University of Dundee

stories in science: Postdoctoral Career Pathways website launched

26 Feb 2014

stories in science

Postdoctoral Career Pathways


Following on from the success of Women in Science (2012), natural reflection (2013) and Postdoc Pathways (2014) – the team, that has for the past few years developed new ways of representing women in scientific careers, now brings you stories in science: postdoctoral career pathways.

This wider project, aims to inspire and support those considering careers in science by looking at the potential career paths open to scientists who study to doctorate level. The result is a brochure and online resource packed full of advice, information, personal interviews on film and in print as well as an incredibly sophisticated timeline punctuated by videos and even links to funding opportunities for researchers at different stages of their careers.

Professor Mike Ferguson, Dean of Research at the College of Life Sciences said, “This is a great resource for research scientists and a testament to the importance of recognising and celebrating the careers of women and men working in an increasingly dynamic discipline.

“I am very impressed by the amount of time and hard work that Nicola Phillips and Emma Compton have put into delivering this resource and in realising a very ambitious project. John Hume has done a great job of presenting their valuable data in an ingenious way. I’m confident that stories in science will empower postdocs across the UK to take charge of their careers in science.”

The project was a collaboration between Nicola and Emma and Janice AitkenJackie Malcolm and Zoe Venditozzi.

Explore these features and more at:


Emma Compton and Nicola Phillips introduce the project"

“The range of careers that are open to those who have a Science PhD is vast - however approximately half of those who achieve this qualification will choose to begin their career as a Postdoctoral Researcher performing research under the supervision of a Principal Investigator (PI).

The majority of these researchers wish to follow a career in higher education research or teaching. In the long term, however, the low number of available positions means that competition for academic roles is high; deciding whether to follow the traditional academic career path to run your own research group or to pursue a different one can be daunting.  This project was initiated to help demystify these decisions by looking at the career pathways of successful scientists within and around the College of Life Sciences at the University of Dundee.

“We have interviewed people who are at different stages along the academic career track, from a newly recruited PI, just forming his own research lab, to the Vice-Principal of the University. We’ve also taken a look at some who left the ‘traditional’ path to fulfill different roles within the University of Dundee for which their science training is highly valuable. We have translated their career paths into interactive timelines so they can be easily visualised and compared.

“You will see how varied each career pathway is; from those staying in one institute to those who have moved all over the world, working full-time or part-time, and the family commitments, which have influenced their decisions. We have highlighted the positions they have held, from their first undergraduate degree to where they are now at the start of 2014 and the papers they have published. For those that have stayed in academia, we show the funding they received which allowed them to start their own research programme and the additional roles they have taken on as their careers have progressed. For those that have moved away from the bench we have charted the journey that has brought them to where they are today. There are video clips of the interviews with each person so you can listen to the stories behind their choices as well as links to information about outside organisations such as funding bodies, journals and societies that have been important in their careers.”