I recently completed a PhD in a research university in U.S. and came back to my home country in South America. I have a position as a faculty member in a state college. However, the position focuses on teaching and academic administration duties. Without a lab and funding, it has been very difficult to continue the research or even to continue a reciprocal correspondence with my research collaborators.

I was wondering if I can ask for suggestions about how to continue pursuing my career path as scientist.

  • Welcome Jessica! This is a good question. The question about doing a postdoc remotely is an independent question, so I have removed it from this post - please ask it separately in its own post.
    – ff524
    Jun 19 '14 at 13:17

Where do you expect the funding to come from? In my experience, in UK and other European countries, the research funding comes from successful proposals to the relevant funding bodies. There are research centres that were established and keep going only because the staff there constantly submits project proposals (somebody told me that the success rate is 1 out of 5 or maybe even lower).

You are on your own, so your best bet is to find out what funding bodies can sponsor research in you location. Then you have to come with an idea about a project but keep in mind that most often than not the funding bodies have priorities, which change on regular basis, e.g. every year, and it is VITAL that your proposal fits their priorities.

Whether you personally will have time for research is another matter. If your college is not very interested in research, you might have a heavy teaching workload and would be able to spend time on research during the breaks between the academic terms. You might have enough funding for one or more PhD students, who would do the majority of the work while you supervise them.

There is another option, which might be not applicable in your research field as you mentioned you need a lab but maybe part of the research could be done this way – find undergrad students, who are enthusiastic about your research ideas and would be happy to do some work for free (or as a part of their assessment – coursework, final year project, etc.). That is how I started my research career many years ago (as a 2-nd year student) – one of our professors invited several bright students from the courses he was teaching to take part in a very innovative research. We had the first results after a couple of months, which allowed the professor to secure funding for several further projects. Then we could buy more equipment, attend conferences, there were several PhD grants as well.


Jessica, you are certainly in a tough position, because your current incentive structure gives most weight to teaching and administration. Thus, it will be difficult to maintain a strong program of research. The evidence on productivity among faculty shows that smaller more frequent blocks of time leads to more output than binge- or marathon-writing sessions. Try to make collaborations a priority, as this will help minimize your isolation.

  • 1
    This answer is a bit of sympathy mixed with some general good advice, but it doesn't seem like it really addresses the OP's specific dilemma in a helpful way.
    – ff524
    Jun 19 '14 at 13:24
  • 2
    @ff524 Her options are limited. If she remains in her position, she has to figure out how to be productive despite her heavy teaching load. Beyond that, the options are limited, with the exception of going back on the job market to find a more research intensive job.
    – Brian P
    Jun 19 '14 at 13:42

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.