Taken for Granted Index


Beryl Lieff Benderly has been a regular contributor to Science Careers since 2003, writing on postdoc matters and other scientific workforce issues. She writes from Washington, D.C.

From flavonoids to flavor 03 February 2016 A postdoc follows a scientific passion from the lab to entrepreneurship.

Two sides of the H-1B 06 January 2016 Museum exhibit and new book present diverging views of the high-skill guest worker visa

The case of the disappearing postdocs 09 December 2015 Fewer young scientists are choosing to take postdoc positions, according to recent data

Uncle Sam may want you 4 November 2015 Prestigious awards highlight the wide range of science-based opportunities in federal service.

A new kind of visa ‘creativity’ 7 October 2015 Recent cases of H-1B visa abuse in academe could indicate a growing trend

Where the jobs are 9 September 2015 Hidden opportunities uncovered through networking are the key to career success, a new book argues.

A guide for the perplexed 14 August 2015 A clear-eyed new book demystifies the tenure-track job market.

Taking the road less traveled 8 July 2015 Pursuing controversial or unconventional research ideas can carry serious professional and personal risks.

A different kind of postdoc experience 3 June 2015 Postdocs in industry explore opportunities that aren’t available in academe.

Women have a hiring advantage in the scientific stratosphere 29 April 2015 A widely reported study says women are preferred in faculty hiring—but it doesn’t say bias isn’t a problem at other key career points.

Learning to lead 9 April 2015 A conference organized by students and postdocs introduces young scientists to the culture of biotech and the challenges of working in the field.

What’s the purpose of a scientific career? 05 March 2015 Research shows that many members of groups underrepresented in academic science seek careers that express values beyond pure research.

The paradox of job creation 05 February 2015 A reanalysis of an oft-repeated claim highlights the need for better understanding of job creation.

The not-quite-stated, awful truth 08 January 2015 The National Academies’ new report details why doing a postdoc is generally a bad idea.

Paradigms and prejudice 04 December 2014

Postdocs speak up 05 November 2014

To tweet or not to tweet? 02 October 2014

04 September 2014

31 July 2014

09 July 2014

05 June 2014

Coming to America 01 May 2014

31 March 2014

05 March 2014

Rethinking the Retirement Bottleneck 05 February 2014

Celebrating an Educational Innovation in Capital Style 05 December 2013

31 October 2013

02 October 2013

The Prescription for a Family-Friendly Profession 31 July 2013 The professional lives of pharmacists reveal how a science-based occupation can accommodate mothers.

Lost (and Gained) in Translation 05 July 2013 English’s status as the world language of science presents challenges and opportunities to native speakers and English learners.

05 June 2013

How to Succeed in Industry by Really Trying 03 May 2013 What Dow Chemical’s chief technology officer looks for in new employees may not be what you think.

What ‘Stapling a Green Card’ Portends for STEM 05 April 2013 Research suggests potential gains for university STEM departments but likely losses for STEM workers.

Live from D.C., It’s High-Skill Immigration Reform! 01 March 2013 Recent political pronouncements would be laughable if they weren’t potentially so harmful.

Better Learning Through Chemistry? 01 February 2013 The American Chemical Society boldly and insightfully examines what’s wrong with graduate education—and how to fix it.

Bordering on Confusion 04 January 2013 High-skill immigration reform is more complicated and contentious than it looks, an expert conference shows.

How Not to Attract Minorities to STEM 07 December 2012 Research shows that large admissions preferences stymie studies in science and technical subjects.

Ethics Across Borders 02 November 2012 Cultural differences in approaches to ethical issues create challenges for scientists working internationally.

America’s Real Jobs Gap 05 October 2012 A new book diagnoses America’s so-called skills gap and tells how it can easily be fixed.

Rethinking the Ph.D. 07 September 2012 Overlong and insufficiently focused on available careers, traditional Ph.D. programs clearly need reform: What changes make sense?

Crossing the Rubicon 10 August 2012 By admitting responsibility for the conditions that caused Sheri Sangji’s death, the University of California takes a step toward better lab safety.

A Stellar Opportunity 06 July 2012 Two reports propose significant reforms for graduate students and postdocs.

Doing Science While Female 01 June 2012 A new book looks at science careers across the stages of women’s lives.

Two Reports and the Worlds They Made 04 May 2012 Why do clinical medicine and academic science—both expert labor markets—offer such different career outlooks?

What the Doctors Ordered 06 April 2012 Medical practice has changed to meet the needs of female physicians. How likely is academic science to make a similar adjustment?

Foreign Invasion 02 March 2012 What happens when an influx of established talent invades a small research field?

How to Live with Danger 10 February 2012 As the Sangji case moves towards a legal judgment, will the academy learn its lessons?

Academia’s Crooked Money Trail 06 January 2012 Paula Stephan’s new book looks beyond rosy press releases to uncover the harsh economic realities of the academic job market.

A Blueprint for Safety Action Now 02 December 2011 The Chemical Safety Board’s report on the Texas Tech explosion is a must-read for everyone in charge of an academic lab.

Getting to Aaahhh! 04 November 2011 A former postdoc finds teaching high school a deeply satisfying career.

A Way to Improve Lab-Safety Culture? 07 October 2011 A former lab manager argues that modern information systems hold the key to safer academic labs.

What is Wrong with High-Skill Immigration Policy? 02 September 2011 A Senate hearing highlights the split between institutions’ and workers’ interests.

Everything Money Can Buy 05 August 2011 The vast wealth of the oil-rich Arab states is creating opportunities for scientists who can stand the heat.

Creating Opportunities 01 July 2011 Two university-based jobs programs are helping to boost opportunities for scientists who are already trained.

Immigrants and Entrepreneurship 03 June 2011 Recent research questions some popular estimates of the role of the foreign-born in founding high-tech companies.

When Will They Ever Learn? 06 May 2011 Another needless death at a university research facility points up the scandal of lax safety standards in academe.

Doctoral Candidate 08 April 2011 Postdoc-turned-politician Peter Ferguson hopes to bring his scientific insight to Canada’s federal Parliament.

Scarlet Letters 04 March 2011 Can young scientists publish without a mentor’s support?

Doing Something Different With Your Science 04 February 2011 The first Postdoctoral Professional Masters degree graduates are very positive about the program.

Stormy Weather 07 January 2011 Recent reports from the National Academies see no break in the clouds over the scientific labor market.

Choosing Between Science and Caring? 03 December 2010 Research suggests that many able women view careers in hard science as inimical to important values.

Ain’t Misbehavin’ 05 November 2010 Research suggests that social structure, not personal ethics, determines the frequency of scientific misconduct.

Making Book on America’s Universities 01 October 2010 A spate of recent books on the problems in academia agree on just one thing: Tenure has to go.

The New California Postdoc Contract 3 September 2010 After lengthy talks, and some strategic arm-twisting, the University of California comes to terms with its postdoc union.

Creating Their Own Credibility 6 August 2010 A non-profit founded and run by a group of independent researchers has permitted decades of scientific work.

The Immigration Guru 9 July 2010 In a debate long dominated by industry voices, statistician and technology expert Norman Matloff speaks up for the little people.

Making a Federal Case of Young Scientists’ Concerns 4 June 2010 Two issues important to postdocs have been elevated to the federal level.

Intimate Collaborations 14 May 2010 Scientists’ propensity to pair up romantically can help or hurt their careers.

Trying to Account for Tastes 2 April 2010 Research finds that scientists’ career preferences are far wider than stereotypes suggest.

Labor Unions and Postdoc Disputes 5 March 2010 A former University of Massachusetts postdoc sues his college, as postdocs on three UMass campuses unionize.

Where Two Issues Stand 5 February 2010 Lab safety slowly advances, while University of California postdoc contract negotiations stall.

A Shot at Transforming America’s Energy Future 8 January 2010 A postdoc’s new company wins one the 37 coveted first-round ARPA-E grants.

NIH’s Dr. Ruth 4 December 2009 Ruth L. Kirschstein’s life of research and service provides a powerful example for young scientists.

Shocked, Shocked! to Find Disappointment on Campus 13 November 2009 A new book takes a revealing look at careers in academic science.

Is a New Model Needed for Breakthrough Science? 2 October 2009 Traditional PI-centered research can’t solve today’s big technological problems, a lab leader asserts.

A “Natural” Step? 4 September 2009 Rutgers postdocs join their bosses’ union as union efforts multiply across the continent.

Doing Something About the Postdoc Mess 7 August 2009 Two new initiatives seek to prepare postdocs for off-campus careers.

An Alternative to the Ph.D. Track 3 July 2009 As NSF prepares to help Professional Science Masters programs multiply, employment prospects for graduates of these programs look strong, even in a weak economy.

Building a Culture of Safety 5 June 2009 State OSHA investigations of a fatal fire at UCLA point to changes needed to make academic labs safer.

The Burning Question of Laboratory Safety 1 May 2009 In the wake of a lab worker’s death, experts warn that many academic labs are unsafe.

The Jackpot’s Consequences 3 April 2009 As science funding agencies begin to dispense the huge stimulus appropriation, opinions about its ultimate impact on early-career scientists are mixed.

Shovel-Ready Science 6 March 2009 What does the stimulus windfall mean for the scientific labor market?

The Man Who Wasn’t There 13 February 2009 What does the tale of Douglas Prasher, the protein, and the Nobel Prize reveal about the scientific labor market?

Brother, Can You Spare a Temporary Worker Visa? 2 January 2009 In hard economic times, the controversial H-1B visa program needs major reform.

Can Scientists Believe in Change? 5 December 2008 Postdocs’ prospects are dimmed by the new Administration’s many competing priorities and a lack of understanding at the highest levels of the scientific work-force glut.

Joe the Plumber and the Postdocs 7 November 2008 What can early-career scientists learn from the working class?

A Big Idea about Fostering Innovation 3 October 2008 An unorthodox program helps young innovators turn inspiration into reality and suggests an intriguing approach to encouraging new ideas.

Fitting the Job Market to a T 5 September 2008 Former postdoc-activist Laure Haak has learned firsthand why, despite an abundance of impeccably trained postdocs, good help in industry is hard to find.

University of California Postdoc Union Wins Official Recognition 29 August 2008 The state employment board count of cards confirms a majority, officially unionizing the nation’s largest group of postdocs.

The Fat Lady Sings 1 August 2008 After the latest chapter in a long battle, employee postdocs on University of California campuses have voted to join the United Auto Workers union.

By the Numbers 4 July 2008 A committee calls on government to do a much better job collecting data about scientists.

Over Here 6 June 2008 Science and technology fields offer professional opportunities for veterans who choose wisely.

Lost in Space 2 May 2008 A severe disconnect separates some policymakers from scientists’ lived reality.

Help Is on the Way (for Some) 4 April 2008 A flurry of activity in early March, intended to ease the problems of young scientists, did little to address America’s most fundamental science-workforce issues.

Earlier articles for Science Careers:

Mastering the Job Market 7 March 2008 Professional science master’s degree graduates find themselves in demand for a variety of jobs.

What’s Ahead for Early-Career Scientists? 1 February 2008 A comprehensive biennial examination finds opportunities far brighter in industry than in academe.

Feeling the Elephant 4 January 2008 Why does the perception of a scientist shortage persist despite ample evidence to the contrary?

Rising Above “The Gathering Storm” 14 December 2007 A report from the Urban Institute casts doubt on claims that America suffers from poor science education and a shortage of qualified scientists.

GREAT Expectations 30 November 2007 A new organization aims to focus national attention on issues facing medical postdocs.

Making Mentoring Mandatory 5 October 2007 The America COMPETES Act makes mentoring a standard part of the grant-application–and evaluation–process at NSF. Mentoring on NIH grants, on the other hand, is tolerated if not condoned.

Capital Losses 7 September 2007 Programs are succeeding in attracting able young people into careers as physician-scientists. The harder challenge is keeping them there.

The Curt Flood Effect 3 August 2007 Standing up for your rights–like those related to pregnancy and childbirth–is especially perilous for people, like postdocs, whose prospects depend on the subjective recommendations of supervisors.

Be Careful What You Wish For 13 July 2007 The doubling of NIH research funding left some early-career life scientists worse off than before. Will the planned doubling for physical science repeat the same mistakes?

Living the Issue 8 June 2007 A family health crisis led lab scientist Adil Shamoo to a new passion and a new career in bioethics.

Who Speaks for Early-Career Scientists? 1 June 2007 In the current discussion about raising the cap on the number of foreign technical and scientific workers, the voices of the Americans most directly affected are going largely unheard.

A Tunnel to Atlanta 4 May 2007 Ethnic networks are influential in channeling international graduate students and postdocs to American labs, research shows.

Huddled Masses 13 April 2007 Today’s large influx of international postdocs may be good for American society at large, but not, research suggests, for the incomes of America’s young scientists.

A “Hippocratic Oath” for Scientists? 2 March 2007 Explicit ethical commitments could improve the practice of science–and the treatment of early-career scientists.

Contemptuous Irresolution 2 February 2007 After the Senate’s failure to do its job threatened scientists with a very bleak year ahead, Congress comes through with a last-minute reprieve.

Dealing With Deception 19 January 2007 As incentives for scientific cheating increase, early-career researchers need ways of protecting their own careers while safeguarding the integrity of science.

It Ain’t Over Till It’s Over 1 December 2006 A bureaucratic snag–not postdoc resistance–has stalled a California unionization drive. But both UAW and its opponents vow to keep up their efforts.

Betting the Farm 3 November 2006 Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s lavish new venture offers unprecedented opportunities for a small number of early-career scientists willing to take a big gamble.

Who We Are As Scientists 6 October 2006 Spurred by the stem-cell scandal, a group of Korean early-career scientists organized an international conference on ethical issues in science.

Postdoc Unionization Drive Reaches a Climax in California 1 September 2006 As pro- and antiunion sides exchange accusations of unfairness, California’s state labor board weighs the union’s petition.

NIH Urges Career Training and Tracking 4 August 2006 New provisions of NIH’s T32 institutional training grants may foster changes that help postdocs.

A Pressure Cooker for Postdocs? 7 July 2006 In the wake of the Korean stem cell scandal, postdocs report widespread pressure to “cook” research results.

Northern Exposure 2 June 2006 At the University of Ottawa, postdocs are getting the recognition they deserve thanks to several measures, including renaming of the graduate faculty the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies.

A Novel Look at Postdocs 5 May 2006 The researchers in Allegra Goodman’s fictional lab put mentoring, apprenticeship, ambition, loyalty, competition, deception, and integrity under the microscope.

Two Problems in Need of One Solution 7 April 2006 America needs science teachers. Postdocs need permanent jobs. Can new incentives lure postdocs into the pre-college classroom?

The State of the Union 3 March 2006 Two years after the ratification of the first postdoc union contact, things continue to go well at the University of Connecticut Health Center. But outside UCHC, few postdocs seem interested in unionization.

A Bridge to Independence 3 February 2006 Despite a tight budget, NIH is moving forward with a plan to help as many as 200 postdocs each year establish their own labs. But for the majority of postdocs, the most positive effect may well be a sobering dose of reality.

The Intramural Alternative 6 January 2006 On the Bethesda campus of NIH, postdocs find opportunities for great science amid a baffling bureaucracy.

What’s Wrong With American Science? 9 December 2005 A 2005 U.S. National Academies report recommended increasing the number of scientists America produces, but not everyone agreed with their assessment.

Too Much of a Good Thing? 4 November 2005 A National Academies report examines the benefits and costs of the nation’s heavy dependence on foreign postdocs.

What a Difference Ten Years Makes 7 October 2005 Several early contributors to Science’s Next Wave share the lessons of their first post-postdoc decade.

A Cloudy Crystal Ball 2 September 2005 Studies paint divergent pictures of the future for America’s scientific labor market.

Making it Great for Everybody 5 August 2005 When institutions try to improve conditions for their postdocs, the initiative often comes from the top. But, as one pioneering department is showing, efforts at the departmental level can also make a big difference for postdocs.

Hughes, Burroughs-Wellcome Course Launches Initiative in Career-Skills Education 1 July 2005 Management, project planning, grantsmanship, and teaching rank high on the fields considered useful–even essential–for aspiring scientists. Two leading research funders launched an initiative to bring training in these and other skills to postdocs and junior faculty.

American Scientists Face Challenges at Home and Abroad 27 May 2005 A generally pessimistic picture emerged at the 30th annual Forum on Science and Technology of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. But experts examining budgetary, workforce and globalization issues related to science also suggested some sources of hope.

Looking for Jobs in All the Right Places 14 May 2004 A wide range of interesting and significant science careers other than academic research beckons postdocs.

Three Reports Tackle the Postdoc Mess 6 May 2005 The plight of early-career scientists has come in for exceptional scrutiny in recent weeks as three major scientific institutions each released a report on the postdoc system. Their appearance suggests that the postdoc issue may finally be reaching critical mass among the nation’s science policy elite.

Not Your Father’s Postdoc 29 April 2005 In today’s scientific labor market, just doing good science is no longer enough. Postdocs need realistic expectations, good information and an entrepreneurial attitude toward their careers. [Joint Next Wave/Science Careers special, reposted from Science]

A Taxing Question on Postdoc Pay 1 April 2005 Starting on 1 April, the day traditionally devoted to clowning and practical jokes, many holders of federal fellowships find themselves caught between two conflicting governmental definitions of their professional status–and suffering the disadvantages of both.

Gender and Scientific Achievement – Views From the Bench 4 March 2005 Harvard president Lawrence Summers’ recent comments about women in academic science made headlines. But, early-career scientists told Next Wave, the two less-publicized possibilities that Summers mentioned, motherhood and discrimination, are more plausible explanations.

New Multiple PI Policy May Help Postdocs 4 February 2005 On 11 January, President Bush’s science advisor instructed the heads of all government research organizations to establish policies to acknowledge more than one principal investigator (PI) when appropriate. This change in science policy may improve the status of some postdocs.

California Comes Through! 7 January 2005 If, as the saying goes, the future begins in California, then health coverage for postdocs across the country may be in for some real improvement. On 1 January, the University of California inaugurated its much-heralded unified health plan for the estimated 6000 postdocs in the 10-campus system.

NSF Workshop on the Postdoc Experience Calls for “Culture Change” 3 December 2004 Correcting the problems and inequities that bedevil postdocs will require “changing the culture” of labs and universities across the country.

NSF Employee Postdocs: An Unknown Quantity 5 November 2004 NSF differs from NIH in important respects other than size and the differences can have a significant impact on postdocs’ lives.

Tough Times Ahead No Matter Who Wins 1 October 2004 Hard times lie ahead for scientists regardless of who wins the 2004 presidential election.

Visa Rules Still Complicate Postdocs’ Lives 3 September 2004 It remains to be seen how much recent developments will help international postdocs with the often complicated task of staying “in status” in the United States.

Unionized Postdocs Unaffected by Decision Denying Union Right to Brown University Grad Assistants 6 August 2004 A recent NLRB ruling against postdoc unions has no effect on the nation’s first–and, as yet, only–postdoc union.

The Incredible Shrinking Tenure Track 2 July 2004 The fastest growing category of post-postdoc academic scientists is the array of non-tenure-track jobs.

Turning Dumb Luck Into Smart Luck 4 June 2004 A few postdocs make their own jobs.

Looking Forward, Looking Backward 7 May 2004 People from across the country gathered on three consecutive days at two of the capital’s most prestigious scientific venues to discuss the past, present, and future of America’s postdocs.

A Union Contract Aimed at Preserving the Postdoc Experience 2 April 2004 The postdocs at the University of Connecticut Health Center voted narrowly to join a labor union.

President’s Budget: Bleak Prospects for Postdocs 5 March 2004 When President George W. Bush sent Congress his fiscal year 2005 budget proposal, it contained no money for any increase in postdoc pay.

The State of Public University Funding 6 February 2004 Fiscal year 2004 saw total state higher education funding fall by 2.1percent, the first overall decline in more than a decade.

Unionization and Education: A Faculty View 16 January 2004 University unions are much in the news these days.

The “Other” Postdoc Curriculum 5 December 2003 Writing, public speaking, job hunting, and ethical reasoning top the list of essential skills for postdocs.

Mentoring and PI Productivity 7 November 2003 Both the quantity of publications produced and the quality of mentoring provided–especially to postdocs–should count in the evaluation of a lab chief’s suitability for future funding.

Living a Double Life 24 October 2003 MD/PhD programs give students two markedly different perspectives on human biology, and then launch them on two separate, simultaneous careers.

Can Labor Unions Work for Postdocs? 3 October 2003 How well does the labor union model suit the needs of aspiring research scientists?

New Models for Health Insurance 5 September 2003 Postdocs across the country may be witnessing the dawn of a new era of health insurance opportunities.

The California Plan 1 August 2003 Americans with health insurance generally get it where they work, and people doing the same job at the same organization usually get the same benefits. But not postdocs.

NSF to Seek Increase in Postdoc Salaries 20 June 2003 NSF-supported postdocs may get bigger paychecks starting in federal fiscal year 2005.

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