The ASBMR helped Rachelle by providing opportunities to volunteer, which allowed her to effect meaningful change for future generations and make a lasting impact in the field.
Dr. Rachelle Johnson is an Assistant Professor at Vanderbilt University Medical Center with a research focus on tumor dormancy in bone. With over 10 years in the field and as an ASBMR member, she shares what has helped her advance in her research and her career over the years.
How has the ASBMR helped you in your career?
Attending the ASBMR Annual Meeting has been critical for expanding my network and advancing my career, so attending the meeting has always been one of my top priorities. The connections I’ve made at this conference have opened doors to postdoctoral and faculty positions and increased my visibility on the national and international stage. I have attended nearly every ASBMR Annual Meeting since my first conference in 2008 (Montréal, Québec). Four of those meetings were made possible through ASBMR travel grants. I have also been fortunate to receive the ASBMR Young Investigator Award (2012), AIMM-ASBMR John Haddad Young Investigator Award (2015), and the ASBMR Harold M. Frost Young Investigator Award (2017). These awards have elevated my standing and are evidence of achievement in the bone field. These types of awards are essential for a successful career at an academic institution because it demonstrates your sustained contributions to the scientific community.
As an ASBMR member, what are benefits or resources that have been most valuable to you?
ASBMR offers a number of benefits, but there are three ASBMR resources that have been particularly valuable to me:
1) ASBMR travel grants and awards: These awards have shaped my career and provided opportunities I never imagined would be possible.
2) Volunteer opportunities: The opportunity to serve the ASBMR community through participation on committees has been a highlight of my ASBMR membership.
3) Annual Meeting presentations: Presenting at the ASBMR Annual Meeting has provided great visibility for my research and ideas.
I am currently serving a term on the ASBMR Early Stage Investigator Committee (2016-present) and have enjoyed the opportunity to engage with my colleagues to effect meaningful change for the most junior members of our society. This service has been rewarding beyond measure, particularly as I am now witnessing the impact of ASBMR and committee-led endeavors on my students and trainees that have joined the Society. As part of promotion and tenure, you must demonstrate service in your field outside of your academic institution, and my service on the ASBMR ESI Committee fulfills these requirements. In this way, I am able to simultaneously serve my immediate ASBMR scientific community, while fulfilling the goals of my academic institution.
How have connections with other ASBMR members helped you in your career?
I am fortunate to have had multiple career-altering mentors from the ASBMR community. My Ph.D. advisor was Dr. Greg Mundy, a recognized pioneer and leader in the field. It was his leadership that drew me to the cancer and bone field, and I have never left. During this time I was fortunate to work with another ASBMR member, Dr. Julie Sterling, who at the time was a postdoc with Dr. Mundy. Dr. Sterling became a close advisor and provided daily mentorship during my graduate studies. I was unaware how important this relationship would be for my career, but quickly learned after Dr. Mundy’s untimely passing that these connections should not be taken for granted. Dr. Sterling continues to advocate for me and include me on exciting opportunities within the bone field. The impact of her mentorship on my career is immense.
I was fortunate to meet Dr. T. John (Jack) Martin, when I was nearing completion of my PhD. Dr. Martin convinced me and my husband to move from Nashville, TN to Melbourne, Australia with our 7-month old baby, and graciously offered us spare rooms in his home while we searched for a place to live. Moving across the world to a continent I had never visited was the single hardest, but best career decision I have made. During this time I had the opportunity to learn from and work closely with Dr. Natalie Sims and Dr. Martin, two phenomenal leaders in the bone biology field. It was during this time as a postdoc that I received multiple ASBMR awards, no doubt through the mentorship and leadership from Drs. Sims and Martin.