postdoc or family life??

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postdoc or family life??

Postby GM » Sun Mar 06, 2005 7:17 am

Dear all,
I would like to share my problem here in this forum, which I think may be similar to many of you.
I got married during my graduation and my husband has good publications. Now, he has specialization in biochemistry and got post-doc position in cancer research uk, london. My work is related to plant science and there is no good lab in london area doing plant science research. There is john Innes Center in Norwich but 150 miles away from london. Now, since my husband already has the job, he wants to go to london immediately. And I know that if I go there, I just have to be in the home. Because it is not reallistic to travel 150 miles every day!

My dilemma is neither I want to stay away from my husband, nor I want to sacrifice my professional life. I dont have any children, and not planning to have also in near future. So, I could pursue a career except this problem.

I hope some of you might have faced this kind of situation and I hope can provide me some husband is very open minded. He can accept anything I decide....but I dont know which is right on my part.....please help soon

postdoc or family life??

Postby Kim » Sun Mar 06, 2005 7:49 am

Is it possible for you to switch to another field in life sciences? Why do you have to work in plant science?
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postdoc or family life??

Postby Val » Sun Mar 06, 2005 8:00 am


The dilemma you describe is called a "two-body problem" -- if both partners are in science, it will be hard if not impossible for them to find the jobs for both of them in the new place. Sacrificies are inevitable. You can read the WWW, or better, the Usenet on this topic:

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postdoc or family life??

Postby David (H) » Sun Mar 06, 2005 8:17 am

Dear GM
A commute of 150 miles does not seem all that bad in comparsion to many other horror stories I have heard. I myself had to divide my self between Finland (where I am doing a post-doc) and Oxford where my wife stayed after I finished my PhD. That lasted 18 months!!!!!
I have known a number of people maintain two apartments within England and communte to each other at the weekends. Not ideal but possible with effective time managment.
But perhaps you could find something closer to London than Norwich. I am not a plant biologist but surely there are more opportunties...especially considering that Imperial College is there?
There is Sandra Knapp in the Nar Hist Musuem but perhaps you do molecular plant biology?
Staying at home should be your absolute last resort.

Best wishes

David (H)

postdoc or family life??

Postby Dave Jensen » Sun Mar 06, 2005 11:25 am

I agree with Kim that this may be the best thing to ever happen to you . . . You can get AWAY from Plant Research and into something that will give your career a boost no matter where you live and work in the world!

"Failure is a bruise -- not a tattoo." -- Jon Sinclair
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postdoc or family life??

Postby Andy » Sun Mar 06, 2005 10:32 pm

David (H) come on! 150 miles is NOT a reasonable commute. Period. Especially for someone doing science.

GM, I would consider moving away from plant science. If you are so passionate about it that you would never leave, then you and your husband need to have a little talk.

Good luck,


Switch from Plant Science

Postby John Mastro » Mon Mar 07, 2005 7:04 am

While I believe the advise to switch from Plant Science to another field is well intentioned, it may not be all that practical. Graduate student training in plant science versus say microbiology, biochemistry or biology is not equivalent, in terms of courses taken, journals read, areas of research focus and networks of contacts as well as other important ways. In the pecking order of scientific disciplines, may practicioners of other fields look down upon mere plant scientists, particularly if their training was in a school of Agriculture. The original poster may find his/her knowledge base severely limiting, and many PIs in other fields will look upon his/her resume with distain. They may be willing to give her a job as a high powered technical post-doc, but when it comes time to climb higher on the academic pyramid, the incumbent may be more doors closed than expected. Still others have made the switch but you definitely will be playing with a large handicap. Grant review boards in other fields will look upon your resume askance. My opinion is based on my career experience as originally a plant scientist who attempted to make the switch. You may find yourself looking for an alternative career. It is a tough situation with both spouses holding PhDs, another situation I know first hand.
John Mastro

Switch from Plant Science

Postby U.S. » Mon Mar 07, 2005 3:28 pm

Hi GM. My wife and I experienced a similar situation. I finished my PhD. and found a post doc position and we moved to Portland, OR. She was working as a postdoc in a Plant Pathology lab. I had more publication and a PhD in the US, she had hers in Turkey. We decided that I would have a better chance to make an academic carrier. In the mean time, we had our second baby and she sat home for 8-9 months. Then, she started as a research associate and worked with monkey stem cells. Now, both of us have Res Assistant Professor position, and she is working on a specific protein that she became familiar during her stem cell research. So, bottom line is that you may have kids in the mean time or find a post doc position at the same institution. My boss and his wife were both scientists, they decided it is hard to find a job for both of them in the same place or area, so she moved to administration. Now, he is the department chair and his wife is Assos Dean Basic Res. Good luck..

postdoc or family life??

Postby ED » Mon Mar 07, 2005 4:19 pm

postdocs are pretty short, ideally. if you had to live apart maybe it wouldn't be so bad if only for a few years. it's something to consider if you don't want to give up your career. Another thing to think about is maybe he could turn down this job and then BOTH of you could look for postdoc positions TOGETHER. it doesn't seem fair that he got his postdoc by himself and you're just supposed to follow him.

postdoc or family life??

Postby Ellen » Tue Mar 08, 2005 9:14 am

Most universities in England have plant sciences departments - Oxford, Cambridge, Reading are all closer than 150 miles from London (and I am sure horrified to hear they are not doing decent plant science research) and then there are universities within London. Why not approach a few places with ideas for postdoc fellowships. You write the grant and apply for the fellowship (to NERC, BBSRC) with the support of an institution nearby. I belive NERC do fellowships that are given to the fellow, who can then choose where to hold their fellowship. That would make you very attractive to any potential institution.

I was also given the impression from a US lecturer that a US PI could apply for an NSF grant and then transfer the money to you, for you to work in a UK instition. I don't know whether you have to have a post at a UK place first. If you have good supporting PI in the US perhaps you could try this route. All these things take time but its better to be doing something proactive while at home.

Also, living in London is quite expensive (and not to everyones taste) and the transport links are designed to faciliate commuting. You may wish to live outside London and both commute (perhaps in opposite directions). I know couples where one works in London and the other in Bristol (1.5 hours by train from London). They live somwhere in between. You caouls try Sussex, Liecester, Nottingham, even Leeds. If you are on a main "artery" like the M1 or M4 or the main train lines, commuting is usually less than two hours each way. Not ideal but also not impossible either, especially if its only short term until you get your own funding. There are also other plant science research institutes that off the top of my head I can't remember.

Best of Luck and I hope you find what your after,



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