The Power of Involvement

By Alan E. Fletcher, Ph.D.

May 24, 2019
No doubt, there have been times in your career where the thought of adding just one more thing seems like it would make your days, weeks and months simply unmanageable. But, then, you add it anyway, and you discover that it was certainly worth it.

Time and time again we hear this from SLAS committee chairs, journal reviewers, mentors and other SLAS volunteers as they credit making time to contribute to SLAS with enhancing their professional lives above and beyond their expectations.

One great example is our new SLAS Board of Directors member Sammy Datwani who said recently in the SLAS Electronic Laboratory Neighborhood e-zine:

“SLAS conferences include many opportunities for volunteering – so get involved and become part of the SLAS community. Working with the professional team has been a great experience for me through various committees (poster judging, Innovation Award judging, scientific program and others). Also, I have served as a scientific reviewer for JBS (now SLAS Discovery) as well as an author for JALA (now SLAS Technology). These opportunities have allowed me to grow my technical knowledge base and my professional network, which have helped in my career progression.”

While our SLAS2019 Scientific Program Committee Co-Chair John Doench commented in the e-zine:

“I’ve been involved with conference planning for a few years now. It’s work, no doubt, but it’s fun and I get to help select what sort of science I’m going to sit and listen to for several days! In the same way that I meet with a lot of different biologists in my office for whatever CRISPR screen they’re going to do, at SLAS I get to interact with people who are complete experts in their particular fields and I get to hear their sense of what’s hot – what are the things I don’t even know about that are going to be front page news in the coming months and years. It’s a great learning experience – you put in the time and you get a lot out of it.”

SLAS is a member-driven Society, and it takes leaders like Datwani and Doench to make it work so well.

SLAS Fellows

There are many leaders responsible for SLAS’s incredible strength. In 2016, SLAS instituted its SLAS Fellow Member Program to honor those who go above and beyond for SLAS. An SLAS Fellow:

  • Candidate must possess five years professional experience after terminal degree/post-graduate training
  • Candidate must have at least three consecutive years as a dues-paying SLAS member (or membership by contribution)
  • Candidates must have contributed measurable technical content and volunteer service to the Society

In return, SLAS offers SLAS Fellows benefits and recognition including the ability to use the SLAS Fellow Member logo in personal e-mail and on curriculum vitae. Take a look at SLAS’s well-respected Fellows.

How Best to Become Involved in SLAS

If you have yet to take the plunge, it’s easy to say ‘yes’ to a voluntary role in SLAS. Please take a look at the many opportunities available to you. Whether you are looking to share your current expertise or challenge yourself in less familiar areas, the volunteer opportunities page can guide you. There are immediate needs for volunteers on the Advocacy Committee, Americas and Europe Scientific Program Committees, Strategic Alliances Committee, as journal manuscript reviewers and more. Simply complete the form and hit Submit.

If you are still not sure where you can best contribute I encourage you to connect with Mary Geismann, SLAS senior membership manager. Geismann has been with SLAS for more than seven years and has a knack for helping ‘newbies’ find their calling with SLAS. A kind invitation from our always-smiling Mary has sent many on their way to years of service and personal and professional fulfillment.

My voluntary career started when I served SLAS as a short course instructor and in Board positions with one of the SLAS founding organizations. In all cases, I learned from predecessors while having the freedom to make the role my own. I am grateful for these chances to give back to a Society and an industry that has provided so much to me.

I would like to give a huge thank you to all our current volunteers serving on the SLAS Board of Directors, through committees, on the journals, at conferences, on a judging panel or even behind the scenes with individual member-to-member mentoring. We are the fuel that keeps SLAS humming along as the premier life sciences discovery and technology community. Join us – you’ll be so glad you did!

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, what are you doing for others?”

— Martin Luther King, Jr.