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Postdoc Jobs Decline At Federal R&D Centers

by Andrea Widener
January 5, 2015 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 93, ISSUE 1

The number of postdoctoral fellows employed at federally funded R&D centers fell by 6% to 2,613 in 2013 from 2,793 in 2012, according to a report from the National Science Foundation. This mirrors an overall decrease in science funding in 2013 both at federal facilities and at the 21 federally funded R&D centers that employ postdocs. The Department of Energy supports 16 federal labs that have postdoc programs, far more than other federal sponsors. NSF supports three labs with postdoc programs, and NIH and NASA each support one. Chemists accounted for the second-largest number of postdocs at all national labs in 2013, with 428, exceeded only by the 790 in physics and astronomy. In addition, 183 postdocs worked in materials engineering and 85 in chemical engineering. Men held the vast majority of these positions—2,020 in 2013—compared with 593 filled by women, the report says. The number of postdocs working on temporary visas, 1,463, exceeded the number of U.S. citizens and permanent residents, 1,150.



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Gerry Attrickseeker (January 8, 2015 11:00 AM)
This information on national labs as well as the recent NRC report (1) continues the litany of bad news for postdocs. A recent Nature article (2) highlights two reports, one from the UK and one from the US, that describe the parlous state of the postdoctoral experience for biomedical PhDs. Reduced government support for research, the implosion of the pharmaceutical industry's in-house research, and in the US, cutbacks at state universities, have all limited job prospects. Nonetheless major universities continue to crank out biomedical PhDs.
This is nothing new. See previous posts elaborating the situation in more detail (3,4).


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