In March 2015 scientists have been moving across oceans and into industry.
Robin McGregor worked as a Research Fellow at the University of Auckland in New Zealand on a portfolio of projects related to nutrition and healthy ageing. “I set up clinical trials in middle-aged men to assess post-prandial changes in muscle protein synthesis in response to different dairy formulations,” he says. But being in a small country with only eight universities means that options are limited. Although he had a fixed term contract and had plans to stay, “there was no opportunity to move to a permanent university position. So if I wanted to persue a career in research I’d have to look elsewhere.” So he did. His previous experience as a postdoc in Korea meant that he could work with connections he had made, and eventually accepted a job with a well funded research group at Inje University in South Korea. But making a move like that doesn’t come without its challenges. “Rarely are you offered any help towards relocation expenses as an early career researcher,” he says. “The practicalities of setting up new research studies are always difficult in a new country and more so when you’re not fluent in the local language.” Despite the challenges, McGregor started his new role as a Research Professor in the Cardiovascular and Metabolic Disease research centre, in the College of Medicine in March. “I’m enjoying the new challenge as there are many exciting opportunities here particularly as a foreign researcher to get involved in a wide variety of projects,” he says.
Richard Jacques, a pharmacologist by training and a teacher at the University of East Anglia (UEA), has just had a job offer to become a business development manager for an international pharmaceuticals company, making a long-anticipated move away from academia. “I expected the transition to a more business focussed role to be tricky due to the lack of specific experience,” he says. But the transferable skills he gained during his PhD and as a science demonstrator in pharmacology and drug delivery in UEA’s school of Pharmacy were sufficient to gain him the role. One of the things he learned from this experience was that scientific recruiters were almost entirely unhelpful with his transition. “It highlights a real weakness in getting academics into business,” he says.
Benjamin Schwessinger, currently working as a “regular” postdoc at the University of California, Davis, will soon become a “glorified postdoc” at the Australian National University. The term was assigned to him by his friends because he holds an independent DECRA position, providing him with a salary, some research money and an opportunity to hire a PhD student or lab technician to work with him. On May 1st, Schwessinger will be starting his “glorified postdoc” to work on wheat stripe rust evolution in the field of food security and plant immunity with Professor John Rathjen. “I anticipate this to be the stepping stone to full independence and a tenure-track position in academia,” he says. although a step in the right dirction career-wise, there were three main challenges that made this move extremely difficult. “Our move got postponed twice as we had to wait for our visa over 7 months. The uncertainty was sometimes nervwrecking.” Another challenge was settling down with a small child. “We are pretty set up here in the Bay Area in regards to great day care, doctors and play dates.” Working out ways to arrange this again, in addition to starting a new job and looking for housing complicated things. The final challenge was forking out the money to make the move. “Honestly, we would not have been able to afford this move without relocation support, which is all too often lacking for postdocs.”
Are you moving jobs in the next couple of months? Let us know if you are and you could feature on the Naturejobs blog as part of our #ScientistOnTheMove series! Just get in touch via the #ScientistOnTheMove tag on Twitter and share your transition with us.