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FakeNoose

(33,856 posts)
Sun Oct 15, 2023, 11:01 AM Oct 2023

UPenn's Nobel Prize winner wasn't on the tenure track. How can the system better support talent?



Philly Inquirer link: https://www.inquirer.com/education/katalin-kariko-nobel-prize-penn-jean-bennett-tenure-20231015.html

More than 30 years ago, Jean Bennett toiled away in spaces in the far end of a University of Pennsylvania cardiology laboratory. She didn’t have funding or resources, but she did have great ideas and enthusiasm that couldn’t be dampened. “I was told I should leave the tenure track because I’d never make it,” she recalled.

But she persisted, and went on to develop the nation’s first gene therapy approved for a genetic disease in which a corrective gene is injected into a patient. It’s used to treat a rare form of blindness. She got tenure, too.

Katalin Karikó, the scientist who worked beside her in those early days, didn’t. She wasn’t even on the tenure track, and was once told by a Penn official she was “not of faculty quality,” she says. As the world now knows, Karikó and her colleague Drew Weissman went on to win the Nobel Prize this month for their discoveries about messenger RNA, which led to the development of the first COVID-19 vaccines.

- snip -

What it takes for tenure
Though processes vary among universities and disciplines, academics who are destined for the tenure track generally begin as assistant professors and are considered for tenure in their fifth, sixth or seventh year. (Physician faculty usually get more time.) During that time, they are expected to build a case for why they should be granted tenure, which is basically lifetime job security.




- more at link -

It's sort of a chicken-and-egg dilemma. How can a talented - even brilliant - researcher get tenure when he or she is doing stuff that's not recognized by colleagues? Those are the studies that might lead to a scientific breakthrough. But they need to be supported while the research is going on. University politics and racism/sexism play heavily into this.



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UPenn's Nobel Prize winner wasn't on the tenure track. How can the system better support talent? (Original Post) FakeNoose Oct 2023 OP
How do you get that tenure-track job, when schools everywhere are hiring only teaching temps? eppur_se_muova Oct 2023 #1
That's another good point - the salaries are going to admin now FakeNoose Oct 2023 #2

eppur_se_muova

(36,573 posts)
1. How do you get that tenure-track job, when schools everywhere are hiring only teaching temps?
Sun Oct 15, 2023, 11:07 AM
Oct 2023

I've taught at eleven different schools, all temporary teaching positions but one, and the only position that was claimed to be tenure-track turned out to be a lie. No one had been granted tenure for six years. I've NEVER had a chance to work on my own project but once, in a ridiculously under-equipped lab.

FakeNoose

(33,856 posts)
2. That's another good point - the salaries are going to admin now
Sun Oct 15, 2023, 11:27 AM
Oct 2023

There are way too many admin jobs and nowhere near enough teaching jobs of any kind. That's true of almost every American college and university these days. And it's also one of the reasons why tuitions have ballooned up in the last 25-30 years. The average American family can no longer afford to put their kids through college any more, and many think it's not worth it even if they can afford it.

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