One particularly jarring example of this brain drain, recounted by two independent sources, took place in the summer and fall of 2012. A young researcher in the Midwest with a Ph.D. in chemistry from a prominent state school had been left unemployed after the project on which she had worked didn't get a follow-up grant. Three months of attempting to find research or academic work produced no results. With no other options, she rewrote her resume, stripping it of any mention of her Ph.D., and began applying elsewhere. Within a week, she had secured a job as a secretary at an auto parts company.
The Huffington Post tracked down the researcher, "Rebecca," who asked that her real name not be used out of concern that it could jeopardize her current employment. Rebecca confirmed her story. Now an executive at the auto parts company, she recalled the abrupt end to her previous career as a "depressing" moment, filled with uncertainty.
"It is possible that I could have gone to another college and gotten another post doc, but that's a temporary position," Rebecca said. "When I started way back in the day, this was the field to go into ... it is a much different field today."
Despite 11 years of education (five as an undergrad, six for her Ph.D.) and aspirations of being a chemist, Rebecca said she has left science for good. She is happy with life outside the lab. Her company takes good care of her.
"They are already scared I'm not there to stay because they know I'm bright," she said. "They just don't how bright."I wonder what pushed her to make this decision? It very clearly sounds like Rebecca wants out of science, which is understandable. Well, here's hoping that she is happy with her current position.
[One notes that the current funding climate wasn't so great in summer/fall 2012, but the sequester didn't start until 2013.]
Best wishes to her, and to all of us.