Argonne named a "Best Place" for postdocs to work in 2011

By Eleanor TaylorMarch 1, 2011

ARGONNE, Ill. —The U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory was recently ranked the fourth-best place for postdocs to work by The Scientist, a life sciences magazine. The magazine's ninth annual Best Places to Work for Postdocs survey recognizes this year's award winners as leaders in striking that fine balance in providing young researchers both guidance and independence.

"Part of our mission is to inspire and educate our nation's future scientists and engineers," said Argonne Director Eric Isaacs. “Postdocs at Argonne are collaborating with world renowned experts to accelerate discoveries and enable breakthroughs in energy and the environment while advancing America’s competitiveness and economic stability.”

The survey finds that top ranked institutions such as Argonne have provided postdoctoral students an academically-stimulating environment with top notch facilities and infrastructure. As the only DOE laboratory recognized in the 2011 survey, Argonne's rankings improved, from 11th to fourth, in one year. Survey respondents praised labs like Argonne for fostering work environments that value creative freedom and individualism while providing critical guidance to future scientific leaders in academia and industry.

"The postdoctoral years are extremely important in helping young scientists mature into competent lab leaders," said The Scientist editor and publisher Richard Gallagher. "Our survey provides information about both the strengths and weaknesses of institutions in training Ph.D.s for that transition—straight from the postdocs themselves."

"At Argonne, we believe the postdoc experience is invaluable and strive to make it not only academically rewarding, but also socially fulfilling," said Giselle Sandi-Tapia, an Argonne chemist who managed Argonne’s postdoctoral programs for the past four years.  “We are so excited to see that our postdocs think so, too.  They are our future and we work very hard to provide them with the best training and experience possible.”

Argonne has three main postdoctoral programs: the Named Postdoctoral Fellowship Program, Director's Postdoctoral Fellowships and Division Postdoctoral Appointments. The Argonne Named Postdoctoral Fellowship Program awards annual fellowships to outstanding doctoral scientists and engineers from around the world who are at early points in promising careers. The fellowships are named after scientific and technical luminaries who have been associated with the laboratory, its predecessors and the University of Chicago since the 1940s.

Director's Postdoctoral Fellows are selected based on their research and academic accomplishments, as well as the strength of their research proposals. They are given the opportunity to collaborate with Argonne scientists and engineers on existing programs and on new initiatives. Director's Postdoctoral Fellows are selected three times per year.

Division Postdoctoral Appointments are hired on a continuous base and typically conduct research on existing Argonne science and technology programs. Candidates are selected based on their academic background and possible input to the research program as described in their proposals.

The Lab-Wide Postdoctoral Committee plays a vital role in the selection and recommendation of the postdoctoral fellows and associates.

The survey is published in the March issue of The Scientist.

Argonne National Laboratory seeks solutions to pressing national problems in science and technology. The nation's first national laboratory, Argonne conducts leading-edge basic and applied scientific research in virtually every scientific discipline. Argonne researchers work closely with researchers from hundreds of companies, universities, and federal, state and municipal agencies to help them solve their specific problems, advance America's scientific leadership and prepare the nation for a better future. With employees from more than 60 nations, Argonne is managed by UChicago Argonne, LLC for the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science.