The Perils Facing Postdocs Today [December 14, 2022]

The research workforce and early career community hosted a presentation and discussion with Tom Kimbis, the Executive Director and CEO of the National Postdoc Association (NPA) about challenges facing postdocs and how funders can address these challenges to improve retention in science. Today’s postdocs face an array of challenges, some newly visible and some stemming back decades  . All can derail the careers of researchers. Ways to address them are becoming more complex.  They can include lack of financial resources, variable positions within their institutions, toxic work environments, lack of mentorship, family stresses and other pandemic-related problems.

In this session, Tom presented data recently collected by NPA about challenges postdocs are currently facing. This presentation served as the basis for a discussion with HRA members about their current experience with postdoctoral fellowship programs- what challenges are you hearing from grantees? Applicants? Are you seeing any trends and have you made any changes to your programs in response? What particular issues are you managing to help with retention in the scientific workforce, and even academia? We brainstormed with Tom on ways that HRA and NPA could work together to further explore problems and solutions.  We hope you will listen to this call to begin a longer conversation about the new generation of postdocs and how funders can support their careers and their critical role in the scientific enterprise.