ASCB Kaluza Prize Reflects ASCB’s Concern that Young Scientists Are Now a Vulnerable Population

lab equipment 2010The ASCB Kaluza Prize recognizes significant research
achievement by early career scientists who still pursue
excellence amidst economic uncertainties and
political shortsightedness. ASCB Photo.
In the midst of the frantic preparations here at the national office for the Annual Meeting and the ASCB Council, plus end-of-year budgeting and all the rest just around the corner, I want to pause to salute the winners of the ASCB Kaluza Prize supported by Beckman Coulter for outstanding graduate student research. The news of the ASCB Kaluza winner and nine additional ASCB Beckman Coulter Distinguished Graduate Student Achievement travel awards broke today in the ASCB Post. It is a significant moment for our Society as we have made the training of young scientists a priority.


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.


Women’s Unequal Share of Family Care is the Unmentionable Elephant in Unequal Science Careers

The nefarious impact of biomedical research budget cuts on the next generation of scientists has become a familiar theme of this blog. We are gingerly shooting ourselves in the foot! Recently, I found yet more chilling evidence in a report, issued by the Royal Society of Chemistry in the UK,1 which showed how these ill-conceived budget policies will affect young scientists, especially young women. For better or worse, that’s my theme again in this blog post.


Beefing Up Value for Young Scientists

There was a famous TV commercial in the ‘80s featuring a fierce old woman holding a gigantic fluffy bun wrapped around a miniscule hamburger patty. “Where’s the beef?” rasped the woman as she probed into the deceptive bun. The expression has become a proxy for addressing “value proposition,” not only in important fast food matters, but also more broadly. It’s a legitimate question to ask professional societies as well. Where’s the beef? Why should I join? What do I get for my membership? As Executive Director of one of the nation’s largest professional scientific societies, ASCB, I remind myself that everything that we do must offer members a precise and specific value. This month, ASCB has embarked on a new initiative aimed at our younger members. So I must open the bun and look inside.


A Night at the Federal Budgetary Opera

We have not seen a "normal" federal budget process in Washington in years. Instead we have substituted what could be the perfect libretto for a grand opera featuring tenors, baritones and sopranos, singing arias of high drama that soar through crisis after crisis with last second rescues, magic “continuing” resolutions that last forever, and a “curse” in which the federal government is doomed to wander from one near shutdown to the next. One element in this libretto that had not changed until this year was the timing of the President’s budget, which even in these normal/abnormal times was presented to Congress the first week of February.  The presidential budget is considered the statement of the Executive Branch about where it will put emphasis in the upcoming year. The President’s budget is known inside the Beltway as dead on arrival, since Congress is quick to remind the President of the United States that the Legislative Branch, not the President, holds the purse strings. Members of Congress have started orchestrating their own budget, returned to their own priorities, and featuring an entertaining legislative minuet.


The Researcher Who Never Was: Sequestration Blues-Part Two

I woke up in New Orleans on March 1, the first day of the so-called sequestration. Like most Americans who found themselves outside the Washington Beltway on "S-Day," I woke up to no news and few visible differences. Yet I could feel great political and economic wheels grinding away at the base of American research science. S-Day forced me to think about the future for the most vulnerable in science, students and early-career researchers.


The Researcher Who Never Was: Sequestration Blues-Part One

So it happened. I woke up on March 1 in a hotel room in New Orleans, and everything was eerily quiet. Outside, it was the usual silent rush hour of barges, slowly being pushed up the Mississippi River. Inside, there was only the occasional slammed door down the hallway, probably an unfortunate hotel guest who needed to catch an early flight. Despite the arrival of the draconian automatic government spending cuts known as sequestration, the rotation of the earth had not come to a grinding halt.


The Challenge and the Power of Diversity

When I made my decision a few months ago to join ASCB as its new Executive Director, I was particularly impressed by the Society's long tradition of breaking glass ceilings. From its earliest days, ASCB struggled to promote diversity in the life sciences. The modern embodiment of that commitment is our very active and influential Minorities Affairs Committee (MAC). There are no doubts that issues about minorities, race, and diversity are among the most polarizing topics in American society that are too often swept under the rug for fear of giving offense or in the desire to avoid controversy. This is why I am so glad that at ASCB we can tackle these complex issues, and work to find solutions to ensure the best workforce possible in cell biology. This is an ambitious, challenging, and broad goal, and one too important to be brushed aside.

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