Whitehead Institute named best place for postdocs to work

Valmik Vyas, Andreas Herrlich, and Michelle Carmell

Present and former Chairs of the Whitehead Postdoctoral Association, from right to left: Valmik Vyas (2008-present), Andreas Herrlich (2005-2008), and Michelle Carmell (2008-present).

Photo: Nicole Giese Rura/Whitehead

February 23, 2009

Tags: Awards + Announcements

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

Last year was the first time Whitehead made The Scientist’s top 15 list, when it ranked 14th out of 82 United States (U.S.) institutions.

According to the magazine, which released its survey results today, Whitehead’s placement improved so dramatically because the Institute has renewed its focus on postdocs. Specifically cited were Whitehead’s generous benefits, high-caliber senior scientists, and a family-friendly environment that supports good work-life balance.

"Our postdocs are and always have been the backbone of the Whitehead Institute.  They contribute enormously to the success of the Institute's scientific mission, and they literally are the focus of our hopes for the future of biomedical research,” says Whitehead Director David C. Page. “I am extremely proud of their accomplishments, both during their postdoctoral tenures here at Whitehead and in their subsequent careers at leading institutions around the globe. Our postdocs deserve a first-class environment in which to work, train, and learn, and we at Whitehead Institute will do our best to continue to enhance their experience here.”

The award is the culmination of several years’ work, beginning in 2006 with a survey conducted by the Whitehead Postdoctoral Association.  The survey, which was spearheaded by then Association Chairs Cintia Hongay and Andreas Herrlich, identified postdocs’ concerns. Working with the Whitehead Postdoctoral Association, Whitehead administration has addressed the postdocs’ top issues by improving postdoc health, dental, and retirement benefits and salaries over the past year.  A new compensation package implemented in 2008 includes an annual salary adjustment accounting for cost of living increases.

“We think this award is a wonderful recognition of our work to improve Whitehead postdoc benefits and career development opportunities,“ says Herrlich.

Current co-Chairs of the Postdoctoral Association, Michelle Carmell and Valmik Vyas, agree and also credit the strong working relationship between the Association and Whitehead administration. “None of this could have been accomplished without the administration,” says Carmell.

 “They're responsive to our needs, and that's really what it comes down to,” agrees Vyas.

The Scientist’s survey results demonstrate that the boosted benefits have built upon Whitehead’s existing strengths to create a premier environment for postdocs and their research.

The Scientist’s rankings are based on a voluntary 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 trainingCareer preparation

Percentiles were computed among 85 U.S. institutions that received five or more responses. The full survey results, including rankings of the top 27 non-U.S. institutions and methodology, can be found in the March issue of The Scientist, available online in March at www.the-scientist.com and at bookstores.

Written by Nicole Giese Rura

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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