US academic researchers in Switzerland – for the money?

A friend shared this thought provoking PhD comic with me.

While I thought the comic did a great job of addressing a very depressing issue for academic scientists in the US (that of rapidly dwindling funding), what caught my eye was the brief interview with Shann Yu at EPFL (in Lausanne, CH).  I listened to the podcast of the interview (here).  He finished his PhD at Vanderbilt last October and was convinced by reports of further funding cuts to pursue a post-doc outside of the US.

I’m curious what Swiss academics think about the real possibility they will be inundated with US-trained scientists looking for post-docs and/or faculty positions as the funding environment continues to get worse in the US?  Is this already happening?

About Cat Cowan

2nd year DVM/PhD student at the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine. Studying immunology, vet medicine and aiming to stay in academia.
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One Response to US academic researchers in Switzerland – for the money?

  1. Cerstin says:

    I think the comic is true for all countries. However, when you compare situations in two countries, it might seem that it’s easier to get funding in one than in the other. I just read an interesting comment on a governmental report on the situation for junior scientists in Germany. It’s really depressing to read that up to 50% of all doctoral students opt out before finishing their theses and roughly 75% of those finishing their doctoral studies quit academia afterwards. The main reason: lack of funding which involves part-time (25 to 50%) short-term (6 to 12 months) contracts.

    The situation in Switzerland is probably better, so it’s of no surprise that German academics are really happy with a Swiss 50-75% two-years contract.

    Some days ago, there had been two interviews in newspapers saying that Switzerland should do more for supporting and funding jung scientists to make academia more attractive. One issue is that Swiss alumni tend to go to industry to get a 100% job and clear career options rather than choosing a 50% contract for two or three years. So even if the overall possibilities at Swiss universities are quite good compared to Germany and perhaps to the US, it’s not that good from the Swiss-only perspective.


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