Science Careers’ Best of 2008


In 2008, Science Careers offered readers worldwide a collection of articles illustrating scientific career opportunities in and out of research, advising readers on landing good jobs and excelling in scientific careers, and profiling scientists who succeeded in research as well as some who looked elsewhere for fulfillment. This week, we recap the year, serving up some of our favorites, chosen by the Science Careers editorial staff.

It was a year when our readers had plenty of reasons to look for guidance, when many U.S. researchers labored under tight funding conditions that grew increasingly uncertain as the year ended. Outside the United States, the situation wasn’t much different. To help our readers–especially the younger, less established lot–deal with that uncertainty, we gave longtime contributor Beryl Lieff Benderly her own column, “Taken for Granted,” in which she dissects the challenges faced by postdocs and other researchers “who deserve better.”

Our other columnists (Dave Jensen, Peter Fiske, Irene Levine, and the team of Patricia Gosling and Bart Noordam) stepped up with helpful and timely advice, as did our staff of editors and correspondents–Jim Austin, Kate Travis, Alan Kotok, and Elisabeth Pain–and our many skilled contributors. Among those contributors, Lucas Laursen investigated the “impostor syndrome,” which prevents some high achievers from accepting their own success, in an article that generated a good deal of comment.

(right) returned from a deployment in Iraq to continue his chemistry studies at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities.

At Science Careers, we run a special feature every month. In 2008, we focused twice on advice for undergraduates, starting in April with characteristics of the Generation Y workforce. In December, we surveyed summer internships in science, just in time for undergraduates to choose an internship program or two and fill out their applications.

We met some fascinating people in 2008, people who left their original work for the emerging field of synthetic biology, who climb through forests, who serve as mentors, and one who (as part of his job) revels in controversy. We met a group of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans returning to campus to study science and engineering (a feature that resulted in an official Army commendation for Alan Kotok, our managing editor), another group of faculty members who were the first in their families to graduate from college, and still another group who became science-policy fellows, combining politics and science.

We said a sad goodbye to Micella Phoenix Dewhyse, our Educated Woman, who, after more than 6 years of laying it all on the line and serving as an online mentor and virtual soulmate to hundreds of struggling young scientists, left research to start a new professional life. Meanwhile, we ratcheted up our “In Person” series a notch, providing more scientists with opportunities to tell their own stories in their own words or share their wisdom about scientific careers.

Careers had 11 podcasts in 2008, including … [MP3]. Rob Frederick, Kate Travis, Lucas Laursen, 11 April 2008. Characteristics of the Generation Y Workforce, starts at 24:43.

pursues her career in synthetic biology at the J. Craig Venter Institute in Rockville, Maryland.

Editors Kate Travis and Elisabeth Pain blogged live from the Euroscience Open Forum meeting in Barcelona in July, which produced theof 2008, on the need for women to choose between family and career. In April, theand others reported on NSF’s decision to stop reporting on the numbers of minorities in some scientific disciplines. In May, we got a promise and then thefrom NSF.

Photos, top to bottom: Xenia Antunes, courtesy of Jeremiah Peterson, Getty Images, Michael G. Montague

The ABCs of Transitioning to Leadership

Smarter Than the Average Desk