Graduate Journal

Home or abroad?

I have always treasured the global nature of science. But now, as I try to decide between a postdoc in Paris and a similar position in the United States, this beloved characteristic is hampering my choice.

When I started at graduate school, the thought of going abroad for a fellowship never crossed my mind. But my time at Rockefeller University in New York has changed my thinking. Here, as an African-American and a US citizen, I am actually in a minority among my classmates in terms of both ethnicity and nationality. The plethora of positive interactions that I have had with the community of international scientists on campus has given me a fresh view on working overseas.

One factor that may weigh heavily in my final decision is the level and stability of government funding for scientific research in the respective countries. The recent protest by French scientists in response to their government's spending plans was alarming. Other aspects I am considering include overall quality of life, cultural surroundings and the feasibility of obtaining a faculty appointment. As the quality of science is excellent in both places, making a decision will be hard. Certainly, one good thing has emerged from my dilemma – I pay a lot more attention to how the dollar is doing versus the euro than I used to.

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Cunningham, T. Home or abroad?. Nature 427, 762 (2004).

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