Academic Gluttony

2 science machines

A grateful holder of gainful employ for almost exactly one year now, I’ve been more or less successful in temporarily quieting the cries of unemployment anxiety in a world where I am utterly over or under qualified to do most things but run a science machine.

(Please refer to the following Simpsons compilation for those of you who are generally unaware of what it’s like to find work with a PhD. Click here for the Simpsons take on PhDs )

I recently read an interesting article called, “The Real Science Gap” by Beryl Benderly, and it clearly articulates a problem lamented by many a grad student over recent years.  In a nutshell, the US is losing ground in the battle for scientific and technologic superiority not because there are too few scientists, but because there are not enough jobs and opportunities to support them.  Beryl* points to an increasingly ignored academic tradition of graduate advisors stewarding the early careers of their protégées, finding them jobs and helping them get funding.  The world has changed, grants are few and jobs far between, but this model has not been altered in any way and it seems it may no longer be sustainable.  Some interesting snippets,  “The average age of scientists winning their first independent NIH grants — a major career milestone that once tended to come in a researcher’s late 20s or early 30s — had risen to 42.” ” A once-desirable career path for the best U.S. scientific talent has become a route to penury, frustration and disappointment.”

Read, discuss, cry, or leave a big fat “told you so” in the comments.

*High five to Beryl’s parents for naming their child after a mineral!


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One Response to Academic Gluttony

  1. dkNo Gravatar 1 September, 2010 at 11:58 am #

    Bah, who needs science or scientists? It’s just a bunch of bitter know-it-alls failing to disprove creationism and astrology, right?
    (what do you that without scientists, there would be no internet/computer/electricity/clothing/everything-else-I’ve-touched-today?)
    In other words, keep up the good fight, and good luck!

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