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Planning Your Scientific Journey

Enrollment is Closed

About This Course

Being successful requires more than acquiring knowledge and developing experimental skills. It also requires: (1) asking a good scientific question, (2) establishing a clear plan of action, and (3) seeking advice along the way. These three topics are the focus of this course “Planning Your Scientific Journey,” which is aimed primarily at life science graduate and undergraduate students, but also useful for postdocs, staff scientists, and others who could benefit from learning or reviewing these topics. (If you are interested in requiring this course for your own trainees, please click here for more information.)

By the end of the course, you will have:

  1. Criteria to evaluate a research question.
  2. A plan for how to approach your scientific question and other research goals.
  3. An agenda for a meeting with your mentor to get feedback on your plan.

Planning Your Scientific Journey is an innovative online course. Engaging videos, along with reflective exercises, offer concrete tools and practical advice to help you navigate the most challenging aspects of developing and planning a research project. Instruction is led by a diverse group of leading scientists, such as Nobel Laureates, accomplished faculty, and junior scientists, who think about different aspects scientific training in deep and meaningful ways. Our hope is that you will end our course feeling more prepared and confident in your own scientific journey!

As you will learn from this course, there are no universal, easy-to-memorize rules for executing a successful research project. But this is good news. Scientific research embraces many styles, personalities, interests, and motivations. The key to success is defining your own niche and, most importantly, taking responsibility for your project and scientific journey. This course challenges you to think about these issues.

Whether you have yet to decide on a research question or are well-immersed in a project, this course will help to crystallize your research ideas and goals. So, take charge of your training and enroll in this course now!

If you have any problem starting and using this course, or just want to comment on your experience or offer a suggestion, please email us.


There are no requirements necessary to take this class.

Course Speakers

We've interviewed leaders in the scientific community about doing good science, and we present those interviews to you in this course. Speakers include:

  • Uri Alon
  • Angela DePace
  • Tejal Desai
  • Cynthia Fuhrmann
  • Ryan Hernandez
  • Asia Matthew-Onabanjo
  • Kassandra Ori-McKenney
  • Sabine Petry
  • Indira Raman
  • Randy Schekman
  • Clarissa Scholes
  • Ben Vincent
  • Keith Yamamoto

Course Directors

Photo of Shannon Behrman

Shannon Behrman

Shannon is the Associate Director for Scientific Training and Education at iBiology. She co-produces, along with Alexandra Schnoes, a series of online courses for life scientists about career and professional development. In 2015 and 2016, she organized the iBiology Young Scientist Seminar competition and workshop in collaboration with the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science.

Photo of Alexandra Schnoes

Alexandra Schnoes

Alexandra is the Associate Director of Career and Professional Development at iBiology. She co-produces, along with Shannon Behrman, a series of online courses for life scientists about career and professional development. She is passionate about biomedical workforce issues and is a collaborator on several research programs that investigate the efficacy of different career and professional development interventions for scientist trainees.

Course Staff

Photo of Noah Green

Noah Green

Noah was traditionally trained in neuroscience but discovered a passion for combining neurological, cognitive psychological, and educational concepts and techniques to create evidence-based teaching techniques at the undergraduate and adult learning levels. Therefore, he has dedicated himself to the development, dissemination, and implementation of evidence-based teaching strategies in the online learning arena.

Photo of Nina Griffin

Nina Griffin

With a background in both art and science, Nina strives to make science more accessible through storytelling. As a film editor at iBiology, Nina creates a variety of content on science research, culture, and education.

Photo of Nina Griffin

Beth Cohon

Beth is an independent video editor with a background in film and commercial advertising. Along with Nina, she is excited to contribute her skills as an editor and visual storyteller to the world of science communication.

Photo of Chris George

Chris George

Chris George is a freelance graphic designer, animator, and illustrator Based in New York City. With a background in filmmaking and post production, Chris works with production companies and creative studios to develop visually striking work with an emphasis on communication and narrative.

Photo of Daniel McQuillen

Daniel McQuillen

Daniel is an independent software developer, specializing in e-learning and simulation applications. He is helping the iBiology Courses team develop this e-learning site using Open EdX open source software.

Course Advisory Team

Sarah Goodwin

Elliot Kirschner

Ron Vale


Mónica Feliú-Mójer, Rosa Veguilla, Karen Dell, Pam Ronald, Gary McDowell, Ashley Matthew

Frequently Asked Questions

What web browser should I use?

The Open edX platform works best with current versions of Chrome, Firefox or Safari, or with Internet Explorer version 9 and above.

See our list of supported browsers for the most up-to-date information.

What do I get at the end?

When you complete the course, you will receive a PDF certificate from iBiology Courses to commemorate your participation in the course.

  1. Course Number

  2. Course Starts

    Oct 2, 12:00 AM ET
  3. Course Ends

  4. Estimated Effort (hours/week)

  5. View Syllabus


“I loved this course so much. Thank you for the opportunity to learn from so many wise scientists in a fun, easy to use, yet challenging and stimulating way.”

-Graduate student

“I usually do not like online courses, but I found myself very engaged in these lessons and really enjoyed watching the videos. Great professionals were chosen for this!”

-Graduate student

“I wish I had this course as a beginning graduate student. I will definitely use all concepts in training my students in the future.”


“It has given me a sense of control over what I am getting into (I am starting grad school this fall as a PhD student)...I feel more confident about grad school now because of this course.”

-Undergraduate student

“Great course!! Seriously this has vastly better prepared me for a career in academia than any other single course I've taken.”

-Graduate student