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Postby Amy » Wed Feb 09, 2005 1:23 pm


I am a postdoc fellow and I work in a well funded project. I applied for postdoc fellowship (to pump-up my CV) and now I have been informed that I have been awarded the fellowship. The fellowship is not prestigious and is more like need based.

If I accept the fellowship, the department and I get some money for the research and my salary will be paid in full (same amount that I am getting now). But I will be losing all benefits (health, retirement...). The agency will pay some money for medical insurance but I have to subsidize the rest from my pocket. So I am not sure if I should take the fellowship or not. Any suggestion? Can I ask my advisor to augument my salary?


Postby MPB » Wed Feb 09, 2005 1:54 pm

Of course you should ask your supervisor to make up the difference, and also make up whatever benefits you would lose (paid vacation, for example). If you get the award, you save them tens of thousands of dollars in your salary.

If it's not prestigious or something that you think would add materially to your CV, and your department can't make up the benefits, then my advice would be to decline it. You can't live without healthcare coverage, especially if you work in a lab; and although a lot of postdocs don't think about it, you need to pay attention to your long-term financial health (retirement, etc) as well. I'm still paying (at age 40) for the disastrous effect of post-docing on my earnings and retirement.

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Postby Emil Chuck » Wed Feb 09, 2005 2:21 pm

This is probably the best time to see how much your advisor wants to keep you around. Obviously you would relieve a considerable financial burden if you accepted the fellowship award. You should probably talk to him, your department chair, and (if you have one) your postdoctoral support office about your options. Certainly you need to consider any other personal situations with your decision. But to answer your question directly (Amy): yes, you should ask your advisor for help. I didn't and thus I didn't get any benefits for years until I joined a new and my current lab (where I went in asking what the benefits were going to be and how much support I'd get).

In my case, I accepted a fellowship because it was significantly more money than any other fellowship I had applied for, even if I lost my access to benefits. I used the difference to fund a few mutual funds and begin a personal Roth IRA until I got back into employee status (why people complain about not having any retirement befuddles me sometimes...). In my opinion, my fellowship was prestigious (and I think to a lot of other people in my field it still is).

Personally any fellowship in which someone had to peer-review my application is prestigious (heck, even if you won a scientist's version of "The Apprentice" :) ). I don't know if that is the case with your future goals, but in the academic world, every little award is good.
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Postby Paul » Fri Feb 11, 2005 11:35 am

HI Amy,

My advice would be to take it. A key (if not THE key) to successful scientists is being able to attract funding. If you are at all interested in the academic route then having evidence on your CV that shows you can bring in funds is going to be can a lot of weight, even if the funding body isn't that prestigious. The process of planning a proposal, navigating the paperwork hurdles, writing the proposal and actually have it get funded is going to suggest to any division chief that you can acheive this at a higher level.

I think you should talk it over with your PI right now though. If this fellowship includes salary, chances are that your PI will be able to deduct this from his current grants and should be open to making up the difference and still come out better off...just have the figures prepared and explain how you will be worse off and how, if he can cover the difference, how he will still be better off than if you turn down the fellowship.



Postby Joe F. » Fri Feb 11, 2005 11:48 am


If for some reason you discuss this with your advisor and it turns out it will cost you (money, benefits, whatever) to take the fellowship, I think you could still put on your CV that you won it. After all, you did win it. You just won\'t accept it because it will hurt you to do so. If anyone else sees something wrong with this, pipe up. But it seems to me you can put winning it on your CV regardless of whether you accept it.
Joe F.

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