Rafael L. Rodríguez
Behavior and Evolution

Information for Post-Docs

If you are interested in joining my lab, send me an email (rafa@uwm.edu) and we can discuss our interests and possible projects that we could develop.

A post-doc can be a really good gig, but some care is necessary before you take this step. You’ll have fewer institutional support structures around you than in grad school. (This may change as post-doc associations become more common.) And the variance in postdoc deals is greater than the variance in grad school deals. Salaries, research and teaching duties, opportunities to write grant proposals, they all vary.

Research vs. Teaching:

The academic job market is getting more and more competitive. Research-oriented institutions are demanding more teaching experience, and some teaching-oriented institutions are demanding more research experience.

While there is no such thing as too much teaching experience (in and of itself) there is a definite trade-off between teaching on the one hand and research and writing papers on the other hand. Developing a course for the first time is a huge investment of effort and time.

So, what combination of emphases will best get you where you want to go?

The Research Component:

The post-doc condition is the product of a highly competitive job market. (Some years ago, people would obtain a PhD and go straight to the competition for faculty positions, and in other fields this is still the case.)

But a post-doc offers great opportunities to focus on scholarship and expand your training.

You may be able to work on a project that builds upon your PhD. Or you may change gears and learn different techniques and approaches to make your research more integrative. This can make you very appealing, but bear in mind that you’ll have to learn the new stuff on the go, because you’ll want data pretty quickly.

How Long?

As with grad school, a post-doc is such a cool position to be in that you won’t want to leave it. But grants run out, and you can’t bet your financial security on getting the next proposal funded. Plus, you have more independence as faculty, and start up funds are so cool

Also, as people graduate behind you, the number of young cool competitors out there increases.

There is also such a thing as too short a post-doc. A year, for example, is in most cases probably not enough to get a proper project done, unless there are possibilities to obtain more funding once you’re in.


Some universities have in-house funding for postdocs.

Writing a grant proposal with your advisor is a great way to get training in this extra-important skill, and to fund your position.

Opportunities at the US/Global Level:

Department of Biological Sciences Lapham Hall, 3209 N. Maryland Avenue, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Milwaukee, WI 53201, USA