2016 physical chemistry PhD graduate John Kelly was highlighted for his postdoctoral work in the September 9, 2019 issue of C&E News. Dr. Kelly commented on his successful European postdoctoral experience. The article points out that US-based chemists can consider going abroad for their postdocs. John Kelly, a chemist at SRI International, moved from the US to Leipzig University for his postdoc, which he finished in 2018. He says he decided to make the move because it would be a completely different experience from studying anywhere in the US.
“It was the best experience I could ask for,” Kelly says. While he enjoyed his research project, he says the most rewarding part was simply living abroad. Of course, he says, he faced hurdles he wouldn’t have if he had stayed in the US, like changing banks and sorting out visas and work permits. But those shouldn’t deter anyone interested in doing a postdoc abroad, he says.
“You could spend a year in the US and learn less than you would in a week in another country,” Kelly says. Working abroad gives you diversity in approaching a way to solve a problem, he adds. “If everybody in the room speaks the same and writes the same and approaches the problem the same, then you’re only going to have one solution.”