These days the path to scientific independence is long and steep. But every year a new cohort of scientists makes it to the top, thanks to lots of hard work, determination, talent, and at least a little good luck. This week, we celebrate the success of the new faculty class by profiling eight early career researchers from the United States and Europe who this year came of age, beginning their first permanent jobs as independent scientists.

U.S.: Two Scientists and a Baby. - J. Austin
If you trust the conventional wisdom, Amy Palmer and Alexis Templeton did a lot of things wrong in their job search. Then why did things turn out so right?

Germany: Deciphering Cellular Processes. - A. Forde
Biochemist Anne Spang will soon take up her first tenured faculty position--a professorship--at the Biozentrum in Basel, Switzerland. Her research career has taken her to four countries where she has investigated fundamental cell biological questions.

France: A Knot Mathematician, with a Twist. - E. Pain
Twenty-five year old mathematician Julien Marché has just started his first faculty job.

Germany: Tracking Pollutants. - A. Forde
Next year, German environmental chemist Martin Elsner will move from Toronto to the GSF National Research Centre for Environment and Health near Munich to take up his first tenured tracked position as a Helmholtz Young Investigator.

Spain: A Physicist Keen to Put Things in Order. - E. Pain
Many of the young scientists in Spain who were given Ramón y Cajal contracts as a means to prepare for a permanent position are hitting the end of their 5-year contract with no solid job prospects, but just 2 years into her Ramón y Cajal contract Rebeca de Nalda Minguez has already started a permanent position at the Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC).

Belgium: A Particle Physicist on Track. - E. Pain
Getting one of the few permanent positions available each year in France is challenging enough, but the peculiarities of the French academic system make it even harder for non-nationals. Caroline Collard, a native of Belgium, was up to the challenge.

Norway: A Neuroscientist Making Connections. - A. Forde
A clinician by training, Farrukh A. Chaudhry's passion for basic science has taken him across the Atlantic where he discovered a new family of neurological amino acid transporters. Last August, he just started his first faculty position at the Biotechnology Centre in Oslo.