How to reference a rejected paper on your CV

From Rob Phillips’ list of publications on his lab website:

A First Exposure to Statistical Mechanics for Life Scientists. (with Hernan G. Garcia, Jane’ Kondev, Nigel Orme and Julie A. Theriot), Rejected by Am. J. Phys., 2007. [online full text]

The paper itself is a great read, with some important ideas for anyone who thinks about how to incorporate more quantitative/physical concepts into our program of biology education. It also tells you that stat mech is almost effortless once you understand the Boltzmann distribution: Continue reading “How to reference a rejected paper on your CV”

Science jobs gone missing

My 2006 PhD was clearly timed to perfection:

“U.S. pushes for more scientists but the jobs aren’t there”:

A glut of new biomedical scientists that entered the field when the economy was healthier. From 1998 to 2003, the budget of the National Institutes of Health doubled to $30 billion per year. That boost — much of which flows to universities — drew in new, young scientists. The number of new PhDs in the medical and life sciences boomed, nearly doubling from 2003 to 2007, according to the NSF.

But that boom is about to go bust, because an equal number of permanent jobs failed to follow. One big factor: Since 2004, federal research spending across all agencies has stagnated relative to inflation, according to an analysis by the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Although the injection of $10 billion in federal stimulus funds to the NIH from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 “created or retained” 50,000 science jobs, according to the NIH, that money is running dry, putting those positions at risk.

The lack of permanent jobs leaves many PhD scientists doing routine laboratory work in low-wage positions known as “post-docs,” or postdoctoral fellowships. Post-docs used to last a year or two, but now it’s not unusual to find scientists toiling away for six, seven, even 10 years.

Note the particular accuracy of that quote – post-docs are left doing “routine laboratory work”, as opposed to the oft-made but mistaken claim that a seven year post-doc is about training and gaining new skills that wouldn’t be obtained in any other setting.

Don’t make biology boring

This was my experience – “Learning Biology by Recreating and Extending Mathematical Models”:

Although biological systems generate beautiful patterns that unfold in space and time, most students are taught biology as static lists of names. Names of species, anatomical structures, cellular structures, and molecules dominate, and sometimes overwhelm, the curriculum and the student. Cookbook labs may demonstrate advanced techniques but have a foregone conclusion. Not surprisingly, students often conclude that biology is boring.

Continue reading “Don’t make biology boring”

Avoiding the same old song: Spider Baby Jesus

It’s short and sweet with simple lyrics and a straight forward structure. Like all the best punk, though, Duffy and the Doubters’ Spider Baby Jesus is great not because it’s catchy but because there’s something true about it. It’s the kind of song that works because it leaves you knowing that something, anything, somehow makes more sense than it did before. This time around, Vancouver music mainstay Duffy Driediger reminds us of the pitfalls of relying on the same tired narratives. When we tell the same stories, the ending is always the same. There’s always a boring subject and there’s always someone else to blame. It may be inescapable. It’s always the same old song.

Continue reading “Avoiding the same old song: Spider Baby Jesus”

Science Day is cancelled

Recently received this missive from The Frogger’s school. While it did not actually affect my child, it made me weep for her generation. One might expect a bit better from Cambridge, if not humanity at large:

Dear Parents

There will be no Science Day at XXXX on XXXX and it will now be a normal school day. Regrettably, the event has been cancelled due to lack of numbers from other schools.