Interdisciplinary academic jobs or not?

Today, I received this announcement from EPFL’s Center for Neuroprosthetics recruiting for several new faculty positions at “the interface of neuroscience and bioengineering”. As I’m starting my search for postdoc positions myself right now, I can’t help but think what types of academic jobs I might be looking for in a few more years. The conventional wisdom (as I have heard) seems to indicate that floating between two different disciplines is not good when it comes time to apply for a job or for large (eg. R01) funding.

But is that true? I, for one, feel like more and more positions are going to be these types of interdisciplinary offerings — the idea being that science advances in larger part due to new, better tools rather than incremental work. What do Neurodudes readers think?

3 thoughts on “Interdisciplinary academic jobs or not?

  1. As an interdisciplinarian, I have to tell you finding a faculty job was hard. The engineering departments all said I wasn’t really an engineer, the chemistry departments felt like I wasn’t necessarily a chemist, the biomedical/biological science departments were like “WTF is it that you DO do?”

    HOWEVER I did find a job in the end, in a self-professed multidisciplinary department that “got” me and my research, and I am now living happily ever after with cool colleagues until tenure comes up.


  2. Arlenna, I took a look at your blog and I am extremely impressed — both by your candor about the challenges of the postdoc to prof transition and your excellent guides about applying for funding, etc. (Folks if you’re curious about K99 transitional grants, definitely click on Arlenna’s name above to get to her blog and look on the sidebar for the K99 info.)

    As a PhD student (don’t ask what year!) finishing up in the next few months and considering various postdoc options, it’s so nice to hear that, despite the perils of the academic job search, it is possible for people to find a good fit and get to do what they love. Interdisciplinary work is becoming the norm… adapt or get out of the way! It’s great to hear that some universities get that.


  3. Thanks 🙂 Yup, with the right combination of optimism, hard work and a bit of fortune, things can still work out for the best even these days. Hang in there and keep working for what you want to do!


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