The International Perspective



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Preparing Chemists and Chemical Engineers for a Globally Oriented Workforce: A Workshop Report to the Chemical Sciences Roundtable The International Perspective

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Preparing Chemists and Chemical Engineers for a Globally Oriented Workforce: A Workshop Report to the Chemical Sciences Roundtable 8 Seeing the World Through a Different Window Robert P. Grathwol Alexander von Humboldt Foundation Preparing chemists and chemical engineers for a global workforce involves two intertwined problems: creativity and competitiveness. It is important to maintain or to stimulate creativity in research. It is also vital to ensure that American-trained researchers have the tools to compete in an increasingly global environment. Both problems and tasks are subsumed in the metaphor chosen as the title of this presentation, “Seeing the World Through a Different Window.” This phrase comes from James Buchanan, Nobel laureate in economics. Buchanan used to tell his graduate students that if they sought original, creative insights, they needed to “see the world through a different window.” For purposes of this presentation, the phrase is taken to mean that forcing oneself outside of a comfort zone provokes creativity. Placing oneself in another culture by undertaking research abroad enhances the likelihood of gaining a view through a different window. Even if everyone with whom you are working is exploring the same research problems, your collaborators will bring a different cultural filter to the research and to their thinking. This increases the chances of learning to see things in a new way. In addition, learning how to work in another culture hones your abilities to interact with others in the global marketplace of talent and labor that now characterizes the world economy. Thus, on both a creative level and a practical level, a research sojourn abroad makes sense—even dollars and cents—as a long-term investment. Three topics were offered that expand on this assertion: What are others doing to find that different window? What are we Americans doing or not doing in response to the challenge of the global marketplace? How do we change the trend? WHAT ARE OTHERS DOING? The European Level Under the programs associated with the European Commission’s (EC’s) Sixth Framework (see http://europa.eu.int/comm/research/fp6/index-en.html), the European Union (EU) has budgeted 17.5 billion euros for the period 2002-2006 to support a series of research programs designed to enhance the international exposure of European scholars. The programs bear the titles “Marie Curie Actions” and “Human Resources and Mobility Actions.” In general, they broaden existing research funding to include researchers of any nationality to undertake research within the EU and to increase the “mobility” of researchers within member countries. The EU is rapidly expanding to cover the entire continent from the Atlantic to the Urals—and even beyond. In this context, mobility supports movement both in a geographic sense and between economic sectors and scholarly disciplines. Thus, the programs fund movement of researchers between the private sector (industry) and state-supported research installations (academe) and between disciplines or research concentrations. The EU has focused all this effort as an “essential element of the strategy proposed by the Commission … [to] relieve the tension in the research labour market … fundamental to the achievement of 3 percent GDP [gross domestic product] investment in research in Europe.” The Sixth Framework also makes funds available to This is an edited transcript of speaker and discussion remarks at the workshop. The discussions were edited and organized around major themes to provide a more readable summary.

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Preparing Chemists and Chemical Engineers for a Globally Oriented Workforce: A Workshop Report to the Chemical Sciences Roundtable “facilitate professional integration of researchers” after they have spent a period of research abroad. The commitment to reintegrate researchers underscores that the community as a whole values foreign research experience and is willing to put its money where its mouth is. The same reality is reflected in the framework’s commitment of funding to long-term cooperation in research between universities and the private sector. More information about these programs can be found in an EC bulletin on community research A Rough Guide to the Marie Curie Actions, published in January 2003 (e-mail contact: rtd-mariecurie-actions@cec.eu.int). The Alexander Von Humboldt Foundation The Alexander von Humboldt Foundation’s contribution to preparation for a global workforce is a side effect of its primary focus—the commitment to the ideal, embodied in the life of its namesake, Alexander von Humboldt, that international collaboration in research fosters both better and more-creative research and international understanding. Traditional Humboldt programs have supported about 23,000 non-German scholars since 1953, creating a network of highly accomplished people spread out across more than 130 countries, all of whom have the common experience of an extended stay pursuing their intellectual interests in Germany. The Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, a European-based organization, has spent the equivalent of about 1 billion euros since 1953 to fund non-German researchers during extended research stays in Germany, an investment that the foundation continues to believe is worthwhile. The foundation’s continuing commitment to the ideal is evident in its assumption of a leading role in the organization of new facets of the mobility programs at the European level. In the coming year, the foundation will open “mobility centers” in Germany that act as a form of clearinghouse for information about research opportunities open to non-Germans. The foundation continues its support for its traditional programs. Five programs have the most relevance for American-based researchers. One is the Humboldt Research Fellowship, which is open to persons in any field and of any nationality for a research stay in Germany and aimed at scholars under 40 years old who have a Ph.D. or equivalent degree and internationally recognized publications. The foundation has recently raised the stipend attached to this program and introduced variations in the length of the stay in Germany (for details, see http://www.humboldt-foundation.de/en/programme/stip_aus/stp.htm). Another program, the Feodor Lynen Research Fellowship, has requirements identical to those of the Humboldt Research Fellowship, but it sends German scholars under 38 years old abroad to work with former Humboldtians in their home institutions. The foundation’s expectation is that this opportunity for German researchers in foreign lands will extend professional and intellectual ties across national boundaries and across generational and disciplinary lines (for details, see http://www.humboldt-foundation.de/en/programme/stip_deu/flf.htm). A third program, TransCoop (Transatlantic Cooperation in Research), seeks to provide seed money to promote new collaboration between German scholars and scholars from the United States and Canada. It has no age requirement. It focuses on disciplines in the humanities and social sciences (for details, see http://www.humboldt-foundation.de/en/programme/stip_aus/transcoop.htm). A fourth program, the German Chancellor Scholarship Program, is unlike any of the other Humboldt grants in that it does not require a Ph.D. and focuses more on professional development than on research. Created in 1990 as a means of strengthening ties between Germany and the United States, the program awards 10 scholarships a year to U.S. citizens under 35 years to spend a self-defined year-long project in Germany. The program’s successes emboldened the foundation to expand it in 2002 to include citizens of the Russian Federation. Thus, henceforth 10 young American professionals and 10 counterparts from the Russian Federation will spend a year together in Germany—a gratifying opportunity to realize the foundation’s goal of promoting international understanding through intellectual exchange. The German Chancellor Scholarship Program might have particular appeal to those in the private sector who have bright young people making a name for themselves in corporations who might profit from a year of professional exposure in Germany (for details, see http://www.humboldt-foundation.de/en/programme/stip_aus/buka.htm). The fifth program is the Humboldt Research Award. In contrast with the others one cannot apply for this grant. Eminent German scholars may nominate candidates of any nationality and in any discipline at any time. Nomination is in recognition of a candidate’s internationally recognized contributions to research. Nominees are reviewed for selection by the Humboldt Foundation (for details, see http://www.humboldt-foundation.de/en/programme/preise/pt.htm). Those and the many other, more specifically focused programs supported by the Humboldt Foundation account for about 800 new awards each year. HOW DO AMERICANS COMPARE? The Sixth Framework programs and the research grants supported by the Humboldt Foundation typify the initiatives undertaken by colleagues abroad to encourage research on an international and intercultural level. How do Americans compare? At least by available measures, the answer is not very advantageously. From 1993 to 2000, applications by American researchers for fellowships abroad declined sharply. This

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Preparing Chemists and Chemical Engineers for a Globally Oriented Workforce: A Workshop Report to the Chemical Sciences Roundtable was true for American applications for the Humboldt Research Fellowships, for National Science Foundation (NSF) fellowships to Japan, and for Fulbright Senior Scholar Awards. Three other statistics illustrate an American reluctance to undertake educational travel abroad. Only 1 percent of U.S. students in American colleges and universities travel abroad to study, the vast majority in programs that last for less than 8 weeks. When asked in how many months during the preceding 3 years they had traveled abroad, 65 percent of faculty members said none. About 80 percent of U.S. faculty members have never collaborated with foreign scholars. Add the assertion that fewer than half the members of Congress have passports, and one must conclude that overseas experience is not a particularly strong value in our society. What accounts for American reluctance or resistance? Nine explanatory factors are offered. The Curse of Our Preeminence, or Why Should We Worry? One fundamental difference between the United States and other countries is that for many reasons, numerous scholars and researchers from abroad are drawn to the United States. The quality and reputation of our system of higher education and research and its very size exert an attraction. The United States has 3,600 nonprofit colleges and universities and another 3,000 proprietary schools. Working in the United States is economically attractive. Our educational system and our professions are relatively open. Our country has enjoyed a certain political prestige since the middle of the twentieth century. Finally, English has become the universal language of science and commerce; Art Buchwald would probably take great delight in the description of English as a lingua franca, literally the tongue of the Franks. All of these elements conspire to promote a sense of contentedness with things as they are. We in the United States attract the best. The Humboldt Foundation is proud that 35 Nobel laureates also held Humboldt grants, and more than 20 of them reside in the United States. Nineteen American Nobelists received their Humboldt grants before their Nobel Prizes, and 10 of the 24 U.S. Nobel awardees have been chemists. Given these factors, it is perhaps understandable that to attract researchers, other countries have to be much more active. So why worry? The answer is that a static state is not a natural condition in human affairs. Moreover, others are developing strategies to overcome the advantages that the United States has enjoyed over the last 50 years. The Level of Our Arrogance, or Why Should We Bother? The dampening effect of this attitude is displayed in a comment on improving the lot of postdoctoral scholars at a symposium sponsored by the National Academy of Sciences’ Committee on Science, Engineering, and Public Policy on March 2, 2001 (for more information see http://www7.nationalacademies.org/postdoc/agenda.html). In response to a suggestion made during discussion that money was available to support advanced research outside the United States, a participant voiced the following comment: “When advising my best postdocs about grants, I always tell them to go where the best science is.” The responder’s meaning clearly was not abroad. Mentors are the most influential elements in the career paths of Ph.D. researchers, and an attitude such as that comment conveyed will not expand our international experience or our preparedness for a global talent marketplace. The booming economy. The booming economy of the 1990s is a factor in the decline of interest in stays abroad for research. That factor has changed in the last 3 years and may be changing again. A substantial lack of awareness. A substantial lack of international awareness faces many of us who try to promote research opportunities abroad. Many researchers in this country and the administrators who are responsible for encouraging grant applications know little or nothing about the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation or other similar opportunities Money. The Humboldt Foundation has to maintain the financial and logistic attractiveness of its sponsoring programs. That support is now roughly $29,000-41,000 a year—a handsome stipend for many researchers around the world, but substantially less than a postdoctoral scholar in chemistry or chemical engineering might command in the United States. It is generally adequate in Germany, however, especially when supplemented by travel funds, family allowances, and other considerations, which the foundation provides. Difficulties with career paths. A research sojourn abroad can disrupt career advancement, especially for those who are not yet tenured. Thus, time abroad can be seen not as just without value but with negative value in career terms. Reintegration. There is a lack of support for returning researchers. Two-career couples. A Humboldt Foundation fellowship awarded to one member of a two-career family can disrupt coordination of career objectives. The foundation does pay for language instruction for spouses and seeks informal ways to integrate spouses into the life at German host institutions and into the German community. Such efforts do not replace a spouse’s income or assure a spouse of a professionally enhancing experience. Special situation of women. The career paths of women have a different tempo from the paths traditionally followed by men. The Humboldt Foundation allows women

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Preparing Chemists and Chemical Engineers for a Globally Oriented Workforce: A Workshop Report to the Chemical Sciences Roundtable some leeway regarding the age limit, but this is a minor factor in perceptions of the competition. CHANGING THE TREND, OR WHAT CAN YOU DO? Given the many factors that work against research ventures abroad, what can we do to ameliorate the situation? The impediments to greater international experience fall into two categories: things that we cannot control and elements in which our actions have at least some hope of success. We cannot control the economy or its cycles. We cannot solve all the problems posed by two-career families, although we may be able to address some of the concerns that this situation raises. However, we can change knowledge about overseas programs. The Humboldt Foundation, particularly the U.S. Liaison Office in Washington, D.C., has increased its paid advertising of the programs sketched earlier. This may account for the recent increase in applications from the United States for the Humboldt Research Fellowship, the TransCoop program, and the German Chancellor Scholarship. It is too early to tell whether this upswing will be an enduring trend. Because its promotional budget is limited, the foundation could benefit from outside help. Mentors have a profound influence as researchers chart their career paths. Word-of-mouth advertising, announcements of success when the foundation awards grants, and professional newsletters and journals can be used to expand awareness of the programs. If you are a Humboldtian, wear your Humboldt tie or scarf and mention the foundation’s support when making a professional presentation; the foundation can provide a PowerPoint slide to do this. The support offered to those who take advantage of research sojourns abroad can also be changed. Deans and heads of research teams can assure successful applicants that they will have money available for scholars when they return from abroad; this is a way to overcome the reality that time outside the United States leaves the researcher out of touch and thus works against career advancement. Furthermore, we can all think creatively about the programs that offer support for overseas research. One of the new options allows an applicant to request a minimal stay of 3 months in 3 successive years rather than the traditional minimal stay of 6 months—less time away from the home institution, but guaranteed travel and research support for 3 successive years. Similarly, a candidate may opt for 24 consecutive months of research support. Details of these options are available at http://www.humboldt-foundation.de/en/programme/stip_aus/tshp2.htm and http://www.humboldt-foundation.de/en/programme/stip_aus/tshp1.htm, respectively. The TransCoop program, mentioned earlier, offers another set of opportunities to initiate collaboration with a German scholar or research team. The Humboldt Foundation and the National Research Council have also worked out terms to link research grants offered independently by each organization. The linked program allows scholar successful in both competitions to take the grants sequentially. The idea is to make reintegration easier when a scholar returns from Germany. You can do something similar if, when your postdoctoral scholar or young colleague goes abroad, you assure him or her of a place in your program on return. Such provision for reintegration into the American scene might increase willingness to take advantage of overseas opportunities at the same time that it facilitates career development. In all of this, people can help the foundation by: becoming familiar with its programs; distributing widely the information outlined here; putting postdoctoral scholars in touch with it at the U.S. Liaison Office or the web site, www.humboldt-foundation.de; establishing their own contacts with overseas researchers and perhaps exploring the Lynen Program or becoming a Humboldt research awardee; putting the foundation in touch with their professional organizations, journals, and newsletters, especially the latter, where announcements about the grants can be placed; and if they themselves are Humboldtians, acknowledging the foundation’s support when they make presentations, placing articles in alumni newsletters that mention their research and the Humboldt Foundation’s support of it, and making the Humboldt opportunities known to those at their institutions who have an interest in research. The foundation is happy to help you help it. Contact Robert P. Grathwol directly at Alexander von Humboldt Foundation U.S. Liaison Office 1012 14th St. N.W., Suite 1015 202 783-1907 e-mail: avh@bellatlantic.net Or contact the foundation in Bad Godesberg, Germany, at Alexander von Humboldt Foundation Jean-Paul Strasse 12 D-53173 Bonn Federal Republic of Germany Tel: 011 49 (0)228 833 199 e-mail: post@avh.de web—www.humboldt-foundation.de Finally, it possible to foster a more positive attitude toward research abroad. Perhaps the comment quoted earlier ought now to come from your mouth as follows: “I tell my

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Preparing Chemists and Chemical Engineers for a Globally Oriented Workforce: A Workshop Report to the Chemical Sciences Roundtable best students to explore a research stay abroad, because that may give them their greatest opportunity to look at the world through a different window.” DISCUSSION The discussion centered on the Humboldt Foundation and included such topics as dual careers, opportunities for undergraduates and women, and the funding structure. Programs available through the NSF were also considered. Humboldt Recipients Several recipients of Humboldt awards spoke about their experiences. Although each experience was unique, the recipients discussed their favorable experiences and excitement about the programs. Many have maintained their contacts, and the past opportunity profoundly affects their current outlooks and careers. NSF Funding Programs Larry Weber, of NSF, pointed out that NSF has many programs that support students to go to foreign laboratories. One is called the East Asia and Pacific Summer Institutes; each summer, NSF sends about 150 U.S. graduate students to Asian laboratories for 2 months. Weber encouraged professors and corporate leaders to encourage graduate students to participate in this. James Martin, of North Carolina State University, brought up another NSF program called Long and Medium Stays at Foreign Centers of Excellence. He went to France through the program and believes that it is worthwhile. Dual Careers Martin was glad that the issue of dual careers was addressed. When he went to France, his wife followed and was fortunate to find a laboratory in Paris where she could continue predoctoral work, but they had to live on one stipend. Funding is a major consideration for expanding opportunities. As faculty members now, he and his wife would love to go on a sabbatical overseas again, but the problem is staggered schedules. It is important for some foundations to look at dual-career situations and see whether they can come up with some creative ideas to make that possible. Robert Grathwol suggested that Martin consider the “3 × 3” option (a minimal stay of 3 months in 3 successive years). Martin responded that the option helps, but it is still difficult to participate when one is running a graduate program. Being away every summer is not optimal; this is when many professors are in the laboratory working with students and not spending as much time writing grant proposals, getting money, and writing papers. Grathwol agreed that there need to be ways to detach from the sort of rigidity that bureaucratic structures impose. U.S. Students Going Abroad Weber mentioned that there is a curse of having been at the top, that there is arrogance in the United States, where people disregard the fact that in some cases the best science is in other laboratories. He added that by combining U.S. and foreign expertise, in fact, it is possible to find something better than what can be done separately. With reference to the Fulbright statistics suggesting that only 1 percent of U.S. students go abroad, Weber assumed that the statistic was pulled from the Institute for International Education’s Open Door publication, which indicates that the number is about 150,000. The other important point is that 500,000 foreign students who come to the United States are getting degrees, and many of them are in science and engineering. In contrast, the 1 percent of U.S. students that go abroad are going for a week or at most a semester. Almost no U.S. students take degrees from foreign institutions. The experience is very different. Martin agreed that there is a problem but that it needs to be thought about in different contexts. For instance, if it is looked at as a total fraction of the population as opposed to total fraction of students, the statistics may be slightly different. In the United States, students tend to be a larger population set than is typically the case in most foreign settings. There is a preselection process. Therefore, if one looks at the issue as a percentage of the total, the perspective will be slightly different. Martin also noted that many students have not been out of a region of the country, much less abroad. For many students educated in the United States, going out of state is a multicultural experience, very much like going from one country to another in Europe. This situation must be considered as well. Funding for Undergraduate Research Karin Bartels, of Degussa Corporation, suggested that funding could be extended a bit to include people that are involved in undergraduate research at four-year colleges and universities, some of which may also have master’s programs. The Humboldt Foundation could make a special program for encouraging undergraduate research. Grathwol replied that DAAD, the German Academic Exchange Service, would be the appropriate organization responsible for dealing with undergraduates and graduate students. However, the German Chancellor Scholarship Program does not require a doctorate degree and tries to identify young Americans. The minimal degree requirement is a B.A., but an advanced degree is allowed. The ideal candidate probably is five to eight years beyond the B.A., has

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Preparing Chemists and Chemical Engineers for a Globally Oriented Workforce: A Workshop Report to the Chemical Sciences Roundtable some professional experience, is starting to make a name for himself or herself in the profession, and is willing to take the time off. It is a great program. Humboldt Funding Structure Guangyu Sun, of the National Cancer Institute, commented that the distinction of the Humboldt structure is that the funding is attached to the fellow instead of the principal investigator (PI). He wondered whether this kind of funding structure is also available to German domestic postdoctoral fellows. What do U.S. funding agencies think about the structure? Perhaps more than 90 percent of the funding in the United States goes to the PI. Grathwol could not answer about U.S. funding agencies but stated the Humboldt Foundation is committed to the idea of funding people, not projects, and therefore it would not fund a PI for the project cost. It would fund the person for that research project that the person designs. It is advantageous for a postdoctoral scholar to get the money for himself or herself rather than having it filtered through someone else; there might not be a connection to the larger research project. The Theodore Noonan Fellowship is one program in which the foundation is allowed to fund German postdoctoral fellows, but they must be under 38 years old and a fellow must apply at an institution where a Humboldtian can serve as his or her host. The host arrangement does not have to be with someone who is intimately involved with the research for the Noonan who comes to the United States, but there has to be a Humboldtian on-site to act as host. In a corporate setting, there might not be any Humboldtians, but someone at a local university could act as a nominal host, and a Noonan fellow could then work in a research setting. In addition, Germans are fundable as long as they are not in Germany. A German has to be out of Germany for some period, and this creates the anomalous situation in which young Germans who have done all their graduate work in the United States apply as research fellows and the Humboldt Foundation considers them Americans, whether they have American citizenship or not. The foundation is not authorized to fund Germans for careers in Germany. Opportunities for Women Jack Gill, of Texas Woman’s University, requested additional comments on the varied opportunities for women. Grathwol answered that a woman can identify someone in Germany who can nominate her because she has an eminent record of research and publication, or if she is at an earlier point in her career, she would be eligible for the research fellowship. The requirements are a Ph.D., international publication, and age under 40 years. Because the career patterns for women are different, the foundation makes an allowance for that 40-year level. Grathwol taught with a woman at Washington State University who did not get her Ph.D. until she was 50 but had 20 years in community colleges before then. She was a young professional with respect to the Ph.D., but she was no longer eligible for the grant because of her age. Grathwol would like to see the foundation redefine the requirements to, say, age 40 or some number of years after the Ph.D., but that change is not likely to happen soon.