Underpaid, under appreciated--going nowhere: The buzz about the plight of postdocs in the United States flatters neither the scholars nor the institutions that employ them.1,2 In response, many research institutions are building postdoc offices and associations to give postdocs a stronger voice, but they have perhaps progressed too slowly for these workers, who have increasingly become the lifeblood of scientific discovery. Foreign nationals represent about half the postdocs in the United States, according to a 2000 report on the postdoctoral experience by the Committee on Science, Engineering, and Public Policy (COSEPUP) of the National Academy of Sciences. Whether on temporary visas or here to stay, foreign postdocs often confront a different set of challenges than do their US counterparts.

Courtesy of Michael Teitelbaum

Michael Teitelbaum

One-third of the institutions surveyed by COSEPUP have no office to assist foreign nationals with visas, taxes, Social Security, housing, or language skills. Even...

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