Summary of Stop Blocking Postdocs’ Paths to Success

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The career path of an academic scientist usually is a long and stony one. The metamorphosis from fledgling student to erudite professor takes several years, and such overly-educated individuals often flounder before reaching the top rung of the career ladder. Ben Barres proposes effective ways in which mentors can help junior scientists survive the struggle with such demanding academic standards. getAbstract recommends this article to seasoned academic scientists who want to become better mentors.

In this summary, you will learn

  • What the relationship between scientific lab heads and postdocs is like,
  • How senior scientists are hindering scientific progress by blocking “project porting,” and
  • Why effective communication between mentors and mentees is important.
 

About the Author

Ben A. Barres is an MIT graduate who pursued a medical degree from Dartmouth College and a PhD from Harvard Medical School. Specializing in neuroscience, Barres went on to teach and research at Stanford University School of Medicine. He became Chair of the Neurobiology Department in 2008.

 

Summary

Scientific progress is hindered because lab heads don’t sufficiently support postdocs and their projects.

Scientific researchers often dedicate their lives to studying a specific topic. Such dedication to science is evident as they pursue doctoral degrees and continue working in the field as postdoctoral researchers. Naturally, postdocs develop a sense of attachment to their projects that may only be matched by their supervisor, or principal investigator (PI). The relationship between PI and postdoc is one of a mentor and mentee. The mentor usually assigns the project and oversees its progress. However, this dynamic becomes complicated by the time postdocs are ready to start their own labs. There is no common policy on how to handle “project porting,” or allowing mentees to take their projects with them after leaving the mentor’s lab. Many PIs are opposed to project porting, which hinders the success of the mentee and likely the project as well.


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