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Once Again, NIEHS Ranks Third Best Place for Postdocs

By NIEHS
March 2005

NIEHS Director Ken Olden chats with a potential postdoc at the 2004 NIEHS/NTA Career Fair held at Sigma Xi.
NIEHS Director Ken Olden chats with a potential postdoc at the 2004 NIEHS/NTA Career Fair held at Sigma Xi.

NIEHS held its third-best place ranking for postdocs at U.S. institutions. The recognition comes from The Scientist's online survey to determine where the most satisfying postdoctoral experiences are occurring.

Last year NIEHS also ranked third on the list.

"This kind of recognition is important to the Institute since it acknowledges the hard work that so many people here do to provide a rewarding training experience to our fellows," said Deborah Swope, director of the NIEHS fellows career development office. "More importantly, that recognition came from our fellows through their participation in this survey. It also increases our visibility nationally as a quality place to obtain postdoctoral training."

The Feb. 14 issue of The Scientist quotes Paige Adams, NIEHS postdoc, who cited the beauty of the NIEHS campus setting, the interaction among departments, the availability of reagents and equipment, and "my great PI and lab coworkers" as reasons why NIEHS is "an especially great place to work."

Topping the list of U.S. institutions is NIEHS neighbor, the Environmental Protection Agency. Second on the list is the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle. NCI ranked eighth, and NIDDK ranked fifteenth.

Swope said the fact that NIEHS ranked high on the list for two consecutive years likely reflects a "coming together" of many institute programs in a cooperative spirit to make the NIEHS postdoc program stand apart from other programs.

The survey was conducted on the publication's web site from Dec. 8 through Jan. 4. Slightly more than 3,500 usable responses were received from self-identified non-tenured scientists working in 929 non-commercial organizations. Respondents were asked to assess 46 criteria in 11 areas of their working environment.

Becky Klein, a two-year member of the NIEHS Trainees Assembly and co-chair of the 2004 NIEHS/NTA Career Fair, said the ranking ensures the postdoc community is heard within NIH. "It is obvious that we are on the right track, but improvement can always be made. Through the work of the NIEHS Trainees Assembly and the Office of Fellows Career Development, postdocs are able to communicate effectively with the administration to further implement ideas that will improve the post-doctoral training experiences, and in turn, create a productive work environment. It is this type of cooperative effort between postdocs and senior level personnel that will continue to make NIEHS a paragon of research excellence in the years ahead," she said.

NIEHS and the NTA sponsor an annual career fair that is well attended by postdocs from nearby universities and industry as well as postdocs from other government agencies.

"Working at the NIEHS offers fellows the chance to learn about an amazing array of research topics, and the chance to participate in studies that frequently cross disciplinary lines. This rich background of science, as well as the strong support of institute administration and staff, combine to provide unusual opportunities for our postdocs to do excellent science, meet numerous mentors and explore different career prospects," Swope said.



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