Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Career paths for PhD graduates

There's a lot of discussion about the career paths open to Irish PhD graduates - with some commentators arguing that there isn't actually much of a "path" available at all with people being forced into negative feedback loops of short term PostDoc contracts.

That's why this report that's just been released on PhDs going into business and industry is particularly interesting. It's been put together by the Advisory Council for Science, Technology and Innovation (ACSTI) - and some of their headline recommendations seem to make a lot of sense...
  • Structured PhD programmes should embody the “Inverted T” shaped model whereby they develop PhD students’ understanding of the discipline as well as in-depth knowledge of research approaches, techniques and methods which are critical to the value of PhDs for enterprise.
  • A user-friendly, centralised system should be developed to allow employers or potential employers to access information on the number of PhD students in the pipeline and the broad theme of the research
  • Ireland should develop an Enterprise PhD programme building on the model of the DanishIndustrial PhD programme whereby an employee earns a PhD based on research relevant to their company.
These suggestions - if implemented - wouldn't change much for people who have a PhD already, but for those who are about to embark on the rollercoaster that is postgraduate research they might just make the whole thing that little bit more worthwhile...

What do you think? E-mail me or comment to let me know...

Monday, December 14, 2009

Climategate, Hopenhagen and the Meedja

With the "Hopenhagen" climate change summit in full swing, and our own Minister John Gormley now in Copenhagen, I've found it really interesting to go through some of the leaked "Climategate" e-mails on-line.

They make pretty compelling reading if you're into that kind of thing, and there's a really strong editorial in SciDev.Net about the "Lessons about science from 'Climategate'" by David Dickson (Director of SciDev.Net). He argues that:

"The hacked emails of climate researchers offer an opportunity to show how science is really done — instead of a rearguard defence of scientific 'objectivity'."
... and he says ...
"The media, too, must improve its understanding and description of science. It often demands a black-and-white picture of scientific evidence, rather than a more nuanced description based on the social nature of scientific inquiry. This undervalues the true robustness of the scientific process and undermines the strength of political decisions based on conclusions emerging from it."

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Online science talks

It was great to film the Science Week 2009 lecture series for Discover Science & Engineering (DSE) this year - here's a trailer for them, and have a look at the DSE YouTube channel for the full length videos...

...and here's a summary about them too...
Science Week Lecture Series 2009
To celebrate Science Week 2009 Discover Science & Engineering (DSE), in association with the Science Gallery, brought together a group of lectures. They included Damini Kumar, European Ambassador for Creativity and Innovation, Donagh O'Mahony from the Tyndall National Institute discussing the logistics of space exploration, Dr. Cian O Mathúna, a CLARITY Principal Investigator, talked about the world of sensors and finally a talk on behalf of Sustainable Energy Ireland (SEI) from UCD students on Energy the challenges and opportunities.