PhDs.org Blog

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

January 26th, 2010

Money in Science

John Tierney has a piece in the Times today pooh poohing people who are concerned about the role of corporate money science: Corporate Backing for Research? Get Over It He may well be right to say Conflict-of-interest accusations have become the simplest strategy for avoiding a substantive debate. The growing obsession with following the money … read more


January 26th, 2010

Math anxiety is contagious

ArsTechnica has a great summary of a study today entitled Female teachers transmit math anxiety to female students. The quick version: The study found that when elementary school teachers, who are primarily female, displayed a high level of anxiety about math, that skittishness was transmitted to their female students. Those students who spent a year … read more


January 21st, 2010

Network, network, network

I got my job at Google due in large part to having a friend working there in a similar position. My Microsoft job I found through a friend of a friend. My postdoc advisor at Dartmouth had met me previously at a conference. The same for my stint at Rice. And so on. Pretty much … read more


January 20th, 2010

PE for grad students

Another study links aerobic exercise to increased cognitive performance: Start running and watch your brain grow, say scientists Running (a lot of it) was found to improve the performance of mice on tests of memory. The mechanism: increased neurogenesis. There’s a fair amount of evidence that exercise boosts cognitive performance in people, too. A few … read more


January 19th, 2010

Be thankful you aren’t in the humanities

The title says it all: “Graduate School in the Humanities: Just Don’t Go”. A particularly grim line: …some responsible observers expect that hiring may be down 40 percent this year. What is 40 percent worse than desperate? Something that rings true beyond the humanities is the author’s characterization of the reasons that people go to … read more


January 18th, 2010

Assumptions

In reading a review of Louis Menand’s The Marketplace in Slate today, I came across this interesting piece of history: …Professors, the people most visibly responsible for the creation of new ideas, have, over the last century, become all too consummate professionals, initiates in a system committed to its own protection and perpetuation…. They have … read more


January 16th, 2010

Fighting yesterday’s battle

In Wired this week: Darpa: U.S. Geek Shortage Is National Security Risk The reason for the concern: According to the Computer Research Association, computer science enrollment dropped 43 percent between 2003 and 2006. Hm. Why might that be? There is a great paper by Richard Freeman that makes a strong case that year-to-year fluctuations in … read more


January 15th, 2010

What makes a good scientist?

There’s an interesting piece in today’s NY Times about what factors predict whether people will be good doctors. Everyone currently focuses on things like the MCAT, which measures some combination of basic domain knowledge and cognitive skills. What the Journal of Applied Psychology study described in the Times found is that personality matters a great … read more


August 31st, 2009

“Where have you gone, Bell Labs?”

An article in this week’s Business Week advocates spending $20 billion per year on basic research with the goal of creating future jobs. The interesting thing: they suggest that the most effective way to spend the money is not on expanding existing research infrastructure (e.g. universities or national labs), but rather by spurring the creation … read more


August 20th, 2009

PhD retraining program

Did your graduate program not provide you with useful skills beyond what you needed to write your dissertation? MIT can help! A piece in today’s NY Times describes MIT’s Career Re-engineering program for scientists and engineers. There’s definitely a need for this kind of training – people’s careers and interests often evolve far from their … read more