The Eyes of Texas

 The Eyes of Texas Sorry for the blogging interruption. I’m at the annual AAU (Association of American Universities) meeting of Senior Research Officers in Austin, Texas. UT Austin has a beautiful clock tower just up the street from our hotel. As pretty as it is I couldn’t help but think about the 1966 tower sniper (45 …

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A Professor meets the Alt-Right

A Professor meets the Alt-Right Thomas Main, Professor in the School of Public Affairs at Baruch College, is working on a book about the Alt-Right, to be published by Brookings. Below you can listen to a conversation between Main and prominent Alt-Right figure Mike Enoch (pseudonym). It’s an interesting encounter between academic political theory and …

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Jonathan Haidt and Tyler Cowen

Highly recommended: a great conversation (transcript) between Tyler Cowen and NYU psychology professor Johnathan Haidt. More Haidt. The transformation of the Academy and the two universities: COWEN: But is it at least possibly the case that we’re seeing the greatest threat to intellectual diversity in some of the areas which matter least, and when the …

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NIH peer review percentile scores are poorly predictive of grant productivity

The impacts of studies ranked in the 3rd to 20th percentile are more or less statistically indistinguishable. With current funding lines as low as 10th percentile, this means that many unfunded proposals are more meritorious than funded studies. NIH peer review percentile scores are poorly predictive of grant productivity DOI: 10.7554/eLife.13323.001 Peer review is widely …

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Struggles at Yale

I used to eat at Silliman College (one of Yale’s residential colleges) with other physics professors, mainly because it was the closest cafeteria where we could get a free lunch. The free lunches were meant to encourage us to mingle with undergraduates at the college. But I was one of few professors that actually enjoyed …

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Global Impact Initiative

MSU will be hiring over 100 new professors (beyond ordinary hiring such as retirement replacements), primarily in science and technology areas that address key global challenges. Priority areas include Computation, Advanced Engineering, Genomics, Plant Sciences, Food/Environment, Precision Medicine, and Advanced Physical Sciences. MSU total funding from the Department of Energy and the National Science Foundation …

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Deep Learning in Nature

When I travel I often carry a stack of issues of Nature and Science to read (and then discard) on the plane.The article below is a nice review of the current state of the art in deep neural networks. See earlier posts Neural Networks and Deep Learning 1 and 2, and Back to the Deep. …

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Failure. Eep!

Failure. . . It sucks, but everyone successful has failed at some point, so it’s useful to talk about how to “fail well”. I was recently asked to share my thoughts on failure with a mentee, and how to avoid/overcome it. This is what I mean by “failing well”. To “fail well”, I mean to fail at something …

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Economics hegemony

Sociologists decry the ascendance of economics in the social sciences. See also Venn diagram for economics, Confessions of an economist, and Summers and Shleifer: (Ellison, an anthropologist, was Dean of the Graduate School under Summers.) Over lunch not long after Summers took over the presidency in 2001, Ellison said, Summers suggested that some funds should be moved from a …

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Why lactation rooms matter

An important and timely blog post by Carrie Glenny at the University of Washington was published this week about the necessity of available lactation rooms at workplaces.  New mothers that choose to breastfeed need to pump milk every few hours, and this can be very hard to do in workplaces without private offices.  Take a …

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Two reflections on SCI FOO 2014

Two excellent blog posts on SCI FOO by Jacob Vanderplas (Astronomer and Data Scientist at the University of Washington) and Dominic Cummings (former director of strategy for the conservative party in the UK). Hacking Academia: Data Science and the University (Vanderplas) Almost a year ago, I wrote a post I called the Big Data Brain Drain, lamenting the …

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Speed limits and theoretical frameworks

Two of my colleagues, Josh Rosenberg and Punya Mishra, have recently blogged about the value of theories and frameworks, both using the technology integration framework TPACK as an example. I highly recommend both of their posts, and I’d like to spend a little time building on the conversation that they’ve started. In the 2006 Mishra & Koehler article that I (and 2000+ …

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A Celebratory Weekend

This past weekend marked MSU’s commencement ceremonies, with over 9,000 students across the university receiving degrees (including those graduating both this spring and summer).  There are a number of different ceremonies, and the College of Education was well represented across many of them. The weekend started on Friday morning when we held the college’s Doctoral …

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The Soul of the Research University

Basic research, whose applications may be decades in the future, is an uncertain investment for any single entity (e.g., corporation), even if it is an essential public good for the long term advancement of civilization. Consequently, basic research is mostly done at universities and government labs. Indeed, the vast majority of research in the US is led …

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Negotiation Tips for New Chairs

In a previous column I addressed the issues facing candidates who are negotiating their first faculty positions. The recent controversy over a job offer that was retracted when the candidate attempted to negotiate reminded me that the person sitting on the administrator’s side of the table may also be new to the process. This article advises new administrators on …

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Climate Change

When scientists talk about issues related to diversity or broadening participation in their disciplines, the focus is typically on supporting women, persons of color, or first-generation college students.  However, scientists who identify as part of the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community are also a minority within the scientific community and may, likewise, find …

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Pre-Tenure Leadership

As the dean of a college whose faculty includes many assistant professors, I am frequently asked for advice on how much service they should undertake. The twin horns of their dilemma? They know that service counts for less than teaching or research in annual and promotion evaluations … but they also know that demonstrating leadership …

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