Whitehead ranks among best places for postdocs

March 3, 2008

Tags: Awards + Announcements

(CAMBRIDGE, Mass.)  – Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research is among the top places to work for postdoctoral researchers, according to The Scientist’s sixth annual survey of research institutions nationwide, released today.

This is the first year Whitehead made The Scientist’s top 15 list, ranking 14th in the survey published in the March issue.

According to the magazine, institutions that rank highly are listening to postdoc concerns about uncertain career opportunities, work/life balance and the need for first-rate professional development. In fact, the most important factor cited by survey respondents in 2008 was the quality of training and career preparation offered by an institution.

The story quotes Whitehead Director David Page applauding the quality of work that postdoctoral scientists bring to the field. “We view postdocs as colleagues in training,” Page told The Scientist. “They are the single largest group of scientists at the Whitehead Institute. To a very large degree, the science that the Whitehead Institute does is the science that the postdocs do.”

“Postdocs are the lifeblood of academic science,” says The Scientist editor and publisher Richard Gallagher. “Our survey is one of the few nationwide efforts to assess their needs and desires and to recognize excellence in postdoc programs.”

The survey was completed in December 2007, before Whitehead announced a major upgrade of postdoc benefits.

Working with the Whitehead Postdoctoral Association, in January Institute leadership created a compensation plan that includes a first-year salary of $47,000, with an annual adjustment that accounts for the rise in cost of living. The plan also provides basic dental and health benefits as well as group term life insurance.

Additionally, Whitehead launched an innovative solution to provide all of its postdocs, including those funded by external fellowships, with comparable retirement benefits. Because these retirement contributions are provided at an early point in their careers, the power of compounded interest magnifies the bottom line for postdocs.

The rankings were based on a survey of postdocs who rated their own institutions within 11 categories, including the following criteria:

  • Quality of mentoring
  • Level of communication
  • Opportunities for networking and career development
  • Quality of training
  • Career preparation

Percentiles were computed among 82 North American Institutions that received 4 or more responses. The full survey results, including rankings of the top 45 global institutions and methodology, can be found in this month’s issue of The Scientist, available online within a few days at www.the-scientist.com and at bookstores.

Written by Cristin Carr


Communications and Public Affairs
Phone: 617-258-6851
Email: newsroom@wi.mit.edu


Whitehead Institute unveils innovative salary and benefits plan for postdoctoral scientists

Whitehead Institute is a world-renowned non-profit research institution dedicated to improving human health through basic biomedical research.
Wholly independent in its governance, finances, and research programs, Whitehead shares a close affiliation with Massachusetts Institute of Technology
through its faculty, who hold joint MIT appointments.

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