Post-docs Get the Recognition They Deserve

Convocation on enhancing the postdoctoral experience in science, engineering, and public policy

The National Academy of Sciences, Washington, held a one-day conference entitled the "Convocation on Enhancing the Postdoctoral Experience for Scientists and Engineers," on March 2, 2001 in Washington.

The conference addressed issues involved in the postdoctoral years. In recent decades, medicine, biomedical engineering and other related health and health care fields have depended increasingly on research conducted by people with doctorates, referred to as postdoctorates, or "postdocs," who work on a full-time but temporary basis for universities, government agencies and industry.

While one or more of such postdoctoral appointments is virtually required of scientists and engineers who hope to achieve long-term research positions in their fields, many postdocs do not receive recognition, standing or compensation that is commensurate with their experience and skill level.

Key Results

  • Some 300 people attended the convocation, including postdocs, postdoctoral advisers, academic and nonacademic postdoctoral program and senior administrators, and representatives of federal and nonfederal funding organizations and disciplinary societies. The meeting consisted of three elements:
    • Panel discussions at which postdocs, postdoctoral supervisors, administrators, funding organizations and disciplinary societies presented their perspectives and recommendations.
    • Breakout sessions that allowed participants to meet by group for problem solving and guidance.
    • An open-mike concluding session that gave all participants the opportunity to share plan-for-action information about what their organizations or institutions had done or were planning to do.