Shortage of biologists?! Need YSN contact for protest.

Michael Holloway mhollowa at ic.sunysb.edu
Fri May 21 14:55:59 EST 1993


In article <little.738001419 at alize.ERE.UMontreal.CA> little at ERE.UMontreal.CA (Littlejohn Tim) writes:
>mhollowa at ic.sunysb.edu (Michael Holloway) writes:
>
>First of all, the Internet is a GLOBAL community.  USENET postings, 
>typically, are distributed to the "world" (as this one was).  The email
>subscription to BIONET postings is also, I'm sure Dave Kristoffersen
>would confirm, global.  Thus it is very important to realise you are 
>addressing a global community when posting here.  As it turns out,
>the problems described here are in reference to the USA, although they 
>may be equally applicable to any number of other countries.

Absolutely.  I'm sure a great many people would be interested in knowing the
perspective of workers in other countries.  I had no desire to restrict the
post.

>Secondly, I feel that the scientific community, like the Internet, 
>is a global community.  As an Australian working in Canada, I feel that
>I have benefitted greatly from being here and hope that I have contributed
>to both the research effort of the country and to the community in general.
>I certainly know that when I was in Australia, the labs in which I worked
>profited immensley from the different perspectives, experiences and backgrounds
>of the foreign workers who visited us (from the USA, Thailand, Holland and 
>Malaysiaia, to name a few).

Absolutely.  International exchange and cooperation between counties, labs 
and individuals isn't just beneficial, it's absolutely necessary.  As you 
point out later though, the issue is over the discredited idea that the US 
has to actually *entice* research workers to come here.

>Thirdly, with respect to the situation in the USA at the moment, I have a 
>number of Australian friends working as postdoctoral fellows in labs across the 
>country.  They were invited there by the principal investigators of those labs.
>It was not their intention to take jobs away from any US citizen.  
>I have read the Science article and I understand the policy issue is 
>the relaxation of the requirements of hiring foreign employees.  All the same,
>I think it is not really fair to imply that foreign workers have any
>deliberate intention to take anyone elses job.

It would be comforting to me to have some numbers but I don't.  All I have 
my own observations of scrambling graduates, post-docs and junior faculty.
At the last Neuroscience meeting for instance, there were a hoard (again, 
no numbers) of applicants all competing for the same limited number of 
posted positions.  As I recall, the Science issue last year that covered
the shrinking job market and dim prospects of PhD graduates was also forced
to relate anecdotal evidence only.  

My position: I would support (assuming that anyone would ask) the training
of foreign graduate students in the US.  I would not support further 
restrictions on the ability of foreign PhD's to seek employment here.  But
the idea this country has to make up for a short-fall in biologists is 
terminally crazy.  There should be no change in immigration policy for the 
sake of this imagined lack of trained researchers.  Whether or not anyone had
a "deliberate intention to take anyone elses job", as you say, that's 
exactly what would happen.

Mike



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