- Did you know that next Thursday, Sep 24th 2009, is the first "Postdoc Appreciation Day?" I'm not kidding, the US Postdoctoral Association was apparently fed up with America having an "Appreciation Day" or "Remembrance Day" for about all and everybody - except postdocs. Tomorrow for example is "National Day of Prayer and Remembrance for the Victims of Hurricane Katrina," and on Thursday is the "Sneakers at Work Day." The "Postdoc Appreciation Day" will also fall into the "National Farm Safety and Health Week" and the "Prostate Cancer Awareness Week." In any case, the Association suggests you organize for example a coffee hour, a happy hour or a Karaoke night.
- Jörg Schlatterer, Postdoc at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, suggests to found an International Postdoc Forum (IPF). Though I just escaped the postdoctoral life, I am totally in favor of this idea - just that it seems to me like I've heard similar suggestions several times before and nothing ever came out of it. There would definitely be a huge benefit from an international association of postdocs that could provide e.g. advice on national differences and difficulties with settling in a foreign country, fractured retirement options and absence of unemployment insurance. One of the problems is if you're not in your home country you have no voice neither at home (because hey, you left, now good luck) nor in the new country (because hey, you work here but please don't have an opinion).
Together with a colleague Schlatterer wrote a brief article for the newsletter of above mentioned US Postdoc Association:
"Although many characteristics of postdoctoral research positions vary between disciplines, institutions, and nations, some challenges are universal. Poorly defined roles and responsibilities, unstable and uncompetitive salaries, lack of benefits, variable mentorship quality, and access to courses and career development programs are common complaints. It is important to consider how research communities around the world can meet these challenges, and what an International Forum for Postdocs (IFP) might contribute."
It is however very hard to get academics to organize in any way. They are typically primarily work-oriented and community involvement that isn't CV suitable is distraction and a waste of time. In any case, I wish the IPF good luck.
- From my research life: Three weeks ago, there was a paper on the arXiv by Manuel Hohmann and Mattias Wohlfarth, offering a "No-go theorem for bimetric gravity with positive and negative mass". I yesterday posted a reply showing the no-go theorem does not apply to my model.
- Something to look at: Viruses of Glas:
Via Matt Brown.