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So I work for a rather well-known private university, which runs a rather well-known research center, funded largely by a government organization with a FLA, rather than the usual TLA. As part of the budget disaster known as “sequestration,” but which is really an ongoing decline over the last several years, this FLA organization decided that scientists don't get to travel anymore. No more conferences. No more meetings. No more collaboration with other scientists. Basically, whatever knowledge is in your head, you get to die with that. When it becomes not useful anymore, you can prepare to be discarded. There's not even the pretense of being an involved member of the scientific community anymore.

Sequestration was just the final bullet in the head for this policy. For a long time now, program managers have been very reluctant to spend money on travel, even though it's a pittance compared to other budget items. I can't imagine that deleting travel from the FLA budget saved any money at all. But it looks good for our political masters, I suppose. Or rather it looks bad when a scientist goes to a meeting in Hawaii. Even though it's a couple of thousand dollars.

I sit in meetings that waste more money than that in an hour, that are mandated by completely insane “safety” or “wellness” or “IT security training”.

So we got this system-wide email a couple of days ago, that postdocs can travel to conferences (which seems insane, as what postdoc would come here ever again if they couldn't go to a conference and present results? It's career suicide), with the final line:

We truly value the contributions of our Postdocs community to the success of TLA, and believe that participation to research conferences is vital to their careers

With the clear implication that either participation in research conferences either 1) isn't valuable to my career or 2) no one at the FLA cares. The latter implies we'll take the knowledge you got as a postdoc, and use it until it becomes no longer valid, then we'll discard you for a postdoc who has been participating in conferences vital to their careers.

When I came here, I was told straight up that I was expected to deliver papers at domestic conferences once or twice a year, and at foreign conferences once a year. Not as a reward, but expected. As part of my contribution.

A few years ago, I was invited to give a talk about the flagship mission I was working on at a major yearly conference. Domestic, so relatively cheap. Would have been a couple thou. I prepared it, got it ready to go, then was told “we can't afford it. Cancel”. So I did. A few months later, the flagship mission was cancelled. Do you think it might have been cancelled partially because the management wasn't ponying up to evangelize for it, both politically and amongst their peers? If no one knows what you're doing, why do you expect support?

I think the two things are directly related, but you'll never get anyone around here to acknowledge that the reason missions keep getting cancelled might have something to do with the distaste for even minimal amounts of participation in the community.