Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Wanted: Science Students

I was talking to a colleague the other day about getting some graduate students in his lab. He's a new faculty member at a rather large, very nice public university. He has some funding, is a great researcher, very personable - but doesn't have any students.

Now, going to graduate school (in science) is a bit of a random shuffle. It's not like Business grad school where you're taking more of the same classes, except it's harder and fast-paced. Science is different because of the demands of independent research, you just don't "enroll somewhere". It's a process. You have to come in half-way knowing Whay you want to do and How to do it. It's all about the networks -- who recommended you and why do want to work with this professor? But his angst was -how to find students and at least make a pitch to them.

I thought, if I had the academic position of my dreams - at ann undergrad college - I sure could address his need. I want to teach undergrads and lead small teams of them in mini-research projects. I would be able to train them in basic science research, help them figure how things are done, encourage them to consider grad school - even introduce them to my colleagues (whom I went to grad school with) and get them in some pretty prestigious labs. In other words, I'd be the head of a prep school for future scientists. And considering my personal enthusiasm for reaching out to students of color, my well-prepared, highly-recommended students would be gems in ANY science grad school department.

Then I thought, "Why aren't colleges scouting academic talent the way athletic departments are doing?" The arena exists...There are AP tests, magnet schools, and science & engineering competitions (e.g. NSBE and Intel) that point out who the brightest science and math high school scholars are. Why aren't College Professors trolling around the local school districts and state science fair competitions? We're just completely sleeping on some potentionally great talent... Maybe then we won't be wondering - Where are the grad students?

6 comments:

Jazzy said...

Excellent idea, if these students were actively recruited to join a school with an offer of a scholarship we might actually see the reversal in out decline in these areas compared to other countries.

Torrance Stephens - All-Mi-T said...

we need as many scientist as we can get - im leaving academia

The Urban Scientist said...

Sorry to hear you say that Torrance. There are so FEW scientists of color, it creates a false comprehension of who scientists are and where they come from.

Maybe some adjuncting in the future?

Sandra Porter said...

Hey SES: where is he? why don't we help him out by advertising for students via our blogs?

The Urban Scientist said...

Thanks Sandra. He's in Oklahomu, but hasn't been of "officially" seated in his new position.

But yours is a GREAT idea! Posting ads for grad students on our science blogs.

Though my background is life science, I'm absolutely willing to post student opportunties in ANY STEM field. I'll start on it. I'll details from him and post it.

Also, glad to learn about your blog.

Sandra Porter said...

Thanks UB!

I always say, if we have opportunities to do good things with our blogs, let's do it!

Let me know if I can help.