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Graduate Studies

Richard McGee, PhD

Starting from PhD training as a biochemist, the first 20 years of Dr. McGee’s career focused on cellular neurobiology research, teaching, and the development of young scientists and clinicians. The subsequent 20 years have focused on developing new models and methods for assisting the professional development of young scientists, particularly individuals from underrepresented minority groups and women.

In his current position, he has expanded his work to include professional development of young faculty. Much of his work uses group mentoring/coaching and other training methods to augment what mentors should teach trainees but too often don’t provide. One of the most effective examples of group coaching is the NIH Grant Writers Groups for young faculty he has been leading since 2008. 

From a research perspective, in 1997, Dr. McGee initiated a new approach to using sophisticated interview-based qualitative research methods to actually study scientific development, including identification of those individuals most likely to persist as scientists and impacts of training design on scientific development. He now leads a team of 13 qualitative researchers, funded by multiple NIH awards, studying the career decision-making processes of PhD students and young scientists.

This first-ever interview-based national study will follow the development and career decisions of ~260 PhD students using rigorous qualitative research methods. Data analysis will draw on multiple theoretical perspectives, including: Social Cognitive Career Theory; Identity Development; Stereotyping; Cultural Capital; Communities of Practice; and Creativity. A recently awarded NIH Director’s Pathfinder Award to Diversify the Scientific Workforce has enabled Dr. McGee and his group to begin translational research to create a coaching-based model, drawing on social science theories, to determine if it is possible to promote attainment of academic careers and increase faculty diversity.  www.careersresearch.northwestern.edu