Things you should know

Where do all the post docs go?

full_07302014-rathboneAs someone who is constantly looking for data on the next step, I found this article about why it’s hard to track post-docs’ career trajectories interesting and enlightening. The article also gives some information about where the known post-docs end up, and links to further information.

Virtual computer lab

Virtual computer lab

Beth: So this is a thing you can use: Virtual computer lab

Andrea: WHAT?!?!!! SPSS


Andrea: freaking MATLAB

… yeah so apparently we, as students, can access a bunch of rad computer programs.


Writing to a Non-Scientific Audience

Get it? Because it's a printing press!

A grad student decides between mass media and academic publishing.

Often when I find an article I want to link to from the NeuroBlog, I find out there is already a lively discussion on the topic taking place among other web publications.  This most recently happened to me after reading Dr. Sarah Kendzior’s article on academics publishing for non-academic audiences.  Following this, Nicholas Kristoff wrote his rather inflammatory piece which was followed by a subsequent response in the New Yorker.

I would sum the discussion as: academic writing is rarely accessible to the public audience, and while communication to non-scientists has advantages for both the writer and the readers, few academics are able to find time for such publications given the demands of academia.

Obviously, since I’m writing this in the Neuroblog, I see some advantage to communicating outside of traditional scientific journals.  I’d be very interested to hear how/if others find ways to communicate their research to the public?  Do folks use twitter or their personal blogs? Alternately, whose non-academic publications do you follow?

Center for Neuroscience’s 20th Anniversary

20th AnniversaryThe UC Davis Center for Neuroscience (CNS)  celebrated two decades of innovation and discovery on Friday, February 28, 2014.

Representing 13 academic departments and 5 Schools and Colleges, CNS faculty are one of the most interdisciplinary and internationally recognized teams of neuroscientists. Faculty seek to understand the fundamental basis of brain function, from molecular mechanisms to neuronal circuits and cognitive processing. Prestigious awards for their seminal contributions include the John D. and Catherine D. MacArthur Award, more than six Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship Awards, two U.S. Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers, and several Early Career and Lifetime Career Awards in international societies.

Founded in the early 1990s under the direction of Dean of the Division of Biological Sciences, Robert D. Grey and a small cadre of ambitious faculty neurobiologists, the Center for Neuroscience has enjoyed three distinct phases of growth under the directorships of Drs. Michael Gazzaniga, Leo Chalupa, and Edward Jones. Specific advances of Center for Neuroscience faculty in recent years include new insights into electrical and biochemical signaling, synaptic development, sensory processing, and memory, and how these processes sometimes break down.

NIH’s BEST program

yes this is a Tina Turner reference

Simply the BEST

Often when I read a Science Careers article I end up rolling my eyes and thinking “yeah, already know that”. So I get a little excited when I read something brand new.

Like did you know that UCD got a special new grant from the NIH? The Broadening Experiences in Scientific Training (BEST) award program aims at giving universities additional funds to help trainees prepare for non-tenure track positions. Here is the relevant text from the article, link here.

“Another BEST award recipient is the University of California (UC), Davis, which will partner with Science Translational Medicine (Sci TM) to provide editorial experiences for students. Since 2009, the journal has recruited experienced postdocs and early-career principal investigators as editorial advisers, says Kelly LaMarco, senior editor at Sci TM. The affiliation with the journal has helped scientists find academic jobs, she says. Now the journal is setting up an internship program designed to help UC Davis graduate students transition into jobs as journal editors. “The interns would get experience in a lot of different areas of publishing: communication, peer review, soliciting articles, identifying what to cover and from what angle, editing, writing. We want them to have a mature view of the field,” LaMarco says.”

If anyone finds out more about the program, please share the details.

At PLOS, Open access = Data access

As of March 1, PLOS is making a big step forward into the open access wilderness. It will require all of its authors to make all data underlying the findings in their manuscript fully available to the public. The details and rationale can be found here.

It is also worth noting that “We encourage you to contact us collectively at; feedback via Twitter and other sources will also be monitored. You may also contact individual PLOS journals directly.”


Access to Data


UCD resources

Today Joseph Na put together a beautiful video of our UC Davis campus.
What better to announce a new page on the site: a list of links for resources at UC Davis. Hope they prove to be helpful!

Video’s creator can be found here:

Neuroscience is officially the coolest

Dr. Sally Rockey is NIH’s Deputy Director of Extramural Research and a blogger.
On her blog “Rock Talk” she highlights trends in how NIH spends it’s money and makes it’s decisions.

Yesterday’s post had a focus on trainees and fellows. Turns out they have data on the number of PhDs being awarded in the fields of study relevant to the NIH. Guess which field represents the red line rising above the others….

Find out more at the article: What’s trending in PhD Fields of Study for NIH Trainees and Fellow


Symposium Bechdel Test

The issues faced by women in science is a topic worthy of a much longer and more thorough post.  For those of you who haven’t seen recent press on the issue I would direct you to the increasingly famous PNAS paper and New York Times piece.  Another specific issue receiving press recently, is the representation of women at conferences and symposia (one resource here: Fewer invited talks by women in evolutionary biology symposia).

I recently came across a neat little idea for assessing the gender balance at events like these (A Bechdel test for scientific workshops).  To summarize for those who aren’t as link-follow-happy as I am, the idea is based on the Bechdel test.  The original Bechdel test was written as a test for movies or TV shows.  It asks, does the movie:

  1. Have at least two women in it with names
  2. Who talk to each other
  3. About something other than a man

Cute and useful (though also arguably often misused, but that’s a side point).  The featured link proposes an analogous test for scientific events.  It asks if the event has:

  1. At least two female invited speakers,
  2. Who are asked questions by female audience members
  3. About their research

Neat, huh?  I’m not sure ultimately how much information this test will provide, since there are certainly a wide assortment of reasons any of the criteria won’t be met, but I’m very curious to see how it will play out at SfN this year.