Monday, July 20, 2020

COVID-19 and job-seeking postdocs

Also in this week's issue of C&EN, sad stories of postdocs affected by COVID-19 shutdowns (article by Bethany Halford): 
Terry McCallum didn’t expect to spend this summer creating a personal website and growing hot peppers in his in-laws’ garden in North Carolina. In February, he was a postdoctoral scholar at Cornell University studying the chemistry of organic radicals. After spending the months prior interviewing for academic jobs, he was negotiating the details of a position as an assistant professor. His future seemed nearly squared away. 
Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit. 
All McCallum’s plans seemed to evaporate. The school where he was supposed to work hadn’t yet made its formal offer. With budget cuts looming, the university’s chemistry department told him the position was on hold. And because McCallum is Canadian, the university told him it could no longer sponsor his visa to work in the US because of new restrictions from President Donald J. Trump’s administration. 
McCallum is married to an American, so he decided to apply for a Permanent Resident Card using his marital status. But this change in immigration status meant he could no longer work while waiting for the green card to come through—a process that could take more than a year. This meant he had to leave his postdoc at Cornell.
Best wishes to Dr. McCallum, and to all of us.  


  1. I hope he gets a job somewhere, but I would prefer to see that the university TT offer it to an American citizen, because faculty positions now are even more precious. Can't he go back to Canada and look?

    1. Well, a) he's married to an American, so he is following the correct, legal steps to work here; b) presumably he was hired through a competitive selection process, so he was the best fit for the job. Do you just want NO non-natives to be eligible to work here? That's pretty un-American, but there is a segment who would like to make that policy retroactive about 500 years ...

  2. I don't see a company/school prefering to hire an american citizen as un-american. In fact, I see it is patriotic/nationalistic, which is a good thing. Other countries work this way, why not the US?

  3. "...the university told him it could no longer sponsor his visa to work in the US because of new restrictions from President Donald J. Trump’s administration." That is not true. Change-of-status to H1B (the visa type for faculty) in the US is not affected by the new restrictions. The processing time is actually faster recently.

  4. There are plenty of other places on the internet to discuss the wisdom of citizen-only positions.

  5. The government can't even print employment and travel documents because of COVID-19. It's a mess and not getting better anytime soon.


looks like Blogger doesn't work with anonymous comments from Chrome browsers at the moment - works in Microsoft Edge, or from Chrome with a Blogger account - sorry! CJ 3/21/20