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

March 16th, 2009

Larry Summers revisited

From a new meta-analysis out of Cornell that reviewed 400 papers over the past 35 years: “A major reason explaining why women are underrepresented not only in math-intensive fields but also in senior leadership positions in most fields is that many women choose to have children, and the timing of child rearing coincides with the … read more

February 25th, 2009

Pure vs Applied Research

Stephen Quake, a Stanford biophysics professor, has been guest writing a column in the New York Times. His opening column was on the links between pure and applied research. He raises a lot of great points about how applied research can lead to new ideas for pure research and vice versa (and includes a few … read more

February 3rd, 2009

US Science in Relative Decline?

Thompson Reuters has a new report out showing US market share of scientific papers in continuing decline relative to Asia. That’s not too surprising given that China and India are both rapidly modernizing their economies. One thing from the report that struck me, though, was this: But one trend bears watching: in the last two … read more

January 27th, 2009

“A Bad Reputation: Why are more and more graduate students turning away from careers at research universities?”

Mary Ann Mason and Marc Goulden have conducted a recent study of University of California graduate students. Mason’s assessment in The Chronicle: “We may be losing some of the most talented potential academics before they even arrive for a job interview. In the eyes of many doctoral students, the research university has a bad reputation … read more

January 20th, 2009

Executive Orders

A piece in today’s New York Times has an interesting suggestion for an Obama executive order: adding family leave and parental benefits to federal grants. As we’ve seen in lots of research, the big challenge facing women in the sciences appears to be balancing child care responsibilities with work, so anything that improves matters is … read more

July 25th, 2008

Math Scores Show No Gap for Girls

A piece in today’s Times covers a new NSF-funded study that compares standardized math test scores for girls and boys and finds no difference. These studies are important in that there is a fair amount of evidence that the perception that women underachieve in some subjects becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Although boys in high school … read more

July 16th, 2008

So graduate school is good for what, exactly?

A new TIAA-CREF survey of junior faculty at Master’s granting colleges shows that alarmingly low numbers feel prepared for their jobs at the time of hiring. The interesting bit is Table 7, “Level of preparation for career responsibilities” After graduate school, % “very effectively” prepared: Conduct research: 33% Teach undergraduates: 31% Obtain grants: 7% After … read more

July 10th, 2008

Sloan Grants

The Sloan Foundation has just announced a new set of grants for people to study the S&E workforce in the US. Here are some of the kinds of things they find interesting: 1) “Mismatch” between education and occupation: With respect to U.S.-educated engineers and scientists, is there evidence of what some describe as “mismatches” between … read more

July 2nd, 2008

Foreign Born TAs

Pure Pedantry has a nice overview of a George Borjas paper entitled “Foreign-Born Teaching Assistants and the Academic Performance of Undergraduates”. Borjas, a Harvard economist, investigated the effects of having a foreign-born TA vs a native TA on undergraduates’ subsequent academic performance. Students with foreign born TA’s fared worse than those with native born TA’s … read more

June 29th, 2008

Science Prizes

There’s an interesting piece in today’s New York Times about the proliferation of prizes for solving scientific problems. So far, the prizes are mostly from private sources, but the National Academies have encouraged NSF to get into the act. It’s a trend that definitely bears watching. Prizes appear to have succeeded in motivating innovation: the … read more