Vol 8. Issue 31 / October 20, 2008

Office of Career and Postdoc Services Welcomes Feedback

By Mika Ono

How satisfied are postdoctoral fellows with their experience at The Scripps Research Institute? That was one of the underlying questions a recent survey conducted by the Office of Career and Postdoctoral Services set out to answer.

“Overall, the results from the survey are positive,” said Ryan Wheeler, manager of the Office of Career and Postdoctoral Services. “Postdocs are largely satisfied with their research training experiences at the institute, and a strong majority would recommend Scripps Research to peers. Postdocs are particularly satisfied with the research environment and scientific expertise of their advisors.”

Today's scientists typically spend two to five years after receiving their doctoral degree as a postdoctoral fellow, a.k.a. research associate, establishing their ability to run a successful independent research program within another investigator's lab. This scientific apprenticeship usually serves as a stepping stone to career positions in academia or industry.

The survey, conducted online in June and July of this year, was open to all postdoctoral fellows at Scripps Research, on both the California and Florida campuses. Of 727 fellows in total, 320 responded to the survey. The Scripps Research Society of Fellows encouraged participation by underwriting raffle prizes for those completing the survey.

A comparison of the recent survey results to those of a 2004 survey conducted by research society Sigma Xi suggests that in general Scripps Research postdocs today are happier than four years ago.

“While we have limited access to Sigma Xi data, there does seem to have been a marked improvement,” noted Wheeler, “especially in the areas of satisfaction with support and mentoring from advisors, as well as overall satisfaction.”

During the same period, Scripps Research expanded a series of initiatives launched in 2002-2003 to enhance the postdoctoral experience at the institute. These included the establishment of an office dedicated to supporting Scripps Research postdocs and providing help with career transitions.

Today, the office hosts career seminars and workshops, compiles information for postdocs at various stages of their fellowships, coordinates an alumni database for networking, and sponsors a job board. The office was recently renamed the "Office of Career and Postdoctoral Services" (from the “Office of Postdoctoral Services”) to better reflect its career training focus and the current integration of graduate students into its programs.

While Wheeler is pleased with the overall results of the recent survey, he notes that the survey also highlighted areas for further study. These include salaries, benefits, and the cost of living in San Diego, as well as specific aspects of mentoring, especially interpersonal support and encouragement for career development.

The Office of Career and Postdoctoral Services invites Scripps Research postdocs to attend an open forum on Thursday, October 23 at 5 PM in The Keck Amphitheater (immediately following the “Guidelines to a Successful Postdoc Experience” seminar by Cell Biology Chair Sandra Schmid). This open forum, held specifically for postdocs, is an opportunity to hear about the institute’s reaccreditation (which encompasses the institute as a whole, not just the Kellogg School of Science and Technology graduate program) and to share ideas, questions, and concerns relating to the Scripps Research postdoc experience.

The complete results from the postdoc survey will be posted on the Scripps Research accreditation website (choose "Resources," then "Survey Results"), where results from surveys of students, alumni, and faculty are already available. For more information, contact Wheeler at rwheeler@scripps.edu.


Send comments to: mikaono[at]scripps.edu
















"Overall, the results from the survey are positive."

—Ryan Wheeler