Jennifer Rohn's suggestion in Nature this week that institutions ought to "professionalize the postdoc role and turn it into a career rather than a scientific stepping stone" has researchers around the blogosphere chiming in on the career prospects for life science PhDs. While she acknowledges that research professorships exist, Rohn notes that these positions are often supported by expendable funds. At Life Beyond the Bench, blogger Dr. Girlfriend agrees with Rohn, saying that "there are very few opportunities for trained scientists who just want to do good research." Indeed, she asks, as running a lab requires specialized management skills in addition to an aptitude for good research, "how many professors would have been so ready to take on the administrative and managerial roles associated with a tenure-track position if they had had the opportunity to be highly paid and respected postdocs?" Meanwhile, DrugMonkey says that Rohn's article "leaves us hanging." The postdoc problem is an obvious one, he says. Her proposed solution — "some career-type position at less-than-PI level," DrugMonkey says — is not so clear, however. "What the real question is, in my view, is how our business could be tweaked to accomplish this goal," DrugMonkey adds. To that, Mike the Mad Biologist suggests that "rather than trying to stuff scientists into an academic framework, we must build an alternative framework" based on a research center model. In the end, blogger DrdrA at Blue Lab Coats says that there are currently too many postdocs in academia because US institutions are training too many PhDs.
Somewhere Between 'Postdoc' and 'PI'
Mar 03, 2011