July 29, 2010

Biomedical Research hosts career symposium

Biomedical Research hosts career symposium

Eric Haseltine, Ph.D.

Eric Haseltine, Ph.D.

Those are only a few of the jobs Eric Haseltine, Ph.D., has held since completing a one-year postdoctoral fellowship in neuroanatomy at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine under Vivien Casagrande, Ph.D., in 1979.

How did he find such unusual opportunities? By understanding how the brain works.

“Our brain only lets us see what it expects to see,” Haseltine said Tuesday during a Vanderbilt-hosted symposium on career opportunities in the biomedical and biological sciences. “Look into your blind spots … Take time to think big.”

More than 500 postdoctoral fellows and graduate students from Vanderbilt, Meharry Medical College and throughout the Mid-South attended the two-day event, presented by the Office of Biomedical Research Education and Training.

Humans tend to think of themselves as highly evolved, far-sighted beings, yet “our brains are essentially identical to those of our ancestors 50,000 years ago,” Haseltine argued. Our thinking is emotionally driven, he added, and constantly distracted by the “here and now.”

Fortunately, people can teach themselves to recognize and grasp long-term opportunities by tackling their vision of the future a little piece at a time.

“It has to pay off like a firecracker,” said Haseltine, whose new book is entitled Long Fuse, Big Bang: Achieving Long-Term Success Through Daily Victories. “You have to find a way to get some instant gratification. It will lead you, one firecracker after another, to a big explosion.”

The symposium was held in conjunction with a regional meeting of the National Postdoctoral Association. Of the 26 speakers who discussed career opportunities in the corporate, non-profit and government realms as well as academia, 13 were Vanderbilt alumni.

For more information, including a complete list of speakers, go to https://medschool.vanderbilt.edu/career-symposium/2010.