It isn't your imagination. The recent ups and downs in biomedical research funding have made for turbulent times in academic laboratories across the US. Jennifer Couzin-Frankel points out in her overview article to an imaginatively reported "News Focus" section last week in Science on the work force and funding crisis in biomedical science that the NIH budget doubled between 1998 and 2003 from around $14 billion to $27 billion but remained essentially flat for the next five years. The 2009 federal stimulus package created a bump in spending of an additional $10.4 billion but the "regular" NIH budget continued to lose altitude as inflation ate away at the actual value of flat funding. Then came last year's heart-stopping federal shutdown and the sickening 5% across the board sequester nose dive. The net result is that the number of R01 principal investigators (PI) has remained virtually static over the last 13 years: NIH funded 20,458 PIs in 2000 and 21,511 PIs in 2013.
It may sound like a spam subject line but you can change the trajectory of your career in a few short weeks. If it sounds too good to be true, consider one of the numerous short-term courses, internships, and fellowships in outside-the-lab science careers that can give you a look at a whole new career track.
Aside from Google Hangouts and Skype, it was the first time I'd been on video since my friend caught me singing to Spice Girls several years ago. I'd picked a high pressure venue for my return to video—the ASCB Annual Meeting in New Orleans. I was scheduled to give a short talk on Monday about scientists and social media. On Sunday though, I found myself in a small room in the convention center for a previously unscheduled coaching session on video with Susan Tomai, founder of Oratorio, a DC-based company offering media and presentation training.
Now that you have an established research career with a good number of publications under your belt, should you have a professional profile on Wikipedia? You may be thinking that this would be a great way to bump up your ratings in a Google search, and you would be correct. A Wikipedia page is typically ranked in one of the top five sites returned in a routine search. Officially launched in 2001, Wikipedia averages 460 million visits per month and has an international audience for its 27.8 million articles in 286 languages.1
Is there life after graduate school? For doctoral students and postdocs who've been wondering what their future lab life could be like outside academia, say in the biotech industry, here's a chance to get a taste and some intensive training in a free-to-the-student 12-day MBA-style, case-based course. ASCB and the Keck Graduate Institute (KGI), with generous funding from EMD Millipore, have teamed up to offer "Managing Science in the Biotech Industry: An Intensive Course for Students and Postdocs" to 40 postdocs and graduate ASCB members this June in Claremont, CA.
The Kanawha River cuts through Charleston, West Virginia, on its way north to join the Ohio. On this brilliant October morning, the sun is quickly burning off the fog filling the river bottoms and setting the golden dome on the state capitol ablaze. It is the perfect fall Saturday for tossing a football or raking leaves. And yet 70 grad students, postdocs, and biology faculty turn up at the West Virginia University (WVU) Robert C. Byrd Health Sciences Center to hear and talk about cell biology.
It's hard to imagine a scientific conference without poster presentations. There would be tumbleweeds rolling through the exhibit hall, company reps would be asleep in their booths, and grad student and postdocs would be hung-over every morning of the meeting.
It's been nearly a year since an insurgent group of scientists and journal editors gathered in San Francisco at the ASCB Annual Meeting to plot a counterattack on the outsized influence of "impact factor" on scientific assessment. A metric invented in the 1960s by Eugene Garfield to help academic librarians subscribe to influential journals, the journal impact factor had become a misleading measure, the insurgents agreed. In June, they issued the Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA), asking the world science community to sign on, endorsing 18 recommendations for new standards of research assessment that would move away from journal-based metrics to individual assessment. The number of DORA signatories is now approaching 10,000. Evidently, scientists are ready for something better than the impact factor, but what?
Sydney Brenner is, of course, the Nobel Prize winner who brought us Caenorhabditis elegans, the lab model organism. That should make Brenner "a man who needs no introduction" except in cell biology where historical amnesia is as common as Pipetman. As Brenner himself noted last year in Science, "I once remarked that all graduate students in biology divide history into two epochs: the past two years and everything else before that, where Archimedes, Newton, Darwin, Mendel—even Watson and Crick—inhabit a time-compressed universe as uneasy contemporaries."
If you've just spent five years at the bench in graduate school and are looking for another way to use your science doctorate, you will be relieved to know that a patent agent doesn't need to add a JD to the PhD. Instead, a patent agent has to pass a separate patent bar exam to become registered, and a formal law school degree is not a prerequisite.