OccupyBaltimore Congrats to my grad student Brandie Cross , for being featured in the Scientific American . Brandie works tirelessly at the medical tent downtown, while chasing down calcium dynamics in breast cancer cells in her day ‘job’ in my lab.
It is a sad fact that a Ph.D. in biomedical research does not guarantee a job..in fact, only 7% of postdoctoral fellows in my field end up in academia (which is often their first choice). For the record, I’m pretty sure that Brandie will get a job! As long as she continues to OccupyScience 🙂
Rohan Aurora , Brandie is from the west coast and has been looking there. Biotech companies are not hiring, as with most other corporations. The Biophysical Society sponsored a panel on biotech jobs at the last meeting where we heard from leaders and scientists employed by biotech industry. Their advice? Keep your CV updated at all times, be ready to be laid off and expect to look for a new job in 2 years.
Some universities are actually laying off PhD’s…not just post docs… but, faculty/staff researchers…especially if you are NOT teaching. Here at PSU I know of several people who have had their jobs dissolved without notice.
Thanks for the link, Rohan Aurora . Postdoc positions are relatively easy to find, given that they are minimally paid and can expect to put in at least 5 years before building up a CV for a “real job”. That being said, I routinely delete unsolicited postdoc applications from my email everyday, typically without reading them. A tenure track faculty position at any decent University, including USC, will have upwards of 200 qualified applicants per job. Most postdocs apply for 80+ jobs to get one interview. The only guarantees is if they have a paper in Science, Cell or Nature, or better yet a coveted K99 grant that they can bring with them. As for biotech, I’ve seen enough displaced senior scientists from Merck and the like to trust that route long term. I’m not sure what you mean by treating with respect? 🙂 Sweet of you to think that. Fact is, that faculty must bring in external grants not only to pay themselves but also to bring in overhead $$ that fuel the university. Bring in money and all is well. You do know that success rate at the NIH is currently ~10%? That means 90% of applicants get turned down. They only get one more chance to resubmit, then that application is out. I don’t mean to be a downer, really, because I do love what I do, but at least my eyes are wide open.
That is disturbing, tell her to apply for jobs overseas like in Germany, they are very good in her field. My nephew is currently studying there.
Rajini Rao This is true but depressing stuff. When I applied to do my PhD in 2006, I think I applied for about 7 different studentships. Postdoc? I did 42 applications (no they weren’t ‘recycled-spam’ applications, I actually took the time to write proper cover letters and yes I kept track, I truly did 42!). My current postdoc contract is due to run out in 1.5 years time, so I’m guessing if the previous trend is anything to go by, it’s not going to be anything less than 100+ to get that ever elusive tenure track position someday. Sigh.
Hi Buddhini Samarasinghe , I hope the economy looks up or we will lose some of our most highly trained workforce. The NIGMS is encouraging mentoring in non traditional careers for students supported by training grants…science policy, communication and teaching in high schools, for example. Meanwhile, publish as much as possible, compete for fellowships and network like crazy 🙂 Good luck to you, and keep in touch!
Rohan Aurora , I do appreciate your comment on the stimulus funding. To get an idea of the scale of research funding, take a look at this: http://i.imgur.com/38He6.jpg
Fortunately, federal funding for research has always enjoyed bipartisan support in Congress. Yes, the stimulus money helped, but it is gone now. There is simply not enough funding to cover all the biomedical research that can and should be done.
Hey all, thanks for the wonderful and insightful feedback. I really had no idea when I was interviewed as to where this interview would go! =0). The sign I made was a generalization of how we treat intellectuals in America. It was not only biomedical researchers, but the humanities, history, art, philosophy and other Ph.D.s who are struggling to find any work int his economy. Education is undervalued and overcharged in America. It is easier to get a job out of high school and be a “robot worker”, keep your head-down, do as your told and don’t ruffle any feathers. This creates a drone environment, where people aren’t allowed to express themselves or challenge the status quo, whether on the job or in their own lives.
This oppression of our humanity needs to end. We are becoming enslaved by our student debt, Ph.D.s are taking on work as bartenders to make ends meet and we should be able to do what we are great at, not what feeds the big banks’ predatory loan packages.Wells Fargo owns my student loans even though I did NOT ask for a loan from them and unfortunately they will own me too! My student loans are financed at a whopping 6.8% while the bailouts by PUBLIC TAXES was financed at 0.5%. Where is my government? Where’s MY bailout? I want to be free to do novel research which is exciting and edgy! I want to be free to challenge the assumptions we live by! I am the 99%, Why are they preying on the hard-working people of my “free” and “democratic” country? What happened to “for the people, by the people”? We were Americans before we were Capitalists,thus, I am a patriot who wants their country to engage in a real democracy, not a “Corpratocracy”. But I digress.
It’s kind of depressing to read this thread.
The country is not as in a good positions to compete with other countries for years to come. I’ve read some articles on Yahoo, the “experts” cited that biomedical engineering graduates are in high demand from employers in this decade. In fact they said it’s the top field to build a career if one expects to have a good career in the next 15 years or so. Despite what they have said, biomedical engineering positions are not abundantly available as I have noticed. Biomedical research positions are mostly offered by research universities, biotech and pharmaceutical companies. The FDA plays a big part in dragging their feed to approve new drugs, procedures .etc…thus slowing down the industry rate of expansion.
The state of our economy, our new health care system and the new health care legislation are playing a big part in the employment picture for our graduates. I have the feeling these companies are not planning to beef up their research teams in any foreseeable future.
It’s sad to see our best and brightest people not given enough opportunities to contribute their talents to their country.