PhDs.org Blog

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

December 19th, 2006

Watching a Train Wreck, Part 2

We’ve seen the effects of the NIH budget doubling on the grad student population. What about postdocs? The NSF publishes an annual headcount of postdocs in academic institutions, and sure enough, the number of postdocs went up over the budget doubling period, 1998-2003. However, once you dig into the numbers a bit, some interesting things … read more


December 14th, 2006

New Avenues for Life Sciences PhDs… Overseas?

The Wall St. Journal has a front page article today by Peter Wonacott: “Indian Scientists Return Home as Economy Moves Up a Step”. (Thursday December 14, 2006, p. A1). In it, Wonacott describes two senior-level Indian-born/American-trained pharmaceutical scientists who have returned to India to lead firms engaged in drug discovery. Until recently, India’s pharmaceutical industry … read more


December 13th, 2006

Watching a Train Wreck, Part 1

Effect Measure suggests that the current NIH problems have arisen because new NIH funds led to more grad students and postdocs, and these people are now applying for grants. Is this right? First off, did the NIH budget doubling lead to more graduate students? Almost certainly. Back in the 1970s, when the bottom first fell … read more


December 6th, 2006

Leadership in Science

Like Peter, I was a problem grad student, spending much of my time engaged in non-research projects. I did student government. I helped to start a community-service focused undergraduate orientation program. And I took a semester off to write virtual reality video games (long story). The student government and orientation program were unusual activities for … read more


November 29th, 2006

Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it?

The launching of Sputnik in 1957 triggered not only the space race, but also a large new influx of NSF support for graduate education. Throughout the 1960’s, the number of science and engineering PhDs granted rose. The supply of new PhDs eventually increased well beyond the economy’s ability to employ them as researchers, and around … read more


November 22nd, 2006

Perceptions become reality?

There is a fascinating article on Slate about the interaction between perceptions of people’s capabilities and their actual performances. A few snippets: Correll has found that, in the presence of a stereotype that men are better, women tend to underrate their own performance, while men overrate their own, regardless of demonstrated ability. and Robert Rosenthal, … read more


November 21st, 2006

The Scientific Approach

There’s a nice editorial by Clifton Poodry in The Scientist about using the scientific method to help discover better ways to increase diversity in the sciences. It’s great to see this kind of thinking starting to invade funding agencies. “Despite our scientific training, when we think about ways to build a more diverse biomedical research … read more


November 20th, 2006

Does Science Promote Women?

A few months back I tracked down some statistics on gender ratios in science and engineering departments . I knew things were skewed, but even so, I found the data surprising: men outnumber women in tenured and tenure-track S&E positions by more than 3 to 1. There has been a good deal of recent effort … read more


November 20th, 2006

Writing Effective Grant Proposals

I have been reviewing a few grant proposals recently. One in particular struck me: a poorly written proposal that described what I thought was a pretty good idea. In the end, I couldn’t recommend that it be funded — there were just too many unanswered questions. I imagine it will be revised and resubmitted and … read more


November 13th, 2006

About the Comments

When you comment on one of our posts (and we hope you will!), you will probably notice a few differences from other blogs. Engineering Science uses an off-the-shelf blogging system (hats off to the Mephisto team), but, being a compulsive software guy, I have souped it up a bit. Peter and I want Engineering Science … read more