Science Policy in our New Administration: Challenges Facing Early Career Researchers

In the week before he was sworn in as the 46th President of the United States, then President-elect Biden took the unprecedented step of elevating the director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) to a cabinet level position. In doing so, Biden demonstrated his commitment to ensuring science is an integral part of his administration and to robustly invest in America’s scientific research enterprise. In a open letter to his chosen nominee, Geneticist Dr. Eric Lander, Biden posed the following questions: “How can we address stresses on academic research labs and promote creative models for federal research support? How can we reimagine and transform STEM education, empowering teachers and deploying technology to enhance the educational experience? How can we ensure the United States will remain a magnet for the best and brightest minds throughout the world?” These questions are at the core of Future of Research’s mission. In order to heed President Biden’s call to action to address the stresses on America’s research institutions and labs, we must give a voice to the individuals who underpin the entire scientific research enterprise: early career researchers (ECRs). ECRs such as graduate students and postdoctoral researchers are critical to addressing each of the issues currently facing the future of the scientific research enterprise: Lack of Effective Mentorship–The cultural climate at institutions that conduct STEM research, and thus the success of the research enterprise, is deeply tied to the quality of mentorship available. ECRs face numerous stressors as part of their jobs, many of which can be addressed by recentering training and mentorship as core to the mission of STEM...

FoR Statement on President Trump’s Executive Order on Immigration

Dear Future of Research Community, America’s leadership in biomedical research is dependent on our ability to recruit and retain the best talent not only domestically but also from around the world. Immigrants are a key driver of U.S. scientific and technological innovation and economic prosperity. Currently, more than 50% of the STEM workforce is foreign-born. Yet, new grave dangers threaten the nature of the scientific enterprise, including our ability to foster a flexible environment, creativity, and scientific innovation for researchers that come from all over the world. The work of Future of Research (FoR) has been, and always will be, focused on creating a sustainable, equitable, and inclusive system of academic training. We aim to create an environment where everyone feels safe, included, and valued not just for their scientific contributions, but for who they are. Therefore FoR does not support any efforts to turn away foreign talent when we know it is critical for the U.S. to remain on the leading edge of biomedical research discovery. On June 22, 2020, President Trump signed an executive order titled “Proclamation Suspending Entry of Aliens Who Present a Risk to the U.S. Labor Market Following the Coronavirus Outbreak” which will expire on December 31, 2020 (link to EO). The order suspends entry for individuals under the H-1B, H-2B, J-1, and L-1 visa programs. The executive order not only goes against the very foundation of the U.S. but will also have disastrous effects on our economy, healthcare & scientific advancements. It also follows a series of additional executive orders targeting the international workforce, which creates a volatile work environment for the research...

Join us to shape the future of science!

The landscape of scientific research and funding is in flux, affected by tight budgets, evolving models of both publishing and evaluation, and questions about training and workforce stability. As future leaders, junior scientists are uniquely poised to shape the culture and practice of science in response to these challenges. We are planning a symposium to give voice to graduate students and postdocs in the ongoing dialog about policies that shape the scientific establishment. How? We are a group of postdocs in the Boston area invested in improving the scientific endeavor. We represent eight institutions: Harvard Medical School, Brandeis University, Boston University, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Tufts University, Harvard School of Public Health, Dana Farber Cancer Institute, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology. We are planning a postdoc-organized two day event in the Fall of 2014 in Boston. The event will consist of talks and panel discussions on issues affecting the future of science as well as breakout sessions to expand on these topics. Participants will have the opportunity for in-depth discussion on specific areas of interest including: Metrics for evaluating science Efficiency of scientific research and communication Funding structure Focus and duration of training Sustainability of the workforce Causes and consequences of competitiveness Each discussion will be moderated by postdocs who have assembled current data and other pertinent background information for workshop participants. The goal of each session will be to elucidate a majority opinion on which challenges are most important to address, and to develop recommendations for moving toward an equitable, sustainable research enterprise. The output After the symposium, we will publish a report representing the majority opinion of...