Life Skills for Young Scientists (LiSYS)

A yearlong mentorship program, Sept. 2024—Sept. 2025

Applications for LiSYS 2024 are now open, due by July 31. Full details are found in the booklet; kindly read through carefully before applying. To apply, please follow these instructions.

If you have already applied using the online form and have not heard back from me after a few days, this is because I did not receive it due to an unfortunate technical problem. In this case, you will need to reapply using the above instructions.

Introduction

Becoming a scientist—or at least, a happy, productive, and peaceful scientist—requires more than acquiring knowledge. It also requires gathering specific, apparently nonscientific skills with respect to our use of our own mind. Put simply, we need to find balance, and balance in turn means learning how to work with our own thoughts and feelings, both internally and in relation to others.

Not being composed of knowledge, these skills cannot be simply be read out of a book. They require practice. Nevertheless they can be acquired through a regimen of introspection, study, exercises, and helpful guidance.

The philosophy of this program is that we are not simply to make external problems go away. Rather, we wish to cultivate the inner resources necessary to navigate the inevitable twists and turns of life with ease and poise.

The curriculum consists of introductions to essential skills: mindfulness, meditation, self-compassion, assertiveness, and conflict resolution. This program is intended for graduate students, postdoctoral researchers, or early career researchers in a scientific field, and is offered at no cost to participants.

Logistics

The program will meet online every month for thirteen months, September 2024 through September 2025, for two hours. There will also be a mid-month 1.5 hour check-in with a “buddy group” of other participants.

Each month, there will be reading, reflection, and practice assignments pertaining to the topic of that month. Students will be expected, encouraged, and supported to undertake a daily meditation practice. Including meditation and other assignments, participants should be prepared to invest ~30 minutes daily in their maintaining their well being. In addition to monthly homework, there will also be quarterly weekend intensives with guest experts.

This will be the third time LiSYS is offered. The 2023 program consisted of a diverse group of 65 participants from 14 countries around the world.

Reading List

  1. The Long Road Turns to Joy: A Guide to Walking Meditation by Thich Nhat Hanh
  2. The Mindful Self-Compassion Workbook by Kristin Neff and Christopher Germer
  3. The Assertiveness Workbook by Randy Paterson
  4. Changing the Conversation: The 17 Principles of Conflict Resolution by Dana Caspersen

About 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—a fitting allusion. However, a former student, who speaks Greek, told me that lysis means something else in everyday use that is even more fitting: it means “solution”.

2023 LiSYS program archive