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December 31, 2009

Science Blogging in London?: If you are in London, this is a great chance for networking for PostDocs!

Science Blogging 2008: London forum: topic

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Conference Programme

Matt Brown

Tuesday, 01 July 2008 09:33 UTC

Saturday 30 August at the Royal Institution

Please find below the official programme. We will update this first post if any changes are introduced, so this information will always be up to date.

8:30 – 9:45 Coffee/Breakfast; Proposal of unconference sessions

9:45 – 10:00 Opening remarks Naomi Temple, Royal Institution; Matt Brown/Corie Lok, Nature Network

10:00 – 10:30 Keynote: Ben Goldacre
(title to be confirmed)

10:30 – 11:30 Panel: The scientific life, exposed.
Jenny Rohn, Grrl Scientist, Anna Kushnir. Moderated by Mo Costandi.

Mistrust of scientists is common, and misinterpretation of scientific results rampant. Science blogs can serve as a bridge between scientists and the general public. Blogs build a community of scientists in which they can discuss the peculiarities of their jobs, their work, and their results. More than that, science blogs have the power to demystify the scientific process for the public and to reverse deeply held stereotypes of scientists. In this session, we will discuss how science blogs can change the public’s perception of scientists and provide a support framework for scientists themselves.

11:30 – 11:45 Short break; Voting on unconference sessions

11:45 – 12:30 Morning breakout sessions. Three parallel sessions of 45 minutes, with option to go 15 minutes longer.

Breakout 1: There’s a giraffe on my unicycle: Can blogging unlock your creativity?
Claire Dudman, Brian Clegg and Henry Gee
PoincarĂ© talked about ideas like gas molecules colliding in the room of his mind; Einstein talked about dreams; and Archimedes was in his bath when it hit him…that lightbulb going on, that great insight, that EUREKA MOMENT when two apparently unrelated ideas come together. Can blogging be a useful catalyst for creativity? Using a few examples from our own experiences as a springboard, we intend this to lead to a workshop/discussion on how blogging can help us create. Please bring your giraffe and your unicycle along with you.

Breakout 2: How to make friendfeeds and influence people
Matt Wood
An introduction to microblogging and aggregation services (such as Friendfeed, Twitter, Tumblr etc), before opening things up to a discussion on their use in science, open notebooks, etc.

Breakout 3: How to enhance your blog
Maxine Clarke and Euan Adie
Once you have decided to blog, what kind of blog do you choose? Blogging within a network, blogging on a stand-alone platform, group blogging, or microblogging all have advantages and disadvantages, as we will outline.

However you blog, it is all about communication and conversation, and we’ll be revealing some of the things you can do to increase your internet presence, whether you are just a bit of a magpie (Maxine) or a bedroom coder (Euan), or at some point in between. We hope to have a lively discussion with participants about these topics.

12:30 – 1:45 Lunch and networking; Announce afternoon unconference sessions

1:45 – 2:30 Afternoon breakout sessions. Three parallel sessions of 45 minutes, with option to go 15 minutes longer.

Breakout 4: Science in Second Life: a virtual tour
Jo Scott
Jo will take you on a tour of the key sites of relevance to scientists in the virtual world Second Life. A group discussion will then look at how useful such environments are (or could become) for disseminating scientific ideas and holding virtual conferences.

Breakout 5: Science blogs and online forums as teaching tools
Martin Fenner, Oliver Obst, Jeff Marlow
We will discuss the role that science blogs and online forums are having in teaching science today. In a panel discussion we will look at practical examples and examine their potential as well as their shortcomings. To foster the use of these online tools in teaching, we hope to come up with a list of suggestions for both educators and software developers at the end of the session. (Other panellists to be decided.)

Breakout 6: Communicating Primary Research Publicly
Heather Etchevers, Jean-Claude Bradley and Bob O’Hara
New web technologies afford unprecedented opportunities to share scientific data and results before official publication in a traditional journal. What are the benefits and drawbacks for a scientist to use these tools? Could the role of traditional publishers change as more scientists adopt increasingly diverse mechanisms to disclose research? How might this change the way science is done in the future?

2:30 – 3:15 Coffee and networking

3:15 – 4:15 Unconference sessions: 3 parallel sessions to be decided on the day by vote. If you’d like to speak, or lead a discussion, pitch your ideas in the morning before the first talk. You can begin discussing potential sessions in the conference forum.

4:15 – 5:30 Embracing change: taking online science into the future
Richard Grant, Cameron Neylon and Peter Murray-Rust. Moderated by Timo Hannay.
The panelists summarise the key themes of the day and provide a look into the future of online communication and collaboration in science. The goal is for attendees to come away with things they can do to enhance communication of science online.

5:30 – 5:40 Closing remarks Matt Brown/Corie Lok/Royal Institution

5:45 Drinks and networking at the Ri, to be continued at a local pub (location to be announced).

For any questions or concerns regarding the programme, please email network [at]

Updated 22 August 2008 16:30 UTC

December 18, 2009

Deans of Universities:- Why are they Scared about PostDoc Unions!!??

Deans advice research universities of more PostDoc Unions, as per the following report published in higher ed newsletter. Are these Deans are scared now of loosing powers!?. If universities and the Chairman/CEO's, Heads of Depts and Deans of the Student/PostDoc affairs did their duties right and took responsiblities of helping and uplifting PostDocs from their poor plights, PostDocs would have been satisfied with the efforts of the administration, they did not have to look for help elsewhere, but the reality suggests otherwise. However, they failed so far in restructuring academic handling of postdocs, Postdocs finaly end up finding better approach to this problem by seeking Unions Help.

Hello Deans, I have a question for you?. why are you so afraid?.
Why these people paint a bad picture of Union by twisting the truths about
the good principles of unions.

Do you know that Unions do not bother the faculties about hiring a PostDoc or to relieve a PostDoc from jobs, but Unions want the faculties to be mindful of their treacherous behaviors in mistreating PostDocs, Unions want the PIs to take care of PostDocs instead of abusing them. But, look what is happening all over the academic circles, the reality is there is so much of abuse of the current academic system by PIs, Deans and Chairman of research institutions, this is where voice of PostDocs become important, naturally they go to Unions to have a voice for PostDocs. Most of the University staff, faculties themselves are all already part of various unions but do not they want to see PostDocs to be forming Unions, why?.... Why?.

Not just these Deans and Univerisity Presidents, but also some outsiders and individuals 500 try to damage the good causes of Unions.

Where were these so called group of Deans all these years? what were they doing while they had the opportunities to solve problems related to PostDocs issues??.

Anyways, thought this news piece might be of some interest to Postdocs who are in the Unions already and to those who are thinking of following the Uconn, UC and Rutger's path................, Union is the best solution for Postdocs, just remember when you fight for your rights, you need justification, and do not stop your agitation until PostDocs gain their dignity.

Here is the News: Oh those funny Deans?
Deans Advise Research Universities to Prepare for Postdoc Unions

Research universities should prepare for the possibility that postdoctoral researchers will work to form unions by developing consistent policies on how postdocs are treated and establishing student support groups as alternatives to unions, a panel of deans said on Thursday at the annual meeting of the Council of Graduate Schools.

Postdocs have only recently started to organize into unions at American public universities, starting in Connecticut, California, and New Jersey. The push for postdoctoral unions may extend elsewhere, forcing universities to deal with a variety of academic and workplace issues at the bargaining table, the panelists said.

November 29, 2009

PostDocs and Retirement- What?: Yes, an Internationally portable Retirement from EMBO!

Postdocs and Retirment is an odd combination, it doesn't
go well with postdocs. Over the past decades, the wested interests and
bigots in academic/instituitional circles created and placed various policies in place to keep the postdoc out of "employee's" tag?.

Oh yea, if you are not an employee, you will not be considered for retirement benefits?. Wait, if you are a PostDoc, you are neither an employee nor a student but you are a decorated "fellow" "trainee", kind of an apprentice. You spent about 30 years going thro college, higher ed and doctoral training, half of your life in the school and lab is not just enough folks!?.

Anyways, unionization of postdocs in US and Canadian universities is changing these redundant policies and practices in the academic circles besides some universties voluntarily realizing these limitations and are changing policies. At this juncture, I read the following news, it sounds like one of the great music to my ears. Yes, EMBO, the european molecular biology fellowship organiztion, one of the most prestigious and adequately funded PostDoc programe is creating a Portable Retirement plan that a PostDoc can carry accross continents and countries, how Sweet!.

Pensions for postdocs

Posted by Edyta Zielinska

[Entry posted at 19th August 2009 09:48 PM GMT]

View comments(5) Comment on this news story

Postdocs funded by the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO) will soon have a better way to save for retirement.

The organization this month announced the creation of an internationally portable pension plan for the 400 or so recipients of EMBO postdoc fellowships.

Image: Wikimedia Commons

In most European countries, scientists can pay part of their salaries into a country-run pension program. However, for Jan Taplick, who started his scientific training in Germany but traveled to Vienna for his PhD and Israel for his postdoc, the inability to transfer retirement savings from one government plan to another made saving impractical. By the time they settle into permanent employment in one country, scientists may be "35 or 40 [years old] before they start paying into a state system," which is a late start for retirement savings, said Taplick.

October 12, 2009

UC PostDoc Union Bargaining Updates, Moving Forward!

PRO/UAW site provides all the past and ongoing bargaining updates periodically, do check the site here. The latest of the update was published on Oct 9, 2009. They are making great progress, as per this update you will notice that they have bargained on various priority fronts and only few more to be dealt with and to the most part they are doing good, with the economy doing so terrible, they were able to move forward and almost set a baseline salary for PostDocs at 37.4K, a much better salary than it was though this not the best?.... Look at Uconn Health Center negotiated salary and benefits.
PRO/UAW Bargaining Update

October 9, 2009

Dear PRO/UAW Postdocs,

We have just completed four more days of bargaining with UC administrators. We reached agreement on several important articles that will significantly improve Postdoc working conditions—Leaves, Paid Time Off, Union Rights, Union Security and Work-Incurred Illness and Injury. Major improvements in these articles include winning the right for Postdocs to take more time off work with more compensation for important life events like having a baby or caring for a sick family member.

At this point, only a few issues remain unresolved. These include health and other benefits, wages, appointments rights and security, and not giving up the right of individual Postdocs to exercise their conscience in support of other workers’ strikes. UC is taking a particularly hard line on wages—arguing that Postdocs should be satisfied with their current salaries. We agree that Postdoc salaries are improved after the October 1st increase in the minimum salary that UC, as a result of bargaining with us, had to provide. The new minimum of $37,400 is still too low and all Postdocs, not just those at the minimum, deserve pay increases that reflect the cutting-edge research that Postdocs perform.

These will be difficult issues to settle both because of the economic crisis UC is experiencing and because UC negotiators continue to stall reaching final agreement in a number of ways including not providing critical information we need to bargain over these issues.

We are scheduled to bargain again with UC on October 26 and 27. As always, we will update you on any developments. Your support and willingness to fight for a strong first contract will continue to be critical as we push forward to reach a final agreement. If you have questions or would like to get more involved, please contact us by responding to this email.

In Solidarity,

The PRO/UAW Bargaining Team
Laura Bartley
Xiaoqing Cao
Kirill Afonin
Pace Lubinsky
Dil Kapadia
Oki O'Connor

July 24, 2009

Rutgers University PostDocs, the Union is Official now?

Alright, just couple of weeks ago, I posted the news
about Rutgers PostDocs are on their way to Unionize, now they made it official, it has happened on July 20, 2009.

Congratulations to Rutgers "PostDocs"!

Rutgers PostDoc Union Press Release:
July 20, 2009
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Nat T. Bender, 908/377‐0393 (cell)
State Certifies Union for Rutgers Post‐Doctoral Associates and Fellows

Only Third Group of Post‐Docs in Nation To Vote for Union Representation
NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J.—The New Jersey Public Employment Relations Commission today certified the vote of nearly 350 post‐doctoral associates and fellows to be represented by Rutgers Council of AAUP Chapters‐AFT, the union that represents more than 5,000 faculty and graduate employees at Rutgers University. This is only the third group of post‐docs in the country to vote for union representation.

Rutgers Postdocs Form Union
It's not news that higher education is staffing its academic and research endeavors on the backs of a growing corps of contingent workers. But one group we hear little about is postdoctoral fellows. These are academic workers who, to advance their careers-and oftentimes in lieu of tenure-track job offers-jump onto research projects where they can trade their diligence and lab or research skills for pay a step above the stipends they received in grad school and little in the way of benefits. And in a tough job market, they can find themselves lingering in limbo for much longer than they intended.

July 21, 2009, 09:00 AM ET
Union of Postdoctoral Associates and Fellows Is Certified at Rutgers U.

By Audrey Williams June
A union for postdoctoral associates and fellows at Rutgers University recently got the stamp of approval it needed to begin negotiating a contract with the institution.The New Jersey Public Employment Relations Commission certified the vote of almost 350 people who make up the third group of postdocs in the nation to form a union. They will be represented by the Rutgers Council of AAUP Chapters-American Federation of Teachers. The other two postdoc unions are at the University of Connecticut and the University of California.

July 23, 2009
Rutgers University Postdocs Form a Union
Three hundred and fifty postdocs at Rutgers University in New Jersey have voted to form a union, becoming the third group of postdocs in the United States to unionize. They will join the Rutgers Council of American Association of University Professors (AAUP)-American Federation of Teachers (AFT), which represents more than 5,000 faculty and graduate employees at Rutgers University.

July 24, 2009
Rutgers Postdocs Form Labor Union
Our colleagues at ScienceInsider yesterday posted news about the 350 postdoctoral fellows at Rutgers University voting to form a union, a vote certified on Tuesday by New Jersey's public employment relation's commission. The postdocs' union will join a labor council on the Rutgers campus that includes the American Association of University Professors and the American Federation of Teachers, which already represent faculty and graduate staff.

July 14, 2009

Collins selection to lead NIH by Obama's Administration is Disastrous to Scientific and Medical research

Collins as per the following news from The
Scientist was nominated to lead NIH by the Obama Administration, there can't be
any disastrous selection than Collins, he is a fake scientist who believes in
God, may be Obama realized that the whole of scientific research and medical
developments are meaningless and useless that God is responsible for everything,
so he is ready to put an Evangelical procrastinator to lead the American
Scientific research. NIH and scientific research has already been suffered from
inadequate funding and mediocre research outputs due to Bush administrations do
not care for science attitudes, now, to continue the same path, and evangelical
scientist is sought out to run NIH.......doomed!.
The news:-
Posted by Bob Grant[Entry posted at 8th July 2009 07:50 PM GMT]
Francis Collins
Image: Wikipedia
Comment on this news story
The Obama administration has nominated geneticist Francis Collins to take the helm of the National Institutes of Health.

Collins, who led the US government's push to sequence the human genome as head of the National Human Genome Research Institute in the 1990s, previously told The Scientist that he believes science should play a prominent role in policy making. "I would hope that there would be a strong and suggestive voice for science in the room, at the table," Collins said last May.

July 08, 2009

PostDocs, Comic Strip and Dr.Prasher, Exploiting PostDocs!

Jason Hoyt's blog article at "Mendeley Blog" is a timely
advice to PostDocs to not wait too long for things to change. There is even a comic
strip site that makes fun of the plights of PostDocs in science besides taking a joke at soon to be PhD holders, the graduate students. The story of Dr.Prasher, who supposed to win Nobel in Chemistry lost funding and works in a car dealership is plainly an agonizing fact postdocs should realize the treachery in their paths, infact it is not an exaggeration in Hyot's writing when I read, is PostDoctoral fellowship are a grand scale Ponzi Scheme?. Perhaps one day, his word might be proved right about the PostDoc Ponzi scheme glorified by the Universities and PIs of Labs.

Read the full article, it is an interesting and insightful news for PostDocs and advocates for Postdocs.

Ever hear of Douglas Prasher? Probably not. He just missed out on this past year’s Nobel in chemistry. That’s not unusual, as many scientists never even come close to a Nobel. What is unusual, is that Dr. Prasher works at a car dealership, not in a lab. Despite doing the critical research on discovering GFP that became the work for last year’s Nobel Prize, he was unable to find grant money and a job to continue his work.

Prasher’s story is what concerns me with science, engineering, math, and technology. In the U.S., we are constantly hearing about how the country is falling behind in science. We need more scientists to fill all of those jobs we want to create. And the cure to that is to fund more PhD programs! Yet, when you ask graduate students and postdoctoral scholars what their individual experiences are, a science career is a very tough road with low pay and few career prospects. It’s such a tough path that an entire PhD comic strip was born to alleviate the situation with laughter. Why then, is there such a disconnect?

Labour Union significant for Postdoctoral Research

David Hasemyer writes about UC postdoc unionization
and highlights why labour unions are significant to PostDoc
UC labor union significant for postdoctoral research

By David

Union-Tribune Staff Writer
2:00 a.m. July 6,
Postdoctoral scholars in the University of California system have unionized, marking a significant shift in how the researchers' work is viewed and providing a possible model for counterparts nationwide. As much as graduate student instructors and others worked to do years ago, the scholars now can bargain for wages and health care benefits and negotiate the recognition
they get for their academic contributions.

Although representation will give them more control over their role in the world of
high-powered academics – a right some say they've been denied by professors or mentors – they don't have a contract that defines their function or sets their benefits.
The scholars and university officials have worked on a contract for five months, and both
sides report some progress, but also some contentiousness.

UC labor union significant for postdoctoral research

Union-Tribune Staff Writer

2:00 a.m. July 6, 2009

July 07, 2009

HHMI, a Leader in Scientific and Medical Research Extends Support to PostDocs!

HMMI is one of the well known and reputed scientific research institutions in US, campuses like Janelia of HMMI is a state of the art place in every aspect for young scientists, now HHMI extends it's support for more postdocs (60 plus PostDocs and 5 million for three years!) in affiliated research centers. Good work HHMI.

This linkJune 16, 2009
HHMI Expands Support of Postdoctoral Scientists June 16, 2009

The Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) announced today that it is expanding collaborations with the Jane Coffin Childs Memorial Fund, the Helen Hay Whitney Foundation, the Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation, and the Life Sciences Research Foundation in order to increase support for outstanding postdoctoral researchers.

HHMI will now provide each organization with support for eight postdoctoral fellows a year – double the current number – and expand the reach of the program.

Fellows will be selected competitively by each organization. Each fellowship will have a three-year term. When the initiative is at full capacity, HHMI will be supporting 96 postdoctoral fellows at an anticipated annual cost of about $5 million. The program began in 2007 when HHMI announced it would fund up to 16 postdoctoral fellows in HHMI labs each year. There is no requirement that future fellows be appointed in HHMI labs.

June 30, 2009

First UCONN Health Center, then UC Campuses and now it is Rutgers turn to Unionize!!..

Header image
We need a union
This image is from the Rutgers website:

First UCONN Health Center, then it was UC Campuses and now, it is the Rutgers turn to Unionization of is just the beginning of fruition of what UCONN PostDocs did few years ago...............!

The latest news among the PostDocs Union activity is released by the Rutgers AAUP/AFT. It was not in the news at all prior to this one, as my blog follows all the postdoc unionization activity in US and around the globe, I was bit surprised to see an advanced stage of unionization already in progress at Rutgers University, it is a great news!. I wish the Rutgers PostDoc all success and great benefits from their struggle to get better recognition...!
Postdocs voted in favor of unionization with AFT Rutgers, AAUP-AFT. Working together with great solidarity in a timely fashion, we have been able to file our petition for union representation with the New Jersey Public Employment Relations Commission (PERC) on June 12, 2009!


We did it!

Postdocs voted in favor of unionization with AFT Rutgers, AAUP-AFT. Working together with great solidarity in a timely fashion, we have been able to file our petition for union representation with the New Jersey Public Employment Relations Commission (PERC) on June 12, 2009!

We will keep you informed of the next steps in the certification process. Meanwhile, let's continue our discussions about what issues to address at the bargaining table. Bargaining surveys will be prepared and sent out to help determine our priorities.

Email or call 732-745-0300, if you would like to be involved!

In Solidarity,

Postdoc Organizing Committee

June 02, 2009

The Struggle for Success in Academia for Asian Americans?

Career Advice

Breaking Through the "Bamboo Ceiling" for Asian American Scientists

In academia and federal institutes, Asian Americans encounter what some call a "bamboo ceiling," similar to what female scientists faced 30 years ago.About 20 years ago Alice, a virologist, was up for a position as university president. She was one of three possible candidates. But during her interview things started to go a bit sour when the committee persistently asked her what she would be willing to give up should she be given the job. Sensing this, she told them point blank, "I don't think I'll get this job because of how I look." The committee members all grew silent.

April 09, 2009

Research Assistants Join Union, SUNY?

Research assistants join a union
Karen Kaplan
New York sees a rare feat.
Research assistants at the Research Foundation of the State University of New York (SUNY) in Stony Brook have decided to unionize — the latest development in ongoing unionization battles at US universities. Nearly all who voted last month to join the Communication Workers of America (CWA) are working in science, says Matthew Engel, a Stony Brook research assistant who campaigned for union representation. Frustrated by issues such as fees and job insecurity, they are seeking benefits comparable to those received by teaching assistants.

February 11, 2009

University of California, PostDoc Union Negotiation initiated?

The University of California (UC), and the International Union, Unit0.o Automobils, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers or America (UAW), will be meeting to begin the initial stages of collective bargaining in 2009. 
It will cover about 5,500 Postdoctoral Sr:holar employees. Systemwide bargaining may begin following completion of the public notice mf'f'tings scheduled below.

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.