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University of Houston research: Making the shift from academia to industry

To tenure or not to tenure. That is the question. Graphic byMiguel Tovar/University of Houston

Is academia the only option for postdoctoral work?

Let’s be honest, it’s always been difficult and now it seems even trickier to get a job in academia with a postdoc. Ending up as a tenured professor is just not in the cards for the majority of Ph.D.s.

“In 2020, only 10 percent of engineering Ph.D. graduates and 16 percent of those in physical and earth sciences ended up in academic positions in the United States” according to an article published in Nature by Nikki Forrester. While another article notes that only 26 percent of the graduate students polled said their program had prepared them “very well” for a “satisfying career.”

Be an encourager

But as a lab advisor, you have the ability to steer your junior lab staff to make the transition to non-academic careers in industry – where “real science” is done just as frequently as it is in academia. This is simply to be realistic.

According to Forrester, one researcher said: “Some of my students were hesitant about pursuing academic careers, so I made sure that they knew what they were getting into. I told them how few academic jobs are available, instead of just focusing on the romantic aspects of doing research.”

Another went on to say that a PI should say out loud that non-academic Ph.D. careers are okay to pursue. “PIs can tell everyone in their lab, ‘I know many of you are not going to get another job in academia, and that’s OK. I want you to know that I support you in your search for that job, and I will do everything I can to help you.’” A junior researcher should not be made to feel like a “scientific sell-out” just because they decide to shift away from a position as a professor.

Be an informer

According to Arunodoy Sur, Ph.D. in an article entitled, The Top Ten List of Alternative Careers for Ph.D. Science Graduates: “The reason most Ph.D.s do not get Ph.D. jobs in industry is because they lack the information they need to get these jobs.” He goes on to encourage postdocs to understand the many options they really do have as a non-academic Ph.D. ”You need to gain in-depth knowledge of all the career tracks available to you, not just one or two. You should also pay close attention to changing trends, making sure to note which job sectors are rising and which are falling.”

Be a researcher

Sur went on to construct a list a of the top 10 industry careers for folks with a Ph.D. in the sciences. One such job was a Market Research Analyst: “your responsibilities include gaining information about commercialization opportunities as well as evaluating the key advantages and disadvantages of your products versus competitor products.”

Other jobs of this nature include Business Development Manager and Competitive Intelligence (CI) Analysts (whose main role is “to gather information about products that are in a competing company’s pipeline and analyzing these products to determine how they will affect the market.) Medical Communications Specialists or technical writing for healthcare is another job that is seeing a huge boom lately. Do your research to see which career might be a natural transition from your current research endeavors – to an industry that would value your experience.

Be an explorer

Inga Conti-Jerpe told Forrester: “Give students time to explore.” She maintains that the most important thing universities can do is to encourage connections between early-career researchers and those who work in industry as non-academic Ph.D.s. “Graduate students already have transferable skills, but the way to get a job is often by knowing somebody who knows somebody,” she stated.

The big idea

Sur closed his article by saying, in essence, that in order to secure an industry position, you need to prepare yourself by researching all careers that might be a natural progression from the research you worked on in the lab. He also emphasized that expanding your network beyond academia is incredibly important. You can grow your network by working with career-services teams at your institution, going to a CV-writing workshop and by attending recruiting events.

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This article originally appeared on the University of Houston's The Big Idea. Sarah Hill, the author of this piece, is the communications manager for the UH Division of Research.

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Building Houston

 
 

Space tourism is going to create a lot of jobs — but who's going to take on preparing the workforce? Image via Getty Images

Throughout history, humans have always been fascinated in exploring and traveling around the world, taking them to many exotic places far and away. On the same token, ever since the dimension of space travel has been inaugurated with multiple private companies launching rockets into space, it has become an agenda to make space travel public and accessible to all. We believe that space travel is the next frontier for tourism just like for our forefathers world travel to faraway places was the next frontier, for recreational and adventure purposes.

In a world racing on technology, we can picture flying cars, invisible doors, and international cuisine in space. With this rapid expansion of the land, the idea of space tourism has stirred the space industry to think about running businesses, start trade, and set up universalization beyond the ring of the earth. It is no longer science fiction but our immediate future. However, the true question remains. Who will be responsible for all of it? Are we training the right workforce that is needed to build and run all of this?

Space tourism is an exciting idea in theory, traveling to extra-terrestrial destinations, exploring new planets, all by being in an anti-gravitational environment. Through these diminishing borders and rapid advancements soon we'll be living the space life, all the virtual, metaverse gigs coming to reality. But before that let's explore space tourism and how the solar system will welcome humans.

What is Space tourism?

Ever since 1967, Apollo opened the getaway of space travel and the technological intervention spun to rise. Just like nomad tourism, space tourism is human space travel for commercializing interstellar for leisure or pleasurable adventures of the unknown. Space has different levels of horizons, according to research, orbital space has high speeds of 17,400 mph to allow the rocket to orbit around the Earth without falling onto the land. While lunar space tourism goes into subcortical flights and brings people back at a slower speed.

Studies have shown that in the upcoming years, commercial space exploration will hike up the economical database, by generating more than expected revenue. On these grounds, space tourism won't be limited to suborbital flights but rather take onto orbital flights, this revolutionary expenditure will change the future.

Everything aligns when the right team works together endlessly to reach the stars. The space exploration will only take place with enthusiastic and empowered individuals catering towards their roles.

Astronomers, space scientists, meteorologists, plasma physicists, aerospace engineers, avionics technicians, technical writers, space producers, and more will work in the field to make this space dream come true.

The attraction of Space exploration

Curiosity is the gateway to the seven wonders of the world. Humans are born with novelty-seeking, the drive to explore the unknown and push boundaries. This exploration has benefited society in a million ways, from making bulbs to jets.

The attraction towards exploring the space stems from the same desire for novelty seeking. We want to answer the most difficult questions about the universe, is there only darkness beyond that sky? Can we live on another planet if ours die? To address the challenges of space and the world, we have created new technologies, industries, and a union worldwide. This shows how vital space exploration is to humans. Many astronauts dwell on the idea of seeing the iconic thin blue outline of our planet, the quintessential experience makes the astronaut go back and back. However, are we entering this dimension with the right skills? Is our future workforce ready to take need the best

Who will lead the path?

The main question that still goes unanswered is who will run space tourism. When it comes to the future, there are infinite options. One decision and you will fly into an endless sky.

This expenditure has opened multiple career opportunities for the future workforce to take on for diversification and exploration of space. Currently, we cannot predict how people will find meaning and improve their lives through space tourism, but it will be a soul-awakening experience. According to experts, travelers would prefer a livelihood in space for which companies are working day and night to figure out accommodation and properties. The ideas include having space hotels, offices, research labs, and tents for operations.

Lastly, space tourism is just a start, we are moving into a dimensional field of physics and astronomy to create new opportunities and ground-breaking inventions to explore the untouchable. The new era of more refined and thoroughly accessed careers are on the rise, let's see how the world evolves in the next 10 years.

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Ghazal Qureshi is the founder and CEO of UpBrainery, a Houston-based immersive educational technology platform that taps into neuroscience research-based programs to provide adaptive learning and individualized pathways for students at home or in the classroom.

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