Student in need of help!!!!

Joe Teodoro teodoro at medcor.mcgill.ca
Fri Sep 15 03:48:37 EST 1995


Additional comments to Joe Teodoro's 
posting from Alex Berezin:
  (much previous stuff deleted)

> Patrick,
> I wish to balance some of Alex Berezin's rantings 
> with some comments and suggestions of my own. 

> ... believe many post-docs and junior
> faculty members have lost.
 
I suggest you read "Promepheus Bound" by Cambridge 
physicist John Ziman (b. 1926) and an article in
Interdisciplinary Science Reviews (1994) by a Nobel
Prize laureate Henrich Rohrer - two typical junior
faculty members.


: The first step you need to do is to trash the belief
: that graduate degree (especially, PhD) is a good ticket
: for the future. Certainly, not at this age and time.

> Nonsense, this can be nothing further from the truth.  
> Never before in any age or time has the need for highly 
> trained people become more crucial.

.......

You have it upside down.
If the need is so high why there are not 200 job
offers per one PhD ? (200 is the average number of 
applications we are to handle now for a single 
faculty opening).

> They are merely the minimal requirements
> for a career in research.

Check with Bill Gates if he agrees with this

.....
>  But each time I looked at the possibilites my resolve
> was strengthened even more. Why am I going  on to do a 
> post-doc? Because I want to do science.
> It's as simple as that. After trying very hard, I cannot
> imagine myself doing anything else. 
> If you feel the same way than you would only be cheating
> yourself to make any other carrer
> choice.  Simply  gnore those who whine that somehow the 
> system is cheating them or denying
> them something which was never promised in the first place.
> If you like doing science, noone
>  will prevent you and as Alexander mentioned, there are
> litterally thousands of openings for post-docs.

Completely agree. If you feel that you want
to do science no matter what - my cheers. 
The issue of PhD/postdocs overabundance is,
however, not entiry attitudinal matter.

: 
: There is enormous OVERproduction of PhDs in essentially=20
: all areas driven by fiercly overcompetitive atmosphere
: in science, grantsmanship and publish-perish hysteria.
: (I attach an article on this at the end of this poster)

> The statement that there is an  "OVERproduction" of 
> Phd's is somewhat confusing when Alexander just 
> finished mentioning in the previous paragraph that 
> there are limitless openings for post-docs. 
> It would seem that there is in fact a deficiency of 
> Ph.D.s. A potential scientist today must enter on 
> his chosen profession with the
> knowledge that the path is much longer than it was
> a few years ago and that it is only getting longer. 

The last sentence defeats your whole argument.
... "it will only getting longer" ... assumes
that you will SOONER OR LATER get THERE (to the 
faculty level, I presume) somehow. The postdocs glut
is precisely what runs contrary to your assumption.
After 3 (often after just 2) posdocs if you still
"didn't make it",  you are essentially done 

[ a friend of mine, 38 years old, ca. 50 papers 
just started his 4th postdoc ]. Sorry, but my
analogy with an aging prostitute is unfortunately
relevant.

......

> The " fiercly overcompetitive atmosphere  
> in science, grantsmanship and publish-perish
> hysteria" scenario which Alexander so menacingly
> describes has produced  a golden age of science where
> scientific breakthroughs occurr in intervals of weeks
> or even days where they were once interspersed by
> years.

You are highly optimistic about breakthroughs.
In fact, discovery rate is much lower now (per
person) than it ever was. About 10,000 physicists
are still figuring out [ unsuccessfully, so far ]
a single effect [ nature of high temperature
superconductivity ]. Circa HALF A TRILLION dollars
and some 50,000 LIFE TIME careers were spend for
the last 40-50 years on thremal nucler fussion. 
Where it is ? (most activity on this is now 
wrapping up).   

(Molecular biology: where is cure for cancer, AIDS, 
Alzymer, .................................) ?

> I for one do not with to be left out of such an
> exciting period at any cost.  

Glad that you make it feel exciting for yourself.
So do I. It is within us, not outside. And we can
feel excited by completely different reasons.  

> ... But nobody will deny you the 
> chance to do the real work on the bench.  
> For me science feels more like a hobby than
> a profession and if someone is willing to pay
> for my materials and give me a paycheque
> on top of everything than I'm in heaven. 
> My own field is molecular biology and Alexander 
> predicts " you will be most
> likely slaving your best years for some ambitious 
> gransmanship boss".

> Well I certainly hope so. I would much prefer
> working hard doing somthing I enjoy than slave  
> mindlessly on a factory floor or even as a new 
> partner in a law firm even if they do offer 
> greater finantial rewards.   

Absolutely delighted. All we are doing here
(in postings) are providing other people with
various prospects and let them decide what they
wish to co-sign.  

.......

> As for a family, like any other average young couple 
> both you and your spouse would have to work to make 
> ends meet and I don't think the problems will be as
> "enourmous" as predicted.

Again, it is up to the people to decide. Few case 
stories will be helpful here. Any volunteers ?

..........

> As for Alexander's colourful prostitute anology 
> I can guarantee that your supervisor will
> not " throw you out". ... (etc)

Great, Joe ! I just wonder how YOU can GUARANTEE
the above ? If you can, just open an insurance
office on this sole issue and move IMMIDEATELY to 
the prime downtown office.   

> If your Ph.D. was a success 
> you will emerge a highly skilled and valuble
> individual who could from there proceed to a 
> new lab as a post-doctoral fellow and begin
> a productive research program almost instantly 
> upon arriving.  

Very sounding ! Put on the first page of your 
advertisement flier.

................

> Joe Teodoro
> Dept. of Biochemisty
> McGill University
> Montreal,  Quebec
> teodoro at medcor.mcgill.ca

**********************************
Alexander A. Berezin, PhD
Department of Engineering Physics
McMaster University, Hamilton,
Ontario, Canada, L8S 4L7
tel. (905) 525-9140 ext. 24546
e-mail: BEREZIN at MCMASTER.CA
**********************************




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