Skip to main content
Premium Trial:

Request an Annual Quote

Tell Us Something We Don’t Know

This post has been updated to correct where the original news story was published.

When the Washington Post published a front-and-center story covering the PhD job crisis — that "there are too many laboratory scientists for too few jobs," as it said — science blogs lit up with commentary.

Science's Beryl Benderly said that the reporter who wrote the story, Brian Vastag, "deserves credit for getting onto the front page a story that contradicts the prevailing media narrative" — that scientists are in short supply, and that the US ought to make every effort to train more.

At Cosmic Variance, Julianne Dalcanton says that "difficulty finding a long term academic position is not the same thing as difficulty finding a job." While the Washington Post did make mention of the low unemployment rate experienced by scientists, Dalcanton notes that information was buried. "To me, what this implies is that most of the skills mastered by PhD-level lab-based scientists are not readily transferable to other jobs, and are not easily generalized (or at least, are not perceived as generalizable by employers)," she adds.

Gene Expression's Razib Khan adds that "if a tenure track position is your goal, and you aren't going to be happy with anything else, then you should know that all things equal the odds are going to be against you." Still, he says, "in the real world everyone has to hustle now, and often it is better to hustle with a doctorate than not."

The Scan

Pig Organ Transplants Considered

The Wall Street Journal reports that the US Food and Drug Administration may soon allow clinical trials that involve transplanting pig organs into humans.

'Poo-Bank' Proposal

Harvard Medical School researchers suggest people should bank stool samples when they are young to transplant when they later develop age-related diseases.

Spurred to Develop Again

New Scientist reports that researchers may have uncovered why about 60 percent of in vitro fertilization embryos stop developing.

Science Papers Examine Breast Milk Cell Populations, Cerebral Cortex Cellular Diversity, Micronesia Population History

In Science this week: unique cell populations found within breast milk, 100 transcriptionally distinct cell populations uncovered in the cerebral cortex, and more.