Science Careers' Best of 2008

In 2008, Science Careers offered readers worldwide a collection of articles illustrating scientific career opportunities in and out of research, advising readers on landing good jobs and excelling in scientific careers, and profiling scientists who succeeded in research as well as some who looked elsewhere for fulfillment. This week, we recap the year, serving up some of our favorites, chosen by the Science Careers editorial staff.

It was a year when our readers had plenty of reasons to look for guidance, when many U.S. researchers labored under tight funding conditions that grew increasingly uncertain as the year ended. Outside the United States, the situation wasn't much different. To help our readers--especially the younger, less established lot--deal with that uncertainty, we gave longtime contributor Beryl Lieff Benderly her own column, "Taken for Granted," in which she dissects the challenges faced by postdocs and other researchers "who deserve better."

Our other columnists (Dave Jensen, Peter Fiske, Irene Levine, and the team of Patricia Gosling and Bart Noordam) stepped up with helpful and timely advice, as did our staff of editors and correspondents--Jim Austin, Kate Travis, Alan Kotok, and Elisabeth Pain--and our many skilled contributors. Among those contributors, Lucas Laursen investigated the "impostor syndrome," which prevents some high achievers from accepting their own success, in an article that generated a good deal of comment.

Courtesy, Jeremiah Peterson

Jeremiah Peterson (right) returned from a deployment in Iraq to continue his chemistry studies at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities.

At Science Careers, we run a special feature every month. In 2008, we focused twice on advice for undergraduates, starting in April with characteristics of the Generation Y workforce. In December, we surveyed summer internships in science, just in time for undergraduates to choose an internship program or two and fill out their applications.

We met some fascinating people in 2008, people who left their original work for the emerging field of synthetic biology, who climb through forests, who serve as mentors, and one who (as part of his job) revels in controversy. We met a group of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans returning to campus to study science and engineering (a feature that resulted in an official Army commendation for Alan Kotok, our managing editor), another group of faculty members who were the first in their families to graduate from college, and still another group who became science-policy fellows, combining politics and science.

We said a sad goodbye to Micella Phoenix Dewhyse, our Educated Woman, who, after more than 6 years of laying it all on the line and serving as an online mentor and virtual soulmate to hundreds of struggling young scientists, left research to start a new professional life. Meanwhile, we ratcheted up our "In Person" series a notch, providing more scientists with opportunities to tell their own stories in their own words or share their wisdom about scientific careers.

Thanks for your readership over the past year; we look forward to seeing you in 2009, as we unveil several exciting new projects. As you sit back and enjoy this short respite in between these 2 years, we hope you'll sit back and enjoy the best that Science Careers had to offer in 2008:

Finding the Way Back to a First (Career) Love

Sarah Webb

11 January 2008

Like rekindling an old romance, the pursuit of an old interest can be exciting and rewarding.

Maximizing Productivity and Recognition, Part 2: Collaboration and Networking

S. Pfirman, P. Balsam, R.E. Bell, J.D. Laird, P. Culligan

1 February 2008

Effective collaboration and networking will help you establish the kinds of connections that advance science while moving you forward in your scientific career.

No, You're Not an Impostor

Lucas Laursen

15 February 2008

Feel like a phoney? Getting over it requires appraising yourself accurately and embracing success.

Tooling Up: Put Some Muscle Into Your Marketing Materials

David G. Jensen

15 February 2008

Powerful writing can move your job application to the top of the pile.

Ph.Dollars: Does Grad School Make Financial Sense?

Sarah Webb

11 April 2008

Over the course of a long career, a Ph.D. in science is pretty much a wash financially, but in the short term, science requires financial sacrifices.

A Matter of Policy

Brian Vastag

18 April 2008

A variety of fellowships are available that enable scientists to contribute to local and national policymaking processes.

Structuring Academic Careers in Europe

Chelsea Wald

2 May 2008

Several universities have embarked on projects to define tenurelike career structures, and work has begun on a Europe-wide standard.

Family Trailblazers

Susan Gaidos

23 May 2008

Fitting in on a college faculty is harder when you're the first in your family to go to college.

Student-Veterans Come Marching Home: Their Return to Studies

Alan Kotok

6 June 2008

A group of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans tell about their new lives as science and engineering students and the impact of military service on their campus experiences.

Getty Images

Sustaining Forests in a Changing World

Elisabeth Pain

13 June 2008

Forest ecosystems are central to most of today's global environmental issues. Science Careers reviews career opportunities in this growing area of research.

A Self-Made Climber

Elisabeth Pain

13 June 2008

Rainforest ecologist Catherine Cardelús has taught herself how to move freely up and down trees, but she's still struggling to understand a key scientific question: Why is there so much plant diversity 50 m above the ground?

Educated Woman, Postdoc Edition, Chapter 17: End of the Road

Micella Phoenix DeWhyse

4 July 2008

After more than 6 years of monthly columns and postgraduate research, Micella Phoenix DeWhyse celebrates her Independence Day--and we're sad.


Science Careers had 11 podcasts in 2008, including ...

Radioprotective Drugs; Modeling the Supergreenhouse; New Treatments for Alcoholism; Generation Y Workforce [MP3].

Rob Frederick, Kate Travis, Lucas Laursen, 11 April 2008. Characteristics of the Generation Y Workforce, starts at 24:43.

Courting Controversy: Out of the Mainstream

John Bohannon

11 July 2008

Science's Gonzo Scientist profiles William Sims Bainbridge, a sociologist and NSF program officer who doesn't shy away from controversial topics.

Do You Wanna Be a VAP?

Laura Stark Malisheski

18 July 2008

A visiting assistant professor position can be a step forward--but only if you intend to pursue a career focused on teaching.

E-Persona Non Grata: Strategizing Your Online Persona

Peter Fiske

25 July 2008

It's time to put away childish things and retool your online presence as a lean, mean, job-seeking machine.

A Comfortable Retirement

Gunjan Sinha

22 August 2008

Germany and other European countries are working to improve pension schemes for mobile scientists.

Taken for Granted: Fitting the Job Market to a T

Beryl Lieff Benderly

5 September 2008

Former postdoc-activist Laure Haak has learned firsthand why, despite an abundance of impeccably trained postdocs, good help in industry is hard to find.

In Person: A European Career Tour, From Research to Research Management

Antonella Di Trapani

19 September 2008

A science officer at the European Science Foundation describes her journey through careers and countries.

Michael G. Montague

Radha Krishnakumar pursues her career in synthetic biology at the J. Craig Venter Institute in Rockville, Maryland.

Getting Ready for Synthetic Biology

Elisabeth Pain

17 October 2008

Synthetic biology offers new opportunities for scientists willing to challenge their ways of thinking and doing research.

A Multidisciplinary Approach to Life

Elisabeth Pain

17 October 2008

A microbiologist, a mechanical engineer, and a chemist tell Science Careers how they ended up in synthetic biology.

Social Networking Grows Up

Lucas Laursen

24 October 2008

New resources lend a social dimension to online research and publishing tools.

Taken for Granted: Joe the Plumber and the Postdocs

Beryl Lieff Benderly

7 November 2008

What can early-career scientists learn from the working class?

Tooling Up: 15 Minutes to a Better Interview

David G. Jensen

28 November 2008

Even for experienced interviewers, some basic rules of courtesy and etiquette are worth reviewing.

The Job Outlook for Physician-Scientists

Karyn Hede

5 December 2008

Empty training slots and ample job opportunities make the job outlook positive for physician-scientists.

Highlights From the Science Careers Blog

Editors Kate Travis and Elisabeth Pain blogged live from the Euroscience Open Forum meeting in Barcelona in July, which produced the most commented blog entry of 2008, on the need for women to choose between family and career.

In April, the Science Careers blog and others reported on NSF's decision to stop reporting on the numbers of minorities in some scientific disciplines. In May, we got a promise and then the release of the data from NSF.

Photos, top to bottom: Xenia Antunes, courtesy of Jeremiah Peterson, Getty Images, Michael G. Montague

Alan Kotok is managing editor of Science Careers.

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