Science Careers

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? […]



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 […]



Freedom isn’t free

Freedom isn’t free

In the acknowledgements section of NW, her 2012 bestseller, Zadie Smith thanked a computer application called “Freedom” for “creating the time” she needed to finish the book. It may be the highest-profile printed acknowledgment of a computer program in a work of fiction—The New York Times put NW on its list of the ten best books of 2012—and Smith is not alone in her admiration. The Economist called Freedom “the virtual equivalent of retiring to a remote getaway, or going on a writers’ retreat, to […]



Starry-Eyed Astronomer no more

Starry-Eyed Astronomer no more

“Curiosity Rover Lands Safely on Mars.” This was headline news on the day I went to meet Jane Luu, defense systems engineer and award-winning planetary astronomer. Early in her career, Luu scoped the cosmos, studying the dark void beyond Neptune. With her Ph.D. adviser David Jewitt, she discovered the Kuiper belt, vastly increasing the number of known objects in the solar system. At the same time, her research helped reduce the number of planets in our solar system to eight. Yes, she shares responsibility for […]



YouTube at the Bench

YouTube at the Bench

As a graduate student at Princeton University, Moshe Pritsker tried in vain to grow a culture of embryonic stem cells from instructions laid out in the methods section of a journal article. A colleague with more bench experience tried and also failed. Finally, Pritsker flew to Edinburgh to visit the lab where the paper originated to witness the procedure in person. He learned that the cells and solutions simply had to be handled in a particular fashion. It was a small detail that the written […]



Those TAs with Thick Accents

Progress has been made in recent decades on ensuring that foreign graduate students at American universities have sufficient facility in the language–English, in the case of the United States–that they’re likely to be teaching in. The Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), or the comparable IELTS exam, has long been required for most international students. But with the old paper-based test, which is still in use, a person could ace the test and still be unintelligible in the classroom. There’s good news for […]