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postdocs a voice when it testified to the US
Senat e to call for better funding for health
research. The NPA highlighted how postdocs
are "routinely exploited" as a result oflow
wages and inconsistent benefits.
Such meagre wages undermine the value
of post doctoral research. As the National
Academy of Science has commented,
postdocs "have become indispensable to
the science and engineering enterprise,
performing a substantial portion of the
nation's research in every setting."
"The prospect of better pay has led
many to feel optimistic"
In January this year, in his statement
on the changes to the US tax agreement,
President Obama acknowledged the
importance of research when he said: "We
can't keep cutting things like basic research
Neal Sweeney,
a stem cell
postdoctoral fellow
at the University of
California, knows
what it's like to
survive on a small
stipend. But he's
det ermined t o
improve the lot of low-paid postdocs across
Californi a, as president of the UAW Local 5810,
a union that represents more than 6,000
fellows. New Scientist fi nds out how.
What made you want to get involved with
your postdoc union?
As an undergraduate and graduate, I saw how
postdocs were treated. They were neither
staff nor student s, and worked long hours
on low salaries wit h no vacations. Some of
t hem were even abused by their employers
or principal investigators, discriminated against
because of their immigration status
or forced to work in unsafe conditions. Ours
is one of the few labor unions to represent
postdocs, but the number of unionized
postdocs is growing both in the US and beyond.
Can uni ons really make a difference
to postdocs' pay?
I was part of the bargaining team that
negotiated the new contract for postdocs
across the 10 campuses of the University
and new technology and still expect to
succeed in the 21st-cent ury economy."
In December 2012, the NIH responded
to recommendations from the Advisory
Committe to the Director (ACD) Biomedical
Workforce, a working group tasked with
developing a model for a sustainable and
diverse US biomedical research workforce, by
making a commitment to improve the training
of postdoctoral researchers. In a letter to
Sweeney, NIH director Francis Collins said that
he supports a seven per cent increase in t he
NRSA stipend to $42,000, with an additional
four per cent increase for each year of a
postdoc's experience. This recommendation
is included in President Obama's proposed
2014 budget. At the time of going to press, the
budget has still got to get through Congress,
but Sweeney remains optimistic.
Despite the financial wobbles, postdoc
research has its perks. There can be more
of California. This included tying the mi nimum
salaries for postdocs to the National Institutes
of Health (NIH) scale. This is a significant
improvement, as previously we were just on
a suggest ed minimum salary, which remained
the same despite inflation and experience. This
wil l ensure increases each year linked with
experi ence. And ifthe NIH scale is increased,
ours is aligned with it.
It 's more than j ust about t he money
though, isn't it ?
Yes. We have also negotiated affordable
healthcare rates for plans that include all
dependents. For a family, our Health
Maintenance Organization (HMO) plan costs
less than $40 a month, while for non-union
University of California employees, a
comparable plan costs more than $350 a month.
We have also improved maternity leave
and access to career development resources,
which is important because postdocs are
five-to-six year positions at most. If t here are
any work-related issues, there is now a quick,
clear and neutral process to resolve them.
What's your union's next goal?
University cities are expensive places to live,
especial ly when you have children. Some
campuses do provide subsidized housi ng for
postdocs. Our intent as a union is to negotiate
for more access to subsidi zed housing and
subsidized childcare.
freedom in academic research than in
industry, for example.
"Many scientists enjoy working in
academia, where there is more flexibility
and intellectual latitude in research, and
often more opportunities to explore
int eresting avenues compared with
industry," says Sweeney.
Extra rewards
Postdoctoral research is also a good jumping-
off point for a research career in indust ry. But
even postdocs who are studying in academia
are managing to find additional benefits.
The Whitehead Institute for Biomedical
Research in Cambridge, Massachusetts,
offers one of the best packages, which
includes subsidized childcare, contributions
to a retirement savings plan, and access to
an active postdoc association.
The work ofpostdoc associations has
already led to improvements in training, pay,
benefits and support from supervisors and
mentors. These improvement s are making
an impact on how postdocs feel about their
institutions. According to a recent survey to
find the best places to work as a postdoc, the
number of scientists rating their institutions
as excellent increased from 20.5 per cent
in 2006 to 3i.5 per cent in 2013. Less than a
fifth say that the institutions where they are
training are poor or fair; this has dropped
from around a quarter in 2006.
Until the proposed salary changes t ake
effect, part-time, flexible work, such as
freelance writing, editing, proofreading and
peer reviewing, can provide extra sources
of income. The experience can also add
sparkle to a CV.
Even ifthe finances run dry, many
institutions have emergency hardship funds,
such as those at Stony Brook University, New
York and Stanford University, California.
The postdoc route can be a long and
challenging one but the prospect of better
pay has led many to feel optimistic.
"Things are improving," says De Jesus.
"The NIH's promised salary increase in
2014 will make the time as a postdoc easier
financially, and more fun."
As the standard ofliving for postdocs
improves, balancing a demanding job with
basic financial needs will no longer be such
a struggle. That means fewer sleepless nights
about cheap sandwiches. •
Suzanne El vidge is a writer based in
Derbyshire, UK
11 May 2013 1 NewScientist I 53
NeWSdentist Jobs
To apply online visit
Postdoctoral Fellowship
Position - Department of
Orthopaedic Surgery
Loyola University Chicago,
Health Sciences Campus
IL - Illinois
Postdoctoral Fellowship Position
avail able in the Department of
Orthopaedic Surgery, Loyola
University Chicago, Health
Sciences Campus. Mechanisms
of Bone Fracture Non-Union. The
Molecular and Cellular Bone Biology
Laboratory in the Department of
Orthopaedic Surgery at Loyola
University Chicago, Health Sciences
Campus is soliciting applications
from exceptional, highly motivated
candidates to work in an NIH-
funded laboratory examining the
mechanisms underlying bone
fracture non-union related to
excessive alcohol consumption.
Applicants must have either a
Ph 0 or MD degree to apply for th is
position. Applicant s with previous
experience in bone biology,
possessing laboratory experience
working with rodent models of
alcohol-induced organ dysfunction
or experience with rodent models
of skeletal disorders are strongly
encouraged to apply for this
position. Laboratory experience in
stem cell and cellular and molecular
biology is also strongly encouraged
for potential applicants. Although
not required, experience or interest
in genomic biology laboratory
techniques or data analysis is
For more information visit Job ID:
Clinical Chemistry
Postdoctoral Fellowship -
Houston, Texas
Baylor College of Medicine I
Texas Children's Hospital
TX- Texas
Candidate should have completed
a doctoral degree (MD/PhD in
54 I NewScientist 111May2013
Biochemistry or Human Biology
required}. Experience with Mass
Spectrometry is desirable. This
will be a 2 year position with
opportunities for research in the
second year in the Department of
Pathology & Immunology, Baylor
College of Medicine atTexas
Children's Hospital.
For more information visit Job ID:
Postdoc - Electron
Tomography of Virus-
Induced Membrane
Morgridge Institute for Research
WI - Wi sconsin
A highly motivated individual is
sought for a post-doctoral position
to use electron microscope
tomography in studies of
membrane remodeling in HIV
and positive-strand RNA virus
replication. These studies will
integrate advanced, three-
dimensional electron tomographic
imaging with molecular genetics,
biochemistry and other approaches
in a collaboration between the
Morgridge Institute for Research
and the University of Wisconsin -
Madison. Candidates should have
a Ph.D. in cell biology, microbiology,
biochemistry or a related field and
proven experience in electron
microscopy. Experience with
electron tomography is highly
desirable, and experience with
cryo-electron microscopy is also
valued. Excellent written and oral
present ation skills and the ability to
work collaboratively with others are
For more information visit Job ID:
University of Michigan Medi cal
School (UMMS)
Ml - Michigan
The University of Michigan
Medical School is an outstanding
training environment that
East Coast Office
225 Wyman Street
Waltham, MA 02451
Phone 781 734 8770
Fax 720 356 9217
West Coast Office
201 Mission Street. 26th Floor
San Francisco, CA 94105
Phone 415 908 3353
Fax 415 543 6789
Calls may be monitored or recorded for staff training purposes
Canadian Blood
Postdoctoral Fellowships in you to give
Canadian Blood Services (CBS) is accepting applications for Postdoctoral Fellowships
(PDF) to work with our affiliated Research & Development groups across Canada. CBS
has active research programs within transfusion science emphasizing immunoglobin
therapy, pathogen reduction/inactivation, product quality and improved cellular
products. Applicants should have a Ph.D. or M.D. degree and a strong research
background. This two-year award includes a salary and research allowance, and
the possibility of a one-year renewal. Ca ndidates must select and contact a CBS
affiliated scientist to serve as the Postdoctoral Fell owship supervisor. CBS a lso
supports a G raduate Fellowship Program and a Summer Internship Program.
Information, forms and a list of CBS affiliated scientists are available at,
a nd from the R&D Office (, Canadian Blood Services,
Research & Development, 1800 Alta Vista Drive, Ottawa, Ontario, Kl G 4J5, Canada.
Please note that the 2013 campaign will currently not accept on-line applications.
Candidates are required lo re spond by hard copy.
PDF Application deadline: July 5, 201 3.
combines world-class faculty and
innovative programs of research
with a rich academic tradition.
For two decades Michigan has
ranked among the top 10 medical
schools in NIH research funding.
This research eort is enhanced
by 27 NIH-sponsored training
programs that support Postdoctoral
Scholars. The University of
Michigan recognizes the essential
contributions Postdoctoral Scholars
make to the University's research
mission. We oer a comprehensive
career development program for
our Postdoctoral Scholars to help
guide their choices as they prepare
themselves for independent
For more information visit Job ID:
Postdoctoral Fellow -
Computational Biology
United Kingdom
The goal of the research group
is to devise computational and
stati stical approaches to unravel
the interplay of genotype, cellular
f actors and external influences and
their implications for phenotype.
We combine statistics with
mechanistic modelling concepts to
tie together genetic variation data,
molecular profiling information
and organismal phenotypes.
Current research directions include
statistical method development for
genome-wide association studies,
met hods to dissect the genetics
of molecular traits and causal
modelling to predict functional
targets for molecular intervention.
Methodological research aims are
embedded in close collaborations
with experimental partners,
providing ample opportunities
to apply innovative methods
to address pertinent biological
For more information visit Job ID:
University of Sydney
Aust ralia
New Postdoctoral Fellowships are
being offered to attract outstanding
researchers within six years
from the award of t heir PhD to
conduct full-t ime research in any
of t he Faculties and Schools at the
University of Sydney. The research
we do makes a real difference,
reaching beyond our campus to
bring tangible benefits to the wider
community, both locally and
The Department is actively seeking postdoctoral fellows in a
wide variety of fields within molecular and cellular biology.
We are seeking innovative Postdocs who are creative in their
experimental approach and willing to try dynamic methods and
protocols. We encourage applicants from various backgrounds
and promote diversity throughout the University. Postdoctoral
appointments are initially 1 year in duration, renewable on an
annual basis.
For information on research areas in laboratories seeking
postdoctoral researchers, please visit the MCB website:

40 Years of Monumental Experiences, Fundamental Contributions, Substantial Results. [ "" .....
For more information visit Job ID:
Postdoctoral posit ions
University of Tennessee
TN - Tennessee
Postdoctoral positions: Two
postdoctoral positions are
immediately available to study
the role of G PCR agonists,
lipoxygenases and chemokines in
angiogenesis and atherosclerosis.
Experience with animal models
of angiogenesis, atherosclerosis,
protein-protein interactions and
cloning is highly desirable.
For more information visit job ID:
Postdoctoral Recruiter
St.Jude Children's Research
TN - Tennessee
The Postdoctoral Recruiter
provides advice and guidance to
the Office of Academic Programs
regarding all aspects of the
recruiting, interviewing and
selection process. Works as a team
member to meetthe postdoctoral
recruitment needs of the
institution. Works with the
Associate Director to develop and
implement creative recruiting
strategies that meet the
postdoctoral fellow employment
needs of the institution. Participates
in conferences/meetings/career
fairs to promote postdoctoral
openings at St.Jude. Follows up
with candidates, collects CVs and
reference letters, and distributes to
appropriate faculty.
For more information visit
NewScientistjobs.comjob ID:
For more Postdoc opportunities please
NewSDentist Jobs
56 I NewScientist 111May2013
Alexander von Humboldt
Stiftung I Foundation
A Sofja Kovalevskaja Award allows you
to establish a junior research group and
work on a high-profile, innovative
research project in Germany
(up to 1.65 million EUR over 5 years)
Get more information and apply!
The University of Alabama at Birmingham [UAB) is one of
the premier research universities in the US with
internationally recognized programs in AIDS and bacterial
pathogenesis, bone biology and disease. cancer. diabetes
and digestive and kidney diseases, free radical biology,
immunology, lung disease, neuroscience, trauma and
inflammati on, and basic and clinical vision science among
others. UAB is committed to the development of
outstanding postdoctoral scientists and has been
consistently ranked in recent years as one of the top ten
locations among US universities for training postdoctoral
UAB faculty are well funded [20th overall 1n NIH funding).
utilize multidisciplinary approaches, and provide excellent
research training environments that can lead exceptional
candidates to entry level positions in academia,
government or the private sector. Full medical coverage
(single or family), competitive salaries/stipends, sick
leave, vacation. and maternity/paternity leave are offered
with every position. Depending on the source of funding,
other benefits may be available.
Birmingham is a mid-size city centrally located in the southeast near beaches and mountains and enjoys
a moderate climate for year round outdoor activities and a cost of living rate lower than most
metropolitan areas.
The city's rapid growth in its infancy in the late 19th century earned it the nickname "The Magic City," but
the magic didn't stop there. Come and expenence the magic for your self!
Visit our web site at under Postdoctoral Opportunities to view posted pos1t1ons.
Send your CV and cover letter to the contact name for those positions for which you are qualified and
which interest you.
University of Alabama at Birmingham, Office of Postdoctoral Education, 1530 3rd Avenue S .. 171
Shelby, Birmingham, AL 35294-2182, 205-975-7020/975-7021 .
UAB 1s an equal employment opportunity employer.
11May20131NewScientist 157
Argonne Postdoctoral Fellowship Programs
Argonne is a Department of Energy national laboratory with over 1,500 scientists and engineers
performing world·dass research aimed at solving the nation's energy, environmental and security
challenges. Argonne was recently ranked the 5th best place to do a postdoc by The Scientist
Magazine. There are three types of postdoctoral appointments for which candidates may apply.
Divisional Appointments
Division Postdoctoral Associates typically conduct research in 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 proposal. Appointments are awarded for a one-
year term, with possible renewal for up to two additional years. The candidates' application packages
are reviewed by the Postdoctoral Committee and selection is ongoing. A list of Division Postdoctoral
openings can be found at
Named Postdoctoral Fellowships
Argonne National Laboratory's Director's Office has initiated these special postdoctoral fellowships
at Argonne to be awarded internationally on an annual basis to outstanding doctoral-level scientists
and engineers who are at early points in promising careers. The fellowships are named after
scientific and technical luminaries who have been associated with Argonne and its predecessors,
and the University of Chicago, since the 1940's. Candidates for these fellowships must display
superb ability in scientific or engineering research, and must show defi nite promise of becoming
outstanding leaders in the research they pursue. Fellowships are awarded for a two-year term, with
a possible renewal for a third year.
Director's Postdoctoral Fellowships
Candidates for the Director's Postdoctoral Fellowships are selected based on their academic
accomplishments and the strength of their research proposal. Postdocs collaborate with Argonne
scientists and engineers on existing programs and on new initiatives. All applicants must identify an
Argonne sponsor. The sponsor should ideally be someone who is already familiar with your research
work and accomplishments through previous collaborations or professional societies.
For information on application deadlines, current divisional openings, application instructions and
frequently asked questions, please visit the Argonne Postdoctoral Programs web site at http://
Argonne is an equal opportunity employer and we value diversity in our workforce.
Argonne is a U.S. Department of Energy laboratory managed by UChicago Argonne, LLC

Postdoctoral Positions
Periodontics and Diagnostic Sciences
Georgia Regents University, Augusta
Georgia Regents Universi ty. Departments of Periodontics and Diagnostic Sciences,
are looking to fill two postdoctoral positions in two related areas. The first position
supports immunology/host-pathogen interactions to study human blood dendritic
cells and T cell/natural ki ller cell responses in low grade opportunistic infections. TI1c
second position is responsible for investigations of inflammation and bacteria in the
microenvironment of squamous cell carcinoma.
Required education and skills for both positions include: (i) a recent PhD in
immunology, molecular biology or related fiel d, (ii) in depth knowledge and
understanding of inflammation, cell ular immunology and immunological methods,
(iii) good oral/wrillen communication and organizational skills. Highl y desirable for
ei ther position is the ability to independently operate a flow cytometer/cell sorter,
and strong motivation to develop independent or collaborative projects and funding.
For the first position, highly desirable is experience with the regulation of DC-T
ccll/NK cell responses to bacteria and their antigens. For the second position, highly
desirable is experimental work in the area of tumor microcnvironmcnt.
For the immunologyil10st-pathogen interactions position, candidates should submit all
questions and three references to: C.\V. Cutler ( For questions
regarding the tumor microcnvironmcnt positi on, candidates should submit all questions
and three references to: Dr. Zoya Kurago (
Georgia Rl'gents Ur1iversity is tm equal employment. eq11t1/ access, tmd equt1/ educational
opp0111mity and affirmatiw actio11 institution. It is the policy of the Unfrersity to recruit, hire,
train. promote a11d L'llucate persons without regard to age. disability, gender. 11atio11al origin, race.
religion, sexual orie11Jatio11 or vetera11 sta/11s.
58 I NewScientist 111May2013
City University of New York, Hunter College
Department of Biological Sciences
The Cn} ol YOO.. Postdoctoral Position Available
A postdoctoral position is available to study the role of cytoskeletal proteins in
gli al cell development. Core techniques in the laboratory include purification
and culture of primary glial cells (oligodendrocytes and Schwann cells), confocal
(including spinning disc confocal ) and time-lapse microscopy, gene cloning,
protein biochemi st ry, and brain and nerve hi stopathology.
Candidates shoul d have completed a PhD with expertise relevant to neurobiology,
and have published at leost one peer-reviewed first author paper in the field.
Interested candidates should send a CV and li st of three referees via email
or fax to:
Carmen Melendez-Vasquez, PhD.
Email: I Fax: 212- 772-5227
lill Hope
Postdoctoral Fellowships
Research pioneered at City of Hope and its renowned Beckman Research Institute has improved the lives of
men, women and children throughout the world.
As an independent biomedical, treatment and education center, we conduct more clinical trials than most
cancer centers and we are a national leader in translational research, where ideas continuously flow between
investigators and clinicians.
Many of our breakthroughs have transfomled the landscape of modem medicine. We helped launch the
biotech industry with the development of technologies that led to the first synthetic human insulin and
human growth homlone. Our research also made possible the widely used cancer fighting drugs, Herceptin,
Rituxan and Avastin.
At City of Hope we foster an environment that supports intellectual creativity and freedom - the kind of
thinking that enables us to redefine the future of medicine.
Visit our website: and and make a difference today.
City of Hope strongly supports and values the uniqueness of all individuals
and promotes a work environment where diversity is embraced.
Equal Opportunity/ Affirmative Action Employer.
Postdoctoral Positions
The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) is one of t he premier
research universities in the US with internationally recognized programs in
AIDS & bacterial pathogenesis, bone bi ology & disease, cancer, diabetes &
digestive & kidney diseases, free radical bi ology, immunology, lung disease,
neuroscience, t rauma & inflammation, and basic & clinical vision science among
others. UAB is committed to the development of outstanding postdoctoral
scientists and has been consistently ranked in recent years as one of the top
locations among US universities for training postdoctoral scholars.
UAB is recruiting candidates for postdoctoral posi t ions in a variety of
research areas. UAB faculty are well funded (top 25 in NIH funding), utilize
multidisciplinary approaches, and provide excellent research training
environments that can lead exceptional candidates to entry level positions
in academia, government or the private sector. Full medical coverage (single
or famil y), competitive salaries/stipends, sick leave, vacation, and maternity/
paternity leave are offered with every position as well as AD& D, disabi lity
& life insurance. Depending on the source of funding, retirement benefits
may also be avai lable. Birmingham is a mid-size city centrally located in
the southeast near beaches and mountains and enjoys a moderate climate
for year round outdoor activities and a cost of living rate lower t han most
metropolitan areas.
Visit our website at, Openings, to view positions. See
info also on MERIT Program, an NIH IRACDA program. Send your CV to the
contact name for the posi ti ons that you are interested. University of Alabama at
Birmingham, Office of Postdoctoral Educati on, 2D5-97S-702D.
UAB is an equal employment opportunity empl oyer.
The NASA Postdoctoral Program offers unique
opportunities to engage in NASA research in
Earth science, planetary science, heliophysics,
astrophysics, aeronautics, human exploration,
space bioscience, and astrobiology.
• Annual stipends start at $53,500, with supplement s for high cost-of-living areas
and certain degree fi elds
• Annual travel budget of $8,000
• Relocation allowance
• Financial supplement for health insurance purchased through the program
• Appointments renewable for up to three years
• Approximately 90 Fellowships awarded annually
Application Deadlines
Three each year - March 1, July 1, and November 1
Apply at!jobs
Cures don't just happen.
They demand collaboration. Dedication. Talent. Teamwork.
Job Opportunities - Computational Biology
The St. Jude Children's Research Hospital - Washington University Pediatric
Cancer Genome Project (PCGP) is t he largest investment to date aimed at
understanding the genetic origins of chi ldhood cancers. PCGP is establishing
an on-site, Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments certified laboratory
at St. Jude. This lab wil l use next-generation sequencing (NGS) to evaluate
samples from St. Jude patients and wi ll explore the optimal way to use t his
data in patient care. To support the clinical genomics initiative, we are
recruiting for multiple positions in the Computational Biology Department.
The Computational Biology Department has a well-established track record in
developing and delivering state-of-the-art computational methods for analyzing
NGS data and for producing high-i mpact publications in top-tier journals. We
are looking for highly motivated and talented bioinformatics scientists and
engineers to work on competitive projects and solve challenging problems in
genomic and epigenetic profiling of pediatric cancer for both research and
clinical applications.
To learn more about current job opportunities and to apply, visit
Ranked ITT the top 10 best places to work in academia by The Scientist year1y since 2005.
Named the nat ion's No. 1 ped1atnc cancer care hospital by Parents magazine, 2009.
Named the nat k>n's best children's cancer hospital by U.S. News & World Report, 2010.
Named to FORTUNE magazine's 100 Best Companies to Work For yearty Since 2011 .
An Equal Opponunity 2013 St Juck Childrt"n's R=arch Jlospilal-Biomedical Communicaiions.
\1aster of Science in Management with specialization
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Anyone hiring in the sciences should consider
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60 I NewScientist 111May2013
1c1pe is an international research centre working on improving the
livelihoods of people in the tropics through appropriate technological
innovations. Headquartered in Nairobi, Kenya, icipe is mandated to
develop eco-friendly pest and vector management technologies that
are affordable to resource-limited rural and urban communities. icipe
mandate further extends to the conservation and utilisation of the rich
insect biodiversity found in the tropics. icipe is the only international
institution in Africa working primarily on arthropods. Consequently,
capacity building of individual researchers and instiMions is an
integral part of all R&D activities at the Centre. For more information
lcipe is now seeking a dynamic Director General to provide leadership
in all areas of icipe activity, including ensuring relevance to stakeholders
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(R&D) for solving complex problems according to the remit of icipe,
as well as significantly increasing financial resources available to the
R&D agenda.
To find the full details for this challenging opportunity. please visit: jobs/701-dg.html
Applications should be received at
before the 31st of May 2013.
lclpe Is an equ•I opportunlry employer •nd women lllf! pMfkvllrly apply.
Look out for our upcoming
Recruitment Features:
Cancer Research, part 2
June 1
Diversity, part 1
June 8
Diversity, part 2
September 28
Searching for qualified
scientific candidates?
Participate in our
Recruitment Features!
Contact us today!
NewScientiSt Jobs
Call for Applications
Department of Microbiology & Immunology
The Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry, at Western University,
is inviting applications for the posi tion of Chair in the Department of
Microbiology & Immunology.
Microbiology & Immunology is a vibrant depart ment with st rengths in basic
and clinical research in host pathogen relationships centered on studi es of
infectious disease, infl ammation, cancer and t he host microbiome. The
Department has approximately 40,000 square feet of laboratory space and
access to many core facilities locat ed at the Schul ich School of Medicine &
Dentistry, and at the Robarts Research Institute. The department has a strong
undergraduate program including Honours programs in Microbiology &
Immunology and Biochemi stry of Infection and Immunity. The Department
has an innovative graduate program consisting of both basic and clinically
relevant aspects of microbiol ogy, immunology and cancer. In addition,
t he Department provides teaching to medical, dental, science and health
science student s t hrough undergraduate programs in the Schulich School of
Medicine & Dentistry and the Faculties of Science and Health Sciences. The
depart ment plays an integral role in t he Centre for Human Immunology, a
city-wide initiative.
The successful candidate should have a demonstrated t rack record of
research excellence and have a reputation for effective interpersonal,
admini strative and leadership skills. The new Chair will be expect ed to
support the research, educational and interdisciplinary initiatives of t he
Department, to help maintain the positive forward momentum of t he
Depart ment and to develop new initiatives in research/scholarship. The
successful candidate will be expected to strengthen bridges across both
clinical and basic science departments and Institutes with a view towards
developing t ranslati onal opportunities. The successful candidate must
have a MD, DDS, PhD or equivalent , and would receive a tenured academic
appoint ment at the l evel of associate or full professor, as appropriate to
their record of accomplishment i n teaching and research. Candidates
with a research program complementing existing research strengths are
particularly encouraged to appl y. The position of Chair is for a five year term,
Details about the Department of Microbiology & Immunology can be found
at; the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry
at; and Western University at
Interested candidates should submit a CV outlining t heir research, teaching,
and administrative experience and interests, including fut ure directions,
t ogether with the names and addresses of three referees to:
Dr. Michael Strong, Dean
Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry
Room 3701A
Clinical Skills Building
Western University
London, Ontario NGA SC1
FAX: (519) 850-2357
Applications will be accepted until the position is filled.
Review of applicants will begin after June 1, 2013.
Positions are subject to budget approval. Applicants should have fluent written and
oral communication skills in English. All qualified candidates are encouraged to apply;
however, Canadians and permanent residents will be given priority. The University
of Western Ontario is committed to employment equity and welcomes applications
from all qualified women and men, including visible minorities, aboriginal people and
persons with disabilities.
11 May 20131 NewScientist 161
&1st Annual
62 I NewScientist 111May2013
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FLYING back to the UK from
Finland on a Finnair jet, Stuart
King browsed t he in-flight
shopping catalogue, where he
discovered the Valkee Bright Light
Headset (see The
device looks like an MP3 player,
but its earphones emit bright light
rat her than sound.
We are told that the headset
"substitutes the mood-elevating
effects of the sun, by channeling
bright light directly to
photosensitive regions of the
brain through the ear canal".
Apparently, having light shone
onto our brains in t his way has a
very positive effect on our well-
being. The website tells us, for
example, that "Valkee is effective
for curing seasonal affective
disorder ('winter blues')".
Valkee backs up its claims by
referring to research at t he
University of Oulu in Finland,
suggesting that brain tissue
contains photosensit ive
receptors. The websit e lists papers
supporting this hypothesis, which
have been presented to scientific
conferences and published in
Feedback is uncertain what to
make of all this, but we are sure
about one thing. Valkee will be
providing a service to humanity
if people on public t ransport start
using headphones that shine light
into their brains instead of leaking
loud music.
INSPIRED by our mention of the very
old joke about there being "only
10 types of people in the world: those
who understand binary and those
who don't " (16 March), Roger Calvert
sends one that we don' t remember. It
concerns a programmer who puzzled
friends by giving Christmas presents
at Halloween, on 31 October, because
he was unable to tell the difference
between this and 25 December.
We think thi s joke may also be
Steve Vaughan's local grocer sells "Local Free
Range Eggs All Individually Laid". Does this mean
that battery hens lay eggs in batches of six
straight into the boxes, he asks?
64 I NewScientist 111May2013
For more feedback, visit
rather old, though. Once upon a time,
understanding the octal (or base-8)
number system was very useful for
computer programmers.
And on the off-chance that you
didn't get the joke, in octal (Oct), the
number " 31" is 3 x 8 + 1 x 1, which i s
25 in Dec[imal] . So now you know -
and if you like that one, there are
plenty more like it at the maths joke
Meanwhile, Eric Salter observes
that "technically, the T-shirt [bearing
the '10 types of people' joke] is
correct" - but he adds that when you
hear programmers count, they often
go "O, 1, 2 ... " because that's what
they do at work.
On that basis, he claims, 10 in
bi nary must correspond to 3, since
it is the third entry in the binary
sequence 00, 01, 10. So there would
be three kinds of people: those who
don't understand binary, those who
do, and Eric.
security tags before microwaving
a purchased object have caused
us puzzlement (2 April 2011 and
20 April). Stephen Durnford,
driven into a lawyerly frame of
mind by such labels on bottles of
wine sold in his local supermarket,
not es that the wording "Remove
this label before microwaving"
is, strictly speaking, a firm
instruction to microwave the
bottle after removing the label.
This could be unfortunate,
in t he case of a bottle ofwine-
although less so if one also
loosens the cork and thereby
achieves inst ant mulling rather
than an explosion.
TRYING to check which branches of
electronics retai ler had
the widget he wanted in stock, John
Hinkey was initially a bit puzzled.
The website offered to search for
stores within " 10 mi, 20 mi, SO mi,
100 mi" and " 6.2 pc" of his home in
Seattle, Washington.
He was even more puzzled when
it couldn't find the widget in stock
anywhere within 6.2 parsecs - that is
1.91 x 10
kilometres, or roughly the
distance to Gliese 58lg, an extrasolar
planet which, if its existence and
orbit are confirmed, may be
CLEAN your laptop or desktop
computer for £19.99 +VAT. That
was the offer on a flyer that
fl uttered onto Beryl Hanley's
doormat recently.
What grabbed her attention,
though, were the reasons given
for availing herself of this service:
"All germs, high level of bact eria,
viruses ... go in very easily. Hot
environment makes they harvest
inside your machine and come
back into your house," the flyer
says, possibly wit h the benefit of
machine t ranslation.
"So they t hink human viruses
can breed inside a computer,"
Beryl observes. "Really? Having
been a reader of New Scientist for
over 30 years, I think not."
READER Mike Furness sends us
a photo of what he describes as
"the ideal accompaniment" for the
waterproof gaiters reviewed in
Feedback (13 April)". As with other
sandals, these ones by Keen have
straps instead of an upper. But on
the side of one of them is the claim
that the sandal is "waterproof''.
You can send stori es to Feedback by
email at
Please include your home address.
This week's and past Feedbacks can
be seen on our website.
Crunch time
Why does freshly fallen snow squeak
and creak when you step on it?
• The sound of feet on snow is
an example of the stick-slip
phenomenon. Other examples
are squealing tyres and violin
When you try to drag one object
over another the friction between
them prevents movement. The
objects won't move at all until the
dragging force at least matches
the friction force. However, if they
are elastic (and everything is a bit
elastic), they will stretch. Then,
when the elastic force matches
the friction force, sliding starts.
For most materials, the friction
force is higher when they are
not moving than when they are.
When movement starts, the
friction force drops and the
stretched elastic force will
suddenly be too big, so the
dragged object will accelerate
as the stretch contracts.
"Walking in fresh snow
at -37 °C, the squeak
gets higher in pitch as
the temperature falls"
The object's momentum will
carry it past the point at which
the elastic force is less than the
friction force, until eventually
it stops again.
Now the higher static friction
comes back into play and the
objects stick together until the
elastic force once again matches
the higher static friction force.
Questions and answers should be concise.
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mat erial that has been submitted by
Then the cycle repeats.
The result is a saw-tooth
vibration of gradual stretching
and sudden release - and this
provides the creaking noise of
snow. In reality, there is not a step
transition between the two types
of friction; the friction force just
reduces very rapidly as relative
movement starts.
There are a number of
simultaneous microscopic
phenomena that give rise
to this reduction, such as the
behaviour of any thin films
of liquid between the surfaces.
And, as rough surfaces start to
slide, the collisions between
their minuscule hills and
dales tend to throw them apart
slightly, reducing friction
between them.
In the case of snow, I suspect
that the principal cause of the
sudden reduction in friction is the
famous pressure-melting of ice
that allows skaters to get such
low-friction sliding. A build-up of
pressure as the snow is elastically
compressed underfoot finally
causes a tiny bit of it to melt,
suddenly reducing friction and
allowing the stored elastic energy
to dissipate in movement. As the
movement reduces the elastic
pressure, the ice refreezes, and
the cycle starts again.
Not all materials behave in this
way. It is virtually impossible to
get polytetrafluoroethylene or
PTFE (the coating on non-stick
frying pans) to stick-slip because,
unusually, its dynamic coefficient
of friction is a little higher than
its static one. But the next time
readers in any medium or in any format.
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Send questions and answers to The Last
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a squeaking knife on a plate sets
your teeth on edge, you can
blame the difference between
static and dynamic friction.
Adrian Bowyer
Bath, Somerset, UK
• It was a very snowy start to
the year all across Canada, so
there are probably 35 million
Canadians who can now answer
this question.
From personal experience
"At low temperatures you
crush the snow you step on,
causing a squeak, rather
than pressure-melting it"
of walking in fresh snow at
-37 °C, I have found that you can
tell the temperature from the
sound of the squeak. The squeak
gets higher in pitch as the
t emperature falls.
It is all about the shape of
the snowflake clumps. On the
Canadian prairies where it is
extremely cold in January and
February, the snow is often so
light and uncompressed that you
can blow it off your clothes after
it has fallen on you. The density is
so low that lifting a large shovelful
to clear your driveway is not
especially arduous.
Around the Great Lakes and
Toronto, the air temperature
remains higher and the snow
clumps together much more
easily. There, a shovelful is much
heavier-heart attack-inducing
unless you use a smaller shovel.
In April and May there is also very
wet snow on the prairies, so here
Will we
ever speak
The new book out now: packed
full of wit, knowledge and
extraordinary discovery
you must make sure that you
only move a quarter of a shovel
of snow at a time. All of this,
I'm pretty certain, also explains
why western Canadian snow
shovels are wider than those
from eastern Canada.
Another explanation for the
squeak is that at low temperatures
you crush the snow when you
step on it, causing a squeak,
ratherthan pressure-melt it.
However, this doesn't explain
everything because the squeak
disappears when the snow has
remained at -37 °C for a long time.
I have always considered this to
be associated with the snowflakes
subliming-evaporating without
becoming a liquid -and becoming
more rounded rather than pointy.
If rounded, the flakes merge
together very well without
having to melt.
There is a very nice audio clip
about this at /ZwuSs8.
Mike Smith
University of Calgary
Alberta, Canada
This week's
How do pebbles skim on water?
Neither medium seems
especially elastic, so how do
the stones bounce?
Juan Bandini
Ventimiglia, Italy
Why do we have two nostrils?
Eleonore de Bonneval
London, UK
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