world-class post-docs

Vitaly Citovsky vcitovsk at
Thu May 25 13:49:42 EST 1995

In article <9505251645.AA25320 at mendel.Berkeley.EDU>,
williams at MENDEL.BERKELEY.EDU wrote:

> Support services: I don't know of any lab that has as much technical
> support as it did 10 years ago - which means post-docs spend more time
> pouring gels and doing mini-preps than they used to (not to mention washing
> glassware and racking yellow tips!)

I am not sure about it, Mary. I have spent 6 years in Berkely myself, and
we never washed dishes or racked tips, etc. We also did not save money on
kits and such (ask Patti Z. or people in her lab). I do not think that
Ian's or Mike's labs do so either. Also, in my lab (although I started it
only year and a half ago) grad. students and postdocs do not do those
chores but try to produce as much as possible. So, while this may be a
contributing factor, I do not think it is decisive. Also, funding is of
course a bigger problem (much bigger than getting a job) but I think that
the most important factor is attracting talented and independent people.
These of course tend to got to large and established labs which broadens
the gap between these labs and all the others (sort of a vicious cycle).
But this is normal and expected. Another factor is that as science
advances, the experiments become more sophisticated both technically and

But I still think that there are jobs out there for practically all good
people (you got one yourself this year, I think). Of course, there may be
a couple of gifted people who have to struggle more than thery deserve to
(I know one such person), but ...   In fact, there are jobs even for
people who are not so good or even pretty bad. So, jobwise, I think the
situation is not bad; funding is much tighter, and still most people get
funded within their first 3 years. 

The bottom line is that we all love to complain (and if you ask people in
Berkeley they will say that I am the champ in complaining) but it could be
much worse (just talk to the folks from John Innes, for example). People
who blame the system for their own lack of success are simply naive, silly
or obnoxious.  Also, unlike medicine which is a profession, science is art
and while you can be a mediocre physician, make enough money, help people
and be content, a mediocre scientist is usually a waste. Personally, this
is the greatest fear that I have about myself as a scientist.

Enough of that.

Vitaly Citovsky
Department of Biochemsitry and Cell Biology
State University of New York
Stony Brook, NY 11794-5215
Tel.: 516-632-9534, fax: 516-632-8575
Internet: vcitovsk at

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