Beryl Lieff Benderly has been a regular contributor to Science Careers since 2003, writing on postdoc matters and other scientific workforce issues. She writes from Washington, D.C.
Paradigms and prejudice
04 December 2014
Postdocs speak up
05 November 2014
To tweet or not to tweet?
02 October 2014
04 September 2014
31 July 2014
09 July 2014
05 June 2014
Coming to America
01 May 2014
31 March 2014
05 March 2014
Rethinking the Retirement Bottleneck
05 February 2014
Celebrating an Educational Innovation in Capital Style
05 December 2013
31 October 2013
02 October 2013
The Prescription for a Family-Friendly Profession
31 July 2013
The professional lives of pharmacists reveal how a science-based occupation can accommodate mothers.
Lost (and Gained) in Translation
05 July 2013
English's status as the world language of science presents challenges and opportunities to native speakers and English learners.
05 June 2013
How to Succeed in Industry by Really Trying
03 May 2013
What Dow Chemical's chief technology officer looks for in new employees may not be what you think.
What ‘Stapling a Green Card’ Portends for STEM
05 April 2013
Research suggests potential gains for university STEM departments but likely losses for STEM workers.
Live from D.C., It's High-Skill Immigration Reform!
01 March 2013
Recent political pronouncements would be laughable if they weren't potentially so harmful.
Better Learning Through Chemistry?
01 February 2013
The American Chemical Society boldly and insightfully examines what's wrong with graduate education—and how to fix it.
Bordering on Confusion
04 January 2013
High-skill immigration reform is more complicated and contentious than it looks, an expert conference shows.
How Not to Attract Minorities to STEM
07 December 2012
Research shows that large admissions preferences stymie studies in science and technical subjects.
Ethics Across Borders
02 November 2012
Cultural differences in approaches to ethical issues create challenges for scientists working internationally.
America’s Real Jobs Gap
05 October 2012
A new book diagnoses America's so-called skills gap and tells how it can easily be fixed.
Rethinking the Ph.D.
07 September 2012
Overlong and insufficiently focused on available careers, traditional Ph.D. programs clearly need reform: What changes make sense?
Crossing the Rubicon
10 August 2012
By admitting responsibility for the conditions that caused Sheri Sangji’s death, the University of California takes a step toward better lab safety.
A Stellar Opportunity
06 July 2012
Two reports propose significant reforms for graduate students and postdocs.
Doing Science While Female
01 June 2012
A new book looks at science careers across the stages of women's lives.
Two Reports and the Worlds They Made
04 May 2012
Why do clinical medicine and academic science—both expert labor markets—offer such different career outlooks?
What the Doctors Ordered
06 April 2012
Medical practice has changed to meet the needs of female physicians. How likely is academic science to make a similar adjustment?
02 March 2012
What happens when an influx of established talent invades a small research field?
How to Live with Danger
10 February 2012
As the Sangji case moves towards a legal judgment, will the academy learn its lessons?
Academia's Crooked Money Trail
06 January 2012
Paula Stephan's new book looks beyond rosy press releases to uncover the harsh economic realities of the academic job market.
A Blueprint for Safety Action Now
02 December 2011
The Chemical Safety Board’s report on the Texas Tech explosion is a must-read for everyone in charge of an academic lab.
Getting to Aaahhh!
04 November 2011
A former postdoc finds teaching high school a deeply satisfying career.
A Way to Improve Lab-Safety Culture?
07 October 2011
A former lab manager argues that modern information systems hold the key to safer academic labs.
What is Wrong with High-Skill Immigration Policy?
02 September 2011
A Senate hearing highlights the split between institutions' and workers' interests.
Everything Money Can Buy
05 August 2011
The vast wealth of the oil-rich Arab states is creating opportunities for scientists who can stand the heat.
01 July 2011
Two university-based jobs programs are helping to boost opportunities for scientists who are already trained.
Immigrants and Entrepreneurship
03 June 2011
Recent research questions some popular estimates of the role of the foreign-born in founding high-tech companies.
When Will They Ever Learn?
06 May 2011
Another needless death at a university research facility points up the scandal of lax safety standards in academe.
08 April 2011
Postdoc-turned-politician Peter Ferguson hopes to bring his scientific insight to Canada's federal Parliament.
04 March 2011
Can young scientists publish without a mentor's support?
Doing Something Different With Your Science
04 February 2011
The first Postdoctoral Professional Masters degree graduates are very positive about the program.
07 January 2011
Recent reports from the National Academies see no break in the clouds over the scientific labor market.
Choosing Between Science and Caring?
03 December 2010
Research suggests that many able women view careers in hard science as inimical to important values.
05 November 2010
Research suggests that social structure, not personal ethics, determines the frequency of scientific misconduct.
Making Book on America's Universities
01 October 2010
A spate of recent books on the problems in academia agree on just one thing: Tenure has to go.
The New California Postdoc Contract
3 September 2010
After lengthy talks, and some strategic arm-twisting, the University of California comes to terms with its postdoc union.
Creating Their Own Credibility
6 August 2010
A non-profit founded and run by a group of independent researchers has permitted decades of scientific work.
The Immigration Guru
9 July 2010
In a debate long dominated by industry voices, statistician and technology expert Norman Matloff speaks up for the little people.
Making a Federal Case of Young Scientists' Concerns
4 June 2010
Two issues important to postdocs have been elevated to the federal level.
14 May 2010
Scientists' propensity to pair up romantically can help or hurt their careers.
Trying to Account for Tastes
2 April 2010
Research finds that scientists’ career preferences are far wider than stereotypes suggest.
Labor Unions and Postdoc Disputes
5 March 2010
A former University of Massachusetts postdoc sues his college, as postdocs on three UMass campuses unionize.
Where Two Issues Stand
5 February 2010
Lab safety slowly advances, while University of California postdoc contract negotiations stall.
A Shot at Transforming America's Energy Future
8 January 2010
A postdoc's new company wins one the 37 coveted first-round ARPA-E grants.
NIH's Dr. Ruth
4 December 2009
Ruth L. Kirschstein's life of research and service provides a powerful example for young scientists.
Shocked, Shocked! to Find Disappointment on Campus
13 November 2009
A new book takes a revealing look at careers in academic science.
Is a New Model Needed for Breakthrough Science?
2 October 2009
Traditional PI-centered research can't solve today's big technological problems, a lab leader asserts.
A "Natural" Step?
4 September 2009
Rutgers postdocs join their bosses’ union as union efforts multiply across the continent.
Doing Something About the Postdoc Mess
7 August 2009
Two new initiatives seek to prepare postdocs for off-campus careers.
An Alternative to the Ph.D. Track
3 July 2009
As NSF prepares to help Professional Science Masters programs multiply, employment prospects for graduates of these programs look strong, even in a weak economy.
Building a Culture of Safety
5 June 2009
State OSHA investigations of a fatal fire at UCLA point to changes needed to make academic labs safer.
The Burning Question of Laboratory Safety
1 May 2009
In the wake of a lab worker's death, experts warn that many academic labs are unsafe.
The Jackpot's Consequences
3 April 2009
As science funding agencies begin to dispense the huge stimulus appropriation, opinions about its ultimate impact on early-career scientists are mixed.
6 March 2009
What does the stimulus windfall mean for the scientific labor market?
The Man Who Wasn't There
13 February 2009
What does the tale of Douglas Prasher, the protein, and the Nobel Prize reveal about the scientific labor market?
Brother, Can You Spare a Temporary Worker Visa?
2 January 2009
In hard economic times, the controversial H-1B visa program needs major reform.
Can Scientists Believe in Change?
5 December 2008
Postdocs' prospects are dimmed by the new Administration's many competing priorities and a lack of understanding at the highest levels of the scientific work-force glut.
Joe the Plumber and the Postdocs
7 November 2008
What can early-career scientists learn from the working class?
A Big Idea about Fostering Innovation
3 October 2008
An unorthodox program helps young innovators turn inspiration into reality and suggests an intriguing approach to encouraging new ideas.
Fitting the Job Market to a T
5 September 2008
Former postdoc-activist Laure Haak has learned firsthand why, despite an abundance of impeccably trained postdocs, good help in industry is hard to find.
University of California Postdoc Union Wins Official Recognition
29 August 2008
The state employment board count of cards confirms a majority, officially unionizing the nation's largest group of postdocs.
The Fat Lady Sings
1 August 2008
After the latest chapter in a long battle, employee postdocs on University of California campuses have voted to join the United Auto Workers union.
By the Numbers
4 July 2008
A committee calls on government to do a much better job collecting data about scientists.
6 June 2008
Science and technology fields offer professional opportunities for veterans who choose wisely.
Lost in Space
2 May 2008
A severe disconnect separates some policymakers from scientists' lived reality.
Help Is on the Way (for Some)
4 April 2008
A flurry of activity in early March, intended to ease the problems of young scientists, did little to address America's most fundamental science-workforce issues.
Earlier articles for Science Careers:
Mastering the Job Market
7 March 2008
Professional science master's degree graduates find themselves in demand for a variety of jobs.
What's Ahead for Early-Career Scientists?
1 February 2008
A comprehensive biennial examination finds opportunities far brighter in industry than in academe.
Feeling the Elephant
4 January 2008
Why does the perception of a scientist shortage persist despite ample evidence to the contrary?
Rising Above "The Gathering Storm"
14 December 2007
A report from the Urban Institute casts doubt on claims that America suffers from poor science education and a shortage of qualified scientists.
30 November 2007
A new organization aims to focus national attention on issues facing medical postdocs.
Making Mentoring Mandatory
5 October 2007
The America COMPETES Act makes mentoring a standard part of the grant-application--and evaluation--process at NSF. Mentoring on NIH grants, on the other hand, is tolerated if not condoned.
7 September 2007
Programs are succeeding in attracting able young people into careers as physician-scientists. The harder challenge is keeping them there.
The Curt Flood Effect
3 August 2007
Standing up for your rights--like those related to pregnancy and childbirth--is especially perilous for people, like postdocs, whose prospects depend on the subjective recommendations of supervisors.
Be Careful What You Wish For
13 July 2007
The doubling of NIH research funding left some early-career life scientists worse off than before. Will the planned doubling for physical science repeat the same mistakes?
Living the Issue
8 June 2007
A family health crisis led lab scientist Adil Shamoo to a new passion and a new career in bioethics.
Who Speaks for Early-Career Scientists?
1 June 2007
In the current discussion about raising the cap on the number of foreign technical and scientific workers, the voices of the Americans most directly affected are going largely unheard.
A Tunnel to Atlanta
4 May 2007
Ethnic networks are influential in channeling international graduate students and postdocs to American labs, research shows.
13 April 2007
Today's large influx of international postdocs may be good for American society at large, but not, research suggests, for the incomes of America's young scientists.
A "Hippocratic Oath" for Scientists?
2 March 2007
Explicit ethical commitments could improve the practice of science--and the treatment of early-career scientists.
2 February 2007
After the Senate's failure to do its job threatened scientists with a very bleak year ahead, Congress comes through with a last-minute reprieve.
Dealing With Deception
19 January 2007
As incentives for scientific cheating increase, early-career researchers need ways of protecting their own careers while safeguarding the integrity of science.
It Ain't Over Till It's Over
1 December 2006
A bureaucratic snag--not postdoc resistance--has stalled a California unionization drive. But both UAW and its opponents vow to keep up their efforts.
Betting the Farm
3 November 2006
Howard Hughes Medical Institute's lavish new venture offers unprecedented opportunities for a small number of early-career scientists willing to take a big gamble.
Who We Are As Scientists
6 October 2006
Spurred by the stem-cell scandal, a group of Korean early-career scientists organized an international conference on ethical issues in science.
Postdoc Unionization Drive Reaches a Climax in California
1 September 2006
As pro- and antiunion sides exchange accusations of unfairness, California's state labor board weighs the union's petition.
NIH Urges Career Training and Tracking
4 August 2006
New provisions of NIH's T32 institutional training grants may foster changes that help postdocs.
A Pressure Cooker for Postdocs?
7 July 2006
In the wake of the Korean stem cell scandal, postdocs report widespread pressure to "cook" research results.
2 June 2006
At the University of Ottawa, postdocs are getting the recognition they deserve thanks to several measures, including renaming of the graduate faculty the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies.
A Novel Look at Postdocs
5 May 2006
The researchers in Allegra Goodman's fictional lab put mentoring, apprenticeship, ambition, loyalty, competition, deception, and integrity under the microscope.
Two Problems in Need of One Solution
7 April 2006
America needs science teachers. Postdocs need permanent jobs. Can new incentives lure postdocs into the pre-college classroom?
The State of the Union
3 March 2006
Two years after the ratification of the first postdoc union contact, things continue to go well at the University of Connecticut Health Center. But outside UCHC, few postdocs seem interested in unionization.
A Bridge to Independence
3 February 2006
Despite a tight budget, NIH is moving forward with a plan to help as many as 200 postdocs each year establish their own labs. But for the majority of postdocs, the most positive effect may well be a sobering dose of reality.
The Intramural Alternative
6 January 2006
On the Bethesda campus of NIH, postdocs find opportunities for great science amid a baffling bureaucracy.
What's Wrong With American Science?
9 December 2005
A 2005 U.S. National Academies report recommended increasing the number of scientists America produces, but not everyone agreed with their assessment.
Too Much of a Good Thing?
4 November 2005
A National Academies report examines the benefits and costs of the nation's heavy dependence on foreign postdocs.
What a Difference Ten Years Makes
7 October 2005
Several early contributors to Science's Next Wave share the lessons of their first post-postdoc decade.
A Cloudy Crystal Ball
2 September 2005
Studies paint divergent pictures of the future for America's scientific labor market.
Making it Great for Everybody
5 August 2005
When institutions try to improve conditions for their postdocs, the initiative often comes from the top. But, as one pioneering department is showing, efforts at the departmental level can also make a big difference for postdocs.
Hughes, Burroughs-Wellcome Course Launches Initiative in Career-Skills Education
1 July 2005
Management, project planning, grantsmanship, and teaching rank high on the fields considered useful--even essential--for aspiring scientists. Two leading research funders launched an initiative to bring training in these and other skills to postdocs and junior faculty.
American Scientists Face Challenges at Home and Abroad
27 May 2005
A generally pessimistic picture emerged at the 30th annual Forum on Science and Technology of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. But experts examining budgetary, workforce and globalization issues related to science also suggested some sources of hope.
Looking for Jobs in All the Right Places
14 May 2004
A wide range of interesting and significant science careers other than academic research beckons postdocs.
Three Reports Tackle the Postdoc Mess
6 May 2005
The plight of early-career scientists has come in for exceptional scrutiny in recent weeks as three major scientific institutions each released a report on the postdoc system. Their appearance suggests that the postdoc issue may finally be reaching critical mass among the nation's science policy elite.
Not Your Father's Postdoc
29 April 2005
In today's scientific labor market, just doing good science is no longer enough. Postdocs need realistic expectations, good information and an entrepreneurial attitude toward their careers. [Joint Next Wave/Science Careers special, reposted from Science]
A Taxing Question on Postdoc Pay
1 April 2005
Starting on 1 April, the day traditionally devoted to clowning and practical jokes, many holders of federal fellowships find themselves caught between two conflicting governmental definitions of their professional status--and suffering the disadvantages of both.
Gender and Scientific Achievement - Views From the Bench
4 March 2005
Harvard president Lawrence Summers' recent comments about women in academic science made headlines. But, early-career scientists told Next Wave, the two less-publicized possibilities that Summers mentioned, motherhood and discrimination, are more plausible explanations.
New Multiple PI Policy May Help Postdocs
4 February 2005
On 11 January, President Bush's science advisor instructed the heads of all government research organizations to establish policies to acknowledge more than one principal investigator (PI) when appropriate. This change in science policy may improve the status of some postdocs.
California Comes Through!
7 January 2005
If, as the saying goes, the future begins in California, then health coverage for postdocs across the country may be in for some real improvement. On 1 January, the University of California inaugurated its much-heralded unified health plan for the estimated 6000 postdocs in the 10-campus system.
NSF Workshop on the Postdoc Experience Calls for "Culture Change"
3 December 2004
Correcting the problems and inequities that bedevil postdocs will require "changing the culture" of labs and universities across the country.
NSF Employee Postdocs: An Unknown Quantity
5 November 2004
NSF differs from NIH in important respects other than size and the differences can have a significant impact on postdocs' lives.
Tough Times Ahead No Matter Who Wins
1 October 2004
Hard times lie ahead for scientists regardless of who wins the 2004 presidential election.
Visa Rules Still Complicate Postdocs' Lives
3 September 2004
It remains to be seen how much recent developments will help international postdocs with the often complicated task of staying "in status" in the United States.
Unionized Postdocs Unaffected by Decision Denying Union Right to Brown University Grad Assistants
6 August 2004
A recent NLRB ruling against postdoc unions has no effect on the nation's first--and, as yet, only--postdoc union.
The Incredible Shrinking Tenure Track
2 July 2004
The fastest growing category of post-postdoc academic scientists is the array of non-tenure-track jobs.
Turning Dumb Luck Into Smart Luck
4 June 2004
A few postdocs make their own jobs.
Looking Forward, Looking Backward
7 May 2004
People from across the country gathered on three consecutive days at two of the capital's most prestigious scientific venues to discuss the past, present, and future of America's postdocs.
A Union Contract Aimed at Preserving the Postdoc Experience
2 April 2004
The postdocs at the University of Connecticut Health Center voted narrowly to join a labor union.
President's Budget: Bleak Prospects for Postdocs
5 March 2004
When President George W. Bush sent Congress his fiscal year 2005 budget proposal, it contained no money for any increase in postdoc pay.
The State of Public University Funding
6 February 2004
Fiscal year 2004 saw total state higher education funding fall by 2.1percent, the first overall decline in more than a decade.
Unionization and Education: A Faculty View
16 January 2004
University unions are much in the news these days.
The "Other" Postdoc Curriculum
5 December 2003
Writing, public speaking, job hunting, and ethical reasoning top the list of essential skills for postdocs.
Mentoring and PI Productivity
7 November 2003
Both the quantity of publications produced and the quality of mentoring provided--especially to postdocs--should count in the evaluation of a lab chief's suitability for future funding.
Living a Double Life
24 October 2003
MD/PhD programs give students two markedly different perspectives on human biology, and then launch them on two separate, simultaneous careers.
Can Labor Unions Work for Postdocs?
3 October 2003
How well does the labor union model suit the needs of aspiring research scientists?
New Models for Health Insurance
5 September 2003
Postdocs across the country may be witnessing the dawn of a new era of health insurance opportunities.
The California Plan
1 August 2003
Americans with health insurance generally get it where they work, and people doing the same job at the same organization usually get the same benefits. But not postdocs.
NSF to Seek Increase in Postdoc Salaries
20 June 2003
NSF-supported postdocs may get bigger paychecks starting in federal fiscal year 2005.