December 28, 2010
December 22, 2010
December 21, 2010
One of the sisters -- Marina Suarez -- is a postdoc at the Johns Hopkins' Morton K. Blaustein Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences. Her sister Celina is a postdoc at Boise State University. The sisters discovered the site while Marina was a Master's degree student at Temple University. Marina earned her doctorate from the University of Kansas. The twins are 29 years old. They are natives of San Antonio, Texas.
The official name of the new dinosaur species is Geminiraptor suarezarum, which, the press release says, means "twin predatory thief of the Suarezes," which doesn't make a lot of sense, but I doubt they're complaining. The press release says "the 6- to 7-foot-long raptor-like dinosaur with large eyes and dexterous claws is thought to have lived about 125 million years ago, according to Utah's Bureau of Land Management."
Tweeting as @SciCareerEditor
December 21, 2010
What changes? NIH is getting stricter.
- The 2-day correction window will end.
- After a proposal is submitted, NIH will only accept new materials resulting from unforeseen administrative issues "(with exceptions specified for institutional training mechanisms and certain RFAs). Corrections of oversights/errors discovered after submission of the application will not be allowed. See NOT-OD-10-091."
- Resubmissions must be submitted within 37 months of the original submission.
- Applicants for career development and training awards -- including individual National Research Service Awards -- must use the new ADOBE-FORMS-B1 package.
- It's hard to imagine that this happens, but I guess it must: Apparently, some investigators have been dodging page limits by sticking extra materials in sections that don't have limits, like Protection of Human Subjects. This strikes me as unwise; wouldn't you make a better impression by just following the rules? Anyway, NIH is instructing its reviewers that, starting with the first submission date of 2011, they need not consider such materials, and "In egregious cases, NIH has the authority to withdraw such an application from review or consideration for funding. See NOT-OD-10-077."
Tweeting as @SciCareerEditor
December 19, 2010
December 18, 2010
December 16, 2010
With our CTSciNet project, Science Careers has been focused lately on translational research. That phrase normally refers to medical research and the pursuit of human therapies, but there's a lot in the Carter profile that resonates with translational-research ideas.
Kiley was trained as a quantum chemist, with a Ph.D. from the California Institute of Technology. She spent the first part of her career doing surface chemistry. "I had been working a lot of different projects and developing software tools to probe the properties of materials, but I hadn't had a laser-beam focus on any one particular issue," she says.
Then she read the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's 2007 report and altered the direction of her career. "I felt like I had an obligation, a responsibility to use my expertise to solve these big problems," she says. "I no longer had the luxury to just do intellectually stimulating research projects. My research had taken on a purposeful perspective." Specifically, Carter began to apply her scientific skills to solving the problems of energy and the environment. "Anyone who has expertise in an area related to this should be working on these problems," she says.
There's much about Carter's approach to science that resembles common ideas in translational research. First, there's a belief that purely curiosity-driven research is an indulgence we -- or at least scientists with sets of skills appropriate to solving practical problems -- can't afford right now; social needs are too compelling. Second, there's her interdisciplinarity: Her lab includes physicists, chemists, materials scientists, and engineers, Kiley writes. She calls herself "multilingual" because she can talk with scientists in different fields and departments.
The idea that we should all be applying our scientific skills to solving the day's most important problems is compelling. But there is an alternative point of view: Fundamental, curiosity-driven research often yields insights that are important for the next generation of practical technologies. Applied research can be short-sighted because it can be difficult (probably impossible) to know ahead of time what will ultimately matter. So we need to keep dedicating resources -- funding and human resources, including our own -- to fundamental, curiosity-driven research. That's the argument made by many basic scientists.
Of course we do. But not every researcher who eschews applications does the kind of basic research that's likely to yield such high-powered fundamental insights. As Carter says in the article, "You have to look at your technical strengths and say, Where I can make the best contribution?" Your set of skills may best prepare you to work on important fundamental problems. But if, after some honest reflection, your work doesn't seem to be headed towards such fundamental insights, consider asking yourself, as Carter did, what important problem those skills might effectively address.
The new Andlinger Center, by the way, plans to hire 9 new scientists.
December 15, 2010
December 13, 2010
[Editor's Note: For an excellent account of a scientist with a strong religious faith, read Elisabeth Pain's Testimony of a Young Christian Scientist.]
December 10, 2010
The first thing to go must be her crippling sense of shame. There is nothing dishonorable about re-evaluating decisions in light of experience and information. It is, indeed, the definition of intelligence and the essence of the scientific method.
If the original destination is not one that "Lost" still desires, then, as many of the letter writers indicate, there is no shame deciding to leave -- a decision that at least some of the postdocs apparently wish that they had made. (But, of course, one must also wonder what is keeping those postdocs from also evaluating other options available to smart, highly educated people. Is it perhaps because they have lost faith in themselves?)
December 8, 2010
December 8, 2010
December 7, 2010
For many former fellows, the program has opened the way to career opportunities in science policy or government. Applicants must be US citizens and members of at least one of the AIP's member societies at the time they apply. The deadline for applications is January 15.
December 7, 2010
In the science-related categories we track, the number of ads posted online rose by 1% in November, or 14,400, compared to October. In the economy overall, the number of ads increased by 1.1%, or 47,400 ads. No science-related category did especially well in November, though heath care practitioners and technical added 2.2% to the number of ads posted online. That marks the second straight month of gains for that category after several months of declining prospects. All the other science-related categories were either flat or showed very small changes.
And in October -- the last month for which detailed unemployment data is available -- the ratio of the number of unemployed people looking for work to the number of online ads changed very little, overall and in science-related categories.
While this marks yet another flat month for science job opportunities, two things are worth noting. The first is that the ratio of ads to job-seekers -- a measure of job-market competitiveness -- is far lower (0.7) in science-related categories than it is in the economy as a whole (3.4), indicating that jobs in science-related fields are easier to find than jobs generally.
The second is that the outlook for job seekers is much better than it was a year ago. In November 2010, the number of online ads in science-related categories was 29% higher than it was in November 2009. In the life, physical, and social sciences -- the category most important for most Science Careers readers -- the number of job ads in November 2010 was nearly 40% higher than a year earlier.
December 7, 2010
No, this isn't another story of an angst-ridden underemployed science grad. Muir is an environmental entrepreneur -- and a distant relative of environmental legend and Sierra Club founder John Muir -- who is out to make foods with a smaller environmental footprint as cheap and ubiquitous as McDonald's.
Read it online here.
Hat tip: John Travis, Science news.
December 6, 2010
When faced with such a situation, what did you do? Did you tell someone else? If so, when? How did you maintain your professional distance and balance it with your personal one? How do you strike the right balance between being a colleague and a friend?
Naturally, we'll protect your privacy -- and especially the privacy of your colleague.
If you have been the troubled colleague, Irene would love to hear about your experience, too.Write to Irene-at-IreneLevinedotCom.
December 6, 2010
As we highlighted in a recent Science Careers article, most researchers have to make judgments in their day-to-day practice of research that have ethical implications. While falsification/fabrication of data, and plagiarism, are largely seen as unforgivable scientific sins, junior researchers are routinely confronted with decisions about how they carry out and report research that could either be seen as appropriate, questionable, or unethical depending on where they draw the line.
In an Inside Higher Ed column published last Friday, Professor of Education and Law at Lehigh University Perry A. Zirkel analyzes a possible case of self-plagiarism after stumbling across two research articles that were published in different journals the same year and shared one author, together with big chunks of text. "Yet neither article cited the other," Zirkel writes.
In his discussion of the case, Zirkel makes an important distinction between self-plagiarism and text recycling. I would like to pass it along here as food for thought.
"Exploring relevant writings... I found that the issue of self-plagiarism is better understood in terms of specific parsing within the more general concept of plagiarism," Zirkel writes. In particular, "as Scanlon has explained, ... self-plagiarism poses the problem of imposture, not theft. Here, imposture refers to padding, churning, over-crediting, or, in Bird's words, 'implying that the author is more productive than is actually the case.'"
Text recycling is a grayer area, Zirkel says. "The blurry boundary for text recycling as an ethical matter appears to be not only the amount but also the nature of the material duplicated without attribution,"Zirkel adds. "For example, repeating significant parts of the literature review or the methodology is far less shady than is doing the same for the core, i.e., the results, of the study." Zirkel refers to codes of conduct and journal guidelines that prohibit publishing old data as new and advocate transparency.
Zirkel's column also highlights how difficult it can be to pinpoint actual sins and enforce sanctions. Putting the issues under the microscope, as Zirkel does, is an essential step in helping the scientific community put an end to questionable practices.
December 6, 2010
This rate of increase is slow by recent standards. Over the period 2004 - 2007, the number of S&E doctorates awarded increased at a rate of 6.5% per year. Still, the new totals -- 49,562 total doctorates and 33,470 S&E doctorates -- are all-time records. The number of S&E doctorates awarded to women -- 13,593 -- is also an all-time high.
The growth in the number of S&E doctorates awarded to members of minority groups was also impressive, up 6.4% compared to 2008. The longer-term trend looks better still: Since 2004, the number of S&E doctorates awarded to members of minority groups is up 34.3%.
Also notable: The number of S&E doctorates awarded by U.S. institutions to temporary visa holders declined by 3.35%.
The survey also sampled employment outcomes. The number of S&E doctorate recipients who already had employment commitments was down slightly from 2008 and about the same as in 2007. And of those who had employment commitments, a record number were for postdoc positions. The proportion with employment commitments from industry was down in most fields, while the proportion with employment commitments in "other employed position increased." This category includes government, non-academic non-profits, primary and secondary schools, and "other employment." This could indicate an increase in interest in non-traditional science jobs, and it could indicate that the number of S&E doctorate recipients settling for substandard employment is increasing.
December 4, 2010
December 3, 2010
Dean Calarco said that faculty members often don't want to know when Ph.D. students want to work outside of academe. When UCSF asked its graduate students in 2008 about their first-choice careers, a third named non-academic pursuits. The University has since established a program of formal 3-month internships in government and industry for doctoral students from its basic-science departments.
Could it be that graduate deans already suspect that Ph.D. students are unlikely to rank among the grateful future graduates who fork over handsome donations?
December 3, 2010
But for this week's column, "taken for granted" is an especially apt phrase, in at least two ways. First is the article's placement on Science Careers: Despite being an important piece of writing, it's listed fourth this week, pretty far down the page. This is partly because the top two articles describe such an exciting, and rare, career opportunity for people with the right skills -- including scientists. But whatever the reason, Beryl's article deserves much higher billing. It's important. So this month it may seem as though we're taking Beryl's art for granted.
The name -- "Taken for Granted" -- is also appropriate in a different sense: Established scientists take it for granted that any clear-thinking woman or member of an under-represented minority group (or any white male for that matter) would choose a career in science if given the opportunity, so all we have to do is remove barriers. That assumption is false and leads, I believe, to faulty policy on issues such as scientific-workforce diversity. Such assumptions also affect perceptions of a different kind of diversity: the diversity of career options. Some traditional scientists disparage non-traditional careers -- even careers like research in industry. It's remarkable how much space there is between common (among established scientists) assumptions about science's desirability and young peoples' perceptions.
Drawing on a recent study by Amanda Diekman and colleagues, this week's Taken for Granted column challenges the assumption that anyone in her right mind would study science, suggesting that that women often don't choose science because they don't think it's consistent with their values. Specifically, Amanda Diekman and coauthors determined that women embrace values of community and caring more often than men, and that people (men and women) who embrace those values most strongly are likely to pursue alternatives instead of the fields in which women are poorly represented.
This idea -- which, like a lot of important ideas, seems obvious once it has been pointed out -- has exciting implications. In recent years, many fields of science have, famously, become more communal. And in some areas -- basic biomedical research is an excellent example -- perspectives have started to shift away from intellectual mastery and penetrating insights and towards the more practical and therapeutic (think CTSciNet and translational research). If the ideas Benderly discusses in this month's column are valid -- and I think they are -- we should expect these changes to lead to improvements in the representation of women in the affected fields.
But there's a point underlying Beryl's column that has even broader significance. It is that good people, who could even be excellent scientists, often have real alternatives and sometimes choose them. It follows that, as I wrote in my commentary on the occasion of Science Careers's 15th anniversary, if you want to make science better, you have to make science a better career. Policy makers have to put themselves into the shoes of science trainees -- and bright young people considering a career in science but who have other appealing choices -- and think hard about how the science career path looks, and how to change it for the better.
Partly this is about perception: Some of the assumptions underlying women's career choices (as determined by the Diekman study) seem wrong. Yet, other unflattering assumptions about science careers -- the prospect of earning $30,000 a year with no retirement well into your 30s after 10 years or more of training, for example, with questionable long-term job prospects -- are accurate. So it's not just a matter of changing perceptions; realities must change as well. Changing perceptions is hard, and changing realities is much harder, but it's something that has to happen if science is to continue to thrive. The status quo is already failing.