DPS June Virtual Professional Development Workshop

Postdoctoral Opportunities in National Labs, Research Institutes & Universities: A Community Conversation


Date: Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Time: 2 pm Eastern, 1 pm Central, 12 pm Mountain, 11 am Pacific, 8 am Hawaii, 8 pm CEST (Central European)


Duration: 1 hr


Place: Virtual


Join us for an interactive question and answer session all about postdoc positions. All are welcome! The professional development subcommittee of the DPS has assembled a panel of experts from various institutions and fields and also student moderators for the event. We will cover as many topics as are of interest to the audience, and plan to have a slack channel for asynchronous questions and answers as well. Please note this event is, free, open to all, and you do not need to be a DPS member or registered for the fall DPS meeting to attend. More information and the signup page can be found here: http://bit.ly/DPS_Postdocs. We hope to see you there!

2020 Planetary Workforce Survey

The final report from the 2020 DPS Membership Survey, which also serves as the 2020 Planetary Workforce Survey sponsored by the DPS, is now available. 

The raw version of the 2020 DPS Membership Survey questionnaire is here.

Links to full results:

Links to preliminary results:

Results from past membership surveys can be found here.


Last updated: 22 Dec 2020

MentorNet Q & A

Q: What is MentorNet?
A: MentorNet is an online mentoring platform designed to connect mentors and protégés (or mentees) for short-term one-on-one informational mentoring sessions. They also provide guidance to mentees, training for mentors, and conversational prompts to make the most of the mentoring experience for everyone. The mentor/mentee pair could be in the same field (i.e., planetary science) or across any field you specify in academe or industry. When you sign up for MentorNet in association with DPS, MentorNet preferentially pairs you with other DPS members, but the entire MentorNet mentoring pool is still available for you as well.

Q: What type of commitment is required on the mentor end (i.e. hours a week/month)?
A: Past MentorNet participants spent 15-20 minutes per week (according to the MentorNet organization), but the mentor and mentee decide on the frequency and duration of their communication. The pair receives conversational prompts via e-mail relevant to the protégés educational level and personal interests as a starting point for the discussion. Mentor and protégé can communicate via Skype, phone call, e-mail, or with MentorNet’s on-platform chat interface. Each mentor/protégé match lasts four months. After this period, the pair can choose to remain matched, or be matched with someone else.

Q: How are mentors and mentees matched? When do they get matched?
A: Protégés are given a list of recommended mentors based on their profile (see question 4 for detail on how to set up your profile). When setting up your profile, you should select the AAS/DPS as your affiliation so that we can keep track of usage (and whether we want to keep paying MentorNet for these services) and also so that you are more likely to receive a planetary scientist as a potential match (please note: you do not have to be officially registered with AAS to take part in this program). The protégé then selects a mentor from the pool, and the mentor has the opportunity to accept or decline the protégé. If accepted, then the cycle begins; if declined, then the protégé can choose another mentor from the pool.

Q: Who is eligible to be a protégé?
A: Currently MentorNet requires the mentee to be 18 years or older and located in the United States. However, the program is not limited to just students. Anyone who is interested in diversifying their mentorship is welcome to join as a protégé.

Q: Who is eligible to be a mentor?
A: Anyone who feels comfortable and is interested in mentoring.

Q: How do I sign up as a protégé?
A: Step 1) Go to this website. Make an account with MentorNet, and indicate your member type as ‘mentee’. Use your .edu e-mail address if you have one. You will receive a verification e-mail with a link to complete the account setup.

Step 2) Now, you can set up your profile! There are five categories for you to fill out. Each step has a short video tutorial that guides you though the process.

  • Personal Details: This includes your account information as well as your short personal narrative.
  • Work Experience
  • Education Experience
  • Questions About Me: There are 15 questions in this categories, all pretty straight forward. The 7th question “Are you affiliated with any of MentorNet’s partner organizations or programs?” is where you will check the American Astronomical Society Division for Planetary Sciences (AAS DPS) box (it should be the first option in the drop- down menu). Checking this box insures you will be match with a planetary scientist.
  • Match Questions: In this section you, the mentee, can indicate stipulations for who your mentor is (i.e., education level, or specific experience).

Step 3) Choose a mentor from your recommendation list. You can click on the Mentor profile and read what they wrote for their personal narratives.

Q: How do I sign up as a mentor?
A: Step 1) Go to this website. Make an account with MentorNet, and indicate your member type as ‘mentor’. You will receive a verification e-mail with a link to complete the account setup.
Step 2) Now, you can set up your profile! There are several categories for you to fill out. Each step has a short video tutorial that guides you though the process. You will have a chance to input what topics you feel comfortable discussing with a mentee.
Step 3) After you finish your profile, you will be offered potential mentees in the future (sometimes this happens quickly, other times it takes a bit), and you have the option to accept or decline based on your availability and comfort level with the particular mentee request.

Q: I’ve never been a mentor before, how will I know what to do?
A: MentorNet provides training sessions for both mentors and protégés. Topics include the basics of mentoring (based on the Socratic method) and effective communication.

Q: Why should I sign up for MentorNet as a protégé?
A: This type of service is great for students or early career scientists in the field of planetary science because we have such an interdisciplinary field. For example, you may be able to find a mentor who is in a related field to yours, but might have some different insights. It is also a good way to talk with planetary scientists who aren’t strictly in academia. Or perhaps you would like to talk to someone in industry to see what their career path has been like. MentorNet has implemented best practices in guiding mentorships in an online platform and it gives the protégés an opportunity to grow their network outside of their current institution. Please note the mentor availability varies, but we are currently growing the program. If you don’t find a suitable mentor right away, check back in a few months. MentorNet is intended more for general mentoring and career advice, not necessarily for scientific advice.

Q: Can I register as both a mentor and a protégé?
A: Yes! You can be both a mentor and mentee by signing up with two separate MentorNet accounts with two separate e-mail addresses.

If you have further questions or trouble registering, please contact Audrey Martin and Kelsi Singer. We also welcome any feedback you have about MentorNet, good or bad, for DPS planning purposes. We also have a working relationship with MentorNet and they are open to changing things based on feedback.

MentorNet FAQ

Current and Past Professional Development Subcommittee Members

Please contact the current Professional Development Subcommittee members with any questions or concerns.

Jennifer Hanley2017-PresentChair, 2022- Present
Tracy Becker2021-Present
Nick Lang2021-Present
Kelsi Singer2010-present
Audrey Martin2017-present 
Maggie McAdam2017-2023 Vice-Chair, 2020-2023
Tom Nordheim2019-2023 
Mark Gurwell2015-2023 
Maitrayee Bose2019-2022Chair, 2020-2022
Maya Yanez2018-2022 
Candace Gray2014-2021Chair, 2017-2020
Laura Woodneyterm end 2017 
Karly Pitman2010-2017Chair, 2013-2017
Amy Lovell2010-2018 
Tom Prettymanterm end 2018 
Ed Rivera-Valentinterm end 2018 
Majd (Matta) Mayyasiterm end 2015 
Rachel Mastrapa2010-2013Chair, 2010-2013

Susan Niebur Professional Development Fund


In 2013, the AAS’s Division for Planetary Sciences approved the creation of the Susan Niebur Professional Development Fund. This fund is programmatically administered by and supports larger initiatives of the DPS Professional Development subcommittee.

Dr. Susan (Mahan) Niebur (1973-2012) was a principal investigator, manager, and former Discovery Program Scientist at NASA Headquarters and the CEO of her own consulting firm specializing in space science policy, the history and development of missions, and the success of women in planetary science. More importantly, Susan was a tireless supporter and strong advocate for creating professional development programming for early career planetary scientists. It is the Division for Planetary Sciences’ hope that this fund will provide an additional legacy for Susan’s contributions to the planetary science community.

We thank Curt Niebur for granting permission to name this fund in honor of Susan and the generous support of the DPS Committee and donors to the program.


DPS Dependent Care Grants

The DPS’s Susan Niebur Professional Development Fund provides financial assistance to qualifying members in order to facilitate their meeting attendance by offsetting dependent care costs at the meeting location or at home during the DPS conference week. Online applications are solicited no later than 1 month prior to the DPS meeting:

DPS Dependent Care Grant Application

For questions, please contact the DPS Professional Development subcommittee.



Outside donations to the Susan Niebur Professional Development Fund are welcome and appreciated. AAS members can contribute directly via the AAS donation Web pages:

  1. Follow this link and log into your AAS account if not already
  2. If you lose your place after logging in, return to the contributions page by clicking the DONATE tab near the top of the screen
  3. Click the DPS tab and enter amount under “DPS Hartmann Student Travel Grant Program”
  4. Click the “Add to Cart” button in the bottom right hand corner
  5. Click “Cart” in the uppermost left hand corner to check out and follow instructions for payment

The AAS will handle the details including acknowledging your contribution for tax purposes. All donations are tax deductible.

You also can contribute to the DPS Hartmann Student Travel Grant Program by sending a check made out to the American Astronomical Society to:

American Astronomical Society
1667 K Street NW, Suite 800
Washington, DC 20006

Please note in the memo line of your check that your contribution is to go to the DPS Susan Niebur Professional Development Fund so that it is credited to the correct account.


About Susan

More information about Dr. Susan Niebur and the programs that she founded is available at the following websites:

NASA Solar System Exploration Profile
DPS Tribute to Susan Niebur
Women in Planetary Science
Mothers With Cancer


Susan Niebur 1973-2012

“All that survives after our death are publications and people. So look carefully after the words you write, the thoughts and publications you create, and how you love others. For these are the only things that will remain.” –Susan Niebur

Susan Neibur
Susan Niebur, former NASA Program Scientist and founder of the Women in Planetary Science project, passed away on February 6, 2012, surrounded by family and friends. She will be remembered for her untiring work to bring people together and to find ways to help everyone to be able to live up to their potential; for the passion and incredible energy she brought to everything she did; for the constant encouragement and inspiration she provided to others; and for her wonderful and unfailing smile.

Susan got her Ph.D. in Physics at Washington University McDonnell Center for Space Sciences in 2001. While a student, she founded the American Physical Society’s Forum on Graduate Student Affairs and served as its first Chair; founded and led the first peer mentoring group at Washington University; co-created and administered the first National Doctoral Program Survey; and served as President, Vice President, Regional Coordinator, and first Alumni Affairs Coordinator for the National Association of Graduate-Professional Students. She started her career at NASA Headquarters straight out of grad school as a Presidential Management Intern in the Office of Space Science and became the Discovery Program Scientist in 2003. During her five-year service at NASA Headquarters she co-founded the first-ever Early Career Fellowships and Workshops for Planetary Scientists, held at annual meetings of the American Astronomical Society’s Division for Planetary Science and the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference.

In 2006 Susan left NASA and founded Niebur Consulting, to pursue research in space science policy, the history of space science missions, mission leadership and the place of women in the current landscape of planetary exploration. (Her publications on these topics can be found at http://susanniebur.wordpress.com/publication-list/.) She also consulted for major aerospace companies and research institutions on proposal strategy and planning. In addition, she worked tirelessly to promote community outreach projects, providing several forums for those whose voices aren’t always heard. In 2008, she founded the Women in Planetary Science project (“Women make up half the bodies in the solar system. Why not half the scientists?” http://womeninplanetaryscience.wordpress.com/), a community-building portal to promote networking and facilitate sharing of resources to remove barriers to success. As part of that project she ran a series of interviews 51 Women in Planetary Science, which represents a goldmine of information for anyone interested in learning about options available when pursuing a career in a planetary-science-related field. She also introduced the first Women’s Networking Breakfast, a hugely successful annual event at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference, which, over just a few years, has grown from an overflowing hotel breakfast room to a large conference room, also overflowing.

Women's Networking Breakfast, LPSC 2011
Women’s Networking Breakfast, LPSC 2011

Among her numerous honors is the Public Service Award from the NASA Planetary Science Division in November 2011, for her “exemplary leadership abilities [that] have helped many women in the field, both planetary and astrophysics” (PSD Director Jim Green).

Susan was also extremely active in advocating for cancer research and raising awareness about Inflammatory Breast Cancer, a rare and very aggressive form of cancer. She fought that disease with all she had, documenting her journey on the site ToddlerPlanet.wordpress.com with compelling forthrightness, and was one of the creators of the online support network Mothers with Cancer about “Raising Children, Fighting Cancer, Living Life!” (http://motherswithcancer.wordpress.com/). Her tremendous contribution to social media and cancer advocacy has been widely recognized, including the Bloganthropy Annual Award for “using social media to make a difference” in 2011.

“Susan Niebur is survived by her family, friends, achievements, and the indelible marks she made on people around the world.” (Curt Niebur, February 6, 2012).

More information on Susan and links to her websites can be found at:


Professional Development

Resources and Information

DPS Dependent Care Grants

In 2011, the DPS began a pilot program to help parents of small children attend the DPS meeting. After surveying the DPS membership (see 2011 Childcare Survey spreadsheet), it was clear that the economic burden of child, elder, and disabled dependent care affects a small fraction of our membership, but the impact is so great that it can often prevent attendance at meetings, especially for early career scientists or those with limited funding. Therefore, members may apply to subsidize dependent care services during the DPS conference week, for use either at the DPS meeting location or at home.

These grants are intended to reimburse the following categories of expenses:

  • Airfare for a caregiver (e.g. a family member, au pair, nanny, sitter) to fly to the meeting location to assist with dependent care for child(ren) under age 18, elderly, ill, or disabled family members able to travel.
  • Airfare for child(ren) under age 18, elderly, ill, or disabled family members, or a family member caregiver traveling to the meeting.
  • Costs for dependent care at the meeting (e.g., onsite babysitting, daycare or elder care service local to the meeting venue; local custodial child care, elder care, and/or expenses for care for elderly or other family members that the applicant usually provides; or paying for a nanny or other caregiver’s labor).
  • Costs for additional dependent care at home incurred due to member’s absence during the DPS meeting (e.g., caregiver’s labor, before and after school or extended day programs, late pick-up fees, day camps that are custodial in nature and not educational, daycare centers, sick-child care center not for medical services, custodial childcare / elder care, or expenses for care for elderly or other family members that the applicant usually provides).
  • Other justifiable expenses related to the intent of the grant, as approved by DPS governance and AAS accounting.
  • Dependent care expenses needed to allow participation in DPS Annual Meetings in any format (virtual or in-person) are allowed.

All expenses should be justified with a receipt to claim the award. Full, associate, or junior DPS or AAS membership at the time of award selection is required.

The DPS Susan Niebur Professional Development Fund provides financial assistance to qualifying members in order to facilitate their meeting attendance by offsetting dependent care costs at the meeting location or at home during the DPS conference week. Online applications are solicited no later than 1 month prior to the DPS meeting:

***The DPS Dependent Care Grant Application form for the 2024 Annual Meeting will open later this year!***

For questions, please contact the DPS Professional Development subcommittee.

DPS 2024: Professional Development Events

Information on 2024 events will be available at a later date.

Professional Development Social Networks, Forum, and Wiki

You can hear more DPS Professional Development Subcommittee News and discuss planetary science careers on Twitter, Facebook, and our AAS forum. Follow the Twitter feed for information about fellowships, jobs, and career advice, or join the Facebook group to be part of the active discussion.


If you would like to donate to support the DPS Susan Niebur Professional Development Fund, please go here.  You will be redirected to the AAS member website.