The Ohio Miami Valley Chapter of
the Society for Neuroscience
May 16, 2014
Making your way on the journey to
a postdoc
Patrick Sonner, Ph.D.
Labib Rouhana, Ph.D.
Nadja Grobe, Ph.D.
Who are we? It’s all relative.
Current challenges in academia
• Declining grant success rates
• 800,000 PhDs versus 100,000 faculty positions
in science and engineering
NIH IMPAC, success rate file
Schillebeeckx et al. 2013, Nature Biotechnology 31: 938-941
Why is a PhD worthwile?
contribute to understanding of nature
pursue a subject out of love
design own research
be creative and meaningful
constant intellectual challenge
mentor young scientists
Career options
Academia (research- or teaching-intensive)
Science education for general public or schools/universities
Science writing
Government (NIH, NSF, EPA, DOE, USDA, DOD)
Intellectual property career (patents)
Sales, marketing
Biotech/Pharma (research- or administrative-intensive)
Check out
Benefits of a postdoc
• No longer a student - not yet
• Explore career and environment
• Expand network of experts
• Flexibility
• Opportunities
• Mentoring experience
• Practice grant writing
• More stable funding rates for
• Increase publication record
• Additional time for decision
about future career choices
Case studies
break-out groups read 3-4 case studies
Discuss each case study within group
chooses favorite profile
groups report and discuss their choices and
rationale to the full audience
• rationale for profile choices are noted on a
white board