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August 25, 2008

George Bush is Detrimental to Science and Medical Research!?

America never faced such a crisis of govt & Federal funding for Science and medical research than in the last several years during Bush's regime. While billions and trillions of dollars have been wasted in the name of war, not even a fraction of such amount is allocated to scientific and medical research?.

During this time, the developing or underdeveloped countries like Hong Kong, Singapore, Korea, Taiwan, China and even the poverty ridden India been promoting better science and research with considerable amount of funding to research.

Here is the latest Higher Ed Report on Federal Funding and it's
aftermath of Scientific research in USA.

©Istockphoto/Dr.Heinz Linke

‘Unprecedented’ 2-Year Decline for U.S. Science Funds

The numbers will not surprise anyone who has closely tracked federal budget discussions about science and technology in recent years. But that won’t make the data released Friday by the National Science Foundation any more palatable for those concerned about the American research enterprise.

But the extent of the downturn is stark, the NSF reports: For the second year in a row, federal funds for academic research in science and engineering failed to outpace inflation. That situation is “unprecedented,”

the science foundation notes; never before in the 36 years that the NSF has produced this report have there been two consecutive years in which federal science spending has declined in current dollars.As seen in the table below, colleges and universities spent $49.431 billion on research and development in the 2007 fiscal year, up 3.5 percent (or 0.8 percent in inflation-adjusted dollars) from 2006.

Federal support rose to $30.441 billion, up 1.1 percent in current dollars and
down 1.6 percent once adjusted for inflation.

That follows a 0.2 percent decline in inflation adjusted dollars from 2005 to 2006:

For complete story, click the topic linked to the original article.

August 12, 2008

Fixing the structural ills of US biomedical research

This news piece is a good analysis about Michael Teitelbaum's article on policy changes to fill the cracks in academia?.

Fixing the structural ills of US biomedical research

By Jonathan M. Gitlin | Published: July 31, 2008 - 01:03PM CT

Although the US biomedical research endeavor might appear to be in great shape, it faces some significant problems. The rapid doubling of the NIH budget started during the Clinton administration was followed by several years of flat funding, and this has exposed structural cracks in the way that we're training and employing researchers. Here at Ars we've been banging that drum for a while now, and today in Science, Michael Teitelbaum, vice president of the Sloan Foundation, joins in with a policy forum article on the topic that contributes a list of suggestions for policymakers.

August 08, 2008

INTERVIEW with a PostDoc- OKi, Mathew O'Connor

some of the PostDocs Pics, courtesy: from PRO/UAW website

Breaking PostDocs News!!!!
PostDocs at the University of California Campuses are getting closer to Unionization!!.
One more step and they will be finalizing unionization of PostDocs at the UC campuses.

After a long fought out struggle to get recognition and respect, postdocs in UC came long way to get to this state of unionization, and it is worth looking at their plights, organizational efforts that lead to a successful majority card sign up.

At the time of this interview with one of the PostDoc activist and spokesperson OKi, UC Postdocs were waiting for the local labor board certification.

Oki popularly known is a postdoc, who's real name Mathew O'Connor, he is one among the postdoc organizing committee members and the spokesperson for the PRO/UAW. He is currently a postdoctoral fellow in the field of Bio-Engineering at the University of California, Berkley campus.
Oki, like other active postdocs at UC campuses are part of this organizational movement that is ongoing as of now in UC campuses. In an effort to bring the postdocs together to make their voices heard by the administrators and faculties.

PRO/UAW organizers recently submitted the petition to the PERB and waiting to hear from the labor board for the next step to officially announce their unionization and plan for negotiating a contract that would make postdocs life much better in UC campuses. If finalized this will be the second "POSTDOC UNIONIZATION" in US and in the world.
I Interviewed Oki on the phone a couple of weeks ago, here is it:-

Dr.Muni: I have read the news about 5000 PostDocs joining PRO/UAW, what is happening at the UC, can you tell me briefly about this news??.
Oki: Thank you for your call and I am very happy to be talking to you the poineer's of PostDoc unionization at the UCONN Health center. It is an exciting moment for us, what we have now is the majority of the postdocs about 3000 or more signed up for the union cards. This is good because now we can seek the PERB approval for joining the union.
Dr.Muni: Isn't this card sign up was going on for a while!, what happened in the earlier efforts to get postdocs sign the card?
Oki: Well, prior to this event, there were only 100 cards about two years ago. Which is very smaller number for us to do anything with it, also, about 600 of the signatures were disregarded as the "title" of PostDocs were changed to some other titles that was not in favor of a postdoc to get into such activities. This title change was one of the reason why we did not get majority sign up and we withdrew the petition last time, but now the organizing process is much more evolved and it is in a better condition now than ever.
Dr.Muni: This is a huge change and progress from the previous attempt?
Oki: Postdocs from all the campuses came forward to sign up. PostDoc's awareness, willingness to participate in union got better and better. Actually, they volunteered in huge numbers into this effort, so we have lot more postdocs with solidarity in thinking and working together, this involvement is a must for unionization process to grow up. So, the postdocs and the union UAW members worked together to get the majority cards signed up.
Dr.Muni: Now you have the cards in hands, what is next?
OKi: We have filed a petition for the approval from PERB, and are waiting for the PERBs decision for our next move.
Dr.Muni: What is PERB, and what is it's role?. Do you have to go for a campus election?
OKi:PERB is the Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) of California, this is the authority to decide on the cards signed, the board will check the details of the postdocs, legiteacy, appointment verification and finaly certify that we are employees and we have a majority signed up the union card.
Dr.Muni: Once PERB is approved, do you have go for election?.
OKi:No, No election is required if PERB authorizes our cards. It is different from the Uconn Health Center labour board recognition, where a election was required to prove the majority. In PERBs case, once cards are in majority, this is in itself an approval to join the union. [check the PRO/UAW website for updates: Updates from the PRO/UAW Organizing Committee, Fellow Postdocs]
Dr.Muni: Good, so the next process is to announce the unionization and work on the policies
OKi: Yes
Dr.Muni: Why do you seek a Unionization and what are you going to achieve?
OKi: Union is a voice, we are hopeful that this will bring us a equal voice in the administration where we will participate on decision and policy making, this establishes a power relation with the university.
Dr.Muni: Is there any other Postdoc Union in US or in the world?.
OKi: Uconn Health Center, Farmington, Connecticut is the only Postdocs in US, and it is the only postdoc union in the world. As of today, to my knowledge this is the only postdoc union in the world and ours will be the second, but ours will be the largest PostDoc union in the world once we complete this process.
Dr.Muni: What is your understanding about Uconn Postdoc union and did you learn anything from them?.
OKi: Uconn PostDocs are the pioneers, they had set a president by unionizing, going through all the struggle for recognition and better treatment of PostDocs, this is a great model for postdocs community all over US and the world, what they achieved is phenomenal success and it is a great inspiration for us.
Dr.Muni: One last question, what is next and what is to expect in the coming weeks?.
OKi: Well, we are waiting for the PERB approval, once we hear their decisions, we will formulate the PostDoc union and move on on to negotiate our first contract, just like how the Uconn Postdocs got their very first best contract signed and approved within 6 months time. We will go from there.
Dr.Muni: Thanks Oki, I appreciate your time and this happy news with me.
Oki: Thank you Dr.Muni, we are happy to share this news with the pioneers of postdoc unionization, looking forward to chat with you soon about the progress

August 07, 2008

Is Modern American Science Strangling Its Young Talents In the Cradle?

Sheril Kirshenbaum is a marine biologist at the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions at Duke. She blogs at The Intersection with Chris Mooney.

Thanks Sheril Kirshenbaum for touching this neglected topic of Postdoc Plights, the current academic structure and the way it functions need immediate change otherwise, soon US science might face lot more crisis that what are we are seeing now.

Plight of the Postdoc

Is Modern American Science Strangling Its Young Talents In the Cradle?

Particularly in the biomedical field, this opportunity gap between young and old is a quirk of politics. When NIH funding doubled between 1998 and 2003, many new Ph.D. positions were created, which in turn allowed established investigators with more students to submit better proposals. But then in 2003, NIH funding leveled off.

Older scientists now had a successful history based on the funding boom, and fallout today reveals significantly more scientists over the age of 70 finding support compared to those under the age of 30.
Perhaps the situation is best summed up by NIH Director Elias Zerhouni, who wrote in a recent Science magazine Policy Forum article, “Like farmers during difficult times, we should not ‘eat our seed corn,’ but protect it.”

Featured Post

Univerisity of Washington PostDocs Forming Union- Latest University PostDocs to Unionize!

University of Washington, yet another top notch higher education/research institute known for an impressive history and record setting, rig...

UNION yes!!!

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

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.