Life Skills for Young Scientists (LiSYS)
by Jonathan Lilly
Life Skills for Young Scientists (LiSYS) is a yearlong mentorship program designed to equip graduate students and postdoctoral researchers with the skills they will need for a happy and productive career.
Some years ago, feeling that there was a gap in our typical training that was not addressing the human side of being a scientist, I started introducing meditation and related practices in my courses on data analysis. This material has been very well received, and last year, at the request of some former students, I had the opportunity to prototype a full yearlong program introducing participants to the life skill practices that have been most meaningful to me. Based on the success of that program, I am now offering it again to a broader audience.
The general feeling from those who participated in the prototype year is that these are essential skills that they are not being taught elsewhere. See below for some quotes from the participants.
Since this program is an outreach activity associated with an NSF grant, I am happy to say that it is offered at no cost to participants.
The program is intended for graduate students and postdoctoral researchers in any branch of science. Feel free to tell your friends or colleagues about it, or share this email with them.
A note on the name: the acronym LiSYS is pronounced like the Greek word lysis, which in medicine has the meaning of the gradual decline of an illness. I thought that this was fitting. However, one of my students, who speaks Greek, told me that lysis means something else in everyday use that is even more fitting: it means simply “solution”.
Feel free to write to me with any questions.
From participants in LiSYS 2022:
Everyone could benefit from a year spent on the themes we have covered in LiSYS. It has felt such a privilege to be a part of a supportive group like this. I go away with a deeper insight into myself both as a scientist and a person, with a toolbox of life skills that I can grow and use in my research journey and the seedlings of a meditation practice that has already positively impacted my daily life.
I consider myself extremely fortunate to have found mental health support [from the LiSYS program] during the final years of my Ph.D. I found meditation techniques to be extremely beneficial. Not only do I feel more grounded, but I also feel more comfortable acknowledging mental and physical tensions in my body. We need more such support groups for early career researchers.