Friday, 21 November 2014 00:00

A Postdoc Is a Postdoc Is a Postdoc?

“Postdocs” may share a common colloquial (if not official) title, but their benefits and compensation actually vary widely from institution to institution.

This was a major finding of the National Postdoc Association (NPA)’s 2014 Institutional Policy Report . While we got a preview of the findings several months ago in Nature Careers, the full report was released just this month. The document contains data from 74 institutions; they are listed as respondents, but their individual policies are not disclosed. While I personally believe institutions should make this information readily available on an individual basis, the aggregate data provide some fascinating insights.

Published in COMPASS Points

What are the biggest challenges that young scientists face? What can the ASCB do to help?

Please join us at the COMPASS Open Forum at the ASCB Annual Meeting! COMPASS is the ASCB Committee for Postdocs and Students, and is focused specifically on issues of importance to trainees. This year, we'll be trying something new with the open forum. We'll start off with about 10 minutes of introductions so participants can learn what COMPASS is all about.

Published in COMPASS Points
Friday, 07 November 2014 00:00

Poster Advice, Timeless and Otherwise

With the annual meeting fast approaching, it’s time once again to start putting together your poster.

There are innumerable websites offering advice on poster design (my favorite being Dr. Zen’s“Better Posters”), but most essentials are covered in Steve Block’s 1996 classic “ Do’s and Don’ts of Poster Printing.

Some advice definitely stands the test of time (and makes me wince at all my past transgressions).

Published in COMPASS Points

Time in graduate school can seem like it stretches on forever: all those never-ending classes, exams, long experiments, time courses, lab meetings, conferences, departmental talks, etc… And yet, I’ve noticed that graduate students are scared, nay terrified, of their thesis defense! What should be the happy, proud culmination of years of research, hard work, and effort ends up as a miserable month or two of writing, preparing, and defending the thesis. 

Published in COMPASS Points

As a postdoctoral fellow at the NIH, in the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI), I have been strongly encouraged from the outset of my five-year appointment to start making serious decisions about my career path. Although I have always loved basic research and the thrill that comes from making a novel discovery, I also feel a strong pull to have a job that allows for more interaction with people and less with cultured cells and pipettors. Being at the NIH, I did not have to look far to learn about scientific jobs away from the lab bench.

Published in COMPASS Points

The average age for an academic researcher to receive his or her first NIH R grant is 42.

Like many of you, I am concerned about this for a few reasons. First, it reflects an ever-increasing “training” period, with investigators not truly achieving independence until they have their own dedicated source of funding. Second, it suggests that as scientists we are not getting the benefits of a “real” job until our early 40s, including getting established in a stable location, retirement benefits, and the like.

Published in COMPASS Points
Friday, 10 October 2014 00:00

Being Eco-Friendly in the Lab

Climate change is real, and the recent UN Climate Summit highlighted the fact that more must be done to mitigate this problem. On an individual level, there are several ways to be eco-friendly. Perhaps you do your part by recycling or composting. Maybe you bike to work, carpool, or use public transportation. Some of us make sure to use reusable grocery bags. Whatever the method, simple sustainability measures in our personal lives can make a difference in reducing pollution and preventing further climate change.

Published in COMPASS Points
Friday, 03 October 2014 00:00

ASCB’s COMPASS Science Writing Contest

The Communications Subcommittee of the Committee for Postdocs and Students (COMPASS) is pleased to announce its Science Writing Competition. All ASCB postdocs and graduate students are invited to share their passion for science through writing. Writing is an invaluable skill for all those in research-related positions. In addition, science writing is one of many career options for graduate students and postdocs, and can vary from medical writing to editorial work and even science blogs. This is a great opportunity to try it out!

Published in COMPASS Points
Friday, 26 September 2014 00:00

Students and Postdocs: Get Involved with ASCB!

The ASCB and COMPASS are calling for applications from enthusiastic students and postdocs to be associate members of COMPASS, the ASCB Committee for Postdocs and Students. COMPASS members represent the voices and perspectives of students and postdocs in the ASCB, and interact with the ASCB leadership to develop initiatives that reflect our interests. The specific initiatives and projects are driven largely by COMPASS members’ ideas. What does COMPASS do, exactly? We’re glad you asked!

Published in COMPASS Points

As the real (i.e., inflation-adjusted) purchasing power of the NIH has fallen by 25% over the last decade, there’s been a lot of debate about how the biomedical workforce should adjust to the changing landscape. This reduction in NIH funding is imposing a hard limit on the number and size of stably funded academic research labs. And combined with the fact that there are far more trainees than available academic faculty positions , one option is to reduce the number of trainees. 

Published in COMPASS Points
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