Officials at the White House and the National Science Foundation announced a 10-year plan to enhance flexibility for men and women in research careers. [More.]
In technology development, April Effort helps academic researchers refine raw ideas into inventions that suit industry investors. [More.]
Panelists discuss successfully navigating negotiations — from start-up packages to equipment-sharing — in a session devoted to women in academic research. [More.]
The Council of Graduate Schools reports that new student enrollment at US graduate schools dipped 1.1 percent from fall 2009 to fall 2010, which it says "marks the first decrease in first-time graduate enrollment since fall 2003." Further, CGS adds that the decline "occurred despite an 8.4 percent increase in applications to U.S. graduate schools," though it adds that overall enrollment did grow 1.1 percent during that same time. In its analysis of the council's new report, The New York Times reports that "doctoral programs are growing faster than master's and certificate programs, the council's study found, both among newly enrolled graduate students and the overall graduate population." CGS President Debra Stewart tells the Times that her group was surprised by its findings. "Both historically and in recent years, there's been an inverse relationship between the economy and graduate student enrollment," Stewart says. "But now, they're both down, so the question is, why?"
At the University of Salford's Careers Blog for Postgraduates, Tahira Majothi discusses the ups and downs of working with recruitment consultants when searching for jobs. "Like anything in relation to job seeking, you get back the effort you put in," Majothi says, adding that "registering with [recruitment] agencies doesn't mean you get to put your feet up, have a cup of tea, and wait for the job offers to roll in." While recruitment consultants can "work to source opportunities on your behalf" — which is particularly helpful for people who are already employed full-time — they can only do so when they're kept "up to date of your contact details, change of circumstances, or constraints as to what you can ... do," Majothi says. In addition, she says that consultants often must be "chased" for progress updates. "Ring or call in on a weekly basis," she says. However, while recruitment agencies are a great resource, Majothi says job-seekers shouldn't use them as a crutch. "Make effective use of all available resources," she says, adding: "Don't underestimate the power of networking."
Blogger DrugMonkey discusses the merits of "grant-snooping" as a career tool for young investigators. He says that checking up on funded research using the National Institutes of Health's RePORTER system "is an exercise in the necessary" for investigators who seek to secure funds from the agency. DrugMonkey says it is important to not only to look up which projects have been funded, but also the people who have been awarded funds. "I have usually found that the result of grant snooping is more encouraging than is conventional wisdom. When I see someone else having secured grant funding that appears to violate conventional wisdom, well, 'why not me too?'" he says. Further, using NIH's RePORTER to research a particular investigator could give an early-career researcher a better idea of what to expect. For a young investigator, "it can ... be comforting to review people who seemingly struggled on the grant shoestring for years before finally hitting it hard with multiR01 support," DrugMonkey says, adding that "perhaps this will keep your confidence up that things will eventually get easier."
The National Institutes of Health will support 79 investigators $143.8 million through its Director's Pioneer, New Innovator, and Transformative Research Project Awards. [More.]
This week, Nature editor Corie Lok speaks with biomedical illustrators who are working aside researchers in academia, industry, and elsewhere to create scientifically accurate and visually pleasing animations, illustrations, and Web sites. "Biomedical animators in the United States, Canada and elsewhere are seeing rising demand for their work from sectors including academic research, publishing, biotechnology and the drug industry," Lok says, adding that "more and more scientists are seeking out animators, and a few, hoping to tinker with animation to aid their research." Indeed, Harvard Medical School cell biologist Samara Reck-Peterson is now working with her colleague Janet Iwasas, a scientific animator and a lecturer at the school, to decipher the fine details of dynein motility. "Reck-Peterson hopes that the animations will help her lab to design its next experiments, providing insight into exactly how this motor works," Lok says. Reck-Peterson tells Nature that Iwasa's "animations have made it easier to talk concretely about our ideas, both within the lab and with others in the field."
Academia is not the only sector hiring biomedical illustrators. "Scientific animators can also be found at a growing number of commercial animation and design studios that specialize in biomedical work," Lok adds.
Drawing upon data from a 2009 Association of Medical Illustrators survey, Lok says "illustrators and animators employed full-time earn a median salary of US$52,000 at the start of their careers, $65,000 in mid-career and up to $150,000 as seasoned veterans." Those who work on a freelance basis earn varied incomes, though on average they make $79,000 annually, she adds.
While one is not typically required, "having a scientific background can help with career advancement" in the profession, Lok says. While an animator's "artistic and production track record is paramount," she adds that those interested in biomedical illustration should be able to "read and understand the relevant literature and to talk to scientists about their work."
This year, three additional universities join Yale University on Working Mother's "100 Best Companies" list. While Yale was the only university that made the magazine's 2010 list, Working Mother now also lauds Cornell University, the State University of New York at Buffalo, and the University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics for their family-friendly policies. Pharmaceutical firms AstraZeneca, Bayer, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Merck, and Pfizer also made the top-100 list, along with biotech company Genentech, and several healthcare providers. The complete list of Working Mother's "100 Best Companies," is available here.
The association evaluated employer applicants' practices and policies for mature workers.
A new National Science Foundation Scientists and Engineers Statistical Data System report collates data on the size, composition, and employment patterns of the nation's science and engineering workforce collected through 2006.
The European Research Council will support awardees more than €670 million over five years, collectively, with grants worth up to €2 million each.
This week, Bruce Sandy at Toronto's The Globe and Mail fields a reader's question regarding qualifications for biotech project management. Having recently earned a PhD in biochemistry, the reader asks:
Sandy recommends that the reader speak with project management professionals to learn more about their career training. He also says that the reader should consider the short and the long term — "The PMP appears to provide many benefits for you at this stage in your career," Sandy says, though he adds that if the reader is "interested in working in executive and senior management positions later in your career, you may also want to investigate executive MBA programs — some have a biotechnology or high-tech industry specialty."