Science Careers Blog

February 2013

February 26, 2013

We've Moved!

We've merged the Science Careers blog with the rest of Science Careers. Starting immediately, all new posts will appear on the Science Careers homepage at, along with our columns and regular articles. There, you can also search for jobs and access our other extensive resources.

For the latest news about the science job market, profiles of fascinating scientists, alerts to the newest trends in the scientific workforce, and more, access (and bookmark) our Science Career Magazine page, at

Judge Lisa Lench was scheduled to announce her decision on 15 February as to whether Patrick Harran will stand trial on felony charges in the death of Sheri SangjiChemical & Engineering News reports, however, that the final stage of the preliminary hearing has now been delayed until 21 March.

The push for  immigration reform is increasing, and with it, the calls to "staple a green card" to every foreign graduate student's STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) degree in order to boost American innovation.  But far from supercharging the nation's scientific and technical creativity, the large influx of STEM students from abroad has had an opposite effect, writes computer science professor and immigration scholar Norman Matloff in a penetrating article essay on Bloomberg View entitled "How Foreign Students Hurt U.S. Innovation."

They do it by glutting the labor market, which lowers wages and encourages many of America's most talented young people to eschew scientific and technical careers and instead use their abilities in other careers.

As the immigration issue has heated up here in Washington, numerous politicians have proclaimed the need--and introduced legislation--to admit additional high-skilled foreign workers to counter the nation's imaginary shortage of technical skills. We at Science Careers have, of course, spent the last decade or more pointing out that no such dearth--but instead a sizable surplus--of scientifically and technically trained people exists in this country.

Perhaps the message would have a better chance of reaching lawmakers in a higher-profile publication. Today, an op-ed in the New York Times entitled "America's Genius Glut" gives it a try.

February 6, 2013

Unconscionable Plagiarism?

They say that life imitates art, but once in a while it also appears to imitate Mad Magazine.  The doctorate of Germany's minister of education, Annette Schavan, for example, has been rescinded after her alma mater, Heinrich Heine University in Dusseldorf, determined that she had plagiarized parts of her dissertation  The subject of Schavan's suspect doctoral research?  Believe it or not, the process by which people form conscience.

And no, I didn't learn about this, er, unconscionable lapse of scholarly rectitude in the pages of a satirical rag, but rather from Inside Higher Ed and the Associated Press,  The former Dr. Schavan, by the way, insists she is innocent and is appealing the decision.

The U.S. House Judiciary Committee held its first hearing on immigration reform on 5 February, covering a number of topics, including, of course, high-skill workers. For those familiar with such Kabukis, there were no surprises, at least in the hearing room. 

The morning did bring one amazement, however: an article on the usually rational website Talking Points Memo. It characterized Michael Teitelbaum, a longtime official of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and the Wertheim Fellow at Harvard University, as a "GOP appointee to the U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform" and "a skeptic on the need for increased legal immigration, even in the case of top flight scientists and engineers both Republicans and Democrats believe need a smoother path to U.S. citizenship."

"Striking a blow against gender inequity in professors' pay," the University of British Columbia (UBC) in Vancouver has announced that it will raise the salary of each of the 880 tenured or tenure-track women on its faculty by 2 percent, reports the Globe and Mail.  Studies by the university found that the $14,000 average difference between average male and female faculty salaries arose partially from the higher percentage of men among full professors and partially because of male predominance in better-paid schools, such as business. 

But part of the difference did not appear to arise from factors the university considered "legitimate," and thus appeared to reflect gender bias, according to Inside Higher Ed