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Likelihood of postdoc position?

  1. Mar 12, 2015 #1
    I'm nearing the end of choosing a physics graduate school to attend and the decision is coming down to what research groups I'm interested in. My area of interest is in biological physics but I'm not quite sure whether I want to do computational or experimental work. A major factor in choosing what group and specialty is my career outlook after graduate school. Is there a way to gauge how my career outlook will be after graduate school based on the research area?

    The computational work would likely include Monte Carlo simulations which have applications in many other fields but I'm wondering about postdoctoral biological physics positions.

    The experimental work would likely be on membranes with biomedical applications.

    Should I try to find out which is more likely to land me a decent postdoctoral position? Is there a way to even do this? Of course there is also the worry about the dependency on the institution at which you earn your PhD.
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 12, 2015 #2


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    Whether or not you obtain a postdoc position is dependent on several factors out of which the ones you mentioned are a few. You can try to maximise this probability by trying to find out what has happened to recent graduates of the different groups, but it is a weak indicator at best.

    More important for the outcome will be your own performance during graduate studies as well as your ability to advertise yourself to new groups. Creating a professional network at conferences and other meetings (and making a good impression) is of importance, as the people you meet might very well be the ones that could be interested in hiring you at a postdoc level.
  4. Mar 12, 2015 #3
    Okay so I still have a good amount of control over my career after graduate school? Performing well in courses, work hard at research, network network network.
  5. Mar 12, 2015 #4
    Is looking at Postdoctoral positions through websites like Indeed or API worth it in order to gauge what kind of options one might have if they work on such and such project? Or does this provide too small of a cross-section of the *actual* postdoc positions available?

    Is it harder to get a postdoc position having theoretical and computational work as opposed to experimental?

    If its not obvious I'm quite anxious about this whole business haha.
  6. Mar 14, 2015 #5
    At this stage of your career thinking of a postdoc is premature.. Find a program with the resources related to your interest. You probably do not know the reputation of the faculty to start but once you find a program that seems meet your requirements you can look up the publication history of the relevant faculty to asses their stature in that area. Are they publishing about issues in which you are interested. Your adviser will be your greatest asset. If your adviser is doing recognized work then their students will be desirable. Your publication history will be of primary importance. When your name is on the same publications you will be seen in their light. Having impressed your adviser he/she will (should) go out of their way to help you. Nothing is guaranteed though. Every month after qualifying you will check the journals for papers related to your research hoping someone hasn't "scooped" you or somehow cause you to abandon you project..
    Your adviser might appreciate your efforts so much as to "need" you for longer than you may desire. You might fall into an unexpected funk or get married.. If you are an experimentalist sharing major equipment for example you may not be given preference in its use over more senior grad students, or find yourself delayed in data taking because of a major upgrade or breakdown making the equipment unavailable. Where will any of us be in 2020 when you might be looking for a postdoc?
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