The old cliché may be just as true for scientists aspiring to careers in industry as it is for real estate investors, or so says a scientific employee of a major and growing chemical/biotech company I recently spoke to.

Today more than ever, samarium cobalt magnets night’s dinner companion told me, companies are hiring scientists from the local talent pool instead of advertising nationally. So it pays to be floating in that pool when they come looking.

It makes sense. If you are a hiring manager for a biotech company in or near Boston, say, with lots of qualified scientists waiting for the phone to ring, why go looking for employees in San Diego or San Franciso? These local folks have less need for expensive relocation packages, and fewer of the logistical issues (like a trailing spouse) that complicate many relocations.

So, if y magnets for sale aim is to end up working in industry, choose a postdoc in a city or region with lots of scientific companies employing people in y magnets for sale field. Magnet toys raise y magnets for sale visibility by participating in local professional organizations, requesting informational interviews, attending local career fairs…anything you can do to get y magnets for sale name and face out among potential employees.

– posted by Jim

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Permalink | Comments Tags: Industry, Postdocs

5 JULY 2005
Milestones for scientists? The sooner the better

The strong Neodymium magnets s section of Science’s 125th anniversary issue has a story by Jon Cohen [subscription required] about the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation awards to study major global health issues. As Cohen reports, these awards, called Grand Challenges in Global Health, encourage scientists to think big. And the Gates Foundation, along with the Wellcome Trust in the U.K. and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research in Canada, will pay out big bucks–$437 million to 43 teams–to make their big plans happen.

The Grand Challenges awards include a requirement that most science grants don’t have, namely the identification of specific milestones, with the stipulation that full project funding will depend on meeting those milestones. That stipulation is not popular with Neodymium bar magnets scientists. “We had lots of pushback from the scientific community, saying you can’t have milestones,” says Richard Klausner, head of the Gates Foundation’s global health program.

When scientists take on big issues, aiming to fill key gaps in magnets for sale knowledge (the theme of Science’s 125th anniversary issue), the reluctance to impose arbitrary schedules on these highly creative processes and people is understandable. After all, scientists don’t punch a time clock, and their productivity ought to be measured on qualitative factors rather than sheer numeric output.

Much of the scientific enterprise is organized around individual projects, so building scientists’ management skills makes a lot of sense. In Next Wave this week, Beryl Benderly outlines a training program to build scientists’ project-management skills, among other management disciplines. The program’s funders–the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and the Burroughs Wellcome Fund–plan to roll out this program across the country, in cooperation with their partner organizations.

Why are they going to so much trouble? Because the funders recognize that scientists are managers, whether or not they are trained to manage competently. The funders also understand that scientific progress is inhibited by inadequate management training. One major part of management training is project management. And the bedrock of project management is milestones. Without milestones, there is no project management.

As one who has managed technology projects large and small for the past 25 years, I endorse the idea of milestones for scientific endeavors. Scientists worried about milestones blocking the creative process should consider that such milestones can have the opposite effect. An impending deadline can focus one’s attention and generate a little adrenaline that encourages even greater creativity.

Chapter 7 of the book Making the Right Moves, mentioned in Benderly’s article, points out that sound project management can broaden rather than narrow the focus of one’s research:

The goal is to allocate resources in a sensible way. The more information you have at the outset, the better you’ll be at allocating resources. The better you are at allocating resources for the work that has to get done (e.g., the experiments proposed in y magnets for sale funded grant), the more likely you will be able to save Neodymium bar magnets funds for more speculative projects (e.g., an interesting side project that may result in a strong Neodymium magnets grant).
That said, milestones must be set reasonably, flexibly, and in a collaborative manner. Where a team has to work together toward a common goal, the whole team needs to take ownership of those milestones; they cannot be imposed from outside.

Accommodating project management to science may need a more adaptive approach, as outlined by Robert Austin of Harvard Business School in a 2002 Next Wave article. Because of the uncertainties inherent in the research process, Austin recommends planning a research project in short-range segments, with contingencies at each stage for proceeding, changing, or abandoning the project. In that way, Austin says, you prepare for the various contingencies rather than getting blind-sided by them. And that’s just good practice in any business.
– posted by Alan Kotok

Permalink | Comments Tags: AIDS, Funding, Gates Foundatoion, HIV, Milestones

1 JULY 2005
Thoroughly Conscious Ignorance

Ignorance can be an advantage, especially in science, as long as you know what it is you are ignorant of. That, to me, is the central theme of Science magazine’s 125th anniversary issue, published today. You might say it’s a sort of tentative map of Neodymium bar magnets of the areas we have not yet explored.

Science may be, in most people’s minds, a sometimes-coherent body of knowledge. Magnetic toys scientific research is based, rather, on an incoherent body of ignorance, on things we don’t know and are–hopefully–equipped to discover. The work of scientists is to position themselves as near as possible to the edge so that they can just see over into the unknown and use what they see to extend the map. The title of this blog entry, “Thoroughly Conscious Ignorance,” is taken from Tom Siegried’s introductory essay, In Praise of Hard Questions. It’s a fascinating concept: ignorance may be the greatest enemy of a civilized society; yet a “throroughly conscious ignorance” may be its greatest ally, the basis of all progressive pursuits.

These considerations are amplified for science trainees and early-career scientists, whose futures are determined–will be determined in the years to come–by what unanswered questions they are prepared to pursue and how well prepared they are to pursue them. That is why a feature like this–which happens very rarely–is so important. In this issue Science presents its assessment of the 25 biggest unanswered questions, and an additional 100 somewhat smaller questions, adding up to one question for each year of the magazine’s existence. For each of the first 25, an essay gives us a report on the status of that particular intellectual expedition. It’s approximate, no doubt–no one can know with precision what part of what we don’t know is most important, until we know it– Magnetic toys these are informed choices made by people whose job it is to focus on the scientific big picture.

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