27 February 2013

Pushing away talent

On The Science Show, William Press, the president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) said:

Among young people, science is cool again. Science was cool after Sputnik a whole generation-and-a-half ago, maybe that's two generations by now ago. But we are again at a time where there are TV shows, at least in the United States, which hinge on the scientists figuring things out, the profile of the nerdy intellectual, whether male or female, is often the one in these stories that saves the day. The sad part would be if this resurgence of interest in science among young people coincides with an age of austerity where we’re not able to give them the career opportunities to let their creativity come into play and make these important new discoveries.

Press is right to be concerned. He was speaking at his society’s recent annual meeting in Boston. As it happens, in conversation with individuals who went to Boston to that meeting, the lessons they learned from being at the meeting were:

  • Do not, under any circumstances, do a Ph.D.
  • Nobody in the grad school or post-doc stage is happy with their supervisor.

To add one more anecdote, I’ve seen another student who got involved in research early in her undergraduate career... and is already prepared to get out. This is someone who is super excited, superb in the lab, loves the research. She is getting rewarded by being worked like a dog (because she’s good at what she does). She’s seeing up close the stress of labs chasing biomedical research funding.

I see all the effort that is going into telling students, “Go into STEM!” Yeah. The brightest and most engaged students are going to be the one who figure out how much craziness and stress is going into chasing money to keep labs afloat. And they’ll leave.

This sucks.

External link

Obama promises more funds for research

1 comment:

Craig Dylke said...

Oh oh the robots have targeted you!

I do worry about the science even at the primary level of education (where I work)...

Our budgets and supplies keep getting hacked back. I don't have any means of doing hands on experiments with kids. They have to watch or read about them in school board issued "information packs"... because science is all about telling and listening, not test and learning.