As part of the implementation of its strategic plan, the Online Programs and Professional Education Working Group was created. The Working Group has been charged by the Board with creating new digital ways to communicate with ASHG members. As a result, the new podcast series Genetically Speaking was created. The series features weekly informal conversations with our members – allowing new insight and reflection on careers in genetics. Working Group Chair Chris Gunter, PhD interviews ASHG committee members about how they got started in their careers in genetics and genomics. ASHG had the opportunity to interview the podcast interviewer about what you can expect from each episode, how you can listen, and why you should consider reaching out to rock stars via twitter.
ASHG: What is ASHG hoping to accomplish by launching the podcast series Genetically Speaking?
Dr. Gunter: The podcast series gives ASHG members career tools, techniques and options of the range of career possibilities in human genetics and genomics. Each episode features a 15-20-minute conversation with an ASHG member which allows new insight and reflection on careers in genetics. The audio format of a podcast gives listeners a more personal experience as they listen to members tell their stories and share their advice. I am lucky to have worked with ASHG staff and interviewed a number of ASHG members for this project.
ASHG: Who can listeners expect to hear from on this podcast and what topics will they discuss?
Dr. Gunter: Our interviewees come from a diverse range of career levels, scientific specialties, and backgrounds. Although I had a set series of questions for each interview, we talked about wherever the conversation took us. Just in the first few episodes, we heard controversy over endorsing a sports team at an institution other than your own; what it’s like to be the subject of a PBS documentary; and how reaching out to rock stars via twitter can pay off.
ASHG: What insights and reflections about careers in genetics and genomics do you hope listeners take away from this series?
Dr. Gunter: Mentoring was a common theme, as well as the reality of career paths that go in multiple directions over time. I hope trainees learn more about the many career options in genetics, and established investigators learn more about what trainees are looking for in a mentor. Also, I hope that people have as much fun listening as I did recording the interviews. [I’m a little worried that sometimes you can’t hear the complete answer because we are laughing too much!]
ASHG: Who is this podcast for? Is it for people entering the workforce? People switching careers?
Dr. Gunter: Genetically Speaking is a podcast for anyone interested in genetics and genomics. We do focus on careers, but we also talk about the difficulty and joy of working with families with genetic conditions, and ultimately seeing that your research efforts make a difference to them. Hearing about the amazing work being done by these interviewees, their paths to get to where they are now, as well as their personal lives outside the lab really makes these podcasts a wonderful addition to anyone’s week.
ASHG: How do ASHG members benefit from increased digital programming, such as this podcast series?
Dr. Gunter: The Society had already decided to invest in digital programming, but now that so many of us are working remotely, the benefits of webinars/podcasts/virtual meetings are clearer than ever. These nuggets of wisdom and science are available on demand, so I encourage you to login and enjoy them at your convenience. Listeners should feel free to send me feedback through email or twitter; you can meet most of the interviewees there as well. One more upside: you can use headphones, so you don’t even have to remove your mask to listen!