Maximize your institution’s seminars

The best nugget that came out of my mid-tenure review was to make better use of meeting seminar speakers across my university. This was excellent advice, especially for someone who tries to contain their travel, which limits meeting people outside my institute.  Here’s what I do now:

  1. At the beginning of every semester, I scour the seminar lists of all the departments, centers, etc. that have an overlap with my research. For me that includes: Biomedical Engineering, Computer Science, Biochemistry, Biophysics, Physics, Biology, Cell and Molecular Biology, the Siteman Cancer Center, Developmental Biology, Genetics, Center for Regenerative Medicine, etc. (see, it can be a really long list).
  2. I put all seminars of interest on my calendar, so I avoid scheduling other meetings during those times.
  3. If it’s a speaker with significant overlap, or who I would like to meet, I email the person who is organizing the visit and request to meet with the speaker (also, giving my availability).
  4. Additionally, I try to ensure to invite one speaker to at least one forum (typically, my home department’s seminar series) per year, or semester.

This pre-planning has significantly reduced the number of interesting seminars I miss and increased the number of meetings I have had with visiting speakers. The organizers are also very happy to have their scheduling made easier. Your colleagues may also begin to preemptively invite you to meet with speakers that may be of interest to you (or you to them) based on your interest in their previous invitees.