Sunday, April 03, 2011

Moving on, but where?

My current postdoctoral grant will end in a few months' time. (In other words, I have to find a new job soon.) My advisor was unable to get my funding extended, in spite of the excellent results (5 research papers in high impact journals of my sub-field and 1 patent) that have come out of it. Seasoned readers of this blog can probably figure out the reasons.

But that is not all. As a faculty candidate, I had earlier this year made it onto the final (on-campus) round of a well-regarded Midwestern university in a state that has been making the news for the wrong reasons with regard to 'fiscal responsibility'. Then came the following email from the department chair:

Hello takchek,
The (state) legislature has announced plans to cut (the university's) funding by $XX million as part of the 2011-12 state budget proposal. The university has decided to put the hiring of faculty on hold for now and it is not clear when we can resume the process. I will keep you informed of any changes in the near future.


A one-two punch in the span of a week. How is that? Just when I thought things cannot get "curiouser and curiouser", the advisor received two separate emails (also in the same week) from different collaborators asking if he can recommend grad students or postdocs to work in their labs.

I have issues with both. The first lab is based in the Middle East, in one of the Gulf states. With the current upheaval in the Arab world, my folks are strongly dissuading me from going.

The plus side is the money. I will see a pay jump of about 2.5 times of my current income, and it is tax free. Work for a few years, then take the money and decide what to do next.

The total compensation package includes a tax-free 12-month base salary, and a benefits allowance that covers relocation, housing, initial furnishings, utilities, transportation (automobile purchase loan), health insurance, child(ren) education, end-of-service benefit and annual leave travel.

The research theme in the second lab will be on the sesquestration, removal and storage of radionuclides from contaminated waters. While there are the obvious health issues of working with radiation, the skills acquired will be highly valuable as shown by the ongoing nuclear crisis in Fukushima.

Or I should just quit research now. Am sick and tired of this dog and pony show.


LittleStar007 said...


If your head & heart cannot synchronise, I suggest listen more to your heart...

mjuse said...

i chose not to go to grad school years ago, and your current predicament was one of the reasons i made that decision. older folks had long warned me about the dangers of being a professional postdoc.

platitudes aside, if you are doubting staying in science, i guess the only thing i have to offer is the word "sustainability".

how sustainable is it really?

"it" being your current career, your other possible career choices, your interests, your hours, your lifestyle, the money coming in (or going out).

if you are comfortable with uncertainty and can roll with the punches, then the above will not apply. the decision to stay in science could be the right one to make.

but if not, then i suggest you consider sustainability in every aspect of your professional life as a guide to your decisions.