Bruno Da Rocha-Azevedo has been interested in how cells interact with their environment since college. During his Ph.D. studies and his first postdoc in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and Richmond, VA, Bruno discovered how pathogenic amoebas interact with host mammalian cells and components of the host extracellular matrix, applying Cell Biology concepts in Microbiology. Currently as postdoctoral researcher at the Dept.of Cell Biology at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, Bruno is expanding his knowledge of cell - microenvironment relationships studying the interaction between fibroblasts and three-dimensional collagen matrices as a model to study skin wound healing at Fred Grinnell's lab.
If you are a scientist, you know at least a little bit about the current crisis academia is suffering. The large number of PhD students inside a system that does not have enough academic jobs for all of them after they finish their postdoctoral training is alarming. It is also common to hear that competition for faculty positions at universities (and we are not talking only about Harvard, MIT, and Stanford) includes hundreds of qualified individuals for one job. Yes, only ONE.
In my last post, I covered the initial steps of applying for academic faculty jobs, basically preparing and submitting the application material to the universities. Most universities will shortlist the applications to between 5 - 20% for further evaluation, which usually includes two types of interviews: first, a remote interview (via phone or Skype), and finally the last round—a visit to the university. To get to this final step is already a significant achievement, since competition for faculty positions in certain universities in the United States can be intense—around 300 applications for 1 position.
One topic represents a common problem of science today: the academic faculty job market. The competition for an assistant professorship in cell biology in a middle-sized university in the United States results in a clash of approximately 300 applicants warring against each other for ONE position. In times of impact factor dominance, limited fellowships, and fewer grants, the focus has shifted from creativity to irrational productivity, sometimes measured by the number of CNS (Cell, Nature, Science) papers published. Even though the career transition from postdoc to assistant professor is broken now, how can you proceed to the next academic step if you really want to?
The ASCB wants to create new opportunities for members' participation. Currently, most members participate by attending the Annual Meeting, where they present exciting new data, develop collaborations, and learn more about cell biology. However, this is not the only thing the ASCB offers to its members. The ASCB organizes multiple events and activities during the whole year, and we need people to know about them.
We recently celebrated the 50th anniversary of the march on Washington and Martin Luther King Jr's I Have a Dream speech. A critical step towards civil rights was established at the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. Fifty years later, we are seeing in real time the fastest civil rights movement in history. In 1996, only 27% of Americans agreed that those in same-sex marriages should have the same rights as traditional marriages. In 2013, this number is 53% .
Science is at the crossroads: Amazing discoveries are being made every day but there is a severe reduction in funding for biomedical research. Most scientific funding comes from government agencies, and I believe it is put toward the common good of both scientists and nonscientists. But do nonscientists believe that?