Our favorite stories of 2015


We’ve covered a lot of ground at Science Careers this year. On the news front, we wrote last winter about a study quantifying elitism in academic hiring and a report describing barriers for women of color in science, and in the spring, we covered a report on depression among science and engineering graduate students. Over the summer, we wrote about a study suggesting that, as research teams grow, career prospects may shrink, and in the fall, we covered a study reporting that men have a greater tendency than women to cite themselves, with potential career implications.

But here at Science Careers, we also go beyond the breaking news. We dig into the stories behind the research, investigating the hardships and successes that scientists find as they strive to reach their career goals. We provide insight and guidance to overcome career challenges as diverse as pursuing risky research, suffering from career uncertainty, encountering gender bias, and responding to life-changing experiences. So, as we reach the end of the year, we’d like to take the opportunity to share with you some of our favorite stories of 2015.

Scientists under the microscopeby Elisabeth Pain, 28 January In an era when scientists are increasingly exposed, they need to be careful to distinguish between scientific criticism and personal attacks.

The science of schmoozingby Eli Kintisch, 04 February How one geoscientist built a career using data, charisma, and connections.

What’s the purpose of a scientific career?by Beryl Lieff Benderly, 05 March Research shows that many members of groups underrepresented in academic science seek careers that express values beyond pure research.

All in the familyby Rachel Bernstein, 27 May Husband-and-wife chemists discuss working with a spouse and the role of gender and family in an academic career.

Feeling stuckby Carrie Arnold, 28 May For aspiring scientists, not knowing their career options can be a major source of anxiety.

You’ll be OKby Michelle E. Portman, 12 June Michelle E. Portman has learned to value all of life’s ups and downs.

What happens after a retraction?by Rachel Bernstein, 23 June Retractions, whether for honest error or misconduct, diminish future citations to researchers’ old papers by 10% to 20%, a study says. 

A hidden startby Trisha Gura, 1 July Startup jobs require brilliance and versatility, and they’re often hard to see.

Taking the road less traveledby Beryl Lieff Benderly, 8 July Pursuing controversial or unconventional research ideas can carry serious professional and personal risks.

Journeying back in time with ancient DNAby Rachel Bernstein, 23 July Three young researchers establish careers in the exciting field of ancient DNA.

Countering gender bias at conferencesby Carrie Arnold, 29 July Female speakers are underrepresented at some conferences, but a vocal group of advocates is working to address the problem.

When your work title is a working titleby Adam Ruben, 27 August Does your job title really matter? Our columnist explores what’s in a name.

The fungi that ate my houseby Joan W. Bennett, 28 August Joan W. Bennett shares how she was able to pick up the pieces and revitalize her research after Hurricane Katrina destroyed her home.

When science fails a scientistby Kim Hunter-Schaedle, 4 September Kim Hunter-Schaedle describes how a family tragedy pushed her to strive for a better work-life balance.

Scientists should defend, not defund, the humanitiesby Adam Ruben, 23 September A crisis for the humanities is a crisis for all, our columnist argues.

After the bombsby Elisabeth Pain, 30 September A Syrian computer scientist describes her professional life before the war and her efforts to rebuild her career and a future for her family in Europe.

Passion: Your secret weapon for job search successby David G. Jensen, 14 October Our columnist advises interviewees to express the emotions driving their career choices.

The best decision I ever madeby Kamal J. K. Gandhi, 26 November Early in her life, Kamal J. K. Gandhi vowed that she would move anywhere to pursue her dream of becoming an ecologist.

From the Science/AAAS Custom Publishing Office

Faculty: Making Your Research Countby Chris Tachibana, 30 January Faculty members don’t usually get formal training in research program management, but that might be changing.

Transitioning fields between a Ph.D. and postdocby Alaina Levine, 28 August Switching fields midstream requires thoughtful analysis, research, and due diligence. Hear advice from researchers who have made the transition. 

Effective teaching: to be an effective educator, get activeby Chris Tachibana, 18 September Evidence-based teaching strategies are changing how some faculty shape their courses. 

Annual top employer survey: Top firms prioritize transformative technologies, patientsby Kendall Powell, 30 October The firms landing at the top of the 2015 Science Careers Top Employers Survey harness innovation and create workplaces that recruit the brightest scientific minds.

Elsewhere in Science, 18 Dec 2015

People of the Year: Future of Research’s postdoc activists