There are two articles I read today that I wanted to share. Both deal with career options for scientists within academia that are less traditional – and that I am definitely considering chasing after myself when it comes time. The Chronicle recently featured an article called Big Research, Small College on an area of academia that I am intensely interested in learning more about: doing research at small colleges.
When scientists at small colleges and universities seek research grants, they often run into challenges not faced by their colleagues at major institutions. It is, nonetheless, possible to maintain a research program at a small institution — if you have a great deal of passion and a little ingenuity.
Although there are definitely some difficulties, the description of research at a small college doesn’t sound too unlike research in a small, poorly funded lab group that is not receiving much help from the university – use undergrads wisely, look for small grants for seed money, cultivate relationships for collaboration with other researchers in academia or in industry, and be willing to do some bench work yourself.
Another interesting article is from Science magazine’s December 2007 issue: Part-Time Science in Perspective. I imagine this trend is rather sparse so far, but I hope that it continues. A part-time science job is one of the most appealing opportunities I could imagine. The article states:
Data and anecdote show otherwise. According to the U.S. National Science Foundation’s (NSF’s) 2003 Survey of Doctorate Recipients (SDR), 4.7% of doctoral-level scientists and engineers who conduct basic research work part-time. Several funding agencies offer opportunities to people who want to work part-time or have that flexibility built into their policies. And universities are recognizing, as industry has for years, that to be competitive and attract the best scientists, they need to offer flexible work policies.
Definitely go check them both out, and let me know what you think! Do you know anyone who works in one of these situations?