Astronomy Grants and Botany Funding


What grants are connected with the field of astronomy?

I need help pursuing job leads in botany.

Dear Grantdoctor,

I am finishing my doctorate this year (astronomy, celestial mechanics) and I would like to ask for some information on postdoctoral associations, grants, and scholarships connected with this field of science.

Sincerely Yours,Grzegorz, Poland

Dear Grzegorz,

"Gratuluje!" as they say in Warsaw, for nearing the end of your Ph.D. research. You are about to enter the world of grants and grant-writing and are right on track by looking for funds before you end your current research.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) offers postdoctoral fellowships to international scientists. Postdoctoral scientists outside of the United States can inquire about NSF-funded projects regardless of discipline at NSF's International Web page. You can find details on programs, fellowships, and opportunities there. More information can be found at NSF's Postdoctoral Research Fellowships Web page.

NSF has offices worldwide, including an Eastern Europe and the New Independent States (NIS) division. Poland comes under Casandra Dudka's jurisdiction, an NSF official who may be able to offer you specific advice. Alternatively, check out the NSF Europe Web site for "Information About NSF for European Researchers and Students."

The similar-sounding European Science Foundation is another potential source of information. They have an associated committee-- European Space Science Committee--that provides an "independent forum for the European scientific community" to discuss space science issues.

The American Astronomical Society provides a great compilation of fellowship opportunities from different organizations that may be worth a look. They also award their own grants and prizes, many of which apply to someone in your situation and do not require U.S. citizenship to apply. Their Small Research Grant awards are open to Ph.D.s in the States, but a few awards are made to international fellows. All of these grants typically range from $500 to $5000.

NASA's Office of Space Science offers a number of research opportunities and provides current and future prospects for funding.

Nearer to home (your home), you could solicit advice from organizations and observatories within Poland regarding funding sources or fellowships. This list of astronomical institutions and agencies may be useful to you. A couple of other informative Web sites I found, include the Warsaw University Astronomical Observatory and the Institute of Astronomy, ETH Zurich, both of which have links to other organizations that can help you hunt down those research dollars--or zlotychs, I should say. Good luck!

--The GrantDoctor

Dear GrantDoctor,

I have just finished my Master's degree in plant ecology and I am currently searching for jobs. I had such a bad experience in graduate school (faculty politics and an absent advisor), I am finding it very difficult to pursue the few job leads I find. I have lots of experience working in a genetics lab, but I don't know if I want to be stuck indoors. Most jobs for botanists seem to be in the federal government, and they have pretty restrictive hiring policies. I would also consider teaching--I loved being a TA [teaching assistant] and I have excellent evaluations from my students. Am I just suffering from grad school burnout? Will it get better? Help!


Dear BMB,

Congratulations on completing your Master's degree. While poor mentoring can dampen one's enthusiasm for study or an interesting science career, don't let an apparent lack of supervision or faculty disputes mar an entire field of science or your ambitions.

According to the Botanical Society of America (BSA), "the major employers of plant biologists are educational institutions, federal and state agencies, and industries," so your job search is pretty much wide open.

BSA reveals that Master's graduates in 1993 started at $30,650--federally employed botantists earned roughly $11,000 more. As of 1997, significant pay differences existed between federally employed men and women in botany: The Commission of Professionals in Science and Technology's (CPST's) October 1998 edition of the Salaries of Scientists, Engineers, and Technicians reported that while the average salary for civilian botanists was $43,372, women took home an annual wage that was on average $7700 less ($39,664 vs. $47,385) than their male counterparts.

The same survey showed that in academia, general botany instructors earned $26,562 while new assistant professors earned $42,598. Check out BSA's opportunities page for a description of the current job market.

BSA offers a very comprehensive breakdown of Careers in Botany and answers fundamental questions in their Frequently Asked Questions about a Career in Botany. The BSA Announcements lists job announcements around the United States, as well as national ecology meetings and those abroad: Networking can give you up-to-the-minute career advice as well as perhaps make you aware of opportunities you may not have otherwise known about.

You enjoy teaching and there are good job opportunities for this field too. Read how one scientist got hooked onto teaching botany. BSA also provides contact information for sectional officers who head their teaching section and who may be able to steer you toward appropriate sources of information.

And finally you can find a list of plant biology and botany organizations willing to discuss careers in these fields, plus a wonderful set of links to online Botany WWW sites listing everything from job search engines to educational sites to agencies that award grants and fellowships.

Science's Next Wave and the Career Development Center address the problems of mentoring, pursuing a teaching career, and hunting down your ideal job. Next Wave also highlights the CPST Comments detailing salary surveys and trends in the current science job market. Have a look at these sites, revitalize your enthusiasm, and let me know what you decide and how you get on. Good luck!

--The GrantDoctor

Due to the high volume of questions received, The GrantDoctor cannot answer all queries on an individual basis. Look for an answer to your question published in this column soon! Thank you!

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