Science Careers Blog

November 2011

November 29, 2011

"A Life That Saved Many Lives"

I learned from my friend Valeria Roman, science reporter at the Buenos Aires newspaper Clarin, of the death on November 27, at the age of 101, of the physician and virology researcher Eugenia Sacerdote de Lustig. I hadn't previously heard of the woman whom Clarin called a "pioneering and passionate physician," but I immediately knew that a woman doctor and medical researcher of her age just had to have a remarkable story.

When I started reading about her, I found that it was even more remarkable and inspiring than I had expected. (Unfortunately for some readers who might want to know more, all the information I found about her was in Spanish.)

The deadline for entering the Kauffman Foundation Postdoctoral Entrepreneur Awards competition has been extended by two weeks, to December 12, the National Postdoctoral Association has announced.  The original deadline was November 28.

Open to persons who have done a postdoc in the US, the competition will award $10,000 to a founder of an established company based on the person's research and $2500 to someone in the process of starting a company.  Information on entering is here.

"It's not humanly possible to be a good wife, a good mother and a first-class scientist. No one can do it--something has to go." That discouraging statement, contrary to what you may suppose, comes not from a snobbish misogynist but from Lynn Margulis. At the time of her death on November 22 at the age of 73, Margulis was Distinguished University Professor of Geosciences at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

A prominent biologist, Margulis's accomplishments earned her, among other honors, the National Medal of Science and membership in the National Academy of Sciences. But Margulis apparently considered herself a failure in at least one important area in life, according to the Washington Post (the source of the previous quotation). "I quit my job as wife twice," it quotes her as saying. Margulis's marriages to the celebrated astronomer, best-selling author, and TV presenter Carl Sagan and to the chemist and lawyer Thomas N. Margulis, which produced a total of four children, both ended in divorce.

Okay, so Black Friday's come and gone and you haven't made a dent in your holiday shopping. No need to despair. If your gift list is heavy on physics nerds, chemistry geeks, or, generally, lab rats of the humanoid variety, the online science and science fiction publication io9 has put together a roundup of items perfect for science-oriented recipients (especially those with a sense of humor). I particularly like the soft stuffed subatomic particles for that super-precocious toddler and the designer lab coat for that always-hard-to-shop-for nerdo-fashionista.

Ho ho ho and happy gifting. 

As just about everyone knows by now, new companies are responsible for a great many of the new jobs in the United States. What most people (including many scientists who have a good idea that could possibly form the basis of a new company) don't know is how to go about joining the ranks of entrepreneurs. Some investors who want to be in on the ground floor of the Next Big Thing are helping fill that knowledge gap by sponsoring organizations known as technology accelerators (also known as incubators). Such organizations provide access to potential funds and crash courses in business and finance for would-be company founders who lack connections or training in those crucial skills.

So how exactly do accelerators work, and whom and how much can they help? An informative segment that aired on the PBS Newshour, public television's flagship news show, aims at beginning to answer those questions. It and several other related videos are available on the show's Web site, offering a painless introduction to a potentially very promising opportunity for would-be entrepreneurs.

By the time people get to graduate school, they generally have acquired some familiarity with the principles of probability.  So why, asks Nate Kreuter in an essay in Inside Higher Ed entitled "You Aren't the Exception," do so many fail to grasp the simple concept that those laws also apply to themselves? Kreuter describes how, early in his his graduate school program, a professor marched the new students into an auditorium and explained to them in detail just how dismal were their prospects of achieving the academic career they aspired to. (This incident called to mind the famous set piece in Sinclair Lewis's novel Arrowsmith. In this former staple of high school English classes, as young Martin Arrowsmith enters medical school, a professor assembles the class and issues a similarly dire prediction about their odds of success.)

The reason for the widespread failure to believe that such warnings apply to oneself, Kreuter suggests, is that graduate students were, "almost by definition, exceptional students as undergraduates...,exceptionally bright [and] hardworking."  Their experience of outstanding success in their studies has made them "very good at disregarding warnings" and conditioned them "to seem themselves as exceptions, as exceptional."  So they're likely to think that the same will hold in the next stages of their careers.

Nearly half of foreign-born people in the United States who have bachelor's degrees earned them in science or engineering fields, as opposed to a third of native-born degree holders. Nearly a third of all bachelors degrees in engineering in the United States are held by non-native individuals.  The majority of those people are from Asia.  The place with the highest percentage of S&E degree holders among its foreign born population is Pittsburgh.

These are only a few of interesting facts about foreign-born holders of science and engineering degrees that you can find in a just-released Census Bureau report on this population based on data from the 2010 census.
I'm a bit late to the party, but I only just became aware of an illuminating Wall Street Journal article  published in October that explains why so many employers claim they can't find skilled workers (and may need to import them from abroad) while so many highly educated people can't find jobs.  "I believe that the real culprits are the employers themselves,"  writes Peter Cappelli, a professor of management at the University of Pennsylvania's prestigious Wharton School, one of the nation's leading business schools. 

"The perceptions about a lack of skilled workers are pervasive," he continues. " The staffing company ManpowerGroup, for instance, reports that 52% of U.S. employers surveyed say they have difficulty filling positions because of talent shortages." he continues.  "But the problem is an illusion."

As if we didn't know this already: A new study confirms that engineering and science majors study more than English and business majors. The National Survey of Student Engagement, also known as Nessie, was released today. The study is reported in several news outlets, including the New York Times and the Chronicle of Higher Education.

Here's a nice little essay by a Kashmiri natural-products chemist, describing his experiences as a postdoc at the University of Mississippi. The English is idiosyncratic in spots but it's completely readable and a fun read for anyone interested, as I am, in science-related fish-out-of-water stories:

As soon as I heard from the University of Kashmir, where I was pursuing postdoc for Center for Scientific and Industrial Research at RRIUM, that my application for postdoctoral position in USA at the University of Mississippi (also called OleMiss) had been accepted, a whole montage of images flashed across my mind. Swamps, trucks, cars, roads, clubs, Virginia beaches, Hollywood Beverly hills, the twanging of streets: the idea struck me as downright exotic.

You may not have realized that this is National PharmFree Week, but the American Medical Student Association and students on various campuses nationwide are celebrating by calling on medical schools and medical centers to strengthen their conflict of interest policies, educate students more effectively about the issues involved in pharmaceutical marketing, and help make medicines more widely available throughout the world.  

The effort aims to "change the culture of medicine from relying on the convenience of marketing and the luxury of free gifts to a culture which puts patients first by prioritizing evidence-based medicine," said Tim Anderson, a fourth-year medical student at Case-Western Reserve University, who heads the ASM PharmFree campaign, in a statement.  Key to accomplishing these goals, the association argues, is more awareness of the issues, and more transparency, among both students and faculty.

ASMA's PharmFree activities include a scorecard rating the conflict of interest policies of medical schools and medical centers across the country and curricular materials for teaching students about drug development, pharmaceutical companies' marketing practices, and conflict of interest issues. 

Yesterday, NIH updated its online information on the 2012 Early Independence Awards, the latest iteration of a novel program that allows recent Ph.D. recipients -- applicants must be within 12 months of receiving the degree -- to skip the postdoc and become an independent researcher immediately. The request for applications was posted last week. An FAQ describing the program is also provided. Here's a list of the 2011 winners, with a short description of their research projects.

This year's program appears to be unchanged from last year. NIH expects to make 10 awards of up to $250,000 / year for 5 years in direct costs. (Indirect costs are paid as well.) An institution can submit a maximum of two applications.

Applicants must be supported by an institution. Here's how NIH describes what they expect from the sponsoring institution:
The institution is expected to make a serious commitment to each awardee through the provision of separate lab space, access to common equipment and resources, mentoring similar to that provided to assistant professors, etc. The faculty in the host department should regard the awardee as a colleague, but the institution is not required to provide a tenure-track slot to the awardee. If the position provided for the Early Independence Awardee is not permanent at the institution, the Early Independence Award is expected to position the awardee to compete successfully for a tenure track or other permanent position at the end of the funding period.
Applications are due on 30 January.

A new report entitled Jobs Americans Can't Do? The Myth of a Skilled Labor Shortage examines the claim that employers cannot find sufficient numbers of Americans trained for science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) jobs.  Issued by the Federation for American Immigration Reform, a non-partisan policy group in Washington, DC, the study finds "no evidence that there is, or will exist in the foreseeable future, a shortage of qualified native-born scientists or engineers in the United States."  

In fact, within 2 years of earning science and engineering degrees, "65 percent are either employed or training for a career in another field," the report states.  Why? One reason for the outflow of talent, it suggests, is that because of large influxes of foreign workers on temporary visas, "wages in [STEM] occupations have not kept pace with those of other college graduates, and in some occupations have actually decreased."  Between 2000 and 2009, it notes, 94% of applications for H-1B temporary visas nonetheless received approval.

The U.S. immigration system, the report concludes, "encourages foreigners to enter the U.S. and gives employers strong reasons to prefer them over natives.  With up to 12 million more S&E [science and engineering] graduates than job openings in these fields, it is simply untrue that there is a shortage of available candidates already in the United States, yet almost 675,000 H-1 and L-1 workers were approved in 2009.  Tech firms promote the myth of manpower and skill shortages because it results in public policies that help them cut wages and exploit workers."

A while back we reported on the efforts of the minute, mega-rich Arabian oil state of Qatar to develop world-class science. Among Qatar's goals is to encourage Arab scientists who have left the Middle East for study or work to come back and do their research in their home region.  The nation's major research funder, the Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development, has now announced that it will be hosting an Arab Expatriate Scientists Symposium (AESS) from November 19 to 23 in Qatar's capital city of Doha. The initiative is "yet another move to reverse [this] brain drain," the Foundation said in a statement

AESS, which is held in conjunction with the foundation's annual research symposium and was organized by the foundation's Arab Expatriate Scientists Network, is expected to attract more than 80 expatriate Arab scientists and "provide ample opportunities for [them] to network and contribute to scientific enhancement in Qatar and the region," said the foundation's vice president for research, Abdel Haoudi, in the statement.  

The meeting is just one aspect of Qatar's rich, long-term commitment to research. Scientists from the Middle East who have a hankering to return home should investigate the opportunities that these efforts could make available to them.

Finding funding during the down economy is a hot topic this week at Neuroscience 2011 in Washington, DC. Times are tough even for seasoned PIs, let alone graduate students. That might be why a poster here at the meeting caught my eye.

Last year, a group of neuroscience graduate students at Georgetown University in Washington, DC, decided to start a local student-run grant agency. They appealed to their university's Biomedical Graduate Education Organization and received $10,000. They formed a student-run review committee and adopted a scoring system based on NIH's review criteria. They invited Georgetown biomedical graduate students to apply for small grants to help them, say, learn a new technique or fund travel to a conference.

Early-career scientists need to have a broad view of where their research field is heading so that they can choose a niche where they can make important and innovative contributions, and eventually establish themselves as independent researchers.

In the field of aging research, this challenge has been made a little easier by the release of the FUTURAGE Road Map, which is to constitute the European research agenda for aging over the next decade. Funded by the European Union, the FUTURAGE two-year consultation gathers the opinions of the field's research leaders, medical professionals, policy makers, industry, and older people across Europe to identify seven priority research themes illustrated by specific research questions.

The seven priority themes are:
  • healthy aging for more life in years;
  • maintaining and regaining mental capacity;
  • inclusion and participation in the community and in the labour market;
  • guaranteeing the quality and sustainability of social protection systems;
  • aging well at home and in community environments;
  • unequal aging and age-related inequalities;
  • biogerontology: from mechanisms to interventions.
You can find the full Road Map here

Earlier this year Science Careers ran a monthly series with a Focus on Aging for advice on how to develop a career in one of the many fields pertaining to aging research.

India has been an important source of skilled labor for America's information-technology (IT) industry for years. Meanwhile, American companies have engaged in "off-shoring": setting up Indian subsidiaries or contracting with Indian firms to lower operating costs. Also, American companies have been lobbying congress to admit more Indian (and other international) IT workers to help fill what they -- controversially -- insist is a shortage of qualified personnel. And all along, India's own IT industry has been growing.

Whether your talking about foreign workers in the United States, off-shoring, or the growth of India's own IT industry, the main advantage for companies hiring these workers is the lower labor costs. This is old news. But this past weekend in San Jose, California (and the weekend before in Somerset, New Jersey) there was something new: Indian companies (and American companies with operations in India) recruiting on U.S. soil workers to be based in India.

The organizers of these career fairs, reports this article from ComputerWorld, insist that the events were open to any IT worker with an interest in working in India. But the emphasis clearly was on recruiting Indian nationals working in the United States. Computerworld says the companies were seeking experienced IT workers, with 8 years or more of experience and the ability to lead a team.

Participating American companies included the consulting firm Accenture,, Synapse Design, and the computer-security company McAfee (now part of Intel). Indian companies included, an Indian shopping company; SmartPlay Technologies, a semiconductor firm; InfoTech Enterprises, an engineering design firm; and Tata Motors. The organizers said last weekend's New Jersey fair attracted about 1000 people.

The implications aren't clear: More off-shoring of U.S. IT jobs? Or more competition for U.S.-based IT labor? Either way, it's an interesting development. 

On Twitter: @SciCareerEditor

November 11, 2011

For Safety, Put It In Writing

Investigators looking into the lab incidents that killed Sheri Sangji and maimed Preston Brown have identified poor communication and lack of training as the major factors in both disasters. Texas Tech University grad student Brown, for example, was working with far more of an explosive material than his professor, Louisa Hope-Weeks, allowed.  She thought that Brown was aware of the size limit.  He obviously was not.

Since the explosion that cost Brown three fingers and inflicted eye damage and burns, Hope-Weeks has instituted new policies to ensure that everyone working in her lab is clear on what they are doing and what is permitted.  In an interview with Jyllian Kemsley at Chemical & Engineering News, she explains that the new procedures require students to write up protocols describing in their own words what they intend to do.  "After the accident what became clear to me was that oral communication with students was never enough to ensure that they understood," Hope-Weeks says.

Having to explain their planned actions in writing helps students to think clearly about acts and consequences; it also reveals holes in their understanding and knowledge, Hope-Weeks adds.  But the new system also raises the issue of how to weigh allowing students the independence to explore against the risk of micromanagement.  And reading the students' writing takes time. But, she advises her professorial colleagues, "If you think you're providing enough vigilence and oversight, double it, because it is amazing what students will do when your back it turned."

Data from the 2010 Census, released in a study from Georgetown Universities Center for Education and the Workforce, have been much in the news lately, with most mainstream news outlets mining it for news bytes. The most common take: "Here is a bunch of majors where the unemployment rate is really low. Look, most of them are in science."

But some of those who have commented on these unemployment rates have made an obvious mistake, comparing these unemployment numbers (sometimes implicitly) to the nation's overall unemployment rate, which is (and was then) around 9%. It makes far more sense to compare to other college graduates.

Today it's about 4.2%, but in 2010, when these data were collected, the unemployment rate for all college grads was about 5%. That's higher than some scientific fields but lower than others. Here's a sample, lifted from a table in the Wall Street Journal:
  • All college graduates: 5.0%
  • Actuarial science: 0.0%
  • Animal science: 5.7%
  • Atmospheric science and meteorology: 1.7%
  • Cognitive science and biopsychology: 4.5%
  • Computer science: 5.6%
  • Food science: 6.9%
  • Geology and earth science: 5.7%
  • Neuroscience: 7.2%
  • Physical science: 2.8%
  • Statistics and Decision science: 6.9%
Engineering shows a similar distribution: Some subfields have unemployment lower than the average for all college grads, while other fields have higher unemployment. Some of the worst performers are on the periphery of science: Unemployment among clinical psychology majors was reported as 19.5%; psychology does poorly overall. And some of the numbers seem hard to explain: With all the recent layoffs in the pharmaceuticals industry, how could pharmacology majors have a 0% unemployment rate? That doesn't make sense.

It's true, I think, that if you're a college student, it's a good idea to major in science. But it makes a great deal of difference which science major you choose.

And don't lose site of the fact that none of this analysis is relevant to scientists with advanced degrees.

To build a successful career in industry, scientists must master the folkways of the industrial job market, which differ from those of academe.  People who already have industrial experience often find corporate recruiters to be valuable allies in this endeavor.  Popularly known as headhunters, these recruiters are hired by employers to find the right person for a specific job. They generally concentrate their efforts prospective employees who have strong industrial resumes.  

But, says Susan J. Ainsworth in a very informative article called "Recruiter Rapport" in Chemical & Engineering News, learning how to work with headhunters can also benefit early career scientists, if not in the immediate future, then possibly later on as their careers mature.  People just getting their industrial careers underway would  therefore probably find it worth an investment of time and effort to learn how headhunters work and to make connections with some who are active in the branch of industry they want to enter. "You never know where that relationship will lead -- if not today, it could pay off in the future," Ainsworth quotes a recruiter as saying.

In addition to knowing about specific job openings, headhunters "provide [job seekers] a wealth of benefits and services, including job search advice and access to positions a candidate might not otherwise find or consider," Ainsworth writes.  These assets can include demystifying the processes of succeeding at interviews and negotiating a salary.

"To tap these benefits, however, candidates need to know how to successfully start and nurture relationships with headhunters, who are," she emphasizes, "ultimately working to serve their employer clients rather than the job seeker." 

Ainsworth's article offers a range of helpful suggestions for how enterprising scientists can  establish these relationships.  Because headhunters' stock in trade is deep and detailed knowledge of and connections in particular industries, getting to know the right one could give a career a matchless boost.  

Though unlikely to pay immediate benefits for those very early in their careers, learning about headhunters appears to be a wise long-term investment.  You can find Ainsworth's article here.

November 10, 2011

Are You Flexible?

We've posted a poll on our Facebook page asking aspiring scientists whether they are determined to have an academic career or whether they're open to non-academic and non-traditional opportunities. (There's a third choice for those who are definitely looking for a non-academic career.)

So far, the results are surprising, at least to me: Only about 20% of respondents say they are determined to pursue the traditional academic career path. About 50% say they are "open to other possibilities, while some 30% are "definitely seeking a non-academic career."

What are your plans? Please cast your vote. It's an informal poll -- decidedly unscientific and mostly for fun.

The latest C&E News presents their latest report on the job market in chemistry and concludes, in a series of articles, that jobs in chemistry might be a little easier to find in 2012 than they were in 2011 -- but not much easier.

Among other interesting observations, Sophie L. Rovner notes (in "Anemic Recovery Restrains Hiring") that the pharmaceutical industry's massive job cuts have slowed dramatically, and that layoffs in the chemical industry, though more numerous in the first three quarters of this year than in the same period a year before, have been far fewer this year than in 2009. Overall, the jobs outlook is likely to improve some in 2011 (from its current lousy state) -- though there is still a possibility that the economy could slip back into recession. That wouldn't be good.

There is one bright spot in the C&E News jobs report: It's a pretty good time to be a chemical engineer.

Earlier this year, my father became one of many patients whose health was put at risk due to a drug shortage. A chemotherapy agent prescribed by his oncologist was unavailable and had to be replaced by a different drug. A news article by Madhumita Venkataramanan in Nature Medicine argues that scientific careers, too, are being placed at risk by drug shortages. The article describes several scientists and students whose clinical trials or other research was delayed by their inability to procure the necessary compounds. "Since the samples won't come in before I graduate, the project has been removed from my thesis," says Kristen Tamburro, a Ph.D. student and Howard Hughes Medical Institute fellow. "It would have been a great experience to have had."

"There are postdoctoral fellows here whose livelihoods depend on this work," adds Ari Melnick, a professor at Weill Cornell Medical College, commenting on his own travails. The result of the delay, he adds, is "these people's careers being derailed."

Melnick is worried about his own career, too -- specifically, his ability to fund his project. When trials are not moving forward, he says, the grants aren't likely to come in. "It all falls apart," he says.

A recent article in the Chronicle of Higher Education says that universities are increasingly promoting the idea that careers outside academe for Ph.D. graduates need not be a consolation prize. Describing such conversations as "taboo", the article describes events and other measures universities are taking to inform their graduate students about alternatives to traditional, linear academic career paths -- and not just in the sciences.

"You're in charge of your career," Paula Chambers told an audience of about 200 arts and humanities students at Ohio State University, echoing familiar Science Careers themes. "My message to you today is you need to prepare to be versatile." Chambers runs the Web site The Versatile Ph.D., which promotes alternatives to the academic track. Her presentation was part of Ohio State's first "Alternative Career Day." Other speakers included the founder and managing partner of a venture capital firm and the director of admissions and student services at Ohio State's school of public affairs.

With industrial innovation a major issue these days, on Monday the National Park Service dedicated the nation's newest national park on the spot where the Industrial Revolution first began in America. The Paterson Great Falls National Park in Paterson, New Jersey, stands where the Passaic River drops 77 feet in the second-largest waterfall east of the Mississippi (second to Niagara). The two billion gallons of water that crash over the falls each day inspired  American founding father Alexander Hamilton and fellow investors in the Society for Useful Manufacture to finance, in the 1790s, the infant country's first purpose-built industrial town, kick-starting the rise of the great urban manufacturing centers and the tradition of industrial innovation that, as we recently noted, has for more than two centuries made New Jersey one of the research and invention hubs of the nation.

In planning your visit to the new park, don't miss another Park Service monument to Garden State ingenuity, the Thomas Edison National Historical Park, in nearby West Orange. There, you can see the labs and workshops where the sage of Menlo Park perfected the countless inventions that helped create the modern age. As this old Jersey girl can testify, the first phonograph recordings, motion pictures, and such have impressed generations of school children (and adults, too).
Present and potential master's or doctoral students in fields relevant to advancing space technology are invited to apply for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) Space Technology Research Fellowships. Open to U.S. citizens and permanent residents studying at accredited U.S. institutions, the competitive awards can last up to 4 years and will support work at both the student's home campus and at a NASA lab or other R&D facility. Each fellow will also receive guidance both from their academic supervisor at the home institution and from a "technically relevant and community engaged researcher" chosen by NASA to serve as the student's "professional mentor."  

NASA plans to award "100 or more" new fellowships a year, with "the typical award being for approximately $250,000."  The application deadline for this year's awards is January 11 2012.  Information on the program and the application process is here.

Starting in March, 2013, the new America Invents Act, which President Obama signed in September, will change the ground rules that govern filing for patents on inventions.  The changeover will create a number of issues for researchers, including student researchers, and for the universities where they work, writes John Villasenor in the Chronicle of Higher Education. While the issues involved are beyond the competence of this reporter, Villasenor's essay offers an introduction to what they are.  This can help you decide what to ask about how to protect that brainstorm that, you hope, will make you rich.

This isn't new, apparently, but it definitely caught my eye: The National Geographic Society offers grants to young people, ages 18 to 25, to support them as they engage in several different kinds of exploratory pursuits. Applicants are not required to have advanced degrees and the program isn't limited to U.S. citizens. Grants vary in amount, but most range between $2000 and $5000. ($5000 is the maximum.)

Here are the categories:
  • The Committee for Research and Exploration (CRE) funds hypothesis-based scientific research. The CRE Web site has information on the fields of research funded.
  • The Conservation Trust (CT) funds "innovative and applied approaches to conservation with potential for global application."  The CT Web site has information on the types of projects funded.
  • The Expeditions Council (EC) funds exploration and adventure around the world. Consult the EC Web site for more information on the types of programs funded.
There are some restrictions: Basically, the grants may not be used to pay for vacations (although, judging by the third bullet point above, that is debatable), salary, tuition, overhead, or travel for another purpose (scientific or professional meetings of conferences, for example). Also disallowed: "study abroad programs, volunteer activities, legal actions, land acquisition, endowments, construction of permanent field stations, or publication of research results."

The society also asks for the right of first refusal for popular publication and other media coverage of grantee's findings.

Application forms and instructions for applying are available on the society's Web site.

Published in the 4 November 2011 issue of our sister publication Science is an essay written by Tiago Branco, the 2011 Grand Prize winner of the Eppendorf & Science Prize for Neurobiology.

Launched in 2002, the annual and international competition invites young neurobiologists to write a 1,000-word essay based on research they have done in the last three years. The winner gets his or her essay published in Science together with a $25,000 cash prize. The 2011 award will be presented during the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience on 12 November in Washington, D.C.

Branco, a postdoctoral fellow at the University College London Wolfson Institute for Biomedical Research in the United Kingdom, received a medical degree from Lisbon University in Portugal followed by a Ph.D. in neuroscience from University College London. His essay -- "The Language of Dendrites" -- won Branco recognition "for his outstanding contributions to research into how single neurons in the brain can compute and convert information into behavior," the prize announcement says. 

The other finalists for the prize were Aaron Gitler, Assistant professor in the Department of Cell and Developmental Biology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, and Roger Clem, who recently accepted an appointment to assistant professor of neuroscience at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine.

For more information about the prize and how to apply for next year's round, see the Science Web site.

For years now, career experts have emphasized the importance of clear communication to a scientist's advancement, whether in the academic world, industry, government, or the non-profit sector.  Science journalist Chris Mooney, who writes the Intersection blog at the Center for American Progess, has called to our attention a very illuminating (not to mention hilarious) video illustrating why this is true.  Try to avoid the Hyper-Risibility Syndrome while viewing it.