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Educating Mathematical Scientists: Doctoral Study and the Postdoctoral Experience in the United States
Such an approach often results in a lonely, isolated tenure with limited departmental interaction and little if any “postdoc”-mentor relationship with the senior faculty. Postdoctoral associates should be hired in the areas of expertise of the program, not in other areas. Each should have a mentor from the senior faculty and be a member of a group of faculty, postdoctoral associates, and doctoral students working in the same area.
The postdoctoral positions that are currently available are usually designed to deepen knowledge in a specific area of research. One could design postdoctoral fellowships that could be used to advantage to broaden the knowledge base of the fellow or to expand the fellow's expertise in teaching or applications.
The shortage of opportunities for postdoctoral positions places added responsibilities on departments to help new faculty who have not had a postdoctoral fellowship to continue growing toward their full potential. This is especially true for new faculty with temporary appointments.
A POSITIVE LEARNING ENVIRONMENT FOR ALL PROGRAMS
The clustering of faculty, postdoctoral associates, and doctoral students that typically takes place in a specialized program is highly beneficial for the learning environment. Nevertheless, all doctoral/postdoctoral programs, including standard programs in core areas, can achieve a positive learning environment and can benefit from it.