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US postdocs report progress

But problems persist in mentoring, career counseling, and finding jobs

Ted Agres(tedagres@lycos.com)

WASHINGTON, DC—The needs of the 52,000 science and engineering postdocs in the United States are better served today than they were 4 years ago, according to participants at a meeting focused on postdocs sponsored by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) here last week (April 15). But improvements are urgently needed to help new generations of postdocs become successful academics and researchers.

“The situation with postdocs does not reflect well on our community of scientists and engineers,” said Shirley Malcom, director of the education and human resources programs at the American Association for the Advancement of Science. “Long periods of training are not rewarded with jobs that have compensation significant to overcome the opportunity costs,” she said at the meeting.

Most of the 250 postdocs and faculty attending the NAS Committee on Science, Engineering, and Public Policy (COSEPUP) Second Convocation on Enhancing the Postdoctoral Experience agreed that universities and research...

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