The CERN particle accelerator in Geneva, Switzerland has made huge discoveries in particle physics over the last few years. Unfortunately, it seems that CERN is also home to some hateful scientists (via Towleroad):
Research America hosted its annual Advocacy Awards this week, which included honoring Dr. Harold Varmus with its Legacy Award.
Dr. Harold Varmus received the Legacy award for his lifetime commitment to advancing research. In the 20 years we have hosted advocacy awards evenings, this is only the 4th time we have bestowed the Legacy Award. I hope you will take a moment to consider the timely challenge Dr. Varmus delivered to us all via his acceptance remarks, in which he refers to science as representing the best of what we have been and must continue to be as a nation.
Dr. Varmus made an amazing speech during his acceptance of the award promoting science and research in America. Can Varmus run for President? He actually knows what makes America great!
UA Magazine (@United_Science) March 15, 2016
Check out this post written by Francisco Azuaje for United Academics Magazine about the state of scientific talks. I think Azuaje brings up a lot of important points (More on Azuaje here). In my opinion there are still plenty of average, or below average talks… so perhaps we should keep it real more often. But do it in a sincere and supportive manner. I also love that the title of the post is a play on the Peter, Paul, and Mary song title 😉
Edward O. Wilson, one of the world’s most admired scientists, advised young researchers that “the greatest proportion of moral decisions you will be required to make is in your relationships with other scientists”1. And indeed this is a vital challenge, not only because science is above all a social networking endeavour, but also because an awareness of this reality may regrettably lead us to over-emphasize the importance of looking or sounding good to others.
And perhaps it is such an anxiety to find a cosy place in the nest of consensus among “peers” that is creating so much delusion.
We need to re-discover average, good and could-be-better. We can do it sincerely, kindly and with rational purpose. Only this way we will be able to spot the truly great.
Nature News&Comment (@NatureNews) March 10, 2016
Chris Woolston has written a nice feature in Nature this week titled, ‘Group dynamics: a lab of their own.’ The article describes many things a PI can consider when picking people for a lab, and how many people to pick. In his words:
Scientists around the world are working to solve the same basic formula: what number and mix of group members makes for the most efficient and productive lab?
As a member of a relatively large lab, where adding people to the group can come with many complaints from current members, I was intrigued by the actual data on productivity associated with adding members…
Bigger is better
Two studies published last year suggest that most labs could produce more papers and make a bigger splash by — perhaps unsurprisingly — bringing more people on board. One of these, a 2015 study of nearly 400 life-sciences PIs in the United Kingdom, found that the productivity of a lab — measured by the number of publications — increased steadily, albeit modestly, with lab size (http://doi.org/bcwf; 2015). In terms of sheer paper production, “it’s best for a lab to be as big as possible”, says co-author Adam Eyre-Walker, a geneticist at the University of Sussex, UK. Notably, the study found no sign that individual members become less productive or less efficient as labs grow. “Adding a team member to a large lab gives you the same return as adding one to a small lab,” Eyre-Walker says., , & PeerJ
The second paper, a study of 119 biology laboratories from 1966 to 2000 at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, found that productivity inched forward when an average-sized lab of ten members added people (1633–1644; 2015). But this study did detect limits: once lab size reached 25 people — an unusually high number achieved by very few labs — the addition of team members no longer conferred benefit. Further, a lab’s productivity tops out with 13 postdocs, the study found. & Res. Pol. 44,
It looks as though my PI has created almost the perfect lab size. We are a bit over 25 with rotation students and technicians, but usually hover right around 13 postdocs… creepy. It turns out that their is some method, or at least data backing up, my PI’s madness.
Are you a student or postdoc in Neuroscience? Applications are now open for the 2016 Gordon Research Seminar on Molecular and Cellular Neurobiology – Disruptive New Technologies in Studying Neural Development, Plasticity, and Diseases. This Seminar is associated with the Gordon Research Conference on Molecular and Cellular Neurobiology, but is tailored for students and postdocs. Both meetings are in Hong Kong, and feature terrific speakers. Check out the links for more info, registration info, and applications.
Just in case you weren’t aware, ASAPbio is currently underway and is likely going to influence the future of science publication!!
Accelerating Science and Publication in Biology (ASAPbio) will be an interactive meeting to discuss the use of preprints in biology held on February 16-17, 2016. The meeting will be streamed online, and we welcome participation from all interested parties through this website and on Twitter (#ASAPbio).
For background on the issues facing science publication, especially in biomedical science and biology, check out this primer from Nature last week (Does it take too long to publish research?). We here at CauseScience think that the answer to that title is a resounding YES!! One option that ASAPbio is considering are preprints – commonly used in other science fields. Nature this week featured another article related to ASAPbio about preprints (Biologists urged to hug a preprint).
For up to date info on the conference, check out the twitter hashtag #ASAPbio, which thus far has included tweets from well-known scientists, and fun pictures of former NIH directors and Nobel Laureates!! Or just visit the ASAPbio website!!
Definitely exciting to see people discussing the problems of science publication, but more importantly, discussing potential solutions!!
A new study published in Developmental Psychology suggests that the idea of midlife crisis may be a myth. The research shows that happiness from 20s-40s actually increases when you follow individuals over time in a longitudinal manner. Check out a news summary here. a video summary and interview here, and a fun clip from the Today Show here!! How does that compare and fit in with past research suggesting happiness declines at midlife?
Lead researcher and psychology professor Nancy Galambos says she found the opposite – that people in her study were happier in their early 40s than when they were in their late teens and early 20s.
“I think it’s because life is more difficult for younger people than for people in middle age,” Galambos explains.
She says some young adults are depressed, have trouble finding work and sorting out their lives.
“There’s a lot of uncertainty. But by middle age, a lot of people have worked that out and are quite satisfied through the earliest child-bearing years.”
Galambos says most studies looked at a groups of people of various ages. She says the U of A study surveyed the same people – 1,500 of them – over many years, and is more reliable.
Congrats and shoutout to lead researcher Dr. Nancy Galambos for the nice media attention – she also happens to be my Aunt!!! My own experience couldn’t agree more with this research – aside from being an underpaid research, my happiness definitely increased as I aged through my 20s.