More Post-doc questions...

SL Forsburg susan_forsburg at
Wed Jun 26 13:55:16 EST 1996

J Potter wrote:
>  For example, do you discuss how authorship is assigned?
I think that's a case-by-case decision, depending on a given project,
who did what, etc. 

>  What about if you will be allowed to take part of the project with you
> when you leave? 
That is relevant, and you should bring it up.  Remember of course 
that the PI isnt going to cut his/her arm off and give it to you.
On the other hand, s/he should be concerned to make sure you develop
something of your own that will travel and be independent.

> Is it inappropriate to ask how many post-docs s/he has
> mentored and where are all these people today?  
Absolutely not.  I offer the postdocs I interview the names of my 
previous postdocs.

> How about contacting the
> former post-docs and asking for a reference about the prospective PI?
Good idea.  And talk to mthe people in the lab away from the PI.  
You want your new PI to be someone who will be happy to help  you
develop  as a colleague.  The PI should also present you with what they 
want from a postdoc.

You should ask about funding.  What if you don't get any?  How long
can they guarentee you?  What if your funding runs out?  Be realistic.  
For example, I can't promise my postdocs full funding.   Maybe I'll be 
able to fund them fully, and I'll certainly try, but I can't 
always guarantee more than a year. Funding is too fickle to be able 
to promise more, and I'm honest about it.  

Therefore, you should find out about fellowships and funding
opportunities, deadlines and requirements.  Most of them are up to a 
year in advance, so it pays to be looking ahead of defending.   Few
labs have a pot of money lying around waiting for someone to pop up and
say they want to postdoc in 2 months, unless they are actively

It is quite common to be told that you can only come
if you get a fellowship.  (I know I was told that).  
That is another good reason to be thinking of 
your postdoc well in advance, to give time for writing fellowships.
Your local grants administration office probably has a printout for
postdoc funding opportunities, with addresses and deadlines.  Your 
prospective PI might also be able to provide information.

yes, it would be nice if all were guarenteed and safe.  But it isnt.
This is a risky business, and we *all* live on the edge.   It's another
case of making choices.

-- susan

Susan L Forsburg PhD
MBVL, The Salk Institute
susan_forsburg at

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