Developmental Social Capital Ties in STEM Academic Careers: The Role of Dissertation and Other Advisors

Julia Melkers
School of Public Policy, Georgia Tech, USA
Tuesday, 15 December 2015 - 12:00

In the development of scientific careers, faculty benefit from the resources, advice and support of key individuals in their critical career path. These interpersonal ties may not only make a difference in career paths and advancement, but in some cases even alter career directions. Drawing from theories of social capital, social cognitive career theory, studies of mentoring, and scientific and technical human capital, this research addresses the variation in the developmental social capital in academic scientific careers and related impacts. The research draws from a large National Science Foundation survey-based study in the United States using data from more than 4,000 faculty in almost 500 academic institutions. Given the competitiveness of the academic marketplace, individual preferences for career placement, and evidence of disparities in careers, this research may illuminate the roles and impacts of mechanisms for career support, particularly at the early stages.


Ciudad Politécnica de la Innovación
Edificio 8E, Acceso J, Planta 4ª (Sala Descubre. Cubo Rojo)
Universidad Politécnica de Valencia | Camino de Vera s/n

Short CV: 

Dr. Julia Melkers’ research addresses capacity development, collaboration patterns, social networks and related outcomes of science, and issues around career development and mentoring in STEM fields with a special focus on women and underrepresented minorities. She is currently principal investigator a major (>$1M) NSF-funded project to examine the characteristics and role of social and research networks for academic scientists and engineers ("Empirical Research: Breaking through the Reputational Ceiling: Professional Networks as a Determinant of Advancement, Mobility, and Career Outcomes for Women and Minorities in STEM" --Grant # DRL-0910191: 2009-2012) and ("Women in Science and Engineering: Network Access, Participation, and Career Outcomes"-- Grant #REC-052964: 2006-2009) . (For more information on these projects, please visit:

For further information: