Postdocs' (In)Dependence

Sean Eddy eddy at WOL.WUSTL.EDU
Mon Mar 11 14:26:21 EST 1996

  [in response to a discussion about how independent funding
   would fix "postdoc exploitation", I wrote:]
  >> NIH. Human Frontiers. Damon/Runyon. Whitney Foundation. DOE.
  >> Burroughs/Wellcome. And so on.  Many postdocs are already paid
  >> independently. What's the new idea?
  [and Alexander Berezin replies:]

  >It is not important is this a 'new idea' or not. 

I think it is. You and others assert that the system really needs is
something that already has; so what's the point you folks are trying
to make?

  >On the other hand, if you say that there are so many
  >sources of support for Independent Postdocs, I can
  >only wish that these things be available on a wide

They *are* available on a wide basis, at least in molecular genetics.
(I know you're a physicist, and it may be different in physics.)  Many
charities, foundations, and funding agencies generously offer postdoc
grants. Anybody qualified can apply.

  >(1) Can these Independent Postdocs choose independently
  >their topic of studies and change it they want to do
  >so without any administartive penalties (same as tenured 
  >professors normally can) ?

Yes. Obviously, it's best if the topic is in line with the interests
and experience of the professor you're training with. 

  >(2) If the above is correct in what way these 
  >positions are distinct from (Independent) Visiting
  >Research profesorships ?

Less money; an independently funded postdoc must still have a faculty
sponsor; and it's still a "training" position in name.

- Sean Eddy
- Dept. of Genetics, Washington University School of Medicine
- eddy at

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