This story from last year explains how the Mathematics program at King Abdulaziz University shot from unranked to #7 in the US News global rankings. What they did is pay a full salary to some of the most heavily published professors in the world to get their permission to list them as adjunct faculty.
I find reddit is generally best avoided, but you might have trouble keeping away from this huge thread of lab safety horror stories. Don’t read right before bedtime, or right before leaving junior trainees unsupervised in the lab.
In a related theme, what do to When Trainees Go Bad.
“How to make a killer map using Excel in under five minutes” Really? Okay, I’m not credulous but this looks credible.
Advice for students so that they don’t sound silly when emailing their professors. The preceding link is more respectful of students than this PhD comic on the same topic that came out the following week. The more we publicly vent about how our students are annoying, the less likely they will respect us and wish to learn from us.
Meg Duffy posted her “Important Lab Information for Duffy Lab Undergraduates,” which is very useful. Some of this is clearly targeted for undergrads inhabiting a lab at a research university, keep in mind. She’s totally cool with anybody taking this and using it.
If you find a mountain lion under your house, it’s probably a good idea to keep it a secret. No worries, P-22 got out okay. But I can see how he got lucky.
In case you missed this story, you should be aware that humankind is now using genetic engineering for eugenics. (And, no, I don’t mean ‘genetic engineering’ like the anti-anti-GMO strawman argument that traditional crop breeding is a form of genetic engineering.)
There was a disastrous mistake of a paper in PNAS that used a miserably designed experiment to claim that the gender problem in STEM hiring is fixed. The best detailed debunking of this story comes from sociologist Zuleyka Zevallos. A field guide to the other debunking responses is here.
Some members of the Iowa Legislature want to bring the Hunger Games to the state’s public universities. If not hunger games, then Survivor or American Idol or something. Seriously, they want to mandate that students must vote professors off the island. I wish this were a joke. The good news is that this didn’t get out of committee. But, crikey, man. Just speechless.
Are ecological conferences safe? Not as much as they should be.
Oh, this is cool: “Sporadic, opportunistic pollen consumption by ants is common, but not ubiquitous, in tropical forests.”
Which is a higher priority: Robotic Lawnmowers, or Astrophysics? The makers of the Roomba want to use a new portion of the radio spectrum to run robotic lawnmowers. The same part of the spectrum that is really important for astronomers to observe and measure methanol, critical to study the formation of celestial bodies. Something tells me the lawnmowing robots can find a new frequency. Yes, this article has the phrase, “Stay off our lawn.”
In higher-ed parlance the herculean act of teaching eight courses per year is what’s known as “a 4-4 load” or, alternatively, a “metric ass-ton” of classroom time. And yet a new bill currently under consideration in the North Carolina General Assembly would require every professor in the state’s public university system to do just that.
Water is wet, diamonds are hard, and universities respond to racist incidents as if the chief worry is bad PR, not the underlying racism.
This isn’t a male / female issue. The funding climate is selecting for people who can work 24/7. The ones with a partner at home (usually female) or without a partner or family obligations. I am not a good choice for a postdoc, not because I am not capable, not intelligent but because I can not make your lab 110% my priority. When “the small grocers” can no longer survive because you’ve starved them out you get WALMART science.
Environmental charlatan Bjorn Lomborg just got appointed to a $4 million position with the University of Western Australia. Really?
Ecologist? Consider throwing your hat in the ring for the E4 award from Ecography. It takes just a 300 word proposal. And a letter of support, and of course I imagine if it comes from someone prestigious that will count for a lot. The award is 500 euros and a free review article in the journal. It’s for early career scientists, meaning that you are less than 13 years post-PhD. Wait, that’s early career nowadays??? Not too long ago, it’d take 12 years post-PhD to get in the neighborhood of full professor in the United States.
An oldie but goodie from Sean Carroll: The purpose of Harvard is not to educate people.
More adventures in obviousness: A college’s high ranking often means less time with professors.
On another related note, what is it like to be poor at any Ivy League school? Yeah, some of these places give full tuition to the small fraction of students whose parents are below upper-middle class. But it is an acceptable educational environment non-wealthy students?
On yet another related note, Bryan Alexander points to a plan: Let’s tax the wealthiest universities and use that money to fund support services at community colleges.
Does your department have a toxic culture of discrimination? Check out this post and the comments at Tenure, She Wrote.
Last year, a study came out to show that professors — at a small number of prestigious universities, in certain fields — were less likely to respond to potential graduate students if the names of the students were associated with ethnic minorities. That study just got replicated very broadly, and the result stayed pretty much the same. If your name sounds like you’re not white, prospective PhD advisors are more likely to blow you off. That’s a fact.
Read about how Buzzfeed is the future of journalism.
The academic senate of the University of Maryland is toying with the idea of changing the employment classification of postdoc, which would cut back on basic employment benefits and retirement. Because, they, um, need to save money. On the backs of postdocs. I mean, “postdoctoral students” as they are called.
Have a nice weekend.