The first edition of the Diversity in Science Blog Carnival is up at Urban Science Adventures! blog, hosted by DNLee. This inaugural edition focuses on people of the African diaspora in honor of the US Black History Month celebrations.
I got a little excited about this Carnival, as you’ve noticed DearReaders.
But there are a wealth of interesting blog posts, covering a broad swath of both semi-historical figures and current inspirational ass kickers. So do yourself a favor. Go Read.

Alex Palazzo of The Daily Transcript beat me to this one but the NYT has an article up on the NIH and the stimulus package.
One key bit Alex highlighted is from NIH Acting Director Raynard Kington:

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A member of the commentariat contacted me offblog to propose an interesting topic for discussion. The opening salvo runs as follows (details edited for plausible deniability):

We’ve all talked a lot about sacrifices we make to have the career we want in academic science. With the recent housing crisis though, the mobility we need to seek positions on the national job market (don’t you always say, don’t restrict yourself geographically?), is getting really costly. For example, for us to sell our house & move, we would lose real money, paid to the bank to resolve our mortgage, not paper value. It would be impossible for us to buy in another market until we saved for another several years. Anyway, we could calculate salary upgrades, renting, etc etc, that main question is, the real estate market means putting an actual number on the question, how much is that TT job worth to you? $10k? $50k?

How much indeed, DearReader?

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No Capes!

February 23, 2009

About a year ago the ScienceBlogs folks launched a program to highlight blog posts on the basis of what some of the more regular readers of each blog were enjoying.

The overlords are up to a new project which is intended to get some of our (meaning SB) readers to tell the rest of our (meaning SB) readers what hot stuff they should be reading on the SB. This can be viewed a little like the “top 5 most active” and “top 5 most emailed” sidebar links, only with a little more thoughtful input from readers. Readers as in a select subset of contributing regular readers, rather than the google-horde that stops by for pictures of whassername or the other horde that stops by for the stench of calamari.
The fun part is that this is to be a representative democracy such that even dinky little operations like DrugMonkey can play. Unfortunately, being still on blog 0.8beta instead of SuperBloggerz2.01.2 like most of the folks around here, the notion of plumbing the stats for our most plugged-in homies holds little interest.

Over the past year our two volunteer SuperReaders have been doing an admirable job keeping our posts, and indeed many other career-related posts from other blogs, in the limelight. So as a blogger I think this feature is a stunning success. I might also note that as a Sb reader myself, I’ve definitely been drawn to posts from other blogs that I might not have noticed thanks to the Reader selections.
We find ourselves in need of a replacement SuperReader, since one of ours is signing off after a year of excellent service to the DM blog, academic blogging at Sb and you, DearReader. So here’s the request. If you are a regular Sb reader, can manage to work the del.icio.us and would be interested in serving your fellow readers up with tasty blog selections on a regular basis drop us a line. You can comment and leave a functioning email in the field or just email one of us directly. (drugmnky or physioprof, both at the googly mail.)

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NIH Plans For Stimulus Funds

February 21, 2009

Comrade PhysioProf just received an e-mail from NIH with a link to this letter from the acting director. The most relevant section is this:

Many types of funding mechanisms will be supported, but, in general, NIH will focus scientific activities in several areas:
1. We will choose among recently peer reviewed, highly meritorious R01 and similar mechanisms capable of making significant advances in 2 years. R01 are projects proposed directly from scientists across the country.
2. We will also fund new R01 applications that have a reasonable expectation of making progress in two years. The adherence to this time frame is in direct response to the spirit of the law.
3. We will accelerate the tempo of ongoing science through targeted supplements to current grants. For example, we may competitively expand the scope of current research awards or supplement an existing award with additional support for infrastructure (e.g., equipment) that will be used in the two-year availability of these funds.
4. NIH anticipates supporting new types of activities that fit into the structure of the ARRA. For example, it will support a reasonable number of awards to jump start the new NIH Challenge Grant program. This program is designed to focus on health and science problems where progress can be expected in two years. The number of awards and amount of funds will be determined, based on the scientific merit and the quality of applications. I anticipate, of the Office of the Director funds in the ARRA, NIH will support at least $100 to $200 million–but the science will drive the actual level.
5. We will also use other funding mechanisms as appropriate.

Recognizing that open exchange and discussion of ideas is important for the advancement of the field, The Journal of Neuroscience will now consider manuscripts that have been prepublished on the Internet, whether in prepublication repositories or elsewhere. Authors considering prepublication should realize that it is essential that they retain the copyright for all prepublished material.

Here is the full announcement.

Avoiding Conflict in the Lab

February 19, 2009

ScienceBear has a fairly provocative post up over at the cave. I was struck by the last section because it touches on scientific errors and fraud. ScienceBear observed that members of the laboratory were curiously worried about arousing the ire of the Boss over trivialities:

I recently noticed we were out of a particular item in lab and asked if anyone had ordered it, the answer is always no, even though we could have been out for days. This is the same response if something goes wrong with lab equipment….
yes, everyone had noticed but no one wanted to bother Dr Boss for the fear she would be angry. I was at a loss for words. I put in work orders on the computers, placed an order for ink cartridges and alerted Dr Boss to the problems all in the same day.
This same fear of punishment for finding something not going as planned carries over into everything we do in lab. No one wants to say we are out of something or that their experiments aren’t going as they should. One student actually continued a failed experiment for two months without alerting Dr Boss to the fact they were having a problem (she was not pleased that he didn’t bring this up during a weekly meeting and wasted time and valuable reagents/antibodies).

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