LettersNextgen Voices

NextGen VOICES: A postdoc's purpose

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Science  06 Apr 2018:
Vol. 360, Issue 6384, pp. 26-27
DOI: 10.1126/science.aat6008

We gave young scientists this challenge: What is the purpose of a postdoc? Address this question by writing a job advertisement for the perfect postdoc position. We received responses from scientists around the world representing a variety of fields. Some wrote advertisements for their ideal postdoc job and benefits, no matter how fantastical. Others felt that the perfect postdoc position is the one that is most realistically described to job seekers.

Jennifer Sills

The idealists

Want to conduct cutting-edge research, without becoming a cog in the machine? We have the perfect postdoc position for you! Our lab is making the world a better place through high-impact science and individualized mentoring. We offer compensation that reflects your advanced degree, making roommates and leftover seminar-pizza completely optional. Not from this country? No problem! We'll sponsor your visa for as long as you need. Postdocs with families are supported with paid parental leave and excellent child care assistance. Focus on your science, not your working conditions—all benefits are contractually guaranteed through a strong postdoc union.

Carolyn Adams Brotherton

Department of Microbiology, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195, USA. Email: cbrother{at}uw.edu

This postdoc position will include hands-on training divided into 6 months each of full-time technical practice, administrative and management roles, teaching, and grant writing and budgeting. Candidates who complete all short-term training fellowships will be promoted to professorship. Say goodbye to jobs that require you to juggle all of these roles simultaneously while you worry about securing the next fellowship position. Join our team and find your work-life balance.

Saima Naz

Lahore, Punjab, Pakistan. Email: saimanaz85{at}gmail.com

The candidate for this 3-year postdoc should have a relevant publication record. We give more weight to papers available online as preprints than to those under review. Selected candidates will be invited to visit the lab, where they'll be given the opportunity to speak individually with each lab member. The successful candidate will be encouraged to collaborate with other labs, co-mentor young students, write his or her own grants, and take independent projects with him or her when the fellowship ends.

Syed Shan-e-Ali Zaidi

eLife Ambassador, Gembloux Agro-Bio Tech, University of Liège, Gembloux, 5030 Namur, Belgium. Email: shan.e.ali{at}outlook.com

The Knownforhermentorship Lab at the University of Beachfront Paradise is looking for highly motivated and creative postdoctoral fellows. We are particularly interested in developing an outside-the-box yet somehow sure-to-not-be-scooped application immediately translatable to benefit humanity. The successful applicants will use a slight tweak on the techniques they spent 5 years of graduate school learning to tell a story sure to leave reviewers breathless and h-indexes soaring. Candidates will retain the emotional capital to develop and maintain meaningful relationships outside the lab. Additionally, the adviser will respect and support the trainees' ongoing journey toward gainful employment at the next stage of their careers. As such, experiences leading to outside-the-bench experience will be highly encouraged.

Allison F. Dennis

The Program in Cell, Molecular, Developmental Biology, and Biophysics (CMDB), Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD 21218, USA. Email: adenni16{at}jhu.edu

Seeking a professional in curiosity to complement a vibrant and diverse academic community. Tasks consist of research, teaching, service, and active preparation for a fruitful career. Ample access provided to mentoring by senior scientists and experts outside of academia, as well as training and funding for research, conference participation, and leadership development. Fair compensation and employee benefits offered, including health care and social security. The successful candidate will be a self-motivated critical thinker with an open mind, patience, integrity, and exceptional learning strategies. Desired qualifications include enthusiasm, adaptability, high frustration tolerance, and excellent communication skills.

Anni Hämäläinen

École d'Optométrie, University of Montréal, Montréal, QC H3T 1P1, Canada, and Canadian Association of Postdoctoral Scholars. Email: anni.hamalainen{at}umontreal.ca

Approaching 40 and still without a tenured position? Join our Ivy League university and let the Matthew effect boost your career. We are a cronyism-free workplace. You are encouraged to pursue your own research interests. Your publication output is more important for us than any teaching or administrative obligations. Our prestigious location incurs high living costs, but you can work remotely and enjoy more time with your family.

Wadim Strielkowski

Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA. Email: strielkowski{at}berkeley.edu

Are you responsible and ready to move forward in your career and contribute to your lab? Are you an independent thinker who is clear-eyed about the questions in your field? Apply for a postdoc position to enhance your skills, practice writing papers, and apply for funding with a safety net in case you fail. As you mentor Ph.D. students and answer their questions, you'll be pushed to think like a professor, preparing you for your next step.

Ming-Ju Amy Lyu

Department of Plant Systems Biology, Shanghai Institute of Plant Physiology and Ecology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shanghai 200032, China. Email: lvmj{at}sippe.ac.cn

Calling freshly minted Ph.D.s—you tired, poor, huddled masses! Through the trenches of graduate school, you have emerged victorious. Do you desire a bounty of rest and riches? This position is not for you. If you seek instead to stretch and challenge your abilities as a person of science, apply now. Responsibilities: Pretend you are starting your Ph.D. over, and you are your own adviser. Benefits: Health care, professional development opportunities, and a journey toward the pinnacle of understanding. Skills required: In the spirit of Einstein, no special talents required—only passionate curiosity.

J. K. Wenderott

Department of Materials Science and Engineering, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, USA. Email: jillkw{at}umich.edu

We are seeking an adventurous postdoc to work in a high-risk project in Mordor University's Volcanology Department. Requirements: Diplomatic skills to deal with hobbits, high elves, wizards, and ginormous red eyes. Fluent in uruk-hai with persuasive grant-conjuration skills. The candidate will be required to lead and train goblins and naughty trolls through state-of-the-art projects. The candidate will enjoy networking opportunities in the Minas Tirith Lava and Fire Annual Meeting. Master magic along with data analysis!

Cristina Espinosa-Diez

Oregon Health and Science University, Portland, OR 97239, USA. Email: espinosm{at}ohsu.edu

The realists

Position: Postdoctoral position under Nobel Prize-winning PI performing ground-breaking, world-changing research. Very high pay with competitive benefits. Guaranteed faculty position at prestigious university upon successful completion of short, 6-month postdoctoral tenure. High-impact factor publications and suitable authorship position. Ample funds devoted to conference travel with many networking opportunities. Freedom to pursue personal research endeavors. Direct, hands-on training with newest and most important techniques in the field. Wanted: Hardworking, knowledgeable Ph.D. graduate who realizes this offer does not exist.

Kyle Isaacson

Department of Bioengineering, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT 84112, USA. Email: kyle.isaacson{at}utah.edu

Seeking candidate to fill postdoctoral research position. Responsibilities include full-time research, full-time grant application writing, full-time mentorship of graduate students, and a willful ignorance about the fact that you should be paid more for this. Candidates should be proficient in whatever skills the PI suddenly decides that he or she needs in the group, regardless of the research history of either the candidate or the group. Benefits include technically not being unemployed and being able to mumble vague affirmations about how the position will help in a future career, despite empirical evidence to the contrary for all but a few.

Yifan Li

Berkeley, CA 94703, USA. Email: yili91{at}gmail.com

The National Institute of Looking Deep into Things is searching for a highly motivated postdoc who can pretend to be able to do everything. Your responsibilities lie in doing what we ask you to do—or not—as long as at the end of each week you report doing a lot. Benefits: Minimum financial coverage until the unlikely day when you find a place to pursue your real passion and curiosity. Apply now!

Ebrahim Hassan

Institute of Virology, Medical Center University of Freiburg, 79104 Freiburg, Germany. Email: ebrahim.hassan{at}uniklinik-freiburg.de

New lab seeks deeply purposeful scholar comfortable with the menial tasks that comprise postdoctoral training. The successful candidate will seek to work for long stretches without supervision, interspersed with intense bouts of micromanagement. The postdoc will somehow intuit when to submit to the ideas of the Principal Investigator and when to think with fierce independence. Such training will yield the mental toughness needed for success against the background dysfunction present in both private- and public-sector workplaces. Highly specific career goals and hardheaded open-mindedness will both be considered a plus.

J. Steen Hoyer

Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Natural Resources, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ 08901, USA. Email: j.s.hoyer{at}wustl.edu

We are currently seeking a deity-in-training to fill the honorable position of postdoctoral researcher under our esteemed Principal Investigator. Daily responsibilities include maintaining a positive workplace culture by facilitating the caffeination of graduate students and tending to the undergraduates with regular watering and pruning. Qualified candidates should be capable of transmuting their flesh into that of a rhino's, gritting their teeth with the force of an alligator, and generating new ideas on demand. Benefits include socially preparing yourself for life on Mars, learning how to sleep sitting up, and being first author whenever you roll above a five on a six-sided die.

Joseph Michael Cusimano

College of Pharmacy, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH 43210, USA. Email: joecusi{at}hotmail.com

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