I am at the end of 2nd year postdoc at a famous CS lab in the US. I have changed my research area (but related) that I worked for my PhD.
1) My current project and the lab focus are different than what I was working on earlier in academia. Moreover, the problem I'm working solely on is widely-accepted as hard to tackle. I have some preliminary results but not enough to publish a paper. An alternate (inferior) approach at some other university (with grad students) took almost 4 years to run. I'm being constantly told that I am unable to progress as they expected. This is de-motivating me to hold on to addressing this problem. With no visible publication yet, peers and other colleagues are assuming that I'm not worth researchy material. How do I take these criticisms constructively and stay focussed and solve the problem.
2) From my PhD, I had 4 publications in top rated conferences in my field. There is another group in my own team who work in the same area. When approached for collaboration with them so that I can use my expertise in the current projects, they do not include me in any work. What puzzles me is that why do they not understand (or why am I unable to convince them) that I hold expertise in that area and could very well contribute to their work. They are happy to take a novice with little-to-no knowledge of the field, but do not want me. They had few publications this year, where I could have very well been one of the co-authors. Due to points (1) and (2) I have no single publication; neither as a main author in the new research area nor as a co-author in my area of expertise, which makes it very hard to proceed to next level of career. I spoke to a senior scientist about this, he replied that most of the postdocs and few staff are so insecure of funding, that they do not want anyone else to be included in their close-knitted group. How do I overcome this?
3) There are couple of postdocs in my team each with their own mentor. My mentor is fairly junior having recently converted to scientist, himself being a postdoc for few years. Other mentors are more senior to my mentor. I feel that my peer postdocs are being guided and mentored very nicely; they are invited to talk to any visiting scientists, work with summer students. My mentor has 3-4 summer students every year; but does not want to me collaborate with them. This is reducing the scope of any joint publications with them, while others have atleast 2-4 papers per year with the summer students.
4) I am not gaining any visibility in terms of invitations to serve for program committee or workshops, where my peer postdocs have bunch of them in hand, owing to the support from their mentors. All postdocs have more or less the same number of publications in similar venues. I agree that it has to do more with networking, but due to the nature of work, I hardly get time to attend any networking opportunities barring 1-2 workshops a year. This is not helping me boost my research career.
I want to get feedback on how do I boost my postdoc career and survive here if at all I want to. I personally think my mentor is limiting the options that I have to improve networking skills, collaborations across projects. I feel so isolated and dejected. I am willing to learn any skills that I may be lacking.