Today, a graduate student will make a terrible mistake.
He’ll blindly commit to a long-term relationship that will make him miserable. He’ll be too shy to ask his partner the painfully awkward questions that could predict their ultimate failure as a team.
Does this person have time for me? Is she enthusiastic about helping me succeed? Do our goals align?
Of course, this is not a romantic relationship: it’s the commitment formed between a grad student and his advisor. And though it’s not a marriage, it can cover some of the same emotional ground. When it’s healthy, you’ll both grow as people and you’ll achieve more than you would alone.
When it’s unhealthy, you might bear the emotional scars for the rest of your life.
With just a few simple changes to the graduate-advisor relationship, we can make sure more students, and their mentors, reach their full potential. Why leave it to chance?
You might believe that because you’re in grad school and receiving a research stipend, you don’t really need to worry about paying an income tax. You don’t have a ‘real job’ and no one asked you to fill out any paperwork so you’re off the hook, right?
Biomedical science is broken. Funding is unpredictable, training programs drag on indefinitely, and some of our best scientists are drawn to careers outside of the university or drowned in paperwork if they stay. Can anything be done to support research staff and boost lab productivity?
This week on the show, we unpack the 8 recommendations and debate their merits. Should all graduate school programs be limited to 5 years? Should the federal government increase overall funding? Should post-docs receive higher pay?
To summarize, the 8 recommendations are:
Make funding predictable from year-to-year
Increase the total amount of money the federal government hands out
Pay post-docs more
Shorten graduate school to 5 years
Train students and post-docs for “alternative” careers other than faculty PI
Change how trainees are funded
Increase opportunities for staff scientists
Josh throws in a bonus recommendation that didn’t quite make the top 8: increase diversity in the biomedical enterprise.
Did you applaud every item on this list, or did the authors miss the mark? Leave your comments below and let us know what you’d add or remove to make biomedical science a more sustainable enterprise.
Also in this episode, we pay tribute to all the Oregonians who don’t listen to our podcast by drinking Dead Guy Ale from Rogue. It’s an Oregon beer and we’re pandering for listeners in that great state, so tell a friend!