Archive for: July, 2006

Day 2 of the BCCE: some notes.

I'm blogging again from the lovely Vienna Cafe in West Lafayette, Indiana, at the end of Day 2 of the BCCE. I gave my own talk this afternoon as part of symposium session on incorporating ethics in the chemistry curriculum (along with 5 other very interesting talks). I think it went well, but I always enjoy conferences more when I've finished my presenting and can be an undistracted audience for the other presentations.
Below the fold, some of the things I learned in todays various talks and events:

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Nature study at home.

Jul 31 2006 Published by under Book review, Kids and science

How a Seed Grows by Helene J. Jordan. Illustrated by Loretta Krupinski.

This is a nifty science book for little kids. Our favorite thing about this book is that it's all about getting empirical.

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Famous chemist trivia.

Jul 30 2006 Published by under Chemistry, Conferences, Passing thoughts

Greetings from the BCCE! Well, actually from a cafe down the street from the BCCE, since the wireless accounts that were supposed to be set up for conference goers are not currently functional. (The lengths to which I'm willing to go to satisfy my readers!) The immediate result of this situation is it will take comments a bit longer to go up.
But, I have gathered (from the talks on how to convey the "nature of science" to students) some fun facts about famous chemists.

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Collaboration, competition, and turf wars.

Judging from some of the comments on my latest post about the Tonegawa/Karpova kerfuffle, it's clear that there is not consensus about precisely what relationship a scientist should pursue (or avoid pursuing) with another scientist working on similar research. Part of the disagreement may come down to a difference of opinion about how important it is for scientists to share knowledge relative to protecting their own interests in the hyper-competitive world of academic science. Another part of the disagreement may come down to standards of similarity (i.e., when can we say that project X and project Y are essentially the same line of research?). Finally, there seems to be some disagreement about what motives we can impute to Tonegawa, especially in light of the recently revealed email exchange between them.

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My dinner with Julie and Geeky Mom.

Jul 30 2006 Published by under Blogospheric science, Personal

It's hard to know the best way to blog a dinner (especially when you have agreed, with your dinner companions, that each of you should blog it to discover whether the result is a Rashoman-like situation wherein each description might as well have been of a different event). Also, I was up late packing and up early catching my airport shuttle. So this may be somewhat stream of (un)consciousness.

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Vacation Sprog Blogging Hiatus? I think not!

Jul 29 2006 Published by under Kids and science

Elder offspring: You're going to have to put up a post on your blog saying that there will be no Friday Sprog Blogging next week.
Dr. Free-Ride: Why do I have to do that?
Elder offspring: You'll be at your conference and we'll be on vacation, so we won't be able to talk about science with you.
Dr. Free-Ride: That's true, but I can talk to you on the phone.
Elder offspring: Yeah, but what if you ask us questions and we say, "Sorry, we haven't done anything that has to do with science"?
Dr. Free-Ride: You don't think I could find a way to connect what you're doing on your vacation with science somehow? Child, you underestimate me!

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I'll show you a hostile workplace! (MIT update)

Three Bulls is on top of this, but I want to add a few comments of my own (as is my habit).
The story about Susumu Tonegawa sinking MIT's attempt to hire Alla Karpova is not over yet. Sure, the Boston Globe (and the MIT News Office) report that MIT has formed a committee to try to get its neuroscientists to collaborate with each other better. But it looks like they've got their work cut out for them, judging by the email exchange between Tonegawa and Karpova, obtained by the Globe.

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The Book Meme

Jul 28 2006 Published by under Passing thoughts

Duane Smith at Abnormal Interests tagged me, and I loves me some books, so who am I to refuse to be mimetic?

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Friday Sprog Blogging: how the dinosaurs really went extinct.

Jul 28 2006 Published by under Kids and science

On the eve of the elder Free-Ride offspring's birthday, we ate at a restaurant where the kids' entrees were served with Dino Tots. Hilarity ensued.
Elder offspring: Please pass the ketchup. I'm going to make a tar-pit on my plate.

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How is your graduate education funded (or not)?

Jul 27 2006 Published by under Academia, Current events

Bitch Ph.D. links an interesting op-ed piece in the Washington Post about the challenges of being a single parent and paying for grad school. Given the academia/parenting discussion we've been having here, I figured this was another relevant issue to consider.
I've mentioned before that the standard practice in science Ph.D. programs in the U.S. seems to be that students get tuition plus a stipend that, depending on the local cost of living, ranges from barely-adequate to almost-comfortable. There are also a good number of U.S. Ph.D. programs in the humanities and social sciences that offer the same deal to their students, although the stipends are frequently less than those offered by science programs and the number of students admitted to such Ph.D. programs is smaller. (At the same university, my Ph.D. program in chemistry enrolled 56 students the year I entered, while my Ph.D. program in philosophy enrolled 7 of us.)
But, some of the comments on the Bitch Ph.D. post make it look like there are a good number of students in Ph.D, programs who are not getting this kind of support -- and thus, are either relying on parents or partners for financial assistance or are going into debt. Also, students in masters programs and professional degree programs (M.D., J.D., etc.) are usually presented with a bill rather than support.
How do these funding patterns (i.e., whether you have to come up with the money to go to school or whether the school covers the costs) affect the choices you've made (or are anticipating) about what kind of education and career path to pursue?

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