I once asked Robert McEliece whether he would mentor me. I told him I liked combinatorics and it seemed relevant for EE. He explained that "you find an interesting problem and then use the relevant tools, not the other way around." Formative experience. https://t.co/3IDTgdSJsF
— Lior Pachter (@lpachter) May 13, 2019
A biologist at Harvard was chatting with a colleague about a mentor who pushed him to do harder math problems. It turns out the colleague had the same mentor — and so did many others.
George Berzsenyi is a retired math professor living in Milwaukee County. Most people have never heard of him.
But Berzsenyi has had a remarkable impact on American science and mathematics. He has mentored thousands of high school students, including some who became among the best mathematicians and scientists in the country.
I also find myself thinking, yet again, what was it about the early 1900’s in Hungary that they turned out, not even so many great scientists, but so many fantastic mathematicians? What were they doing right that we seem to be missing now? Can it be replicated? Was it cultural? Was it a certain type of teaching method? Simple expectations?
I really enjoyed teaching in Porto last week. It was like having a week-long series of CodeBar sessions.
The Postdoctoral Experience Revisited builds on the 2000 report Enhancing the Postdoctoral Experience for Scientists and Engineers. That ground-breaking report assessed the postdoctoral experience and provided principles, action points, and recommendations to enhance that experience. Since the publication of the 2000 report, the postdoctoral landscape has changed considerably. The percentage of PhDs who pursue postdoctoral training is growing steadily and spreading from the biomedical and physical sciences to engineering and the social sciences. The average length of time spent in postdoctoral positions seems to be increasing. The Postdoctoral Experience Revisited reexamines postdoctoral programs in the United States, focusing on how postdocs are being guided and managed, how institutional practices have changed, and what happens to postdocs after they complete their programs. This book explores important changes that have occurred in postdoctoral practices and the research ecosystem and assesses how well current practices meet the needs of these fledgling scientists and engineers and of the research enterprise. The Postdoctoral Experience Revisited takes a fresh look at current postdoctoral fellows - how many there are, where they are working, in what fields, and for how many years. This book makes recommendations to improve aspects of programs - postdoctoral period of service, title and role, career development, compensation and benefits, and mentoring. Current data on demographics, career aspirations, and career outcomes for postdocs are limited. This report makes the case for better data collection by research institution and data sharing. A larger goal of this study is not only to propose ways to make the postdoctoral system better for the postdoctoral researchers themselves but also to better understand the role that postdoctoral training plays in the research enterprise. It is also to ask whether there are alternative ways to satisfy some of the research and career development needs of postdoctoral researchers that are now being met with several years of advanced training. Postdoctoral researchers are the future of the research enterprise. The discussion and recommendations of The Postdoctoral Experience Revisited will stimulate action toward clarifying the role of postdoctoral researchers and improving their status and experience.
The National Academy of Sciences has published a (free) book: The Postdoctoral Experience (Revisited) discussing where we’re at and some ideas for a way forward.
Most might agree that our educational system is far less than ideal, but few pay attention to significant problems at the highest levels of academia which are holding back a great deal of our national “innovation machinery”. The National Academy of Sciences has published a (free) book: The Postdoctoral Experience (Revisited) discussing where we’re at and some ideas for a way forward. There are some interesting ideas here, but we’ve still got a long way to go.