AAS 199th meeting, Washington, DC, January 2002
Session 30. Recommendations of ``Enhancing the Postdoctoral Experience for Scientists and Engineers"
Special Session Oral, Monday, January 7, 2002, 10:00-11:30am, Georgetown East

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[30.01] Enhancing the Postdoctoral Experience for Scientists and Engineers

M. Singer (Carnegie Institution of Washington)

The National Academies' Committee on Science, Engineering, and Public Policy has been concerned with many aspects of the education and training of scientists in the US. Its most recent effort was an intensive study of the experience of postdocs across all fields. The report concluded that postdocs have become essential in many research settings. It is largely they who carry out the day-to-day work of research and their efforts account for a great deal of the extraordinary productivity of US science. While there is substantial variation in the experiences of postdocs from field to field and among different types of laboratories, overall, the data indicated that employment conditions for postdocs, especially in universities, need to be signficantly improved if the US is to develop the human capital needed to sustain a healthy research enterprise and global leadership. The data collected will be summarized as will some of the more detailed conclusions and recommendations. An essential guiding principle was that the postdoctoral experience is first and foremost a period of apprenticeship for the purpose of gaining scientific, technical, and professional skills that advance the professional career. The Committee also concluded that improvement in the current situation will require efforts by postdocs, their advisers, the host institutions, the funding organizations, and professional societies. Besides reviewing the report, this presentation will summarize some of the actions that have been taken in response to the report since its publication more than a year ago.

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