Showing posts from June, 2017

Science in the Time of Google and Smartphones

Today, we do business, communicate and thrive online. Smartphones have made the use of the internet affordable, quick and easily accessible. In a decade (if we consider the first iPhone launched in 2007), almost 9 out of 10 people in South Korea (the country with most users) and 7 out of 10 Americans now have a smartphone. How has the internet and the use of smartphones impacted the way we do science?

We use smartphones daily and have them on 24/7. We all have used the services of a technology company; however, the scientific community has not fully benefited from its use as other areas like business, marketing, music and television. But is there something we can do to increase our productivity or even better our science using the models of technology companies?

In order to get more perspective on this topic, I interviewed Vince Garcia, VP Travel & Lifestyle Services from American Express (AMEX), to get a corporate vision of this new “Google era” and smartphones.

How has business e…

Making the Leap, Part 4: Addressing the Two-body Problem

All of us in the sciences have heard about the "two-body problem," a term often used to describe situations in which both life-partners or spouses are simultaneously seeking equivalent academic positions (i.e., faculty positions). How such couples can go about addressing this issue and gain employment for themselves is worthy of more than a single blog entry. A common variant to this situation is a dual-career couple where the spouse or partner works in an entirely different field. Depending on what the other individual, sometimes referred to as a "trailing spouse" does for their career (I'm personally not a fan of that term as it implies an inequality in the decision making between the employee and their partner), the ability of an institution to facilitate that person's employment varies widely. Frankly, the ability of an institution to facilitate employment for the partner can vary greatly regardless of the partner's field. This is based on the forma…

The cost of a postdoctoral experience and its impact on STEM diversity

Academic diversity in the biological sciences isn't what it should be.  At the most basic level, representation by underrepresented groups in the top research universities in the United States is less than 5%1.  Despite gains in enrollment of underrepresented students in the biological sciences at the undergraduate and doctoral levels, these gains do not extend to the tenure-track realm, where representation has changed very little over the past three decades. 

At another level, because of the ferocious degree of competition in science today - for publication in high impact journals, for limited grant funds, for fewer tenure-track positions -- one might argue that academic diversity is slowly been shaped by a "1%" mindset.  Perhaps more than ever before, the institution you come from-- even the lab you come from-- influences where you will publish, whether you will attain funding, and ultimately whether you will succeed. My purpose here is not to grumble; I'm sure th…