Oct 2013 WEB - page 5

A postdoc
position should
be required of
and available
only to those
who really
have a chance
of becoming
an assistant
I also recommend that you spend time
with some friends who know everything,
namely Google, Twitter, and Facebook. Seek
information. Look for statistics and data. I
know that in our field it can be hard to find
some of the information you need to make
career choices, but invest time in this search
because it is very important that you have
the right information to make decisions.
Make sure you cast the widest possible net
by liaising and connecting with people. The
ASCB Annual Meeting is the ideal place for
doing so, but throughout the year there are
many opportunities that you should seek and
capitalize on.
And finally, do not feel that you are stuck
in a rut. As I mentioned, there are jobs for
scientists, and there are wonderful career
opportunities. But you need to be open to all
ideas and not dwell on the stigma associated
with the term “alternative
” The mainstream
is bigger than you think. Whatever you decide
to do is mainstream; we all have careers and
none should be considered alternative.
ASCB’s Initiatives to Help
Graduate Students and Postdocs
In this complex context, what can ASCB
offer? As President Don Cleveland has
highlighted multiple times, ASCB has
clearly chosen sustaining graduate students
and postdocs as its top strategic priority.
This strategic goal has been implemented
by forming COMPASS, the COMmittee of
Postdocs And StudentS, which has quickly
become an active and very innovative
committee within ASCB. COMPASS offers
leadership opportunities to students and
postdocs and invaluable input into decision
making at ASCB.
This year, we also started, in partnership
with Beckman-Coulter, the Kaluza prize, for
which we have received 154 applications. It
is the only ASCB award that comes with a
significant cash prize of $5,000. That is not
by chance; it is because ASCB wants to show
its priorities and its support for our best and
brightest young scientists.
Next year, ASCB will start, in a promising
partnership with EMD Millipore and the
Keck Institute in Claremont, CA, a two-
week bioscience management course for those
who are considering a career in industry.
This course will be the ASCB West Coast
counterpoint to the East Coast Woods Hole
Physiology course, which is geared toward
academic careers and with which ASCB has long
been associated. With this new course, ASCB
wants to ensure that solid training is available
in a variety of career paths for today’s workforce
of cell biologists and basic scientists and that
they have a chance to consider a wide range of
opportunities beyond those that are immediately
I also encourage all graduate students
and postdocs to take advantage of the new
opportunities offered this year at the Annual
Meeting in New Orleans. We have hired top-
notch professionals, former producers of “Good
Morning America,” to give group and one-
on-one training on how to deliver PowerPoint
presentations and how to talk about science
in public, at a dinner party, or on the subway
with the accidental person you may run into
who happens to be interested in science. These
are valuable skills in making connections and
fulfilling your key role as a science advocate.
Finally, ASCB offers year-round
opportunities to develop professional skills and
visibility in the field. You can organize a local
meeting, write for the highly successful ASCB
Post, or benefit from the help of ASCB senior
members who can review your CV when you are
job hunting.
The problems confronting the biomedical
workforce are not easily solvable, but I am
excited by the clear commitment that we have at
ASCB to influence policy and develop our own
initiatives that put young scientists first. This is
the best way to put the future of our nation first.
References and Footnotes
Bourne HR (2013). A fair deal for PhD students and
2, e01139.
National Institutes of Health (2012). Biomedical
Research Workforce Working Group draft report
U.S. Census Bureau: American Community Survey.
Science & Engineering Workforce Project at the
National Bureau of Economic Research.
National Science Board (2012). Science and
Engineering Indicators, p3–35.
National Science Foundation (2011). Survey of
Doctorate Recipients.
Stephan P (2012).
How Economics Shapes Science
Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
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