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How to find a science postdoctoral position Carol Thornber, PhD Assistant Professor, Biological Sciences University of Rhode Island

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Presentation on theme: "How to find a science postdoctoral position Carol Thornber, PhD Assistant Professor, Biological Sciences University of Rhode Island"— Presentation transcript:

1 How to find a science postdoctoral position Carol Thornber, PhD Assistant Professor, Biological Sciences University of Rhode Island

2 Talk Outline What is a postdoc? What is a postdoc? How do you find postdoc openings? How do you find postdoc openings? Getting the most out of your postdoc Getting the most out of your postdoc

3 What is a postdoc? Need PhD or equivalent (e.g. MD) Need PhD or equivalent (e.g. MD) Full time research/teaching Full time research/teaching Appointment from 1-5 years Appointment from 1-5 years Supervised by mentor/advisor Supervised by mentor/advisor Prep. for professional/academic career Prep. for professional/academic career Independent or on someone’s grant Independent or on someone’s grant

4 History of postdocs First postdocs at Johns Hopkins U. First postdocs at Johns Hopkins U. Recent increase in postdocs Recent increase in postdocs In 1975: 16,000 postdocs In 1975: 16,000 postdocs In 1995: 35,00 postdocs In 1995: 35,00 postdocs Today: over 50,000 postdocs Today: over 50,000 postdocs Out of 350 doctorate-granting institutions surveyed, more than two-thirds from 50 institutions Out of 350 doctorate-granting institutions surveyed, more than two-thirds from 50 institutions

5 What types of postdocs exist? Academia Academia Government Government Industry/Nonprofits Industry/Nonprofits

6 The good & the bad of postdocs Good: Good: Opportunity to develop new, independent research project Opportunity to develop new, independent research project Form new collaborations Form new collaborations Flexibility Flexibility Bad: Bad: Low pay Low pay Nebulous status Nebulous status

7 Do YOU need to do a postdoc? Determine your ULTIMATE career goal Determine your ULTIMATE career goal Is a postdoc needed/useful for career goal? Is a postdoc needed/useful for career goal? Pitfalls: Postdocs may… Pitfalls: Postdocs may… Fail to find full time employment afterwards Fail to find full time employment afterwards Receive insufficient mentoring/support Receive insufficient mentoring/support Not have enough independence to establish themselves as scientists Not have enough independence to establish themselves as scientists

8 Talk Outline What is a postdoc? What is a postdoc? How do you find postdoc openings? How do you find postdoc openings? Getting the most out of your postdoc Getting the most out of your postdoc

9 How to find a postdoc Biggest resource::: networking Biggest resource::: networking Go to lots of meetings, talk with PIs whose research you like Go to lots of meetings, talk with PIs whose research you like Ask your colleagues/advisors Ask your colleagues/advisors potential mentors potential mentors

10 How to find a postdoc: specific Science Science Nature Nature The Chronicle of Higher Education The Chronicle of Higher Education

11 How to find a postdoc: specific Major funding agency websites: Major funding agency websites: NSF NSF NIH NIH NOAA NOAA …and others! …and others! Professional societies: Professional societies: Websites Websites Listservers Listservers Meetings Meetings Individual university websites Individual university websites

12 How to find a postdoc: specific Research organizations (examples): Research organizations (examples): Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories Los Alamos National Laboratories Los Alamos National Laboratories Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute Professional websites: Professional websites: (Europe only) (Europe only)

13 Things to consider… Different fields - will broaden your CV Different fields - will broaden your CV New “hot” topics with more funding New “hot” topics with more funding Geography: where to live? Geography: where to live? United States United States International International

14 Postdocs At UC Davis UCD Office of Grad Studies’ website UCD Office of Grad Studies’ website PROF (Professors of the Future, PROF (Professors of the Future, UC President’s Postdoctoral Fellowship UC President’s Postdoctoral Fellowship

15 What to look for in your mentor Is this person active in their field? (publications, grants, etc) Is this person active in their field? (publications, grants, etc) What are his/her grad students, postdocs working on? What are his/her grad students, postdocs working on? Will this person be a good colleague? Will this person be a good colleague? What is the funding situation? What is the funding situation?

16 Before you accept an offer…. Is this what you want?? Is this what you want?? Confirm in an offer letter: Confirm in an offer letter: Salary Salary Benefits (family coverage?) Benefits (family coverage?) Starting, ending dates Starting, ending dates Expectations of your research Expectations of your research Evaluate the institution Evaluate the institution

17 Before you accept an offer…. Make sure you will be done with your PhD PRIOR to the starting date Make sure you will be done with your PhD PRIOR to the starting date Take time off! Take time off!

18 Talk Outline What is a postdoc? What is a postdoc? How do you find postdoc openings? How do you find postdoc openings? Getting the most out of your postdoc Getting the most out of your postdoc

19 What to expect when you start Ability to get a new project up and running QUICKLY Ability to get a new project up and running QUICKLY Different dynamics than grad students Different dynamics than grad students

20 What to expect when you start Ability to get a new project up and running QUICKLY Ability to get a new project up and running QUICKLY Different dynamics than grad students Different dynamics than grad students Advise, mentor grads and undergrads Advise, mentor grads and undergradsAnd/Or Run the lab Run the lab Look for local postdoc network for info Look for local postdoc network for info

21 Make the most of your time! Meet, network with range of faculty/colleagues Meet, network with range of faculty/colleagues NOT just your mentor(s)! NOT just your mentor(s)! Participate in seminars, group research projects Participate in seminars, group research projects Publish like mad Publish like mad

22 Make the most of your time! Go to meetings and more meetings, even if you have to pay for them Go to meetings and more meetings, even if you have to pay for them Look for supplemental (funding) opportunities Look for supplemental (funding) opportunities TEACH A COURSE, if you want to become a professor TEACH A COURSE, if you want to become a professor

23 Start looking for “real” jobs…. Develop your career Develop your career Make your research independent of your grad, postdoc mentors Make your research independent of your grad, postdoc mentors Network, network, network Network, network, network Realize that a postdoc is not a permanent position Realize that a postdoc is not a permanent position

24 For more information…. UCD Postdoctoral Scholars’ Association UCD Postdoctoral Scholars’ Associationhttp://postdocs.ucdavis.edu Postdoc Network (Science’s Nextwave) Postdoc Network (Science’s Nextwave) Enhancing the Postdoctoral Experience for Scientists and Engineers: A Guide for Postdoctoral Scholars, Advisers, Institutions, Funding Organizations, and Disciplinary Societies (under $12)http://books.nap.edu/catalog/9831.html

25 THANK YOU: Joanne Bookmeyer Joanne Bookmeyer Tom Peavy Tom Peavy


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