APS has recently approached physics department chairs to ask them how they deal with the problems that many postdocs face. Below is an excerpt from the January 17, 2007, letter to department chairs from APS Executive Officer Judy Franz, followed by a link to some of the responses and additional information.
“I’m writing to ask for a few moments of your time to help us with an important initiative regarding postdocs. As you know, physicists in their postdoc years are especially vulnerable—their future careers depend critically on the success of their research during this rather brief period. Yet we hear of concerns from postdocs about their isolation, poor health benefits and maternity leave policies, lack of travel funds, and being tied too closely to one advisor or one project.
APS would like to learn how your department deals with such concerns, as well as any other ideas you have that would help postdocs be more productive. We will then circulate a list of departmental best practices and post it on the APS website with the hope that more physics departments will adopt these practices.”