Friday, November 9, 2012

ACS Webinar on the doctoral glut: be glad you're not a biomedical scientist

credit: ACS Webinar
There was a lot that I could say about yesterday's ACS Webinar with Professors Richard Freeman and Paula Stephan, and hopefully I'll be saying more of it next week. But what I found fascinating about their presentation was this graph above. Stephan suggested that the issues with chemistry Ph.D.s is demand-related -- basically, as the manufacturing sector has slowed, the industrial demand for chemistry Ph.D.s has slowed as well, even as graduation of Ph.D.s has remained relatively flat. [Professor Freeman made the interesting point that he thinks that many, many more people should be doing masters degrees instead.]

[Is anyone else terribly amused by the comment in the ACS Webinar blog post where someone says that their hiring managers cannot find chemistry Ph.D.s to hire?]

As I said a long time ago, I had been warned away from the biomedical sciences, and that turquoise line up there is one of the reasons why. 

12 comments:

  1. It would be interesting to see on that graph the number of MBA and JD graduates during that time period.

    I'd bet those lines aren't flat.

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  2. I agree with the idea that more people should be stopping at a Masters degree. Ask any PhD student and they'll tell you they have at least one labmate who should have been kicked out of the program for lack of progress. Otherwise, grad school is a guaranteed paycheck for 5 years, so why not? In addition, morale is eroded when these students distract other students and eat up valuable resources.

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  3. Definitely should have been some people who should have not been given the PhD in my program. Although I admit, I mostly did it due to the guaranteed paycheck part, but I turned out to be one of the best students in the program at my university... which I actually didn't expect at the beginning. I hated the most being told to shut up when starting to talk about chemistry at happy hour. It was 'talking shop' and not allowed. Why the hell were we in grad school then, if we hated talking about chemistry in our off-time so much?

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    Replies
    1. nice #humblebrag

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    2. It's a qualifier. I'm complaining about general quality in my program from an untouchable position of being outside of the debate due to my number of first author glamour magz pubs and my independence at the end of the PhD as opposed to others. Besides, much good being humble or bragging does me being as I'm still anonymous at the end of it. Although, I do admit that earning uncle sam some mad Kudos for his chem skillz from the rest of the chemjobber reading community might lift his spirits for a few minutes. Probably not too much longer than that though.

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  4. Something in this chart sits funny with me. Are biochem PhDs included in the chem PhD numbers?

    It seems that this chart encompasses a time of great growth for biochem as a discipline, and I cannot imagine that we wouldn't see a visible rise in PhDs from the field (and I doubt a drop in regular chem PhDs would hide this growth).

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    Replies
    1. Yep, "basic biomedical Ph.D.s" do include biochemistry:

      http://report.nih.gov/investigators_and_trainees/ACD_BWF/orange_titles.aspx

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  5. What you really want to look at is the numbers of US citizens and green card holders getting PhDs. In some field, esp physics, but increasingly chemistry, the R1s are importing shock troops to keep the faculty feeding.

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  6. For the color impaired, is chemistry the relatively flat line that hovers around 4-5000? Or is it the line that shoots up to 15,000ish?

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    Replies
    1. It's the second from the bottom. The relatively flat one.

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  7. For the number of awarded PhDs please check the number on the left. Numbers on the right are for the number of awarded MDs.
    Therefore chemistry PhDs form the flat line around 2000.

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  8. Sorry, i was replying to AnonymousNovember 11, 2012 9:54 AM above

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