Smith-Kettlewell Eye Research Institute Reviews | Glassdoor

Smith-Kettlewell Eye Research Institute Reviews

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  1. Helpful (3)

    "Difficult to recommend"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in San Francisco, CA
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in San Francisco, CA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook

    I have been working at Smith-Kettlewell Eye Research Institute full-time (More than 8 years)

    Pros

    Casual atmosphere, generous benefits, generous parties.

    Cons

    A large number of prominent and respected scientists left because of stagnant leadership and politics. Several scientists have reacted online, but it doesn't look like management or the board are bothering to respond to any of the criticisms.

    Casual atmosphere is relaxed, and tolerates some harassing behavior. Several people say supervisors just ignore review time, so it's hard to get increases or even cost of living.

    Core administration staff is being outsourced and many others are just plain leaving. The whole place is emptying out in general. A number express the opinion that it's impossible to care what happens to the place.

    It's a hard place to recommend, since it looks like it's dying.


  2. "Not Much Remains & No One Much Cares"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Senior Scientist in San Francisco, CA
    Former Employee - Senior Scientist in San Francisco, CA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook

    I worked at Smith-Kettlewell Eye Research Institute full-time (More than 10 years)

    Pros

    A decade or so ago, S-K was a vibrant institute, doing high-quality psychophysical and physiological research in vision and oculomotility. Today, if you're in rehabilitation engineering, and are willing to do what's necessary to remain in the good graces of the Institute's 95 year old founder & de-facto director, it is a possible place to work. And they do have a spiffy new website!

    Cons

    Perverse Directorial "vision" led to expulsion or departure of the Institute's most productive scientists, closure of its physiology building and most of its labs, loss of Core Services and Training grants, outsourcing of Personnel, Facilities, and IT services, absence of significant online or traditional library services, and general decay of institutional support for the few remaining labs, thereby putting whole classes of high-priority projects out of reach. Reflecting this institutional collapse, NIH funding has fallen to ⅓ of its former level.

    Advice to Management

    There is no effective management, so advice has been, and absent dramatic change will continue to be, futile.


  3. Helpful (2)

    "A joke"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    Current Employee - Research in San Francisco, CA
    Current Employee - Research in San Francisco, CA
    Doesn't Recommend

    I have been working at Smith-Kettlewell Eye Research Institute full-time

    Pros

    Lots of freedom, generous benefits, parties,

    Cons

    Waste of government grants, no excel in career


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  5. "A Fatal Case of "Founders Syndrome""

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Senior Scientist in San Francisco, CA
    Former Employee - Senior Scientist in San Francisco, CA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook

    I worked at Smith-Kettlewell Eye Research Institute full-time (More than 10 years)

    Pros

    May still have good benefits, but maybe not. This is not a place to build a viable career!

    Cons

    A once excellent research institute has become a dead place, no longer providing a minimally supportive environment. S-K now features decaying facilities, perverse leadership, and is completely without effective day-to-day management.

    Advice to Management

    S-K Board members ignored repeated warnings, attempted to silence them, or quietly resigned. Scientists on the Board should have questioned the demonization, departure, or expulsion of most of the institute's scientific talent, and should have understood the consequences of directorial subversion, and then termination, of scientific recruiting, but they did not. Board members in finance might have questioned the costly abandonment of critical research facilities, the collapse of external funding, and the speed with which the institute was burning through its endowment, but either they did not notice or did not care.

    S-K's scientists, with few exceptions, raised only timid objections to obviously catastrophic policies, and a few even supported them (Stockholm syndrome?). Most able to leave S-K are long gone, and the unfortunate few remaining have unavoidably become enablers of the final stages of collapse. Specifics of S-K's disfunction have been widely known since 2009, yet colleagues in the medical, scientific, and funding communities who offered help, or stood up against this travesty in any way, can be counted on the fingers of one hand.


  6. Helpful (2)

    "Once an important biomedical research institute, S-K is in the final stages of collapse due to aggressive mismanagement."

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in San Francisco, CA
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in San Francisco, CA
    Doesn't Recommend

    Pros

    Good medical, dental, vision care, and retirement benefits. A few good people remain, as do some fond memories. Management sponsors frequent celebratory parties.

    Cons

    Our 93 year-old founder remains in control through a hand-picked, uncomprehending board. Against all advice, he installed a director who did not want the job and does not direct. Our strongest labs have closed, and our main research facility is about to close. Most scientific and administrative talent has gone elsewhere or retired.

    Advice to Management

    Resign and place the institute and its endowment in the hands of an independent group able to rebuild its staff, facilities, and reputation.


  7. "Smart people doing fascinating work, constrained by leadership and grant funding"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook

    I worked at Smith-Kettlewell Eye Research Institute full-time

    Pros

    A great place to learn about vision, vision loss, and assistive technology / accessibility issues.
    Very friendly atmosphere, with regular staff get-togethers.
    Comprehensive benefits.

    Cons

    A lack of clear leadership means that many employees are doing multiple jobs the best they can, but without clear expectations or support. This, and the nature of grant-funded research can lead support staff to become frustrated and demotivated.
    The scarcity of new recruits and collaborations can make innovation challenging.

    Advice to Management

    Regular performance reviews and incentives, clear expectations and consequences of not meeting expectations. Focus on recruiting, retaining and motivating good people, and being willing to let go people who are not moving the organization forward.


  8. "A great place to work, limited by its finances"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook

    I have been working at Smith-Kettlewell Eye Research Institute (More than a year)

    Pros

    Smith-Kettlewell is a great research organization. It offers tremendous freedom to pursue projects, as long as they involve the understanding of and improvement of human vision. The environment is friendly and the people are top-notch.

    Cons

    Its major problem is its size. It is small, which it difficult to compete with large research institutions, such as big universities. It also limits its economic resources, so that your employment must rely on external (soft) money.

    Advice to Management

    This is an impressive institution hampered by economics. Some new methods of funding must be found for it to continue.