Scientists Rate University of Rochester a Best Place To Work

Jun. 29, 2010
--Institution climbs 7 places in annual ranking by The Scientist--

The University of Rochester has been ranked one of the top 15 institutions in the nation for scientists to work, according to The Scientist magazine, which has published its annual survey of “Best Places to Work for Scientists in Academia.”

This year the university also jumped seven spots on the list of best places for scientists in the life sciences, which includes medical research and related sciences such as biology, and is the only academic institution in New York state to achieve “top 15” status.

“It is really great the University of Rochester is again being recognized in this manner,” said Edith Lord, Ph.D., senior associate dean for graduate education at the School of Medicine and Dentistry.  “I think this reflects the collegial atmosphere that exists here, which is a benefit for faculty and students alike and is also a tremendous asset in accomplishing research goals.  

“Everyone deserves to have a pleasant and supportive environment in which to work,” she added, “so it is gratifying to learn that our faculty feels such an atmosphere exists at the Medical Center."  

“The quality of our research and teaching depends directly on the strength of our faculty, so it is crucial that we create an environment where they can flourish,” said Peter Lennie, dean of the faculty of Arts, Sciences & Engineering. “We are delighted that TheScientist has declared once again that Rochester has created a culture in which faculty thrive.”  

The Rochester scientists who responded to the survey cited job satisfaction, and infrastructure and environment as the two top reasons the university is a great place to be.

“I think the fact that the university is a private institution allows us to be more nimble, more responsive to the needs of our scientists,” said Edward Puzas, Ph.D, senior associate dean for basic research at the medical school. “We also have a strong technology transfer program, which is attractive to today’s young scientists who value the ability to be entrepreneurial and conduct research that could result in licensing agreements and spin-off companies."

Puzas said the Medical Center has a well-calculated roadmap for guiding its research endeavors, guided by the priorities identified in URMC’s strategic plan and the well-articulated new research goals of the National Institutes of Health.

“We are well-positioned to respond successfully to NIH requests for research proposals and with a strategic focus at the Medical Center, we are more able to marshal resources to support this focus—such as the Clinical and Translational Science Building, which will open next year,” Puzas said. “Incorporated in its IT infrastructure will be a navigator tool to help our scientists find others in the institution whose research could lead to larger collaborative projects.”

Communication and collaboration have always been hallmarks of the University, he said. “That’s what’s kept me here more than two decades -- no barriers, as can sometimes be found in the more elite institutions, to scientists pursuing scientific ideas. Our environment promotes teamwork, transparency and leadership.”   

All of the top 15 institutions improved their standing in the rankings this year with the exception of one newcomer, the Van Adel Research Institution in Grand Rapids, Mich. Princeton University topped the list and the only other institution in the State of New York in the top 15 is the Trudeau Institute in Saranac Lake. Included in the expanded list of 40 are Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Roswell Park Cancer Institute, State University of New York (all campuses).

The rankings were determined through analysis of the responses received to a web-based questionnaire posted on The Scientist website between September 2009 and March 2010. The 2,303 responses received encompassed 119 institutions, including 89 from the United States and 30 from the rest of the world.

Individuals who identified themselves as life scientists with a permanent position in academic, hospital, government or research organization were eligible to participate. Respondents were asked to assess their working environment according to 38 criteria in eight areas—job satisfaction, peers, infrastructure and environment, research resources, pay, management and policies, teaching and mentoring, and tenure—weighted by the respondents’ sense of each category’s importance.

The Scientist provides print and online coverage of the latest developments in the life sciences including trends in research, new technology, news, business and careers. Survey participants cited opportunities for advancement and research resources as major strengths of the top institutions ranked.