teaching post doc

e-larso at uiuc.edu e-larso at uiuc.edu
Sat Jun 29 09:18:59 EST 1996

In <199606281547.LAA14041 at bioserver.bio.mtu.edu>, jmglime at MTU.EDU ("Janice M. Glime") writes:

>Yes, we do have too many Ph. D.'s - an advantage for the employers, 
>but a strong disadvantage for the many good people who have spent 
>so much time preparing for a dream they can't realize.
In a way, you've missed my point.  I exampled the current plight of research
post-docs to demonstrate what happens when you "enlarge the parking lot,
ignoring the fact that the stadium is full."  
All teaching post-docs will do is to soak up a few people and place them in
the parking lot.  This would be fine if an expanded stadium were under 
construction, but it's not.  Folks accepting teaching post-docs won't 
realistically improve their chances of getting hired and indeed, because 
of the existing research requirements, won't advance their candidacy 
chances very much.

I do feel that by "personalizing" this (i.e., the dream they can't follow),
you're ignoring the fact that it is wasteful to society, science, and plants
to train folks that will not get jobs.  I gathered in precious experience
during my years as an undergraduate, graduate, and post-doc.  This
experience, and that of my peers, is essentially going to go to waste.

Plant science is not advanced one iota when highly trained individuals
are forced out of the field.  I know several peers that are intelligent, 
quite experienced, and in a previous era, would be professors
working to advance the field (one individual has a real chance for a
Nobel if he keeps going the way he is).   
There is no "Darwinian selection" going on when the best and brightest
can't get positions because of structural problems.  It is very foolish to
keep training new graduate students when the field could be much
better served by "tranferring" these jobs to already trained individuals
and restructuring how science is done.  

We have "gating" going on, but it's an after-the-fact gating.  This
only works to create enmity toward science as it is whooly unlikely
that an entire generation of scientists produced during the 80's and 
early 90's isn't "competent," and "incapable," for to argue so 
would be to argue that your tutledge (and that of other faculty
peers who trained current post-docs) was incompetent (which we 
both would agree is unlikely).
Eric Larson
e-larso at uiuc.edu

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