May 2011

Challenges facing the international postdoc

The case of a bad fit

PIs and their trainees invest time and effort to ensure that the postdoctoral training experience is productive. Unfortunately some relationships can turn volatile. Before things make a turn for the worse, the mentor and the postdoc need to make their expectations and dissatisfactions with the training experience clear. The interaction then needs to be handled with communication and consideration, because for an international postdoc, the situation presents a two-fold problem. The postdoc now needs to be concerned about searching for a position elsewhere and how this change may affect his or her visa status. Communicating early on will give both individuals time to plan and make necessary changes. Despite the issues that exist, handling the situation with tact will allow the transition to occur smoothly.

As research institutions become more culturally diverse, it is important that the scientific community also evolves to address the challenges that arise. Taking advantage of the resources from CHOP and the NPA will bring clarity to these issues and allow research environments to be cohesive and progressive.

Lola OlufemiLola Olufemi ( is a doctoral candidate/NSF BRIDGE fellow at the Southern Illinois University School of Medicine.


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