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Gary McDowell

7 Podcast Episodes

Latest 1 May 2021 | Updated Daily

Weekly hand curated podcast episodes for learning

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Gary McDowell, MDARD Department Director- August 3, 2020

The Guy Gordon Show

Gary McDowell joins Guy Gordon for the 2020 Pure Michigan Ag Tour.

3 Aug 2020

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51 Extended Throwback: Precarious Postdocs – with Gary McDowell

Science for Progress

 Postdocs are, besides graduate students, the main workforce in academic research. Following the PhD, the postdoc position is the only way to follow a research career within academia. Many PhDs around the world are advised to go to the USA for a postdoc – or two – because it is known for its large research output and high-quality research institutes. Around two-thirds of postdocs in the USA are foreign-born.In this episode, I talk to Gary McDowell, a UK born scientist in protein research who, over the last few years, worked with “Future of Research” to investigate the conditions postdocs in the USA are facing. The situation appears to be far from optimal. And this doesn’t just hurt the postdocs and their families; it also impacts research productivity. The extended edition of our podcast appears on Patreon! The goals of Future of Research are to enable PhDs to make better career decisions about whether a postdoc is a good decision, and if so, how to choose the right place to apply to. Another fundamental problem is the disconnect between the lived experience of junior academics and their senior supervisors.  At the same time, the data they collected unveil systemic problems with postdocs in the USA, and Future of Research is working to change academia for the better. Postdoc: Advertisement and Reality The postdoc, as advertised, is a sort of apprenticeship position where PhDs develop their independent research projects to become leading scientists heading their own labs. The reality is that postdocs have replaced staff researchers, working on their Principal Investigator’s project, and hardly ever being mentored or trained in leadership and management. Even training in essential day-to-day parts of the work as an academic scholar – like conducting peer review – doesn’t seem to be part of their experience. At the same time, postdocs are still being classified as “trainees” to justify not paying them their worth, and to deny them benefits such as proper health care. Salary Because postdocs are paid below their skill and experience levels, and most are not given the mentoring and training promised, they are exploited as cheap labor by the academic system. A few years ago, Obama tried to change a labor law, which would have affected that institutions would need to give postdocs a raise – or face the issue of having actually to keep track of postdoc working hours. Unfortunately, this change didn’t become active. On the bright side, most universities still implemented the raise – even though some universities were trying to take it back. So this was good news. Future of Research collected salary data from postdocs just after this happened (and continues to do so for a longitudinal study), and found a median income of about $47500. This number clearly could be related to the planned labor law adjustment. So this was a positive finding. However, we should not forget that taking all people with doctorates in the USA, median salaries range from $70 000 to $100 000. Even worse: a postdoc negatively affects income up to 15 years following graduation to a PhD. This seems to come as a surprise to many, including industry representatives. Do you have questions, comments or suggestion? Email info@scienceforprogress.eu, write us on facebook or twitter, or leave us a video message on Skype for dennis.eckmeier. SUPPORT US THROUGH PAYPAL Benefits The USA are infamous for their inadequate health care and labor protection situation. Many PhDs from countries with socialized or mandated benefits, like in Europe, will be surprised that things like basic health care, vacation time of more than two weeks, and maternal protection (let alone parental leave), are not a given in America. And Universities often will take any excuse not to pay benefits.  Vice versa, Americans appear to be quite surprised that in the UK, for example, there is a training time mandate by funding providers. In the USA the PI has full control over a postdoc’s time. And not only are PIs allowed to keep their “trainees” from getting trained in workshops and elsewhere, but they also often simply don’t mentor them themselves, either.  Training As one example for lack of training, and general misconduct, we talk peer review. PIs who are asked to review a paper for a journal, often pass the work on to postdocs or graduate students under the pretense of it being a training opportunity. But then there is no feedback given. Often the written peer reviews are handed to the editors directly without mentioning who wrote it. In this way, the integrity of peer review is broken, the trainee is denied credit and networking opportunity, and the PI just committed plagiarism. Change The work of Future of Research to inspire change has been compared to talking to climate change deniers. Senior academics responded with outright denial, the wish to only talk about the positive sides (which ones?), or even demanded that research on these issues should be stopped. You know, because it’s easier to ignore the problems this way. Thankfully, some change is underway, despite these reactions. Many institutions slowly realize that the adverse conditions in academia are beginning to deter young people. Future of Research is pushing for more transparency, and they want to see more Early Career Researchers on boards of societies and institutions. They are further looking for ways to measure the mentorship quality at a university. And finally, they want to suggest guidelines to journals to avoid ghost-writing in peer review – a measure that would help early career researchers gain a reputation with editors. links:• Future of Research• Gary McDowell on Twitter• Assessing the Landscape of U.S. Postdoctoral Salaries• Co-reviewing and ghostwriting by early career researchers in the peer review of manuscripts• Rescuing US biomedical research from its systemic flaws

1hr 27mins

29 Jun 2020

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Fresh From The Field | Gary McDowell Director of MDARD

Fresh From The Field Podcast

In this episode we sit down with Gary McDowell Director of Michigan Department of Agriculture & Rural Development to talk about his crop disaster tour with Governor Gretchen Whitmer and the total devastation statewide.

9mins

18 Jun 2020

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Fresh From The Field | Gary McDowell | Farmers Markets and Infrastructure

Fresh From The Field Podcast

Director McDowell of MDARD speaks about Farmer Markets and Infrastructure. 

11mins

18 Jun 2020

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27 Precarious Postdocs. A Future for Research? – with Gary McDowell

Science for Progress

Postdocs are, besides graduate students, the main workforce in academic research. Following the PhD, the postdoc position is the only way to follow a research career within academia. Many PhDs around the world are advised to go to the USA for a postdoc - or two - because it is known for its large research output and high quality research institutes. Around two thirds of postdocs in the USA are foreign born.Listen to the Full Conversation on Patreon!In this episode I talk to Gary McDowell, a UK born scientists in protein research who over the last few years worked with “Future of Research” to investigate the conditions postdocs in the USA are facing. The situations appears to be far from optimal. And this doesn’t just hurt the postdocs and their families, it also impacts research productivity.The goals of Future of Research are to enable PhDs to make better career decisions about whether a postdoc is a good decision, and if so how to choose the right place to apply to. Another fundamental problem is the disconnect between the lived experience of junior academics, and their senior supervisors. At the same time the data they collected unveil systemic problems with postdocs in the USA, and Future of Research are working to change academia for the better.Postdoc: Advertisement and RealityThe postdoc, as advertised, is a sort of apprenticeship position where PhDs develop their own research projects to become leading scientists heading their own labs. The reality is that postdocs have replaced staff researchers, working on their Principal Investigator’s project, and hardly ever being mentored, or trained in leadership and management. Even training in basic day-to-day parts of the work as an academic scholar, like conducting peer review, don’t seem to be part of their experience. At the same time postdocs are still being classified as “trainees” to justify not paying them their worth, and to deny them benefits such as proper health care.SalaryBecause postdocs are paid below their skill and experience levels, and mostly are not given the mentoring and training promised, they are basically exploited as cheap labor by the academic system. A few years ago, Obama tried to change a labor law, which would have had the effect that institutions would need to give postdocs a raise - or face the issue of having to actually keep track of postdoc working hours. Unfortunately this change didn’t become effective. On the bright side, most universities still implemented the raise - even though some universities apparently were trying to take it back. So this was good news.Future of Research collected salary data from postdocs just after this happened (and continues to do so for a longitudinal study), and found a median income of around $47484 - a number that clearly could be related to the planned labor law adjustment. So this was a positive finding. However, we should not forget that taking all people with doctorates in the USA, median salaries are in the ranges of $70 000 to $100 000. Even worse, doing a postdoc has negative long-term effects on income that have been tracked up to 15 years following graduation to a PhD, which seem to come as a surprise to many, including industry representatives.BenefitsThe USA are infamous for their bad health care and labor protection situation. Many PhDs from countries with socialized or mandated benefits, like in Europe, will be surprised that things like basic health care, vacation of more than 2 weeks, and maternal protection (let alone parental leave), are not really a given in America. And Universities often will take any excuse not to pay benefits. Vice versa, Americans appear to be quite surprised that in the UK, for example, there is a training time mandate by funding providers. In the USA the PI has full control over a postdoc’s time. And not only are PIs allowed to keep their “trainees” from getting trained in workshops and elsewhere,

42mins

26 May 2019

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Season 3 episode 9: Interview with Gary McDowell

Recovering Academic

In this week of the Recovering Academic podcast we talk with Dr. Gary McDowell and his journey outside academia. Gary is the executive director of The Future of Research, a non-profit organization created for and by early career researchers to make the research enterprise more sustainable for future generations. Their mission is to champion, engage, and empower early career researchers with evidence-based resources to improve the research endeavor. Gary tells us how even though his path out of academia was somewhat ‘easy’ to delineate, it was still very hard to finally take the decision and leave. “But I don’t know if I’m ready yet.You come walking into this roomLike you’re walking into my arms.What would I do without you?” I don’t think people understand how difficult is is (to leave academia). @BiophysicalFrog He also discussed how almost everybody that leaves academia experiences the same feelings of disappointment and feelings of failure. Also how it seems most of the recovering academics have a self-imposed isolation from academia to have a ‘clean break’. Unlike them, Gary is still directly involved with academia, and most of his daily duties seem a lot academic-like. I hear this a lot: “Nobody twists your arm and say you have to be a post-doc”. Nobody physically does it, but psychologically, they do. @BiophysicalFrog You can read more about Gary’s career in the FoR website and contact him on his Twitter account: @BiophysicalFrog Mentioned in this episode: K99 NIH grant: NIH Pathway to Independence Award (Parent K99/R00) Love and Anger by Kate Bush: lyrics The expanse: TV show Athena Swan: ECU and Wikipedia Putting mentoring at the heart of academia: conference in Chicago in June 2019 Athene Donald

11 Feb 2019

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Gary McDowell: on reforming the STEM training pipeline

Science Soapbox

Trained as a biologist, Dr. Gary McDowell is the Executive Director of The Future of Research and runs the day-to-day operations of the organization, funded by a grant from the Open Philanthropy Project. In this episode, we chat about gaps in scientific training and how we can reform the system to better serve science and its practitioners.For show notes, visit sciencesoapbox.org/podcast and subscribe on iTunes or Stitcher. And while you're there, leave us a rating or review!Twitter: twitter.com/science_soapboxFacebook: facebook.com/sciencesoapbox

17mins

11 Nov 2016