With a population of just 143,000, the city of Dundee may not seem the kind of glitzy destination that competes with knowledge centers such as San Francisco and Boston: Golf and mountain climbing qualify as top entertainments, and it takes less time to fly from New York to London than to drive there from Dundee. If fresh air fails to lure prospective lecturers to Dundee University's life science division, the median annual salary of researchers in the region--$37,757 (US)--probably won't start a stampede either.

Yet, the Scottish university recruits top scientists from all over the world. "What attracted me to Dundee is a unique combination of people from different scientific backgrounds that work collaboratively," says Inke Nathke, a lecturer in the cell and evolutionary biology department who joined Dundee after postdoctoral stints at Stanford and Harvard Universities.

Despite her enthusiasm, Nathke admits that she and her husband, also a...

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