postdocs to faculty

S L Forsburg forsburg at nospamsalk.edu
Fri Aug 15 13:28:39 EST 1997


> Julia wrote:

> A reviewer of a recent grant of my husband's took points off on the
> "expertise of PI" question (I forget exactly what it's called) because
>
> although my husband did two post-docs, one in one bacterial system,
> and
> another in a different bacterial system on iron regulated genes, he
> had
> not done a post-doc on iron regulated genes in the first system, which
>
> was the proposal he was fielding. This kind of mentality seems awfully
>
> short-sighted on the part of the reviewer to me (can a scientist not
> apply what he/she has learned from 2 different projects to a new one?)
>
> It also bodes ill for someone trying to get a grant fresh off a two
> year
> post-doc. Unless you've already done it and published it, you can't
> clear the high bar to get the almost perfect rating needed in today's
> grant world (by the way, this was a "Research Undergraduate
> Institution"
> grant-supposedly "easier" for people who don't have PhD programs at
> their university).
>
> The "problem" in science has gotten much bigger than paying post-docs
> or
> the length of time, as we've disscussed here before, the bubble has
> risen to the level of junior faculty who are now being squeezed out of
>
> tenure because of the funding situation.

 
That is right.  There are a lot of postdocs out there who are suffering,
but it doesn't
end with the tenure track position, folks....it just pushes the stakes
higher.  For the
record, I did a four year postdoc, got a job at a great place, but am
still struggling to
get the next grant.  The system doesn't work at this level either, and I
have the
added difficulty of not only paying a woeful pittance to my hard working
and
much-deserving postdocs, but paying all MY salary as well off of those
grants...
all of it.  Plus benefits.  You can't do that on  one grant.

The fat cats who trained us still have their big labs and all their
hopeful postdocs
who think that they'll get the great position and all troubles will
cease.
But the pie isn't getting any bigger for those who've gotten a seat at
the table,
and in my experience, the big guys still have the advantage.  Who's
going to give
the NIH more bang for the buck....the bigshot whose grant is up for
renewal,
or the unknown trying to get her footing?

Even if some of the problem is solved at postdoc level, it will just get
moved up
to the next level.  There's already a tendency for institutions of
higher ed. to
use the non-tenured as disposable employees to carry the burden of
teaching
away from the tenured.

Is it worth it?  I do like chasing butterflies.  But most days I'm too
tired to notice
them.  I have a lot of ideas.  I'd like to try a few of them.  I think
all my training
can make a contriubtion to knowledge.  But it's still not clear whether
I'll be allowed to make it.

-- feeling cynical today,

-susan
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S L Forsburg, PhD  forsburg at salk.edu
Molecular Biology and Virology Lab
The Salk Institute, La Jolla CA
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