In this week's "Back to School" issue, the employment section of Chemical and Engineering News looks at industrial postdocs and entry-level B.S. positions. From Susan Ainsworth, a look at postdoctoral positions in the pharmaceutical industry, including a new, large program at Merck:
That’s been a major motivation behind a new postdoctoral research fellowship program that Merck & Co. is now preparing to launch, according to Christopher J. Welch, a senior principal scientist at the company. As postdocs come into the program, “they won’t be just turning the crank, doing routine work at a low price,” he says. Instead, they will be involved in “cutting-edge science with the goal of rapid publication of their findings in high-profile journals."...
[snip] The new Merck program will add 15 to 20 scientists per year over the next three years, building to a “steady state” of about 50 fellows by 2014, according to Welch, who is cochair of the program. The postdocs will come from scientific disciplines from genomics to biology to statistics to all branches of chemistry and biochemistry, and will be spread across the company’s U.S. sites in one-year appointments that are renewable for up to three years, he says.
To kick off the program, Merck is inviting its scientists to submit proposals for research projects in which they could mentor a postdoc. The top projects and mentors will be chosen by a committee chaired by Welch and Robert A. Kastelein, scientific associate vice president and cochair of the program. Beginning later this month, Merck will recruit postdocs through its website to fill the newly created positions.
While Merck scientists remain focused on proprietary research aimed at areas such as developing the next blockbuster drug, postdocs will be working in a precompetitive space, developing enabling tools and techniques that will be critical to the pharmaceutical industry in the next few years, Welch says. In addition to training a small number of scientists who may eventually be hired as permanent employees, he adds, the program will “enable us to seed the outside world with folks who will be valuable future collaborators for Merck as they go to work in academia or at another pharma company or a supplier or vendor firm.”From Emily Bones, a look at what undergraduates can do to get positions in industry:
Timothy Boman, for one, took advantage of opportunities offered by his alma mater. During three summers of his undergraduate career at Hope College, in Michigan, he conducted research. Each summer he did something a little different. In fact, halfway through his program he added chemistry classes to complement his mathematics degree. He ultimately stayed at Hope a fifth year to complete a B.S. in chemistry and a B.A. in math in 2010.
Boman credits his research in organic chemistry, under Jeffrey B. Johnson, as a major factor in successfully finding a job after graduation. Boman is now a process development chemist involved in cancer drug discovery research at Ash Stevens, a contract research organization in Riverview, Mich.
“During my interview, I was able to give a presentation about the project I worked on with Dr. Johnson,” Boman explains. To get ready for the job interview, he did a mock presentation for people who were working in his adviser’s lab group.One thing that I found interesting about the article on undergraduate interns (and ultimately) employment in pharma was the note that one of the students had ended up working at AMRI - Indianapolis. I think that's worth noting; it will be interesting to see how that program goes.