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Kate Travis

Around the Web: Back-to-Work Edition

Congratulations on making it through the first work week of 2011! Did you start with a clean desk like I did? Is it already covered in papers, magazines, and to-do lists, like mine is?

Well done.

Here is a (biased, as per usual) selection of the week’s career-related tidbits:

* GenomeWeb’s Daily Scan found a great link at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases: new examples of “exceptional” R01 applications in the shorter format. NIAID has also published a new article in its New Investigator Series called “Start Writing Your Application.” If you are a checklist person, this article is for you.

* Speaking of grant writing, The Scientist’s blog Naturally Selected this week writes about the Three deadly sins of grant writing. “Write highly dense, technical prose that is designed only for a specialist in your field to read,” Morgan Giddings cites as her first sin. The bottom line of all of her list is to make your reviewer’s job easy.

* Last Friday, the Augusta Chronicle profiled David Pollock and Jennifer Pollock, a dual-scientist couple at the Medical College of Georgia who work together on translational research related to kidney diseases, among other research questions. “The key that’s allowed us to be successful is the fact that Jennifer has all this expertise in an area that I don’t have,” David Pollock said in the article. “And I’d like to think I have expertise that she doesn’t have, although I think she’s learned more about what I do than the other way around.”

* The Chronicle of Higher Education published an article this week on moving abroad, written by a historian who moved form the U.S. to England (a move that I’m well familiar with). “In any long-distance move, you can expect many headaches. When moving abroad, expect a multiplication of hassles, large and small,” the author writes. I’ll second that.

In Nature Jobs this week, Paul Smaglik writes a ‘where are they now’ article that follows up with scientists who wrote journal entries for Nature. “One writer called her scientific career a “winding road”. Today, many of those writers would add that the road also presents potholes, detours and dead ends,” Smaglik writes.

* Science Insider this week summarized a white paper from a group of MIT researchers on what the group calls “convergence”: “Their report defines convergence as ‘the merging of distinct technologies, processing disciplines, or devices into a unified whole that creates a host of new pathways and opportunities’ by combining life sciences, physical sciences, and engineering,” Insider reports.

* Also this week, Insider took a look at the America COMPETES act, which President Obama signed into law this week. The act has implications for training and career development money from the National Science Foundation. “It’s a reaffirmation of the value of integrating research and training at our universities,” says Debra Stewart, president of the Washington, D.C.-based Council of Graduate Schools, in the Insider article. “It’s what has made our research enterprise the best in the world, and it says that we are still on the right track.”

* In Science this week, editor in chief Bruce Alberts introduces a new prize to recognize “outstanding ‘modules’ for teaching introductory college science courses that can readily spread to other settings and schools,” Alberts writes. “Science is looking for lessons in which students become invested in exploring questions through activities that are at least partially of their own design. Instead of a typical laboratory exercise that begins with an explanation and results in one correct answer, an inquiry-based lesson might begin with a scenario or question and then require students to propose possible solutions and design some of their own experiments.”

* In the News section of Science, writer John Bohannon takes a look at some pilot projects for virtual peer review panels. “Can the hard work of grant review be done without face-to-face meetings?,” Bohannon asks. “With budgets tightening, scientific organizations like NSF are exploring ways to reduce the number of their physical meetings. Proponents see it as a win-win scenario, saving not only time and money but also carbon emissions. Whether the technology is up to the task is another matter.”

* And of course, you should check out this week’s stories on Science Careers: Taken for Granted: Stormy Weather and Seizing Career Opportunities in Turkey.

Have a good week!