Adding to PhD students’ woes will undermine US research and economy.
It’s that time of year again. New graduate students are frantically wandering from lab to lab, trying to figure out where to spend the next 4+ years of their lives. If everything goes well, they will find a research group with a healthy mix of interesting science, supportive peers, and a good mentor. If they make the wrong choice, they will join the ranks of the disgruntled—those unhappy souls whose passion for science has been obliterated and are simply counting the days (or years) until graduation.
How we choose the next generation of scientists is at the root of a sustainable scientific enterprise. The true value of a PhD may therefore be in training leaders who can advance science, while also gaining the necessary skills to succeed both during and after graduate school. A successful graduate of a PhD program must be able to contribute expertise or knowledge to advance a particular field.