May 16, 2017

New Federal Overtime Rules and Fair treatment for PostDocs!!

Finally, despite all the odds of science funding cuts and change in politics, policies in DC, Francis S. Collins and Thomas E.Perez's huff blog post sounds petty interesting and timely, it looks like the top scientific leaders of the nation, and scientists from various organizations are working together to make "Postdoc" experience a better part of a scientists life,thereby enhancing a postdocs life. Still long way to go in this goal, but a good direction. Some of the leaders suggested explicit salary increase that would set base salary for Postdoc to be $50,000, that is the start up postdoc salary. Not a bad idea at all, the Unionization already brought up the base salary quite significantly compared to where it was 10 or 15 years ago, and making further improvement to it will go well for the entire scientific community and for the nation to make progress in Scientific and medical field.
The Department of Labor’s recently announced revisions to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) will make more than 4 million currently exempt U.S. workers eligible for overtime pay, unless their salaries are raised. Among them are an estimated 37,000 to 40,000 junior scientists who have emerged as critical players in modern biomedical research. There has been considerable concern in both the public and private sectors about how this change will affect the United States’ ability to carry out leading edge research in an efficient, cost-effective manner. But as leaders of the nation’s biomedical research and labor agencies, we are confident the transition can be made in a way that does not harm — and actually serves to enrich — the future of our research enterprise.

Political intrusion combined with scarce funding hurts research and medical specialty

Young and budding med graduates and surgeons discouraged by entering into "high-risk" speciality like cardiac surgery due to political interference and blaming? 

Retired NHS Senior cardiac surgeon Dr.Stephen Westaby is disturbed by the sear amount of political interference in cardiac surgery field in UK, when you combine that with a bad politics with bad press and inundated hospital management, who would choose such specialty?. And, what kind of progress can be made in research and clinical technology....... read more about how "blame is putting off budding surgeons" in this Telegraph column written by Dr.Michael Fitzpatrick

Blame is putting off budding surgeons 

Westaby is frustrated by the difficulties of securing funding for research and technological innovation in his specialty, and infuriated by the intrusion of hospital bureaucracy and managerialism into clinical practice. Like many doctors of a certain age, he is exasperated at all the time wasted, "at the age of 68", in drawing up a "personal development plan"

October 05, 2014

Is the "ongoing PostDocs Crisis"a symptom of Broader problems Plaguing BioMedical Research, Are the PostDocs a Grunt work force of today's Science?

Chart/Illustration/Pic from Boston Globe news-Link
The "plight of PostDocs"has become a major crisis of the Science/biomedical research field, however, where is the crux of the problem lies?. It is the  academic structure itself is the basis for this terrible young scientists crisis. While the awareness about impending issue amongst the postdocs, academics and administrators is slowly picking up steam after almost a Decade of our UCONN Health Center Postdocs Unionization, the mainstream media and scientific media broadly ignored this topic. Seems like they are ready to write about it, I am hoping it is time they too come forward and participate, create and raise awareness about the plight of postdocs and that is actually the plight of our todays scientific research field. The following Boston globe "Metro" news piece seems like a step in that direction of mainstream participation.
             Gary McDowell, 29 a Biology student reveals the cliff of PostDocs crisis, he quotes that the lab bench work and research for these PostDocs is like a "Grunt Work Force", he and other postdocs hopes this Guttural Hogs condition of postdocs changes sooner than later to avoid burnout and major crisis to the scientific research field. 

If there is anything one can learn about the PostDocs issue, it is pretty pathetic and serious...........................Read further into this news piece to know the plights of PostDocs, read further to know what Carolyn has to say about the PostDocs Plight.

Some Quotes from this news piece: Yellow Highlighted
  toiling in obscurity in a low-paying scientific apprenticeship that can stretch more than a decade
this is like captured from My Blogs header, but means and sounds what I meant in the header
But in recent years, the postdoc position has become less a stepping stone and more of a holding tank.
How low can you equate these great makers of science and medicine, -Just a Supply vs Demand, that sucks:
Some of the smartest people in Boston are caught up in an all-but-invisible crisis, mired in a biomedical underclass as federal funding for research has leveled off, leaving the supply of well-trained scientists outstripping demand.
The hero of this news piece, Gary, a Biology PostDocs says this "
 “There’s this huge labor force here to do the bench work, the grunt work of science. But then there’s nowhere for them to go; this massive pool of postdocs that accumulates and keeps growing.”
about PostDocs, Carolyn writes, is it real or a myth?:
they are both future leaders and the workers who carry out experiments crucial for science to advance. 
It is Certainly true and real on the tongue and in books, or perhaps on this news piece, but not real when it comes to rewards or recognition, they are treated like some kind of "extra pair of hands"- a lab or postdoc jargon. It is not real to see the PostDocs treated and respected that way, no not at all, their screams are like Guttural....!! you heard that from Gary...remember?.
Well, as a former PostDoc, an Advocate and the PostDoc Unionization Pioneer, though I moved up a million miles above the PostDoc's stage after two successful and great, productive postdoc positions and a jaunt at the Yale Medical School,  I can say what Gary or other postdocs lamented in this news piece about their plight is just an understatement and it is rather dire. I wish that future leaders and experts get their share and recognition, respect in due time, not at the end of their life. The bottom line is this damn academic structure, funding and functioning of scientific research needs "Service and overhaul" without that the plights of postdocs "will never change much to the level of appreciation".

Oh I like these lines so much, this is a much needed step towards some action
The plight of postdocs has become a point of national discussion among senior scientists, as their struggles have come to be seen as symptoms of broader problems plaguing biomedical research. After years of rapid growth, federal funding abruptly leveled off and even contracted over the last decade, leaving a glut of postdocs vying for a limited number of faculty jobs. Paradoxically, as they’ve gotten stuck, the pursuit of research breakthroughs has also become reliant on them as a cheap source of labor for senior scientists.
 they do seems like follow a "Well-Worn Pathy?--
Biomedical research training traditionally has followed a well-worn path. After college, people who want to pursue an advanced degree enroll in graduate school. The vast majority of biology graduate students then go on to do one or more postdoc positions, where they continue their training, often well into their 30s.
they are like "invisible people", but their toil and struggle in the lab for more than 40 hours get  good funding and promotions for their Supervior and lab chief, but what do these little fellows get?
Their progress is very poorly tracked; the leader of a national report on the state of postdocs has called them “invisible people.” The National Institutes of Health estimates there are somewhere between 37,000 and 68,000 postdocs in the country. Salaries vary, but rarely reflect their level of education. The NIH stipend ranges from $42,000 a year for a starting postdoc, up to $55,272 for a seventh year.
and how long they and how many years they toil to reach for independent research jobs? but yet the majority do not attain that target in real world
 Their progress is very poorly tracked; the leader of a national report on the state of postdocs has called them “invisible people.” The National Institutes of Health estimates there are somewhere between 37,000 and 68,000 postdocs in the country. Salaries vary, but rarely reflect their level of education. The NIH stipend ranges from $42,000 a year for a starting postdoc, up to $55,272 for a seventh year.
there is no proper teenable models, not just some but most of them are not....
 “Some of the models we see don’t seem tenable in the long run,” Krukenberg said.
sure do the senior scientists, some of them agree with this, but many are oblivious and do not care for PostDocs
 Many senior scientists, who may fondly remember their own postdocs days, agree that laboratories have grown too bloated. As the cost of conducting research and the number of institutions doing such work have increased, science has outgrown the traditional model in which trainees are also the worker bees, they say.
game is changed but there is no game changer for postdocs
 “The game is changed, and what should be a wonderful time in people’s lives is, in many cases, a time of great, great anxiety and unhappiness.”
I think, Casey has done something good for himself, not worrying about years of his postdoc field and experience, he found an alternative way to prosper and progress
If there is one problem amongst PostDocs, is this one. Are they brain dead or what to go caught up with this cobbled web of Postdoctoring?, why not change your aims, goals and directions, why not think out of the box, why not use your creativity for something else in this world. Instead of that futile "faculty" job or academic career?. I wish PostDocs come out of their grunt work force and use their talents. Yes, the academy is broken and useless to reform, there is no one to listen to you, look at the scientific funding, some damn representatives may fund millions and millions of dollars for worthless areas in America but they do not want to provide even basic amount of funding used to be allocated for scientific research, so what is the use in screaming, just find an alternative and use your talents.  Here is a guy who did exactly that....
Casey Ydenberg’s path illustrates how easy it is to follow a dream and find oneself locked in a career track without a destination.
Ydenberg, 33, has an impressive resume: he earned a PhD at Princeton, then went for a postdoc at Brandeis. This summer, a decade into his training, he realized that not only were the odds of getting a faculty job against him, but he didn’t think he really wanted one. He felt burnt out.
Today, Ydenberg is pursuing a job that gives him real joy, building websites. He isn’t bitter; he cherishes his memories of graduate school. But he uses none of his formal training and thinks there should be more conversations, earlier, about future careers so that people don’t spend as long honing research skills that may not prove relevant.
For Postdocs plight to change, not only reformation and changes are needed immediately, but also the postdocs instead of being caught in the vicious cycle, must think out of the box and out of the routine or out of the ordinary, do not suck into this mundane daily routines of lab work.

Glut of postdoc researchers stirs quiet crisis in science By

 | Globe Staff   October 05, 2014

“It’s sunk in that it’s by no means guaranteed — for anyone, really — that an academic position is possible,” said Gary McDowell, 29, a biologist doing his second postdoc at Tufts University who hopes to set up his own lab in a few years. “There’s this huge labor force here to do the bench work, the grunt work of science. But then there’s nowhere for them to go; this massive pool of postdocs that accumulates and keeps growing.”

August 06, 2014

PostDocs in the UK: Do the University employed PostDocs have better "Output" than others, study says Yes.

Univresity PostDocs vs PostDocs in other Places (like industry, institutions and pvt labs?)

In this interesting "Exploratory" research study, carried out by PLOS One, those postdocs working in the university set up seems to have more publications or demonstrated a better out put compared to those who employed in industry or pvt labs or institutions etc., in the academic world the out put of an individual (postdoc or faculty or graduate) is mostly measured by how many papers one can publish. It is so important for PostDocs than a graduate or for that matter even for a faculty. As the faculties enjoy University job and its advantages, the PostDocs are like asylum seekers inside a faculties lab to train themselves for the future. While Faculties too must work hard and get papers in order to survive and get promotions and better salaries, it is the PostDoc who is in desperate need of papers and more papers published, and interestingly that is a good news for the faculty as they reap the benefits of having a bright and productive PostDocs in their lab increase the faculties promotion and prospects better than not having one. In simple words "The faculty gets best Bangs for their bucks hiring productive PostDocs". Anyways, this study is not about graduates or faculties, but about PostDocs who are in the university setup seems to have more output, better output than postdocs in other places. For PostDocs Paper Publications also translates better chances for future jobs, grants and tenure. The Plos One results are not surprising to me, coming from University background and considering how many paper I published quite successfully during my University PostDoc days.

 The survey of about 200 participants though a small number, but it is pretty reflective of the field, the study also found that PostDocs struggle about their future?;

Here is the Original Article and review:

Research Article

Postdoctoral Researchers in the UK: A Snapshot at Factors Affecting Their Research Output

  • Fatima M. Felisberti mail, Rebecca Sear


Postdoctoral training is a typical step in the course of an academic career, but very little is known about postdoctoral researchers (PDRs) working in the UK. This study used an online survey to explore, for the first time, relevant environmental factors which may be linked to the research output of PDRs in terms of the number of peer-reviewed articles per year of PDR employment. The findings showed reliable links between the research output and research institutions, time spent as PDR, and parental education, whereas no clear links were observed between PDRs' output and research area, nationality, gender, number of siblings, or work environment. PDRs based in universities tended to publish, on average, more than the ones based in research centres. PDRs with children tended to stay longer in postdoctoral employment than PDRs without children. Moreover, research output tended to be higher in PDRs with fathers educated at secondary or higher level. The work environment did not affect output directly, but about 1/5 of PDRs were not satisfied with their job or institutional support and about 2/3 of them perceived their job prospects as “difficult”. The results from this exploratory study raise important questions, which need to be addressed in large-scale studies in order to understand (and monitor) how PDRs' family and work environment interact with their research output—an essential step given the crucial role of PDRs in research and development in the country.

also other news quotes:

Research output higher among postdocs in universities

Plos One study also reveals that parenthood has little impact on publishing productivity
Pile of research papersPostdoctoral researchers based in universities publish more on average than those based in research centres, according to new research.
The study, published in Plos One, also found that postdoctoral researchers with children tend to have the same research output as those without children.
And the survey of around 200 postdoctoral researchers revealed that two-thirds believe that their job prospects are “difficult”.

June 20, 2014

Open Access to Scientific Journals without Subscription, Postdocs fight to get Open access free for all and that I call a good activism...

Good work dear postdocs, keep up, any publicly funded research data, materials and articles must be freely available to all, there is no question about it..........subscription
Postdoc brings open access issue to the table
Jimmy O'Dea helped start a discussion at Cornell about an open-access policy.
Jimmy O’DeaCornell scientists report research discoveries almost every day, but to the nonacademic world, clicking on a link to a published paper usually leads to a pay wall, barring access without a journal subscription.
Many feel that such research – often paid for at least in part by public money – should be freely available to all inquiring minds, not just paid subscribers. Among them is Cornell postdoctoral research associate Jimmy O’Dea.

Top Science News!!

UNION yes!!!

UNION yes!!!
Hello Grads-Say Yes to Union!

UC System & the Number of PostDocs?

How many PostDocs work at the UC system, this is one of the largest PostDoc group in US and probably in the world, what happens here can be a great event!. When things said and done on the PostDoc unionization, they will join the only Unionized PostDocs, the Uconn Health center Postdocs. Here is the latest numbers from the UC postdoc society website?

Postdocs in Numbers
UC Berkeley 1150
UC Davis 800
UC Irvine 344
UC Los Angeles 1110
UC Merced 20
UC Riverside 200
UC Santa Barbara 300
UC Santa Cruz 148
UC San Diego 907
UC San Francisco 1100
Total 6059

The above numbers are approximate and were correct to within 10 in
March 2008.

Here is the PostDoc Wheel of PRO/UAW, this is like the Wheel of Dhamma of Lord Buddha's that is a symbol of justice and liberation. The latest news from PRO/UAW is very promising to the 5000 or more postdocs in different campuses of University of California System.

The Union for Postdoctoral Researchers at the University of California
PRO/UAW is the Union for over 5,000 Postdoctoral Researchers at the University of California. By signing up a majority of Postdocs, we can exercise our legal rights to bargain with UC. Postdoc representatives we choose will survey us to determine priorities and will then negotiate a contract with UC. We can negotiate for improvements in wages, hours, benefits, and terms and conditions of employment. Postdocs will then have an opportunity to democractically approve the agreement that UC and our bargaining team reach, before it becomes a binding contract.