Archive for: May, 2013

One week left to double your money through DonorsChoose!

May 31 2013 Published by under Potpourri


DonorsChoose has teamed up with Scientopia in an end-of-the-school-year drive to help raise $$$ for needy classrooms! For a limited time (until June 7), your donations of up to $100 will be matched if you enter SCIENTOPIA in the "match or gift code" field (See here for screenshot).

With one week left, I'm happy to report that 11 of the projects on the Scientopia Bloggers Giving Page have been completed. That means Mr. Mead will be able to purchase Zometools to help make learning geometry hands-on and fun! And it means Mrs. Mohlar can use math manipulatives to help students who struggle with math learn in non-traditional ways.

But there are plenty more projects that still need our help and don't think you're limited to the projects on our giving page--the SCIENTOPIA match code can be use for ANY project.

Let's do this y'all!


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Any advice for a Ph.D. student contemplating a leave of absence?

May 31 2013 Published by under Late-stage PhD student

Folks, I have a friend who just finished her first year of grad school and is wondering whether she rushed into this whole Ph.D. business (sound familiar?). Now she wants to take a leave of absence to get some "real world experience" before committing the next 5-6 years to finishing her Ph.D. I counseled her as best I could and told her to consider several things: 1) her department's policy wrt to taking a leave of absence, 2) how long of a leave did she want to take and whether "real world experience" jobs would hire her for that length of time, and 3) whether to do it before or after finishing her qualifying exam.


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Racial disparities in accruing debt during graduate school

May 09 2013 Published by under Issues in Science

According to a new report from the American Institutes for Research, black and Hispanic STEM PhD students are more likely to accrue larger amounts of debt during grad school than their non-underrepresented minority (URM) peers (read: white, Asian, & biracial). The Chronicle of Higher Education article is a little clunky in trying to summarize a report that compares debt incurred by graduate students in STEM programs versus those in social, behavioral, and economic (SBE) programs. I suggest reading the actual report itself.

Figure 5. Graduate Student Debt for STEM Phd Recipients by Race-Ethnicity and Gender- 2010

The report also found that these disparities existed regardless of the source of funding (institutional vs external) or the time it took students to complete their PhD studies.

Other factors that may be worth exploring include the distance that students travel to attend graduate school, spending patterns during graduate school, the family commitments of PhD students during graduate school (e.g., marital status and number of dependents), and salary expectations after leaving graduate school. If graduate students’ spending patterns during graduate school are related to the expected financial pay-off of their PhDs, then differences in graduate student debt may be related to differences in students’ inflated estimates of their future salaries.

I'd add socioeconomic and debt status upon entering grad school to that list. Identifying which factors contribute to debt could help us better position students to shoulder less of it.

As graduate programs make more of an effort to recruit underrep'ed minorities, however, I wonder whether these disparities will become greater or smaller...

6 responses so far

How is your PI training you to write grants?

May 07 2013 Published by under Late-stage PhD student

An interesting thing happened during last week's lab meeting. Rather than spending the first 30-40 minutes on mundane lab issues like who left the dishes in the sink or who's responsible for teaching the undergrad how to dissect Drosophila larvae, my PI held an impromptu Q&A session on grantsmanship. Being the old-blood, gray-beard, grad student that I am and having lived through (and helped in the process of) writing grants, progress reports, and renewals with my PI, I've heard her thoughts and experiences at various points during my grad school career. But, I could see that her advice on to how to craft each one of these things as well as cultivating a relationship with your program officer was enlightening to the newer students and foreign postdoc in the lab.

It got me thinking about if and how other PIs were directly preparing their trainees in successful grant writing.

7 responses so far

The problem with impersonating Jay-Z in blackface

May 01 2013 Published by under Asian Americanism

I've shared my thoughts on yellowface here on this blog before, so you'll probably have an idea of the level of my disappointment after watching this video of 4 Asian frat bros clowning out to Justin Timberlake's "Suit and Tie."

As reported in the OC Weekly:

The video was created as promotion for the fraternity's annual "installs" event, which celebrates the entrance of new brothers. It was posted on YouTube with the disclaimer: "No racism intended. All fun and laughter."

Yup, that's an Asian dude in blackface impersonating Jay-Z at around 0:54. Also, smart move attaching your names (if, in fact, those are your real names) to this "project." Good luck with that.

asian in blackface

Let's break this video down. If you're Asian and you want to portray JT, then no whiteface, no wig, nor any attempts at signaling "whiteness" to the viewer is required. Putting on a suit and tie and lip syncing the hook is enough. Impersonating Jay-Z, however, is a different story. You'd think dropping a line or two from Hova's verse would do the trick. Nope. Clearly, the answer is blackface. The result? JT gets to be identified as being a singer. Jay-Z, on the other hand, isn't afforded the same artist status. You see, the problem here with relying on blackface--aside from being overtly offensive-- is that it doesn't give Jay-Z his due as a rapper but instead, defines him first and foremost as being black.

jayz and jt

Justin Timberlake and Jay-Z at the 55th Annual GRAMMY Awards at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles on February 10th, 2013. Lester Cohen/WireImage

[h/t] OC Weekly



6 responses so far