A comprehensive collection of articles for you to become well versed in the world of science and engineering.

FEATURED POST — April 22nd, 2011

Updated NRC data, rankings site outage

Our graduate school rankings have been down today – our apologies! We run the site on a cluster in Amazon’s cloud, and today their services suffered a massive outage. We’re busy transferring the site over to a new data center. We received the NRC’s corrected data set yesterday. It takes some time to merge their … read more

February 12th, 2011

Big cuts for science?

House Republicans have a proposal for cutting spending starting next month: Summary here To emphasize, the proposal is for cutting funds already allocated for this year as well as for the coming year. A few numbers: NIH cuts for 2011: $260M, inflationary increases on non-competing grants ($260M for next year) $ 48.5M, Office of the … read more

February 10th, 2011

Debunking Discrimination

A blunt article in PNAS by Ceci and Williams provides considerable evidence that the underrepresentation of women in mathematically intensive fields is not due to systematic discrimination: Women’s current underrepresentation in math-intensive ?elds is not caused by discrimination in these domains, but rather to sex differences in resources, abilities, and choices (whether free or constrained). … read more

February 8th, 2011

Science & Baseball

Back in the 1990′s, the Oakland A’s were a mediocre team. In baseball, the traditional way to improve a team has been to hire a bunch of super star players. The trouble with being a mediocre team, though, is that it’s hard to sell tickets, which makes it tough to pay for expensive talent. To … read more

January 24th, 2011

Test, test, test

Another article in the Times’ excellent coverage of useful research on how we learn: To Really Learn, Quit Studying and Take a Test. Taking tests turns out to be a very effective mechanism for learning. Definitely something to consider when structuring one’s courses. The specific test mechanism looks pretty simple, and seems easy to turn … read more

January 22nd, 2011

“The PhD student is…

…someone who forgoes current income in order to forgo future income.” Choice comment from a letter to the Economist in response to their recent article, The Disposable Academic

January 22nd, 2011

Taxing times?

A prediction: many postdocs will face higher taxes in the years to come. Why? A recent supreme court ruling on the tax status of a similar group: medical residents. Some postdocs are not required pay social security taxes because their fellowships are not classified as compensation (it’s an issue I don’t pretend to understand well, … read more

January 11th, 2011

“The mathematics of narcissism”

Fellow mathematician Jordan Ellenberg has an unusual take on the NRC’s rankings: in Slate he compares the NRC’s approach to ranking graduate programs to a new method psychologists are using for classifying mental illnesses. The article is worth reading in full, but the gist of it is that there are two standard approaches to dealing … read more

December 28th, 2010

Professional Science

A heartening holiday article in the NY Times this week: A Master’s for Science Professionals Sweeps U.S. Schools. The Professional Science Masters is catching on big time: The degree, which a few universities quietly pioneered in the mid-1990s, combines graduate studies in science or mathematics and business management courses. In 2008, 58 universities were offering … read more

December 20th, 2010

“The Disposable Academic”

This weeks Economist has an article subtitled, “Why doing a PhD is often a waste of time” (subscription required). Many of the items reported are familiar for those who read, but a few new things stood out: PhD production is growing rapidly outside the US. This means possibly additional opportunities in overseas universities, but … read more