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Mutation or Extinction?

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Mutation or Extinction?

Postby John Fetzer » Thu May 11, 2006 6:03 pm

Great topic, Dave! Academia does a poor job of training academics, so how can they do even that for industry. How many PIs do you know who expose their students and postdocs to the grant writing/ review process? How many involve their group in bidgetary issues, other than "Do not spend much because this grant is running low"?

Additionally, academia breeds a lone-wolf mentality where each professor is an autonomous overlord of her or his own research. Team building and teamwork are only learned by each person as a happenstance as on-the-job training. The hierarchal nature of most academic research groups teaches the young scientist to treat underlings poorly. Etc., etc.

I agree that academia is ossified. The schools operate on the Ivy League model developed in the late 1800s. It has just gotten more and more removed from industrial experiences.

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Mutation or Extinction?

Postby Carlysle Tancha » Thu May 11, 2006 7:36 pm

Good title for the thread. You know, I think that this thread actually describes the current trend of scientists' careers-- some are actually leaping forward with SBIRs and some remain in the past and this is ultimately damaging to the young scientists' careers. I am not advocating everyong to get on the fast track to business, but I do think that we are seeing a transition and new world order. We have seen the golden ages of physics, chemistry, and now, biology. So, business and science are merging... PMs need technical background and scientists need business knowledge. I think that this is going to explode in the next couple of years.
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Mutation or Extinction?

Postby P.C. » Thu May 11, 2006 10:15 pm

If academia does such a poor job of training for industry, industry can change the situation by injecting themselves more forcefully into academia or start there own training institutions. I doubt that they will because there are plenty of scientists and engineers being produced for free who can make the change.
"I have never let my schooling interfere with my education" - Mark Twain
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article

Postby Val » Fri May 12, 2006 6:46 am

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article

Postby Dave Jensen » Fri May 12, 2006 9:18 am

Val said, "If you published any article in a similar respectable magazine (e.g. "Science"), your message would be highly credible and would be taken up by a greater number of people."

Val, don't know what you're getting at here, but the AAAS publications of Next Wave and Science Careers are highly credible, and the readership numbers are huge.

Dave
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Mutation or Extinction?

Postby R.S.D. » Fri May 12, 2006 11:22 am

Nice title Dave. I think this is also true in academic life science given the current funding crisis. Many people (PIs, postdocs, students) are having difficulty adapting to the idea that they need to really plan and think about their careers rather than just about their science. There's an old-fashioned mentality in academic circles that you'll "earn" that tt job/industry position/new grant if you put in your years at the bench, working as a lone wolf on your own thing, do good science, and publish well. As forum regulars know, this ain't so. To successfully transition from postdoc to a tenture-track job or a comparable industry position, people need to have a bonafide career strategy, a professional network of friends and colleagues, great people skills, excellent presentation/speaking skills, and management skills. There is no formal training in any of these "soft skills" in academics. Plus, it's difficult to seek this training on your own since time you spend on career planning, networking, leadership training, etc is time away from the bench so it comes with a cost. I'm in San Diego and many of the other postdocs here transition to industry. I've observed that people that transition successfully typically have great soft skills and have actively taken the time to develop these skills.
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Mutation or Extinction?

Postby Glen » Fri May 12, 2006 1:35 pm

After reading the discussion, I wanted to interject that there are some university programs that are attempting to inject more industry into the academic science. One program that I was in as a graduate student was an NIH funded, interdisciplinary training grant that was intimately connected with industry. Each student was *required* to perform a 3-month industrial internship at the company of his/her choice, industry representatives were invited to the twice-yearly poster session/banquet, and some industry representatives were invited to give a talk at the weekly seminars. This program allowed graduate students to connect and network with and even experience industry. In this day and age when the walls between academia and research are crumbling, I think more schools should offer such a program.
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Programs mentioned above should welcomed, encouraged and extended

Postby P.C. » Fri May 12, 2006 1:45 pm

The above mentioned type of program is in the right direction. It needs to be in more about a 1 or 2 year range of time, and should be a general part of undergraduate and post graduate education.
Training as professors should be the very seldom occurance as opposed to training in industry with cooperative programs within and with strong consolidaton with industry.
"I have never let my schooling interfere with my education" - Mark Twain
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question for Rich

Postby Teresa » Fri May 12, 2006 2:27 pm

Rich,

As a newly hired tt prof in biology who will be teaching upper level labs I am intrigued by your description of a lab with different reporting formats. It seems like it would be beneficial to the students to have this exposure. As a person with only academic experience, however, I would feel inadequate to the task of teaching the more industrial style of report. Do you have a general outline of what a report to a supervisor and a report to VP looks like? I can see how the general things you mentioned like being concise and getting to the bottom line make sense, but I am sure there are other important details. I could email you offline if you prefer.
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question for Rich

Postby Rich Lemert » Fri May 12, 2006 3:58 pm

Teresa

From what I remember we never really came up with a distinction between these two reports that I was happy with, but I'd be delighted to 'brainstorm' with you. It would probably be better to take the discussion off-line though to avoid boring everyone else here. My email should be active for this post, so feel free to contact me.
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