Joanne Kamens

Dr. Kamens is the Executive Director of Addgene. She has worked in pharma and biotech and has been doing career advising for scientists since 2003. She serves on many nonprofit boards and is an advocate for diversity and equity in science.

Recent Posts

How to Make Friends and Meet People at a Scientific Conference

Posted by Joanne Kamens | Aug 7, 2014 9:58:12 AM


There is essentially no better place for a scientist to make new relationships than at scientific conferences. Conferences provide the opportunity to meet people who are interested in the same things you are on a deep level. Right away you have something in common. Namely, the scientific question you are interested in and this is a great ice breaker. Of course, real relationships go further and grow over time, but being interested in the same phosphate of your favorite kinase is a good start. 

Perhaps you think that meeting other scientists is not a priority for your career. Actually, it is crucial for all scientists, academic and non-academic, to always be meeting as many other scientists as possible.

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Scientist Networking: What is an Informational Interview?

Posted by Joanne Kamens | Jul 1, 2014 11:42:00 AM

Networking-for-scientists-informational-interview-AddgeneTraining as a scientist in the academic system has many pluses. I delighted in my graduate school years for allowing me to focus wholly on the science I love. This immersive nature of academia often means that scientists-in-training rarely get the opportunity to learn about the myriad of diverse, nonacademic careers that will be available once they have a graduate degree in science. I find it ironic that we do all of our training as scientists (5-12 years worth!) with academic scientists who can’t help us learn about the nonacademic sphere where most of us will be working

It should be no secret that one of the best things you can do during your training is meet interesting people doing interesting things. I call this building relationships because networking has gotten a bad reputation (as in…”I just hate networking”). Scientists enjoy learning new things. Building new relationships is all about learning new things from other scientists doing interesting work. Consider this to be like any other research project. You’ve met someone whose career interests you or you want to pursue someone doing a job you wish you knew more about – how do you make a connection? An Informational Interview is a great next step in your research.

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Developing Transferable Skills During Science Training

Posted by Joanne Kamens | Jun 3, 2014 10:14:06 AM

teamwork-and-communicationYou are finishing your PhD or perhaps you have almost completed a postdoctoral position… or two. You have learned a lot. Whether you are pursuing an academic career path or moving in a nonacademic direction, there are many “transferable” skills you have developed in addition to learning how to be a scientist. Why not stack the deck in your favor? Look for opportunities to practice transferable skills in ways that will also enhance your science training and that will put you in position to pursue a diverse set of career paths. 

Here are some concrete things you can do to develop those transferable skills while you are also learning to be an excellent scientist.

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The Stingy Scientist: How the Baby Gel Box Was Born

Posted by Joanne Kamens | Apr 15, 2014 11:11:00 AM

The Stingy Scientists- Baby Gel Box

It is probably good news for our environment that more people are paying attention to living a “green” life and creating less waste.  Most communities seem to have recycling programs and it seems to me that most Addgenies make an effort to avoid plastic bags and to conserve resources where possible.  At the lunch table, for instance, we have a plastic container problem…reusable containers pile up by the sink after lunch as fewer and fewer people use plastic bags.  We also try to recycle our discards according to the Cambridge, Massachusetts guidelines and wear an extra sweater so we don’t have to turn up the heat when there is a bad Northeastern chill. 

Few of us spend much time thinking about conserving resources in the labs. Disposable plastic materials are fairly inexpensive in this country and we are quick to throw out chipped or imperfect equipment.  We can’t safely recycle these materials either. 

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Negotiating Work and Life: How to Find the Joy

Posted by Joanne Kamens | Mar 20, 2014 11:04:00 AM

This article was originally published on the Society for Laboratory Automation and Screening (SLAS) Electronic Laboratory Neighborhood.  

Addgene-scientists-negotiating-work-life-balanceWork/life balance. Is it truly possible to bring all aspects of our lives under control? Balance is a myth and should not even be the real goal. We are all constantly negotiating our energy and attention. The goal is to maximise the time you are enjoying both work and personal life.

There are no easy answers to negotiating a demanding career in science with other interests and priorities, but many find it helpful to obtain support and ideas from those who seem to be managing. Being reminded of the seemingly simple actions we can take to help ourselves can be an appropriate first step.

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Addgene is a non-profit plasmid repository that promotes scientific sharing. Our blog extends this mission by providing a platform for scientists to share practical tips and cutting-edge research.

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