Colliding Worlds—A Rare Visit to the CERN Collider Gives a Biologist New Hope

LHC StefNearly 170 meters beneath CERN, ASCB Executive
Director Stefano Bertuzzi gets a rare look at the Large
Hadron Collider. Here he stands in front of the detector.
Photo Credit: ASCB
Last week, I was invited to speak about research and innovation at an Aspen Institute meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, held at the Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nucléaire, better known to the rest of the world by its acronym, CERN. Like all Aspen Institute meetings, this one flew at a high level, and, needless to say, it was an exhilarating experience.

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Watching Train Wrecks

trainIt’s full steam ahead for disaster or will the
brakes stop the runaway fiscal crisis train in time?
Photo by John Fleischman
Along with the future of U.S. research science, the train wreck metaphor has suffered terribly in recent days. Politicians and pundits had already twisted the metaphor during the federal government shutdown into a cliché about bad stuff happening that's someone else's fault. Now with the edge of the fiscal cliff in clear sight, the expression will likely be crushed in the wreckage.

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A Scientist-Senator with a Seat — and a Vote — for Life

italiansenator-smI recently spent some time on a family vacation in Italy. We have a tradition in our family; at the dinner table, each of us has to say the best and the worst thing that happened to him or her during the day. It is always a fun moment that kids love, and it allows adults to pause and reflect on the day gone by. During our vacation, as you may imagine, the topics were very light and it was always hard to find the worst thing because it was pretty much a state of bliss.

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The Perils of Reviewing Peer Review

As a recovering federal employee, I recognize that one of the biggest challenges the government faces in funding science is that of being truly Darwinian in a rapidly evolving scientific environment. Engineering natural selection doesn’t come easily to government funding agencies, which are often playing with one hand behind the back.

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Part II: The Sequelae of Women’s Unequal Burden of Family Care on Science Careers

In my last blog posting, I discussed the large differential that exists between men and women who intend to pursue an academic research career. I examined the data suggesting possible reasons and concluded that the most likely cause was the unequal sharing of the burden of family care where it falls much more heavily on women. In this posting, instead, I want to explore whether women and men who entered the scientific workforce as academics have the same chance of securing funding or whether there is a gender differential also at this level.

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Staple a green card to every STEM diploma?

It was a freezing morning in Washington, DC, when President Obama was sworn in last month in a ceremony that is always a powerful moment in our democracy. But for researchers the fact that the President's inaugural speech featured science so prominently soon brought a warm tingle to their toes. Elections can often end without decisive action. Indeed this last American election did not change the balance of power in any of the government branches, and only marginally altered the majorities in Congress. Yet the post-election flurry of bipartisan activity on immigration reform has been a pleasant surprise, especially because it involves scientists.

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