Calvin Carter, PhD


Current position: Postdoctoral Research Scholar, Department of Pediatrics (Val Sheffield lab), University of Iowa

Describe your research: I study the biological effect of electromagnetic energy fields. Learn more here:

How would you define a successful grad student? I’ve heard that a successful graduate student is one who persists through all challenges and obstacles that we all inevitably face in science to uncover new knowledge. We do it for ourselves, for our families and for the betterment of the world.

What advice do you have for a graduate student looking to obtain a postdoctoral fellowship? Building relationships helps us to stand out as graduate students and gives us a little bit more control over our future path. This can be done by developing interests in areas of research that are appealing to you. Read papers, attend talks and get a sense of where the field is going. Who are the up and coming stars in the field or who would be the best fit for you. Ask them a question about their research or simply ask for advice. If you can pitch an idea about a project or next steps for one already started that would advance their research project then you’re ahead of the game. Write a postdoctoral fellowship (NIH, NSF, etc) and publish your graduate work. Labs love to recruit postdocs who bring their own source of funding and who have a track record of publications. 

How/what can graduate students do to prepare themselves for the transition to a postdoc position? There’s many ways to prepare for a post-doc. First is to decide whether to continue training in Academia, Industry or Policy. It is becoming more common for graduate students to do a post-doc in a healthcare company or with an organization that drives science policy. No matter the direction, there are three skills that are key to build: 1) communication- practice conveying your research in simple terms in both writing and speaking. 2) schedule- maintain/implement healthy habits into your daily routine. Exercise, reading, writing and experiments are all important things to do daily so find the time. 3) networking- building relationships will remain at the center of your career. Good science can’t be done in a vacuum. We need great collaborators and teammates.

Calvin Carter