US Naval Medical Research Institute is to close in about 1 year and will
merge with the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research at new facility
being built in Silver Spring, MD. I do not know how they will structure
a Naval R&D program. Perhaps you are in contact with particulars who have
I spent 8 years at the WRAIR as a civilian PhD and feel the military
officer who is a PhD has a hard time making a career in science if
research is his/her first love. Advancement is very hard in the military
and research does not win big points with officer review boards (the
faceless group that review files of those seeking promotions). MDs/DVMs
have the power curve. The military mission is the goal and, for
advancement, the PhD must follow guidelines that make him/her competitive
with personnel in the more combat/support/logistics oriented groups.
Thus there is a requirement to take courses/training in non-research
activities. This takes time and pulls PhDs from the bench. Consequently
research productivity suffers. If advancement is stalled due to one bad
evaluation (that is all it takes), the PhD is on the street after a few
years with few papers. It's hard to get a research job with a thin CV
especially if the research being done has a distinct military mission
that does not translate well into the work done in labs outside the
military. Also, due to tight budgets scientists in the military compete
for NIH grants and funds from other sources (yes they can take in such
$). If you don't want to compete for grant funds on the outside then
don't try it in the military! You may be doubly frustrated.
If you really want to do research do not join a group that by design is
not 100% committed to research. If you feel you will migrate to
administration eventually then the military will suit you. There is a
lot of paperwork and administration for everyone.
Do not expect the military to need you. I saw many PhDs gone in 3 years
and many eager faces waiting to take their places.
Option: Compete for a National Research Council Postdoc fellowship
Contact National Academy of Sciences, National Research Council Office in
Washington, DC). You need to contact the host facility (WRAIR or USNMRI)
to see how you can fit into ongoing projects, write the grant, it gets
reviewed, if selected you get 2-3 years at the site to do work. You get
salary, relocation $, some research $, work in the lab of choice etc. If
you like the atmosphere you can join the military anytime (assuming they
have a slot). If you hate the scene you have a nice springboard for
another job. However, make sure you publish a lot if you have the NRC
position since you may, probably will, need to get a non-military job
Harsh? No, realistic. I saw many unhappy PhDs leave. I left for a much
better private sector job. WRAIR helped me on my way, but it was never
my long term civilian career target. Approach a military career with
much caution. These are not great times for the armed forces. If
circumstances dictate that your family needs that military paycheck AND
you can get a slot, use the military system. Be productive. Work hard.
But, do not be surprised if you must job hunt again.
PJ8V at nih.gov
In article <40m9o1$inc at newsbf02.news.aol.com>, cawhit at aol.com says...
> I am looking for some advice. I have an M.S. in Parasitology and
>currently a 4th year PhD student in Microbiology studing an
>arthropod-borne disease, Lyme disease. I enjoy this area of research
>I have my doubts about being able to secure a position (and finding
>money!) in Parasitology/Vector-borne diseases. I have been considering
>going into the military (probably the U.S. Navy) to do research in this
> I would be interested in hearing from anyone who has had any
>experience (or knows of someone) with this and could offer me some