Lifting the curtain on graduate admissions Driving Force July 29, 2014 Among the mysteries preserved by American universities is the process of review and selection of candidates for admission to graduate programs. A new study of how this process unfolds in 12 fields (including three STEM disciplines) within three highly-competitive research universities affords us a rare glimpse of—and raises red flags about—faculty committee dynamics in the interpretation of evaluative criteria. Bluntly put, two stages of review yield two categories of candidates, systematically disadvantaging one. 5 reasons to leave the lab and go on vacation 5 reasons to leave the lab and go on vacation Driving Force July 24, 2014 As a group, scientists are notorious workaholics. Thanks to a surplus of responsibilities—applying for grants, writing manuscripts, reviewing papers, mentoring, and maybe even doing experiments—it is often hard to get enough sleep each night, never mind fitting in a true vacation. But taking a considerable break might actually be the ticket to being a better scientist. Here are five reasons to make a break from the lab for a few days (or even a week or two). Silicon Valley workplace biases mirror sins of the past Driving Force July 8, 2014 Surprise! Silicon Valley’s tech industry is your father’s Chevrolet after all. You would not have guessed that another generation of innovators would replicate the white- and male-dominated workforce—top to bottom—that has characterized science and engineering in the U.S. for decades.  Can female LEGO figures attract more girls to science? Can female LEGO figures attract more girls to science? Driving Force June 11, 2014 LEGO, the famous building-block toy company, recently made an exciting announcement. They will soon release a new LEGO set called ‘Research Institute,’ which will contain all-female scientist minifigures—an astronomer, paleontologist and chemist—with accompanying science props. To LEGO, releasing this set will mean getting more money from science-obsessed collectors, but this move may have even broader ramifications. By explicitly providing girls with examples of female scientists as toys, LEGO could be planting seeds for future career choices. Science policy fellows: Ripples outside the Beltway Capitol Connection June 6, 2014 The AAAS Science & Technology Policy Fellowships Program recently was honored for “exemplary public service in promoting public understanding of science and engineering.” In its citation, the National Science Board noted that AAAS has given “over 2,500 scientists and engineers the opportunity to work in congressional offices or with federal agencies, learning about policymaking and contributing their skill Should I stay or go? Faculty perceptions of institutional climate Driving Force May 20, 2014 I have occasionally used this column to report on lessons derived from studies I personally conducted on university campuses in recent years. Typically, these reports feature interventions that influence student choices, experiences and outcomes in STEM. With the Supreme Court ruling in Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action (Michigan) still fresh, it is timely to present findings from a faculty study I helped to facilitate at a flagship campus in the Southeast (which I refer to below as “SE”). Nonacademic careers for STEM Ph.D.s differ by race and gender, study shows Driving Force May 13, 2014 More than half of people with doctorates in science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM) fields go on to have nonacademic careers. What types of jobs do these STEM-degree holders end up having? And are there gender and/or race differences in these jobs? A recent report provides some interesting answers to these questions. Describing and Measuring STEM Teaching Practices Describing and Measuring STEM Teaching Practices Download April 18, 2014 This new book "Describing and Measuring STEM Teaching Practices," is the result of a AAAS/NSF meeting that drew participants from nearly 50 institutions to identify tools and techniques that can be used in describing teaching practices. It discusses five techniques that individuals or organizations can use to measure STEM teaching: faculty and student surveys, interviews, classroom observations and teaching portfolios. The best descriptions of STEM teaching typically involve the use of multiple techniques, the book concludes. Defying disciplinary categories: A new career type? Driving Force April 23, 2014 "I write fiction and I'm told it's autobiographical, I write autobiography and I'm told it's fiction, so since I'm so dim and they're so smart, let them decide what it is or what it isn't."—Philip Roth, Deception, 1997. Getting Published: Finding collaborators, submitting papers, and the review process Podcast January 00, 1970 Getting published is one of the critical milestones in any research career. Whether you’re submitting to peer-reviewed journals, or open-access titles, your ability to attract funding, get tenure, or even land an interview at a biotech firm, can depend on what you have published. With so much at stake, it’s critical to understand the ins-and-outs of the publishing process.