Throughout 2006--and for a decade before that--Science Careers writers and editors have given readers the latest unvarnished insights and advice on making sound career decisions. Now, at year-end, we want to take look back at the past year and highlight our choices for the best we had to offer.
In 2006, Science Careers discussed issues as intimate as pregnancy, as consequential as lab safety, as critical as family finances, and as personal as love and marriage. Our articles gave practical how-to advice on writing cover letters, juicing up (honestly) your CV, getting a job in academe, giving a presentation, and negotiating a salary. And we provided help with personal crises ranging from handling laboratory bullies to getting a good night’s sleep.
Our features covered opportunities for researchers in various scientific domains including astronomy, plant science, systems biology, decision sciences, genetics and genomics, computational neuroscience, and high-temperature superconductivity. We discussed the career impact of policy and funding decisions in stem-cell research and space science. We took readers to France and China to investigate those countries' science environments and opportunities, and to a bunch of other neat places for conference junkets, including to a hotel made out of ice. For readers abandoning the bench, we offered a look at alternatives from teaching science (in school and out), to investment banking, inspecting nuclear facilities, forensics--even selling houses.
We introduced readers to fascinating people such as Peter Lu, a young researcher who has already amassed publishing credits in physics, paleontology, and archeology. We talked to U.S. Congressman and physicist Rush Holt, soon to be an important voice for science in the 110th Congress. We found Margaret Dalzwell Lowman (a.k.a. Canopy Meg) skimming over the tree-tops in tropical rainforests with her two children. And we learned how Jennifer Bloomquist discovered unique African-American dialects near Gettysburg College, where she teaches.
During the year, our favorite Educated Woman, Micella Phoenix DeWhyse, attained her Ph.D., ending her eventful 5-year quest, dutifully documented with a letter to Science Careers each month. We welcomed back scientist and businessman Peter Fiske, who now writes a monthly column on entrepreneurial opportunities, broadly defined. And Patricia Gosling and Bart Noordam joined our roster of experts, helping science graduate students master their Ph.D.s.
Out of all this, our editors had to choose their favorites. Here is what they recommend …
Career Blocker: Bad Advisors
L. Puljak, 13 January 2006
Only a few percent of postdocs witness or experience outright abuse or harassment, but a bad advisor can be a source of great anxiety. It can even end your career.
Astronomy: The Search for a Stellar Career
A. Fazekas, 20 January 2006
Astronomy today is in the midst of an unprecedented golden age of discovery. Robotic spacecraft routinely visit distant worlds while space telescopes probe the edge of the universe. Next Wave takes its own cosmic survey and examines if these ongoing breakthroughs are translating into career opportunities for young researchers.
Profile - Peter Lu
J. Austin, 17 February 2006
When it comes to science, Harvard physicist and 6th-year grad student Peter Lu just wants to have fun. But the limelight just seems to keep finding him.
Writing a Winning Cover Letter
J. Borchardt, 10 March 2006
A good cover letter should accentuate your distinctiveness and inspire the hiring committee to learn more about you.
Learning Without Schooling--Science Education Outside the Classroom
A. Kotok, 24 March 2006
Scientists can teach children outside the classroom, but according to two former researchers, you need business skills and a touch of showbiz.
The Secret Passions of Scientists
I.S. Levine, 31 March 2006
Have you got a hobby? Our Mind Matters expert looks into how off-hours activities can translate into more productivity and fulfillment at work.
Pregnancy and the Lab -- Feature Index
E. Pain, 7 April 2006
Pregnant scientists face a unique set of challenges, and the stakes for them to get it right are high. Science Careers finds out about the issues, provides some solutions, and passes on firsthand experiences.
Scientific Success: What's Love Got to Do With It?
I. S. Levine, 26 May 2006
Should young trainees hold off on relationships to devote more time to their careers? Our Mind Matters expert studies the personal and professional pros and cons of tying the knot.
NASA Cutbacks Cause Uncertainty Among Space Researchers
A. Fazekas, 16 June 2006
NASA budget cuts are jeopardizing space science and its future workforce, say members of the research community.
Educated Woman, Chapter 52: What, Me Write?
M. P. DeWhyse, 23 June 2006
In the throes of her dissertation, Micella has contracted a severe case of writer's block. Can standard remedies cure her affliction?
A Pressure Cooker for Postdocs?
B. Benderly, 7 July 2006
In the wake of the Korean stem cell scandal, postdocs report widespread pressure to "cook" research results.
A Botanist Becomes a Broker
A. Fazekas, 7 July 2006
From saving plants in remote and dangerous places to selling houses in a Canadian suburb, this conservation botanist turned real estate broker has made some hard career choices.
Forty Winks: Science and Sleep
I. S. Levine, 28 July 2006
In an effort to get as much done as possible, scientists and science trainees often cheat on sleep. But the time they gain is likely to be offset by the consequences.
Personal Finance: Young Scientists Need Firm Plan to Make Up for a Late Start
K. Robinson, 8 September 2006
After what may seem like endless on-the-job training, scientists need to move quickly to map out a sound, long-term financial strategy.
U.S. Embryonic Stem Cell Research: Can Young Researchers Succeed?
S. A. Webb, 22 September 2006
Political uncertainty and funding pressures shape the climate for early-career researchers working with embryonic stem cells.
Bosses Who Bully
I.S. Levine, 22 September 2006
Our Mind Matters columnist advises scientists and trainees on how to minimize the personal and professional costs of bullying bosses.
Opportunities: Stealing Time
P. Fiske, 13 October 2006
No matter where you end up professionally, your effectiveness (and your personal happiness) will depend in large part on your ability to manage your time successfully.
Life Scientists Report Rising Salaries and High Job Satisfaction
J. Austin, 3 November 2006
The latest survey of AAAS life scientists finds that pay increases outpaced inflation, especially for postdocs (also a Science special news section).
Navigating the Stem-Cell Research Maze
S. Webb and E. Pain, 1 December 2006
Young researchers building careers in human stem cell research in Europe need to learn how to navigate the policy maze and adapt to each country's research and funding climate.
Alan Kotok is managing editor of Science Careers.
Comments, suggestions? Please send your feedback to our editor.