Nature recently published two pieces on “life after academia.”1,2 They reawaken the reality that not all graduate and postdoctoral scientists will land a tenure-track position, partly—maybe mostly—due to limited academic positions and funding. What makes the articles unique, though, is their emphasis that entering a non-academic field is not always failing at academia. They follow the lives of several successful scientists who find fulfillment in non-academic positions, by choice. The articles combat the assumption that anyone with a Ph.D. who is not in academia simply failed to make it. They also highlight a point that seems to be spreading in conversations around the country: if not everyone is going to become a principal investigator (PI), why aren’t we being trained for other career options too?
NICHD postdoctoral fellow Dr. Swagata Roychowdhury reflects on this question, and others like it, in the first of a series of articles about the changing definition of a science career. We hope all fellows and PIs will join the discussion as we explore the transition from “alternative” careers in science to “all” careers in science.
As you consider your future career options, please visit the Bio Careers website, covered here by Dr. Yvette Pittman. NICHD fellows have access to the multitude of Bio Careers resources, thanks to a subscription provided by the NICHD Office of Education. Our new basic science postdoctoral representative, Dr. Megan Sampley, also is available to field ideas about postdoctoral training opportunities. Her bio and contact information can be found here: Meet Your New IC Postdoc Rep, Dr. Megan Sampley
But let us not forget our ultimate goal as NICHD fellows: contributing to a rich body of research on child health and human development. Even if you choose not to continue into academic research, the work you complete here will provide a strong foundation for the next line of questioning. Several of our NICHD 2015 Fellows Award for Research Excellence (FARE) recipients have graciously agreed to share their award-winning research projects with The NICHD Connection. Check out their contributions here: Presenting NICHD Award-Winning Research
Your Editor in Chief,
Shana R. Spindler, PhD
- “There is life after academia.” Nature. 2014 Sep 4; 513(7516):5.
- Callaway E. “Life outside the lab: The ones who got away.” Nature. 2014 Sep 4; 513(7516):20-2.
Please send all questions and comments to Shana.Spindler@gmail.com.