Category Archives: Science Careers

Asking the Public for Money

Postdoctoral research fellow David Kipping has often seen other astronomers don smart jackets when attending meetings or giving presentations, especially when they knew that funding powers-that-be would also be there. So before heading to one of his science presentations last year, Kipping pulled on a smart jacket. His next moves, however, were less conventional. He climbed the stairs to the roof of the Perkins building at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, pointed his laptop’s video camera at himself and, with the center’s 9-inch Clark telescope dome in the background, made a science sales pitch directly to the public. The video, which appears on YouTube and on the science crowd-funding Web site Petridish.org, raised $12,247. The pitch was to buy and install a small supercomputer, which he would name for the biggest donor, to speed up data processing on a search for moons in other solar systems.

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How To Avoid Retirement

When biochemist Anthony Norman earned tenure at the University of California (UC), Riverside, he thought he’d never have to apply for a job again. But that was before he retired.

Norman, a professor emeritus, continues to run the laboratory he started in 1963. But he recently became a professor of the Graduate Division, a title reserved for retirees who “are fully engaged in research and/or other departmental and campus activities,” his new appointment letter says. Norman, who will draw his pension instead of a salary, believes the new position will help his post-retirement research career. “It used to be that when you retired your title became X emeritus. That doesn’t help you when you write up a grant application,” Norman says. In contrast to professor emeritus, professors of the Graduate Division prove their value every 3 years by passing the same departmental merit review used to grant pay raises to regular faculty members. “We have to jump through the same hoops as everyone else,” he says.

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Matching Scientists with Adventurers

Gregg Treinish, a man whose hiking credentials include a stroll along most of the Andes, took part in the Appalachian Trail Days event last weekend with an unusual sense of purpose. On a previous hike, he “felt selfish and … realized that was a shared feeling amongst hikers and mountaineers,” Treinish says.  That feeling, together with a stint studying wildlife biology at Montana State University, gave him an original idea: to offer adventurers the opportunity to share with scientists something that even those who travel light routinely take with them on their adventures: their eyes and ears. Now, wherever he goes, Treinish recruits fellow adventurers for his new organization, Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation (ASC). Continue reading

Collaborating with Citizen Scientists

Climbing one of the world’s biggest granite walls is different from climbing trees, as National Park Service botanist Martin Hutten discovered while dangling from a cliff in the spray of Vernal Falls high above the Yosemite Valley. Hutten apprenticed in the logging industry before he started graduate school, so he new how to climb trees. “I could trust myself to a rope,” he recalls, “but I’d definitely never hung off a cliff or collected [samples] from a cliff.”

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