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更新:2010年11月04日 阅读次数: 【字体:


Creative and resourceful folk, scientists are making the most of their careers despite dropping salaries and rising lab costs.

For the first time in The Scientist’s Salary Survey 10-year history, there has been a dip in salaries over the last year as universities cut bonuses, enforce furloughs, drag out hiring freezes, and even ask faculty members to take one for the team by accepting salary cuts. And with the rising costs of living and operating a lab, it’s not welcome news for anyone.

In 2006, husband-and-wife scientific duo Gia Voeltz and Brian DeDecker moved to Boulder, Colorado, from Boston, Massachusetts, to take up faculty positions as molecular biologists at the University of Colorado. Transitioning from postdoc salaries to two faculty incomes, “I thought we’d have a lot more expendable income,” laughs Voeltz, a biologist at UC. Instead, daycare for two little ones, running upwards of $2,500 per month, and a mortgage for a home in downtown Boulder sucks up most of their collective income, leaving little to stash away for future expenses like college tuition for their kids. “There are plenty of people in the country feeling a lot more pain than us,” DeDecker says, “but we’re not putting away a nest egg, so that’s kind of unsettling.”

And it’s not just the cost of living that’s on the rise, but the cost of doing science as well. When biophysicist Mary Dickinson moved from Pasadena, California, to Houston, Texas, to take up a job at Baylor College of Medicine, she welcomed the drop in cost of living, happily trading in a 1,100-square-foot townhouse for a 3,000-square-foot single family lake-shore home with a pool for about two-thirds the price. But even living in a cheaper part of the country hasn’t protected her lab from rising operational costs. “We’re writing more grants than we ever have,” she says. “Now instead of one to two grants to run a modest-size lab, people need three or four to keep pace.”

“I didn’t Originally think I would need another R01 grant, but now I do,” agrees Voeltz, who spends at least 20 percent of her time writing grants. “I won’t survive on one much longer, and I don’t even have a large lab.”

Still, scientists—generally creative and resourceful folk—are making the most of the situation. This year, postdocs, the most strapped scientists of all, are getting extra creative, while tenured professors are reevaluating their retirement options. And since incomes tend to be greater in areas of the country with high costs of living, scientists seem to make ends meet no matter where they live.

Fields on the rise

This year’s Salary Survey saw drops in salaries across the board. Almost every specialty suffered a setback, some with dips as large as $20,000 (ecology) and $28,000 (virology). A few select fields bucked the trend, however, posting salary increases this year: bioinformatics, biophysics, biotechnology, and neuroscience. It isn’t always easy to determine why these specialties saw salary raises while others saw cuts, but researchers in each field can speculate.

“There have been increasing requirements in NIH RFAs for informatics components in large projects,” says Mark Musen, head of the Stanford Center for Biomedical Informatics Research at Stanford University. And the continued surge in high-throughput experiments has departments around the country increasing their demand for employees who can manage and interpret the data, which may be adding to the jump in bioinformatics salaries, adds Musen. “I’ve noticed this year that start-up packages for new faculty members in biomedical informatics have been enormously generous because the competition is so intense,” he says. “It doesn’t surprise me that [The Scientist’s] salary data reflect this situation.”

As for the spike in neuroscience, it “could just be a boring, random, statistical bump,” says Barry Connors, chair of the neuroscience department at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. “On the other hand, it is clear that the field of neuroscience has enjoyed a steady increase in popularity over the past two decades, and this trend is continuing.” Over the years, universities have morphed physiology and anatomy departments into neuroscience and neurobiology departments, says Connors, which might contribute to the upward trend. “The field is hot,” he says.

Creative + strapped for cash

Almost all professional levels in the life sciences are feeling the recent financial pinch, but there is one demographic group that always feels it—postdoctoral fellows. Currently, postdocs receiving federal awards make between $37,740 to $52,068 a year, depending on a fellow’s level of experience. In some areas around the country, that may be sufficient, but in cities at the high end of the cost-of-living spectrum, that’s barely enough for Ramen noodles and coffee. Here are some tips from postdocs who’ve learned to scrape by.

Grease your chain

When Rachel Ruhlen joined the University of Illinois–Chicago as a postdoc in 2003, her husband quit his job to care for their 8-year-old child. Strapped for cash, the family couldn’t afford a second car payment, so she took to the streets on a bike. “It turned out to be one of the best things I’ve ever done,” says Ruhlen, who spent 7 years as a postdoc prior to finally landing a job this June as a research assistant professor at the A.T. Sill Research Institute in Kirksville, Missouri. “I lost weight; I’m not polluting,” she says, recommending the practice to any postdoc, in a city or not. “We don’t ever plan to buy a second car.”

Find an odd job (and we mean odd)

In 2003, as a starting postdoc at Georgetown University, Ian Brooks was making $35,000. “I thought I’d hit it big because my grad school stipend was $20,000,” says Brooks. “Then I found out that $35,000 a year in DC doesn’t mean diddly-squat.” To make some extra cash, Brooks, a drummer, started playing bar gigs in bands a couple nights per week. Then, after being mistaken for a bouncer while waiting for a date outside a bar, he took on the occasional security job, working the door at bars and small events. It worked well, “I would make $80–100 for standing around outside an art gallery and making sure no undesirables tried to sneak in for free wine,” says Brooks, “although I did once or twice have to explain black eyes and grazes at work.” Brooks went on to do a second postdoc in Memphis, Tennessee, and is now a bioinformatics program manager.

Don’t be afraid of handouts

When Ruhlen could no longer afford to send her daughter to private school, she went in search of a scholarship and secured one that had been donated to the school by another family. “She was able to stay in private school for a couple more years, then transitioned to public school,” says Ruhlen. If something is worthwhile, especially for your children, don’t be afraid to look for outside financing, she suggests. Later, when Ruhlen’s daughter wanted to go to a Spanish-language summer camp, Ruhlen encouraged her to apply for a grant. “She got it and had a really great time.”

The later years

As institutions bear the brunt of the current financial crisis, even tenured scientists near the end of their careers, those with contracted salaries, are feeling the effects. And in response, they’re digging in their heels.

“There’s an incentive to keep a salary coming in,” says James Bassingthwaighte, a tenured bioengineer at the University of Washington in Seattle, “especially when my retired friends express concerns that their income shrivels with the market downturns.”

“Most investment plans are essentially going nowhere at this point,” agrees David Kessel, a tenured professor of pharmacology at Wayne Sate University School of Medicine in Detroit, Michigan. “The inducement to avoid retirement is three-fold: investment plans flat, health insurance costs increasing and, for those with tenure, no inducements to leave.”

Helene Hill, an 81-year-old professor at New Jersey Medical School, says she would have liked to retire at age 75, but is sticking around, in part because of her salary. “I think it is a great benefit that those of us with tenure have—that we can keep on working,” she says. “[The] only thing is that it’s important not to become dead wood.”

The Scientist 2010 Survey of Compensation of Life Scientists in the U.S.

This Web-based survey was conducted from March 15 to June 28, 2010. Participation was promoted by E-mail and advertisement to readers of The Scientist and to visitors to the magazine’s Web site. Participating societies also promoted the survey to their members. Usable responses were received from 6,776 individuals in the United States. Since many individuals are subscribers to The Scientist, and/or registrants on the magazine’s Web site, and/or members of one or more of the sponsoring societies, it was not possible to compute an accurate rate of response.

Respondents were asked to provide demographic data about themselves in 18 categories, and to give their base annual salary and other cash compensation. The responses were carefully filtered to eliminate duplicate or misleading responses. Not every participant provided all of the information requested. If the participant provided income data, plus information concerning at least one demographic characteristic, the response was included in the study.

AMG Science Publishing (www.amgpublishing.com) conducted both the survey and the analysis of the results.

The Scientist and AMG Science Publishing would like to thank the following societies for their sponsorship of this survey and for promoting it to their members: The American Association of Immunologists, The American Physiological Society, The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, The American Society for Cell Biology, The American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, The Endocrine Society, and the Society for Neuroscience.


Life Sciences Salary Survey, 2010 - All Titles vs Gender

◆Academic Positions FEMALE MALE

1 College/University Department Head (9-10 month appt.) $85,000 $107,000
2 College/University Department Head (11-12 month appt.) $139,033
3 Professor (9-10 month appt.) $101,000 $101,385
4 Professor (11-12 month appt.) $142,458
5 Associate Professor (9-10 month appt.) $75,000 $75,000
6 Associate Professor (11-12 month appt.) $101,025
7 Assistant Professor (9-10 month appt.) $67,000 $72,000
8 Assistant Professor (11-12 month appt.) $80,350 $81,630
9 College Instructor (9-10 month appt.) $50,000 $55,000
10 College Instructor (11-12 month appt.) $60,500 $65,000
11 Adjunct Professor (11-12 month appt.) $57,500 $68,500
12 Post-Doctoral Researcher (9-10 month appt.) $35,000 $38,500
13 Post-Doctoral Researcher (11-12 month appt.) $42,000
14 Graduate Student (9-10 month appt.) $23,000
15 Graduate Student (11-12 month appt.) $27,000 $26,500
16 Senior Research Scientist (11-12 month appt.) $58,000 $63,935
17 Research Scientist (11-12 month appt.) $65,540 $58,000
18 Research Associate (11-12 month appt.) $50,000 $50,000
19 School Teacher (9-10 month appt.) $59,500 $69,000
20 School Teacher (11-12 month appt.) $49,675
21 Laboratory Manager (11-12 month appt.) $50,000 $58,000
22 Laboratory Technician/Research Assistant (11-12 month appt.) $37,714 $42,000
23 Other Academic Position (11-12 month appt.) $62,000 $73,800

◆Non-Academic, Nonprofit, Government Positions FEMALE MALE

1 Chief Scientific Officer $230,000
2 Research Vice President/Director $120,000 $117,000
3 Research Manager $60,500 $112,000
4 Research Section Head $143,000 $151,150
5 Research Unit Supervisor $99,000 $135,000
6 Senior Researcher $80,000 $94,300
7 Intermediate Researcher $70,000 $83,000
8 Research Scientist $62,500 $82,000
9 Researcher in Post-doctoral training program $48,000 $48,000
10 Research Technician $46,300 $53,450
11 Laboratory Director $126,000 $125,250
12 Laboratory Manager $60,300 $71,077
13 Laboratory Technician $45,907 $38,500
14 Medical Technologist/Clinical Lab Scientist $59,000
15 Government - Manager $138,500 $133,500
16 Government - Section Head $134,000 $139,000
17 Government - Unit Supervisor $101,149 $122,000
18 Government - Non-supervisory Professional $90,250 $91,078
19 Other Position (Please enter title) $65,000 $82,500

◆Industrial or commercial positions FEMALE MALE

1 President/Managing Director/CEO $181,500
2 Chief Scientific Officer $189,500
3 Vice President $102,000 $195,000
4 Director $135,000 $170,000
5 Manager $101,000 $113,250
6 Research Vice President/Director $100,000 $149,000
7 Research Manager $98,000 $120,000
8 Research Section Head $170,000 $167,000
9 Research Unit Supervisor $135,250 $124,000
10 Senior Researcher $95,000 $110,500
11 Intermediate Researcher $83,780 $85,000
12 Research Scientist $120,000 $103,870
13 Researcher in Post-doctoral training program $60,500 $56,000
14 Research Technician $63,650 $73,000
15 Laboratory Director $146,000 $160,000
16 Laboratory Manager $73,000 $91,250
17 Laboratory Technician $45,000 $57,000
18 Medical Technologist/Clinical Lab Scientist $75,000
19 Other Position $92,500 $78,050

◆Consulting or other positions FEMALE MALE

1 Principal Consultant $100,000 $92,500
2 Senior Consultant $102,000 $125,000
3 Consultant $73,000 $100,000
4 Independent Consultant (solo practice) $52,000 $85,000
5 Attorney $110,000
6 Editor $66,500
7 Science Journalist/Writer $77,500
8 Other Position $50,000 $93,500
Academic Positions - Tenure Status FEMALE MALE
1 Tenured $103,000 $123,000
2 On tenure track $50,000 $55,794
3 Not on tenure track $46,200 $48,000
4 Other (please specify) $50,000 $58,000


By Megan Scudellari,2010 Life Sciences Salary Survey,Read more: Life Sciences Salary Survey 2010 - The Scientist - Magazine of the Life Sciences http://www.the-scientist.com/2010/11/1/53/1/#ixzz140ejqyem

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