NSF postdoc fellowship

Thu Mar 24 10:49:51 EST 1994

I have already written to NSF some time ago in support of the Plant Biology
Fellowship program.  As a current recipient, I think it is an excellent
program, providing me with some freedom in going to meetings and buying
supplies.  Even though there is no salary increase, I am still ahead
financially, in comparison to the standard Rockefeller postdoc, with the
extra allowances taken into consideration.  I also think it's great that
there is an agency out there that specifically supports plant scientists.
Perhaps one area that could be clarified is providing new recipients with
information about how to file their income tax return.

I don't consider myself an ecologist, and it is unclear why the plant biology
fellowship should be incorporated into an Ecology program, especially if
the suppport for plant biology will continue.  Finally, I think it is a
mistake for the NSF to require a period in a foreign lab, especially
with the current ease in communicating internationally via e-mail.  Perhaps
separate travel grants can be awarded for those who seek such positions.
Regarding foreign post-docs, I was actively disuaded from considering one
because I would be a less competetive applicant for later jobs.  Like it
or not, this attitude exists.

If the NSF is open to other ideas for changes, I for one would be interested
in seeing some assistance for post-docs (I really infer 'female' here) who
have children.  I see the greatest dilemma in my career as being the thought
of having a family;  as science exists now, I see no way I could do so
without sacrificing my career.  I know other women share this view.  There
are many studies showing the attrition rate of female scientists at higher
levels of science.  One solution might be to have funds available for hiring
a technician during, say, the period of the child's first year.  Perhaps
others will think such a policy would be unfair to non-parents or difficult
to implement for male postdoctoral parents, but we really could you some
changes in the system to keep women scientists in science at the level they
strive for.

Diana M. Horvath
ralston at rockvax.rockefeller.edu

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