Sci & Tech

Elephant Conservation Conundrum

Elephant Conservation Conundrum

Those who grew up in southern India may fondly recall temple elephants with their tinkling neck-bells. As children, we didn’t notice the shackles on their legs. Elephants have iconic status in India, they  were used for warfare, construction and transportation, apart from pageantry. They are still used in religious celebrations: here is an excellent story about celebrity elephants. And a news item about an 1500 lb.+ golden ornament which a chosen elephant carries during Mysore’s biggest annual festival. Elephants are protected in India; their habitats […]



The Surveyor of Jungles

The Surveyor of Jungles

Priya Davidar grew up in picturesque Ooty, a town in southern India with the misty blue mountains of the Western Ghats, a biodiversity hotspot, as its backdrop. In the 1950s, the family lived in an isolated hillside bungalow, and the babysitter told the children ghost stories; Davidar mistook the hyena’s mating call for a wandering ghoul’s laughter. Today, she regrets that the four-legged monster of her childhood can no longer be heard in her hometown. As in the rest of the world, much of the […]



The College Science Teacher

The College Science Teacher

It is common to encounter Ph.D. students and recent graduates who want to focus solely on their students, on teaching and advising. They picture themselves in college faculty roles, but teaching is their first love. Unfortunately for them, tenure-track faculty posts pretty much always come with research requirements, and that goes not only for large universities but also for primarily undergraduate institutions (PUIs). So Science Careers wanted to know: Are there positions out there where science Ph.D.s can earn a good, secure living by teaching? […]



The Sari-Clad Tech at MIT

The Sari-Clad Tech at MIT

In 2004, the Ray and Maria Stata Center at MIT opened on the site of Building 20, a structure that was meant to be temporary but lasted 55 years. At the dedication, Hale Bradt, PhD ’61, emeritus professor of physics, was delighted to see a familiar image in the lobby: a black-and-white picture of a colleague from his graduate school days. The caption read, “Cosmic Ray Research lab assistant, 1959.” The photograph of the sari-clad Indian woman had appeared, off and on, in the MIT […]



The Cricket Woman

The Cricket Woman

Physical courage is generally not a requirement for studying science, but field biology seems to call for this quality. Swati Diwakar, 34, spent many a night in an evergreen forest in South India collecting data for her dissertation on crickets taking the occasional viper bite in her stride. As assistant professor in the department of environmental studies at Delhi University in India’s capital, she is now looking to recruit research students. I chat with my compatriot, mother of a toddler, about her work. Cricket, the […]



Cloudburst of Computing Power

For U.S. academics, computational resources are not hard to come by.  The National Science Foundation’s Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment (XSEDE) program, for 25 years has made computation and storage platforms available, free-of-charge to academic researchers in the United States with high-performance computing (HPC) needs. “I have been shouting FREE COMPUTING TIME from the rooftops for about 5 years now,” says Jeff Gardner, who is UW’s campus ambassador for XSEDE. “By funding a dozen or so sites across the country, NSF ensured that every researcher […]



Computer Scientists Get Wet

Computer Scientists Get Wet

In the summer of 2008, when Wired magazine ran a cover story titled “The End of Science,” former Editor-in-Chief Chris Anderson wrote, “The new availability of huge amounts of data, along with the statistical tools to crunch these numbers, offers a whole new way of understanding the world. Correlation supersedes causation, and science can advance even without coherent models, unified theories, or really any mechanistic explanation at all. There’s no reason to cling to our old ways. It’s time to ask: What can science learn […]



When All Science becomes Data Science

When All Science becomes Data Science

Ed Lazowska, who holds the Bill & Melinda Gates Chair in Computer Science & Engineering at UW, believes that data-driven discovery will become the norm, as he told Science Careers in a recent interview. This new environment, he says, will create and reward researchers (like Loebman) who are well versed in both the methodologies of their specific fields and the applications of data science. He calls such people “pi-shaped” because they have two full legs, one in each camp. “All science is fast becoming what is called data […]



Pollinating His Own Science

Pollinating His Own Science

Even a graduate student working on a pressing, real-world problem needs diversions. Noah Wilson-Rich went to the Topsfield agricultural fair, an annual event in Essex County, Massachusetts and was drawn to the Bee House with its observational hives. Local honey was on sale, and apiarists were on hand to talk about what they do. The young entomologist—whose knowledge about insects had so far come largely from textbooks—put his name on the sign-up sheet for a beekeeping course. Before long, he was a certified beekeeper. Back […]



Take my taxi to the moon

Take my taxi to the moon

Susmita Mohanty, the founder of India’s first private space company, Earth2Orbit, wants India to claim bigger piece of the space-launch pie.She is CEO of Earth2Orbit, which recently launched its first client satellite. An aerospace entrepreneur and spaceship designer, she has worked at NASA and Boeing, and holds a PhD in aerospace architecture How active is India’s space programme? The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), which was founded in 1969, launches rockets, builds and uses satellites extensively for earthly applications and has recently started planetary exploration. […]