January 22nd, 2011

Taxing times?

A prediction: many postdocs will face higher taxes in the years to come. Why? A recent supreme court ruling on the tax status of a similar group: medical residents. Some postdocs are not required pay social security taxes because their fellowships are not classified as compensation (it’s an issue I don’t pretend to understand well, … read more


October 14th, 2010

Technology transfer?

Want to see your research have a real impact? One great way to do so is to get involved in turning your work into a product. Postdocs, it seems, are not so interested in doing so. George Mason professor Edmund Zolnik recently surveyed DC metro area postdocs about their interest in entrepreneurial careers. in a … read more


July 8th, 2009

“There is power in a union”

Cue the Billy Bragg. The University of California’s postdocs have unionized. The unionization of the University of Connecticut’s postdocs seems to have gone smoothly. I’ll be curious to hear what the ultimate contract will look like for the University of California. There’s more about the union here.


May 25th, 2009

Lab Safety?

There’s an interesting piece in Slate this week about lab safety (or the lack thereof) in academic settings relative to their corporate counterparts. The author may be familiar to some – Beryl Lieff Benderly writes for Science’s Next Wave. The article describes an awful chem lab accident at UCLA and then goes on to point … read more


May 20th, 2008

Hard times in physics?

I have been paying a fair amount of attention to the NIH meltdown because of the time I spent up at NBER, but not a whole lot to current goings on in the physical sciences. This interesting graph from the AIP tells me that there are some problems there, too. The percentage of new physics … read more


August 30th, 2007

100% effort? 100% confusion

Science this week has a piece entitled “POSTDOCTORAL TRAINING: NSF, NIH Emphasize the Importance of Mentoring” that talks about the mentoring plan requirement for NSF-funded postdocs in the America COMPETES act and a new statement on mentoring from NIH: …supervisors must also hold up their end of the bargain by being good mentors. That’s what … read more


May 10th, 2007

Meanwhile in the Senate…

I’ve just taken a look at the Senate’s hefty bill to reauthorize the NSF, S 761. Like the House equivalent, there are some good and interesting things in the bill. There is a lot of new money for graduate fellowships: IGERT – Increased funding to the IGERT program, like in the House bill. This would … read more


May 4th, 2007

Postdoc Progress

This past weekend I spoke at a workshop at the FASEB meeting on how to manage postdocs in the lab. I go to a lot of these things, but this one seemed particularly promising. People have complained for years (maybe even decades by now) about the quality of mentoring, or lack thereof, for postdocs and … read more