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View Diary: Sequester threatens student aid, research jobs, and, basically, U.S. scientific capacity (45 comments)

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  •  People leave their fields in science every year (10+ / 0-)

    because they can't get a grant when it is needed.

    NIH/NSF already only fund 1/10 of the grant proposals they find worthy of funding.

    Most people doing science at universities aren't tenured and have no job security. They have to bring in their own money, or have a tenured prof bring it in. No money, no job.

    When people wonder why more Americans don't get PhDs in STEM fields, this is part of the reason why.

    Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

    by elfling on Thu Feb 28, 2013 at 11:24:13 AM PST

    •  The main reason though continues to be (0+ / 0-)

      that that shit is HARD. In a country where your average guy or gal is math-phobic and has trouble with anything beyond simple arithmetic, it's not easy to find thousands of people who have no problem with differential equations, or Laplace transforms, or tensors. If they want more PhD's in subjects like physics they need to make the subjects easier (if that is possible).

      •  After the last five years... (5+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ltsply2, raboof, elfling, mudfud27, JerryNA

        I'd never suggest to any kid that they become a scientist.  It's not about the work being hard -- there are plenty of enthusiastic young ones that can work as hard as anyone ever has.  It's that the window of opportunity for young scientists is slamming shut.  The opportunities for "young" scientists -- in quotes, because the average "young" investigator is well into their forties -- are becoming scarcer every day.

        I'm a PhD scientist, and basically I've lost five very key years of my career.  I'm now "over the hill" and never really had a chance to get started. I'm not sure how much longer I have as a researcher.  I am literally spending over half my time chasing dollars that are moving further and further out of reach, which means that I don't have the time to do actual science.

        I'm watching really good people around me getting kicked around, watching good research projects die.  There's no fat to cut.  As people go, projects are understaffed, and everyone is falling behind.  

        I feel like I have to apologize to the others in my life -- my wife, my kids, my parents -- for being so stupid as to enter science.  I ask myself why I couldn't have just taken my analytically skills and done something this country actually values... I could have started a fraudulent hedge fund!  I could have written software to siphon money from poor people's bank accounts by new and exciting fees and penalties!  I could have devised new ways to lie, cheat and steal!  Instead, I wanted to try to figure out why kids get psychiatric diseases, in hopes that we can find a treatment.  Stupid, stupid, stupid.

      •  The reality is that we train scientists (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mudfud27, radarlady

        every year, even sometimes to the PhD level, who end up leaving their fields. There are a lot of PhD physicists working as computer programmers, and here and there, some working as photographers... or even baristas, because they needed health insurance.

        There are some very sharp frictions in hiring in STEM fields. You and I know that PhD physicist is a smart person with a strong background who can quickly come up to speed in a new field. However, there are fewer jobs for PhD physicists than we graduate each year, and those other graduates often find that people don't want to hire them because their specialty is slightly wrong or they're overqualified for the job opening at hand.

        Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

        by elfling on Sat Mar 02, 2013 at 07:16:17 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

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