May 06 2013 Published by drugmonkey under NIH funding, Postdoctoral Training
Why the heck am I still getting "please get me out of [insert non Western country here]" postdoc inquiries? Haven't they heard our funding situation is horrible in this country?
11 responses so far
"Haven't they heard our funding situation is horrible in this country?"
Of course they have. And it still sounds better than the prospects in their own country.
Less than 20% of the world's population has clean drinking water. Ergo, if you're in a country that does (for the most part, US, EU, Canada, Japan), even the countries you think offer a semi-western lifestyle to their citizens (i.e. BRIC) are gonna be teeming with people who can't wait to get out, for this and a whole host of other reasons. Throw in unemployment rates in the 25-50% range for much of Sub-Saharan Africa and South America, and horrible pollution elsewhere, and you begin to realize in the US we just don't know how good we have it. I believe it was Howard Kunstler who said "we have a long way to go, to appreciate the true meaning of poverty in the USA, when the poor still drive to work". So yeah, the NIH funding dealio sucks, but its not nearly as bad as some folks have it.
it was just a comment on how likely we are to say yes, not on how awesome it is to live in the US dudes
Clearly you pay too much.
"I believe it was Howard Kunstler who said "we have a long way to go, to appreciate the true meaning of poverty in the USA, when the poor still drive to work". So yeah, the NIH funding dealio sucks, but its not nearly as bad as some folks have it."
I discussed funding with people from some BRIC countries during conferences and their funding situation is actually quite good! But after getting the money, the infrastructure kind of sucks in several (not all) institutions there so its difficult to do top quality research. Here's where the overhead whiners should take note - I'm not a supporter of ridiculously high overhead costs at all, but the overhead is what allows universities to build and maintain infrastructure here in the States. Imagine if the previous generations also constantly complained about it, then you would end up with enough grant money like the BRIC labs, but you wouldn't have the lab space, well-trained staff, streamlined ordering systems or core centers, to name a few, that you enjoy on a regular basis to do good research.
I believe I just stirred a hornet's nest with the overhead rant....
Not just non-Western countries. I've been getting many responses from Spain.
So what does this mean for people outside the US who want to head there for a postdoc? Having your own funding is always going to be a plus but is it now a necessity?
I'm getting towards the end of my PhD and starting to consider postdoc positions of which there are few (if any) in my own country that suit my interests. The US would be the obvious place to head but is the funding situation really so dire that it may not be an option?
I think the US is still the best place for a postdoc (YMMV), it's just harder to find PIs with spare money. Get your own funding, even if it won't fully cover your salary, and you'll be very marketable.
Other considerations are: do you want to transition to PIness? Where do you want to do it/where do you want to build your network? I predict that as reality dawns on the higher-ups the job market in the US will gradually dry up, so you may want to also consider that.
Some groups and institutes in down-and-out countries like Portugal and Spain (Gulbenkian, CRG, CNIO) are highly competitive for european monies, and I see them publishing very well. They combine the best options of hard money positions but no teaching, baseline funding and institutional support for grad students and postdocs. Sure they are scaling back but in the long run they will be spared. But if history is any guide, if you want to work there you'll have to postdoc elsewhere, because they have wintessed the evils of the surrounding endogamy and actively avoid it.
A postdoc in the US is seen as prestigious in China, India, Singapore, and less-so in Japan... so even if there are good funding opportunities or permanent positions at home, US is seen as a route to getting one of those.
We're doing a good job of starting to change that.
We're doing a good job of making the postdoc position less and less prestigious in general.
I've been thinking recently that the people in my lab in the best position to "succeed" are actually the foreign students (especially students from China). Train here, get experience in the US, then have the entire US and Chinese job market open to them.
DrugMonkey is an NIH-funded researcher who blogs about careerism in science. And occasionally about the science of drug use.
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