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An Interesting Email Reply from the Ivory Tower

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Re: An Interesting Email Reply from the Ivory Tower

Postby John D. D, » Tue Jun 23, 2015 6:23 pm

Nice Dave!

Just to give an example of what I was talking about before that I find somewhat problematic on a systemic level:
1) In the past few years, people that work at the NIH are not allowed to enter into arrangements (consulting, corporate, etc), even outside of their formal work hours. The public in essence is considered to own all of their effort.
2) To avoid any appearance of impropriety, they seemingly are not allowed to individually discuss research that relates to curing a disease with people who have a disease, unless it goes through publicly reviewed and mandated channels.

This has evolved from the past few years, but a lot of people who in fact work for the government have a problem with this. They may eventually lose some great people because of this idea of public ownership of people.
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Re: An Interesting Email Reply from the Ivory Tower

Postby Ana » Thu Jun 25, 2015 8:07 am

Dave Jensen wrote:Today I had absolutely the opposite response, from a professor who was referred to me by a dozen others as the guru in the field.


Very interesting! and again it shows how important it is to realize the huge impact your PI will have in your career.

Working for the "don't bother me with recommendation letter requests" PI or for the one that will make sure recruiters know how good his former trainees are can make or break your career. I keep telling this to young scientists and examples like yours Dave are a tangible proof of what a difference it can make.
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I know that culture: Gross lack of oversight and accountability..

Postby P.C. » Thu Jun 25, 2015 9:50 am

I am going to speculate , with over 25 experience in the perversely dysfunctional Academic Pyramid scheme, that the issue lies with the abandonment of oversight and accountability by the institution.
Big Wig Profs can get a lot of independence, and they get set up as tin pot dictators in their own little fiefdoms. As long as they bring in the grant money and prestige, they get huge leeway in what they can do.
Sometimes you get some egotistical monomaniac holier than thou types, that get away with rudeness, and abuse of their underlings and outsiders. I can tell you 2nd hand stories that one or two generations ago, about a professor that got away with physically kicking his students in the rear, when he was displeased with them.
"I have never let my schooling interfere with my education" - Mark Twain
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Re: An Interesting Email Reply from the Ivory Tower

Postby Nate W. » Thu Jun 25, 2015 12:30 pm

Dave, I am glad you found a professor who was helpful and gets the real world concept of networking. The pressures to publish and increase competition for a shrinking supply of grant money often leads to dysfunctional behaviors among academic scientists. People often act badly when money is on the line and they perceive their reputation is at stake. This problem is quite acute in academia especially in state supported universities where state money for higher education has been dramatically cut since the financial crisis of 2008.

I have seen it all in the last six years in academia; an increase in adjunct positions vs tenure positions, an increase in scientific misconduct, PIs writing dishonest letters of recommendations to retain their graduate students, and tying hiring decisions to entirely how much grant money the candidate has. A good friend of mine with 25 years experience, numerous publications, and 10 years industry experience at Novartis couldn't land a position at a local medical school because he didn't have a grant. Now, he is teaching at a community college at 4K per class. Mickey D's pays more. The bottom line is that students and post-docs should be quite careful about who they chose as a mentor; it is the difference success and failure.
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Re: An Interesting Email Reply from the Ivory Tower

Postby Nate W. » Thu Jun 25, 2015 12:35 pm

Ana wrote:
Dave Jensen wrote:Today I had absolutely the opposite response, from a professor who was referred to me by a dozen others as the guru in the field.


Working for the "don't bother me with recommendation letter requests" PI or for the one that will make sure recruiters know how good his former trainees are can make or break your career. I keep telling this to young scientists and examples like yours Dave are a tangible proof of what a difference it can make.


Ana, amen. Drop this PI and move on. Next!

I feel sorry for this PI's staff and students. What do you do if you are in that situation?
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