Monday, April 26, 2010

Need more scientists? I call bullshit

The CEO of Xerox says the state of math and science education in the US is "very, very, very poor." And she says that we need to graduate more scientists.


First, the US has the best science and math education system in the world at the graduate level, as judged by *science productivity. Efficient? Maybe not. Ideally suited for training scientists for what they'll actually do for the rest of their lives? Maybe not. But producing scientific publications? Hell yes.

And does the US need more scientists? Maybe my perspective is skewed, being a biophysics Ph.D. student with a physicist for a husband, and currently living in Silicon Valley. But I know too many excellent scientists without jobs to lend any credence whatsoever to the statement that we need more scientists. My husband's company puts out job ads looking for an extremely specific type of physicist, and gets 500+ applications. Who wants more scientists? CEO's of large tech-based companies want more scientist so more people compete for their job openings, so the companies can hire better scientists for worse working conditions. Personally, that's not what I want.

Xerox's CEO says we graduate lots of lawyers in the US, but not enough scientists. Well, maybe we could try paying scientist better. We're in school for several years longer than lawyers, and we pull similarly long hours, but our salaries tend to be **<2/3of lawyers salaries. And I know our graduate education is paid for and lawyers' educations are not, but the fact that they graduate and start making 6 figures at age 25 and we graduate at age 28+ more than makes up for their education costs.

More scientists? No thank you. Better valued and better treated scientists? Yes, please.

*ISI Web of Knowledge search of the Science Citation Index Expanded,
Articles only, Year to date 2010 publications
1. USA - 83,356
2. Peoples R China - 39,613
3. Germany - 23,403

**Total compensation in US, base salary + bonuses + benefits (from
Attorney I - $138k
Attorney II - 173k
Attorney III - 218k

Scientist I Biotech - $120k
Scientist II Biotech - 143k
Scientist III Biotech - 163k

Postdoctoral Scientist - $63k
Assistant Professor - Chemistry - 74k
Associate Professor - Chemistry - 88k

Average attorney salary = $176k
Average scientist salary = $108.5k

Friday, April 9, 2010

Stupid, Stupid Graduate School

If only it weren't way too late for me, I think I would read this:

Thursday, April 8, 2010

On Publishing

Excellent summary of pros and cons of publishing various types of papers.