Research Assistant Professor

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Research Assistant Professor

Postby Phil B » Tue May 31, 2005 5:32 pm

It might depend on the discipline. The field that I?m in pharmacology/neuroscience it is quite common for RAP to get TT positions. In the department that I?m currently in, two RAPs were offered TT positions, of course they got R01 grants- money does talk. Two others- without grants-were offered TT positions in other departments. And just recently, a RAP in my lab got a TT position at a major university. So it isn?t necessarily a career death sentence.
Phil B
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RAP to tenure track

Postby James1 » Tue May 31, 2005 5:35 pm

SAD- thank you for telling your experience. Med Schools are tough all around on Ph.D.s. Is was wondering about getting screwed upon the promotion.

Kelly- You are 100% right in regards to who you know and Big name schools. Last year i got 3 t-t interviews probably based upon committee members knowing my postdoc/Ph.D. mentors and the big name alma mater. The lack of a slick talk may have lost the jobs for me, or possibly bad luck. For 2 of the searches i was impatient and took an RAP offer before they couldn't decide. We'll see if it sends me down a crap shoot or not.
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RAP to tenure track

Postby S. Adley » Tue May 31, 2005 5:43 pm

My plan was to get the R01 and transfer to a basic science dept or leave my current institution. Now that NIH funding is dropping, I'll probably run out of time before I come up for tenure.
S. Adley


Postby monica » Tue May 31, 2005 6:57 pm

The NIEHS and EPA are great places, 3rd and 1st respectively in postdoctoral satisfaction surveys. I think environmental health and toxicology is a very productive topic in biology right now-- and an excellent field to be in. EPA postdoc salaries are far above average. NC cost of living is worlds better than some of the other bio hubs.

Take a look at gov't jobs, James. You will need a post-doc, but they pay very competitively. Staff toxicologist jobs seem very attractive to me. Plus you get all those gov't holidays! But I am of the opinion that environmental health topics will only grow, especially in conjunction with biomarker studies. The NIEHS has a new director who seems especially concerned with such issues.


Postby jason » Tue May 31, 2005 9:05 pm

Nice to hear your positive response for careers in environmental health. I work on similar aspects, not molecular biology/biochemistry of environmental health, but risk assessment areas. Do you have a comment about this area of research? How are the current opportunities and in near future? thanks in advance..jason


Postby monica » Wed Jun 01, 2005 1:06 am

Hi Jason,

I think the gov't opportunities in EH are excellent. As an example, take a look at posted EPA gov't staff jobs in epidemiology or toxicology. The benefits and salary ranges are tip top.

Additonally, the skills requested translate well into industry. When I peruse job openings for some of the local companies I always see nice looking positions available for those fields. In fact, at the NIEHS career fair I was handed by the Pfizer rep a chunky paperback entitled 'Advancing heathy populations: The Pfizer guide to careers in public health'. Environmental health topics overlap quite tightly.

I think risk assessment is an excellent area to be in because you can address issues of genetically influenced susceptibility to environmental hazards. The NIEHS has a lot of extramural funding mechanisms for such studies, and companies are interested in those genotypes as biomarkers.

The main reason why I think EH is a good field is because it is very marketable to the public. The masses who pay the taxes can understand more easily why EH research is needed. You can explain it to your kids or your grandmother. For these reasons I think it has longevity.

My $0.02!


Postby James1 » Wed Jun 01, 2005 6:30 am

Monica, do you currently work at the NIEHS? I have found it somewhat difficult to apply for jobs there, and when i do, i don't hear back from them.
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Postby Kelly » Wed Jun 01, 2005 7:51 am

Keep trying at NIEHS, James.

Folks, where we put put our time, skills and bodies is the strongest message we can send.

1. If search committees want to hire based on big name schools and big name supervisors as opposed to tangible measures of success; fine. Let's send them the message that there is a PRICE to pay for this and that price is that people will post-doc only at big name institutions with big name supervisors. Let them know that when they start hiring on tangible measures of success THEN we will work to generate tangible measures of success but until that happens; they need to get back in the lab and generate their own data for papers and grants; its not helping you unless you are in a big name lab.

2. If places want to treat post-docs poorly, not pay them well, not provide benefits; fine. Let's send them the message that there is a PRICE to pay for this and that price is that people will post-doc only in environments like NIEHS. If you are looking for a post-doc, look at the list of the places with high post-doc satification and apply there, only there.

3. If you are in a small name lab and your PI hasn't had success in getting someone a job like you want fine; send him/her the strongest message you can that there is a PRICE to pay for that: leave and go to a big name lab and let your labmates know why you are leaving.

4. If you are not at a big name institution and your department's last hires have been from big name institutions, go talk to your PI and say look, noboby got short-listed here from an institution like ours, I need to think about my career development and I am going to University of X, or Y or Z, all the places you guys short-listed people from. I want a job for me not just a productive post-doc for you. Then go talk to your chairperson (he/she is YOUR chairperson too), and then the Dean (your Dean too).

There is a climate of embarrassment and silence that is cultivated in the academic world for post-docs and their struggles. We are supposed to be silence and "grateful" for post-doc "opportunities" like RAP positions. We are supposed to believe that not getting a t-t job is a failure on our parts. Break the silence, start talking and keep talking. point your friends to this forum. Let them read the posts. Don't let your labmates wander thru post-doc with the misguided notion that working hard to generate tangibles in post-doc in a non-big name lab with a PI that has not gotten his/her "people" jobs, is a solution.

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RAPs and startup packages

Postby Madison » Wed Jun 01, 2005 9:35 am

Do offers of a RAP position also come with the offer of a startup package (research funding and salary support), moving expenses, housing search expenses, etc? Are RAPs allowed to mentor grad students? If so, do grad students ever choose to rotate or do thesis work with a RAP? Do RAPs work for themselves, or are they under the direction of a tt faculty member?

Sorry for my ignorance, but I haven't been in a department yet where people have this title. However, the department I'm moving to this summer does in fact have RAPs and I'm curious about this. Thanks.

RAPs and startup packages

Postby S. Adley » Wed Jun 01, 2005 11:36 am

My RAP position came w/ salary support plus benefits. I was given a very small amout of money for equipment and supplies-- about 10% of what an asst professor is typically given around here. My lab was empty, so I had to start from scratch.

Graduate students are possible, if you are on the graduate faculty. Being on a tenure track could be a requirement for being on the graduate faculty... I'm really not sure.

Graduate students and post-docs are difficult because in these positions every little bit of salary money, goes towards your salary at first. Although my current grant is large enough to support a post-doc, I was told to put as much of my salary on the grant as possible. There isn't enough money for a post-doc and me on this grant, so, I pretty much work alone. Thus, I just can't compete with the bigger labs in my field. A friend of mine, who works outside academia, commented to me that this situation is like being self-employed (no grant = no job), but with none of the benefits of self-employment.

Finances aside, I never gave a a grad student much consideration. As discussed on this board, graduate students / post-docs really need to work with a big name person at a big name school, and that's not me nor this place. I would be willing to train a foreign post-doc who wants to go home afterwards, but that's about it. I just can't in good conscience train anyone to be a perpetual post-doc. I may not be successful (by conventional academic criteria), but I do sleep well at night knowing that I've done my small part to break the chain.
S. Adley


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