we hope that The Pub Club will provide training and professional development opportunities to make us well-rounded, versatile and visible in a highly competitive job market.
Meet Bethany, Founder and Director of TheCOM and The Pub Club. Bethany is always happy and usually even a little excited to talk about both. All you have to do is scroll to the bottom of The Mission page and fill in and submit the easy form. The information provided is secure and will be sent directly to Bethany in an email. Any information provided is used only for the purposes of making contact; you will not be added to any mailing list and your information will not be shared outside of TheCOM.

New From TheCOM

I am happy to announce The Community of Minds concept at a new place with new people. TheCOM@Calvin represents the beginning of something new: TheCOMCenter for Educative Research(TM). TheCOM@Calvin “Educative Research Initiative” takes all the lessons learned during The Pub Club years and applies them beyond the “Gatherings” and into the students’ learning experience.

To keep the larger Community of Minds informed on our progress, activities and plans for the future, the “Keeping up with The Hub” newsletter will begin going out as “The COMunique.” If you would like to receive our newsletter simply click on the Subscribe button in the side column.

Thank you for your interest and your time,


Oh! You may have seen me walking around sporting my “TheCOM” sweatshirt and wondered if you could get one. Well now you can, just click here and follow instructions to get yours!

Spotlight Posts From TheCOM

Science is Communication (Part 1) – A Time to R.O.A.R.

By Bethany Huot – July 20, 2017

07/07/17 – Kyaw practices his Elevator Pitch.

This year at The Pub Club we have been focusing on one of the most important aspects of doing science – Communication! While we may view conducting experiments as the “doing” of science, without convincing others to fund our research, no experiments are possible; no science will get “done.” That experiment may be what enables us to move science forward with a breakthrough finding, but how can science be advanced without sharing our findings? Looking through this lens for a second, let’s make a list. We first must come up with an idea, which always involves seeking out and reading literature to guide us in defining important research questions. We often reach out to others in the field for their insights on our ideas. Reading work others have published is receiving communication, and talking to peers is active, two-way communication. We’ve already clarified that once you have a research question you must communicate it well in order to get funded to do the research. Now that you are funded, does the communication stop? Can you get or maintain collaborators without both verbal and written communication? Can you report your progress or brainstorm a problem in lab meeting without communicating? Can you recruit others to your lab if you don’t communicate to them the value of joining? Finally, as we have already said, can your findings advance anything if they are not clearly communicated to those who would use them? Viewed this way we realize that, in fact, Science Is Communication! (READ MORE)


Posts From TheCOM

Science is Communication (Part 2) – How The Story’s Told

By Bethany Huot – January 15, 2018

You may have heard the saying that how well you understand something is evidenced by how well you can explain or teach it to someone else. There are many things we think we know until we try to express them clearly and concisely to someone else! Even if we are experts on a subject, it is important to take time to think about how to best communicate it.

In part 1 of Science is Communication – A Time to R.O.A.R., we defined Communication as “the successful exchange of ideas or information between two or more people.” We then focused on Why Communication is Important, How to Communicate with a R.O.A.R., and How to Develop Communication as a skill. In part 2, Science is Communication – How the Story’s Told, we will zoom in closer and, as promised, talk about our M.A.D. skills. Message, Audience, and Delivery are the essential elements of using your R.O.A.R. to construct an individual story to effectively communicate specific information. (READ MORE)

Here is an example of how your story can be told with a R.O.A.R. and how no communication is too small to apply this method. This is a PodCast I did with Max Johnson of The Food Fix communicating the Science I did as a Ph.D. student.

Guest Posts From TheCOM


Reflections on the Academic Job Market

By Erin Sparks (Guest Contributor to TheCOM) September 8, 2017

Like many others, I went on the job market for two years before landing in my current position. The first year on the job market I thought I was ready, but wow – I was completely unprepared. One major problem (of several) was that my future research plan lacked a clear vision, and I was not doing a great job of distinguishing myself from others in the field. Another mistake that I made was trying to make my research plan fit into the job ad – this led to me proposing research that I had very little interest in doing and was unexcited about. I strongly advise against this approach! How miserable would it be to do research that you are unexcited about just to get a tenure-track job??? So, I chalk year 1 up to a learning experience.

After this, I got a puppy (seriously), I reassessed, I got feedback from senior faculty at other institutions, and I asked myself what I wanted to do. This soul-searching led to a new and different research plan that I was excited to talk about. I wrote up the new plan and I asked anyone and everyone that was willing to read it and provide feedback. I asked the lab, my advisor, newly hired assistant professors, my friends who do not work in science, my family, etc. I wanted this research statement to communicate my plan to a wide audience and convey a clear message. Here is my first bit of advice: Use your community to get feedback on your research plan! Second, do not get upset if they provide critical feedback; they are working to help you become a better scientist and a better communicator. One resource that was extremely helpful for me is a repository of successful research statements curated by Jeff Ross-Ibarra at UC Davis After reading through these statements, I realized … (READ MORE)

Do It Anyway!

By Tiffany Lucas (Guest Contributor to TheCOM) August 21, 2017

Your path isn’t going to be a straight one and you’re not going to be handed a map. I had a highly varied path in my research exposing me to many areas of biology, and I’m comfortable taking a deep dive into the primary literature.  I enjoy identifying patterns and connections in science and between people, I am a strong scientific writer, and like presenting ideas to both experts and non-experts.  It’s engaging for me to talk with talented scientists, business people, lawyers and patent agents, large industry, academia, and small biotech.  Into my postdoc, I worked on developing my grant writing, presenting, and interdisciplinary science skills.  I made connections in the biotech community and helped others who needed my expertise in grant writing and due diligence projects.  I was very fortunate to be selected for a 6-month full-time position as a Technology Transfer Trainee at Washington University Office of Technology.  This was an amazing program developed by Nichole Mercier, PhD, as she recognized the need to transition PhDs out of the lab and into exciting careers.  That was a huge turning point for me; I discovered the early-stage biotech community and the passion that the scientists had here.  My position as an Investment Analyst with a not-for-profit company, which is focused on supporting and developing early-stage biotech, is perfect for my interests and I’ll continue to grow in skills and abilities. 

After leaving my 3.5-year postdoc lab for the technology transfer training program, my former PhD adviser asked skeptically, “Are you ok?”  My response was… (READ MORE)