Postdoc Plantation, Redux

While the call to [postdoc] rebellion has a certain flare to it,1 I feel compelled to point out that many postdocs are barking up the wrong tree by assailing their mentors.

The root cause of the postdoctoral predicament lies in the fact that many Western nations, and America in particular, have completely devalued academics. Education has been deemed frivolous and potentially subversive and been replaced with training. Training requires less classroom time, less diversity in curriculum, and less mentoring by individual academics. Training is therefore more cost- effective than education.

The plight of the postdoc will likely get worse. The NIH just obtained the largest increase in its funding history with negligible benefits to junior scientists. Worse, large percentages of current and future budgets will be diverted to programmatic funding initiatives like program projects.

Sadly, most American students are already leaving. National Research Service Award applications...

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