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Is It Time for American Scientists to Panic?

 :: Posted by American Biotechnologist on 02-06-2014

According to the Science and Engineering Indicators 2014 Report released recently by the National Science Board, spending on academic research decreased significantly in 2012 compared to the period between 2009-2011 (source: academic r&d section of the report). The good news for us life scientists is that the government seems to value life sciences over the physical sciences and has continued to provide the largest portion of the funding pot to researchers in our field.

Furthermore, besides the growth in academic life science funding, lab space for academic R&D has continued to expand, although it has done so at a somewhat slower pace in 2012 compared to prior years. While this may sound like a good indicator of growth, it should be noted that spending on research equipment fell by 1.4% in 2012 which may have a significant impact on scientists’ abilities to perform their work.

Another worrying trend, indicated in the report, is the disproportionate increase in non-faculty positions, such as post-doctoral fellows, in comparison to faculty positions. Furthermore, fewer researchers were tenured in the first decade of the century compared to the late 90s. If we are to believe the law of supply and demand, this lopsidedness will eventually lead to unhappy scientists who are dejected by their inability to obtain faculty positions due to the overpopulation of qualified candidates for very few faculty positions.

Nonetheless, according to the Washington Post, all is not lost. Here are a list of reasons that Washington Post journalist, Lydia DePillis, thinks we should keep our heads held high:

  • the US continues to fund its academic R&D at levels that are much higher than the rest of the world
  • there are more undergraduate and graduate degrees in science and technology in the US compared to other nations
  • America earns more patents than anywhere else in the world
  • American collects more royalties compared to other countries
  • Most importantly-Americans represent the largest group of scientific publishers which is the ultimate indicator of success among academic researcher

So despite some worrying trends indicated above, the Post seems to indicate that we should consider ourselves lucky that we are living in America where our chance to become successful scientists is much greater than anywhere else in the world.

Would you agree?

Academic Research Explained

 :: Posted by American Biotechnologist on 02-05-2014

The next time someone asks you where you work, send them to this video.

Yes…there is a “part 2″

Why is a PhD So Hard?

 :: Posted by American Biotechnologist on 01-15-2014

So you’ve reached the top of the academic ladder and decided to do a PhD. You’ve performed at the top of your class for as long as you can remember. School has been a breeze. You are ready for the challenge.

So why are you finding the PhD program so darn difficult?

According to James Hayton from The Three Month Thesis, you are likely finding the PhD difficult because you are looking at it the wrong way.

Labs for Inspiration: Making a Difference with Bio-Rad’s Science Ambassador Program

 :: Posted by American Biotechnologist on 11-20-2013

In August of 2012, Bio-Rad launched the Science Ambassador program, a corporate responsibility initiative fostering hands-on life science education. The program links interested scientists with interested nearby teachers through a simple website, so that the scientists can visit classrooms to conduct an exciting, one-hour DNA extraction lab. Bio-Rad facilitates these connections and supplies the scientists with free Genes in a Bottle™ DNA kits for up to 36 students per class, as well as easy-to-follow lesson plans.

In under a year’s time, the program has already made significant progress. Nearly 300 scientists and 300 teachers across the U.S. and Canada have signed up. And, in the single most important measure, more than 5,500 students (plus one big city mayor) have had the program’s signature lab experience: an up-close and personal encounter with their own DNA.

Read more…

One Month Left to Win $5,000 from FASEB

 :: Posted by American Biotechnologist on 10-30-2013

What a great initiative by FASEB. You can win $5,000 while helping science at the same time. Enter the contest today!