|Remind you of your committee?|
Photo credit: AtixVector
Read it? Great -- here are my thoughts:
- The statistics are basically inarguable and finally collected all in one place. Supply is going up, demand as measured by starting Ph.D. salaries has gone down by 1% between 1998 and 2009. Basically static demand, while the supply has continued to go up.
- The quotes from Prof. Michael Doyle ("Synthetic organic chemistry, process development chemistry, and medicinal chemistry have been severely affected by the downturn in the economy and the lack of jobs in the pharmaceutical industry.") and Prof. Amir Hoveyda ("Some people in organic chemistry have been very strongly gearing what they do in their programs toward what pharma needs,"). I sincerely hope that this will cause some amount of rethinking on the part of the academic community.
- The quote from the biotech CSO at the end of the article: “We really aren’t training too many Ph.D.s for the jobs available. I think people just need to look outside the realm of chemistry research and start thinking about things that still involve chemistry and use the tools that you learned in graduate school but that aren’t necessarily bench-type jobs." O RLY? So what you're saying is that we're training too many Ph.D. chemists just as long as they want to be chemists. Oh, okay.
- The number of PhD-granting graduate school is 196 in the US. Does anyone think we'll be okay if we cut that number down to, say, 170? Or 150? Or 96?
- The quote from the biomedical prof (Juliano) is telling, too. Ph.D. scientists going into regulatory affairs? Hey, you don't need a Ph.D. to do that...
- There's a physical chemistry Ph.D. who applied for a bunch of nanotech positions only to get turned down. That's not good for anyone; they're supposed to be the next thing after pharma. Uh-oh....
- The quote from Professor Platz ("For 30 years, I’ve been telling young people that the only reason they should go to graduate school in chemistry or any field of science is because they have a calling to learn that field of science—the way someone has a calling for art, music, or the priesthood... You should only do it for that sense of love and personal fulfillment. It’s very hard to predict a job market five years hence.”) If this is true, there are a whole lot of people in graduate school who are there for the wrong reason. If this is true, the government should not be paying for many of these positions. If this is true, we're all doomed (a little.)
If you're a skeptic on the Ph.D. glut, you have to be able to refute the statistics at the beginning of the article or you have to be hoping for a big turnaround sometime soon. Finally, it's my contention that every single 1st year graduate student in chemistry should be required to read this article. Huge kudos to C&EN's Beth Halford for a really thorough and excellent article.