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How Ph.D. can get back to academia?

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How Ph.D. can get back to academia?

Postby Michael » Sun Feb 13, 2005 5:52 pm

How Ph.D. can get back to academia?

I am Ph.D., biochemistry, with a synthetic chemistry experience from Russia, who worked chemical engineering jobs in Canada and currently moved to NYC.

I love research and know how get funding, but I have done my Ph.D. 10 years ago. During last 7 years I was working in chemical engineering areas that are completely different from my thesis.

I want being back into my original field.

What should I do?

Thanks for any feedback.
Michael
 

How Ph.D. can get back to academia?

Postby Emil Chuck » Wed Feb 16, 2005 10:14 am

Do a postdoc. A short one. Know that your goal is to regain credibility in academia: that is... present and publish findings as well as network within the field as an academic colleague.

Consult your Ph.D. advisor of others whom he may know that can hire you as a postdoc.

I'm surprised that there aren't any ChemE firms in NYC or NJ that would not want to hire you for your experience... even in doing work that might be similar to your original field. Otherwise, in terms of biochemistry, you have plenty of options.
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How Ph.D. can get back to academia?

Postby Val » Wed Feb 16, 2005 8:40 pm


Michael,

In another thread, Emil Thomas Chuck made a reference to an article about what PhDs need to succeed, http://chronicle.com/jobs/2003/09/2003090201c.htm

In a nutshell, besides excellent skills and publications, one needs to have a network of contacts who can hire you or can recommend you to those who hire.

You have an experience in different industry (Chem Eng) from a different country (Canada), so it is not surprising that you do not have contacts in your target industry. It is common for immigrants from Russia to have excellent skills but the total lack of contacts in the new country. You have a substantial experience (and therefore you are expected to require a high pay), so profs in academia will not want you for a postdoctoral position, and you apparently lack recognized experience and publications (that is, made recently and in a western country) which makes you ineligible for more more senior positions (e.g. ass.prof).

The abovementioned article mentions "flexibility" as a trait which a successful scientist has. One picks up a job with any "not prestigeous" employer and maybe not in you area of expertise, and builds up his career from that, all the time attempting to push in the direction of the topics he likes. Eventually one will have built a scientific reputation, and the scientific administrators in the other (desirable for the incumbent) areas will be more receptive for the incumbent to receive funding to work in this new area.

I myself got a PhD and never worked in that area of fundamental physcis. I saw opportunities in applied science (development of instrumentation and industrial research), and have been building my career in that. I consider that I am working in the area of my training (that is, physics). Am I sorry that I never worked in the area of my original training ? Yes. But I am more happy that I am doing a work in the new area and have a success at that. That's how western people define success. The trait of many immigrants from SU is that they were conditioned to work in the same narrow area for their whole life, and this is just impossible in the West.

Regards,
Val
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