Applications Open for Mothers Leading Science

June 27, 2024

Mothers Leading Science gathering (left to right): Anne-Marie Rick, Amery Treble-Barna, Brooke Klatt, Sarah Belcher

The Mothers Leading Science (MLS) program has opened applications for the 2025 cohort of health sciences researchers who are also mothers of young children.

The year-long program involves group, peer, and individual coaching for 12 women and leadership development training grounded in Brené Brown’s book, “Dare to Lead,” said the program’s director, Amery Treble-Barna, assistant professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation, School of Medicine, and of clinical and translational science.

As a mother of two young daughters, ages 3 and 9 months, Treble-Barna knows firsthand the challenges of balancing the demands of academia and the demands of caregiving.

“Our prior MLS scholars have reported that they are better able to navigate work-life integration, that they have reduced burnout, a renewed passion for research, that they’re better utilizing their networks, and that they have greater confidence in their leadership skills as well as their ability to advocate for change,” she said.

“Our focus is on promoting well-being as well as professional fulfillment,” she said. “The results of the recent scientists’ well-being survey in the School of Medicine showed that, particularly at Pitt, that female tenure-stream faculty are burnt out at a level that's higher than the national average.”

She noted, “Our tenure clocks directly overlap with our reproductive years, which is always a challenge. A lot of these scientist mothers feel like they are failing at appropriately balancing their multiple demanding roles and feel like they are the only ones that feel that way. And then they come into our program and realize that there are 11 other women who feel exactly the same way as they do and are facing the same challenges.”

This will be the third group to participate in Pitt’s program, housed in the Institute for Clinical and Research Education (ICRE). Treble-Barna acknowledges the funding and support for this program provided by ICRE under Director Doris Rubio, assistant vice chancellor for clinical research education and training, health sciences.

Treble-Barna said mothers who are scientists are especially interested in leading authentically and in a way that is aligned with their values, setting and maintaining boundaries, building networks of support and sponsors, and advocating for additional resources for their labs, such as research coordinators, grant editing services and statistical support. Members of the first cohort still gather regularly for dinners to continue the support.

“Juggling the responsibilities of being a mother to three elementary school-aged children with demanding extracurricular schedules has added distinctive challenges and hurdles to my academic journey,” Brooke Klatt, assistant professor of physical therapy, School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, a previous participant, wrote in a testimonial. “MLS provided me with invaluable tools, mentorship, and a supportive community of peers facing the same work-life challenges.”

Traci Kennedy, assistant professor of psychiatry, School of Medicine, wrote that the program helped her “pause the hamster wheel of the day-to-day work-life balance and gain perspective on big and small issues in my career I otherwise would not have taken the time to think about, from understanding my values to setting boundaries to gaining daily momentum on writing.”

The program includes a full-day, in-person kickoff event, a full-day, in-person mid-year retreat and a closing retreat. There are also 60- to 90-minute virtual meetings twice per month. It includes opportunities to learn about others’ paths to leadership, expand networks, and identify sponsors.

For more information and applications, go to the program’s page on the ICRE website: