In the Twittersation that accompanied my post suggesting a 20% reduction in graduate admissions for this cycle, @EugeneDay objected to the paternalism of it all.

Feels awfuly elitest. Do you have a motivation other than lowering the NIH funding line? More PhDs != Bad Science.


People get to try to follow their own aspirations! Sometimes they fail. That’s sad, but doesn’t warrant national policy.

This echos PhysioProf’s usual comment that academic science is like elite sports, media entertainment and a number of other professions where a lot of people strive for the Major Leagues but never make it. While I agree with the analysis, I don’t think we need to embrace it fully and enthusiastically. This aspect definitely makes me uncomfortable. As a disclaimer, there are probably several points of my career where I would have washed out under harsher (but probably reasonable) filter conditions. I happen to think I eventually made a contribution as a NIH funded PI so this makes me…sympathetic. To the notion that everyone deserves a chance at the NIH extramurally-funded Prof/PI prize.

But this is not just about making the competition for NIH grants better for me personally- these steps would only affect my chances, what, some 15 years from now? This about trying to restructure the labor market in our industry.

Getting back to the individual and their “rights”, look, we most emphatically do not extend this chance to everyone, as admitted by @EugeneDay:

Of course not, but determined by program capacity, quality of applicant. Not fiats. RT @drugmonkeyblog Open admission?


Remember context: departments should restrict to high quality applicants, etc. Not advocating slinging PhDs out window to passersby.

Right? So obviously the principle is established. We already restrict graduate admissions below the level of “all who express desire for training”. We do this at the elite, not so elite and (I presume) even the lowliest ranked programs. It didn’t come up on the Twitters but we also wash people out after they have been admitted. The loss rate in the first year or two of most graduate programs that I am aware of is consistently nonzero. I’d say it is rarer for people to washout at the qualifying exam/dissertation proposal stage and rarer still on the doctoral defense. But it does happen now and again.

So how can we say that my proposal to reduce graduate training classes by 20% (or even 50%) is any different in principle? It is not. Unless we compare to some arbitrarily selected prior interval and argue that the success rate for seeking graduate training is lower. But that seems silly to me. Competition for various job sectors is always in flux. For that matter, “program capacity” is one of the things on the table in this discussion. The ability to pay stipends factors into “capacity”, as does the amount of research funding to support the scientific efforts of graduate students, the amount of time the Profs have for “training” versus “getting the research done efficiently” and, one might argue, the ability of any given program to place their students in various occupations post-PhD.

Otherwise what? What would happen in a peachy, let-the-customer-decide grad school market?

I prefer to let people filter themselves. Other’s decisions are not my business. RT @drugmonkeyblog: Where to put filter?

and they will filter themselves and all will be peachy right? Let the market correct?

Individuals should be informed by their advisors. I have nothing against programs contracting. Just no orders from on high.


Whoever pays them now. Each case is unique, right? I’m not advocating more, just in favor of case by case decisions.

So he’s right back to having a filter…but he just has this pipedream that the market will correct itself. While emitting a suspicious indication that this is all about personal discomfort in telling people “no”..

Whose job is it to ruin an aspiring scientist’s dreams? Only mine if I’m the advisor. Everything case by case.

No. A thousand times no. Our business leads to a lot of pain and wasted time for many precisely because we refuse to be engaged in the career aspects of the profession. We evince a hands-off approach that we do not need to be concerned about such tawdry concerns. “Just do great science, young Jedi and all will be well” we say. If all is not well for a given person, clearly they did not do good science and we don’t want them anyway! They are not capable and therefore not deserving. Alternate careers? Not our problem? Too many PhDs being produced? Hey, who are we to restrict the entry point?

These go together. And it is just ever so convenient that for many of us we make out like bandits, professionally, by exploiting the desperation of graduate students. By exploiting the statistically unlikely hope of the eventual Professorial entry card to extract a lot of labor for relatively little compensation.

I think it is time for us, as a profession, to take more responsibility. To remember that our left-wing dominant socio-political orientations should apply to us as well.

We are the exploiters of graduate student labor and it is time for us to restructure our profession.

Some commenter is under the impression that we academics are avoiding discussing the pipeline problem in science. No, not the part that leaks women, nor the part that screens out underrepresented minorities.

The problem of the sheer volume of PhD trained individuals.

Personally, I hear less discussion than I think is necessary but the notion it is undiscussed is ludicrous.

I have been astonished by at least one program I know that has not seriously discussed the notion of shrinking yet. Amazed. But I also know other programs are talking about the issue.

But for blog discussion purposes, here’s my position. I think all PhD programs should admit 20% fewer students, starting this cycle. No weasel room for the “top” programs to claim they get a special exception either. (’cause that is what they are going to do, you betcha)

Slow down the flow, people.

Michael Eisen has an interesting post up today on a topic which comes up occasionally here on this blog. He blames peer review, but really it is an indictment of GlamourMag science. A criticism of the conflation of journal reputation with the quality of any article published therein.

One finger point is directed at the reviewer/editor demands for more data/studies/proof before a paper could be accepted. I agree with much of Eisen’s critique on this point.

What I am pondering today, however, is the tight NIH grant supply.

It strikes me that this is going to be a damn good thing if it stomps down on authors’ willingness to put up with unnecessary* reviewer demands for more work.

*the controls appropriate to evaluate the data as presented are fair game. “gee it would be cool if you also showed blahdeeblah…” are typically not.

This whole storify thing seems intriguing so I’m doing a test case. Nothing fancy and no editorializing. Just the stream at present. Read the rest of this entry »

from Nature:

The 2012 spending bill would cut the salary cap by 17%, from US$199,700 to $165,300, for extramural scientists funded by the National Institutes of Health…

I was wondering when some Congress Critter would figure out s/he can make some hay out of attacking scientists for their exorbitant salaries.

Here’s my question though. Since $250,000 per year is “middle class” according to the last round of political rhetoric which addressed the salary/class issue…by what justification should scientists be under attack?

[bit of a Twittersation going on as well, start here]
p.s. The vast majority of NIH funded PIs are way, waaaaaay under the salary cap, going by my experience. I would estimate that a disproportionate number of them are MD’s as well. The theory on this latter is that they need to be bribed, I mean equivalently compensated, away from purely clinical careers. Agree or not, it needs to be considered.

p.p.s. While this sounds good on paper, in the immediate and medium term, this would roll back on those of us who are not BSD investigators making cap. Why? Because the Uni’s would have to come up with the difference. Money being fungible, this means less cash for startup packages, bridging support, faculty senate pilot awards, paying for administrative staff, graduate student salaries….

p.p.p.s. Despite the pain, and the fact that some day I’d love to be at cap as it is right now, I’m actually in support of this. In the abstract. And if there were some way to stave off the immediate pain for junior folks (there isn’t) I’d be a lot happier about it.

Well, well, well. How timely. We were just discussing the situation in which some ICs of the NIH fund some subset of their grant applications out of the order of initial peer review. And what should I stumble upon (thanks to writedit) but some actual data which bear on the matter.

The NIAID website has an interesting analysis up that compares productivity measures for R01 grants from FY01-FY04. It divides the grants into those that were funded after receiving a score within their operating payline(s) and those that were funded via “Select Pay”. This is the term for out-of-order, exception funded proposals. Colloquially known as “pickups”.

NIAID describes the approach as:

Here’s how we conducted the study.

To measure productivity, we analyzed the number of publications from 2,104 applications that ranked within the payline (the WP cohort) and from 122 select pay applications (the SP cohort) shown in Figure 1.

For each indictor, we show only the middle 80 percent of the distribution (we removed the top and bottom 10 percent to make the figures easier to read). The horizontal line within each box represents the median.

Numbers for total publications, impact factor, and citations were 16,389, 102,786 and 196,117, respectively, for the WP cohort, and 860, 5,407 and 11,158 for the SP cohort.

Each indicator was scored for six years; for example, grants issued in FY 2002 were scored from FY 2002 to FY 2007.

Not entirely sure what they are graphing here, a typical box and whiskers plot would be 25%-75% described by the box. The whiskers, however, can be any number of descriptors. I guess the NIAID is putting the whiskers on the 20th and 80th percentiles…lot of room between 20% and 25% and between 75% and 80% if this is the case. [update: 10%ile and 90%ile of course; On reflection, I guess I should be less worried about the distance between 10% and 25% and between 75% and 90%.]

At any rate, the take home message is “no difference”. Same for Journal Impact Factor and number of actual citations of the papers.

So far as we can take such objective measures of grant productivity as relevant* to a fuzzier concept of “excellent science” or “impactful project”, this confirms what many of us familiar with grant review insist. Within that zone of payline and near-payline scores, there is no way to say the one grant is going to be much better than the other. Different, sure. But they are all going to be approximately as productive as each other, considering the groups as a whole.

Thus, the kvetching about how horrible it is that the NIH ICs fund some subset of their awards out of the order emerging from peer review is not really well justified. The “performance” of the NIH’s funded extramural research** is unlikely to be negatively affected by doing this.
*yes, I realize. But c’mon. Better something somewhat objective than continuing to shoot off our half-baked opinions without any evidence, no?

**extrapolating from NIAID’s data and with the same caveat about such measures of “performance”

…and if I have it right, the Director of a given IC is really the one who makes the decision to fund or not fund a given grant proposal…and even the input of their own Program Staff is only advisory.

Some comment over at writedit’s thread on paylines is incensed about the NCI:

how are the NCI officials better qualified then the peer reviewers to judge the importance of these “selected” studies?

Because They. Have. A. Different. Perspective. on the fields of science. A broader perspective. In the best of all worlds, the Program Staff have the opportunity to step back and look at the larger trends within the science that is within their jurisdiction. To see where current fads have left holes in their portfolio. To perhaps take a risk where the peers are conservative. To identify the duplications and overlaps within their own portfolio and adjust accordingly. To worry about the next generation of scientists. Etc.

How can individual scientists, or even a panel of 25-30 of them, possibly take the long view? They cannot. So there is a role for Program. We can debate whether a funding agency should be sensitive to the long view, balance of effort, inherent self-referential conservatism that emerges in science now and again, etc. I’ll come down squarely in favor of breadth on that one. But let us not pretend they have no functional role.

They should not be make funding decisions. They are messing up the once well established system.

Yes, yes they should be making funding decisions. This is the job of Program, actually. They are part and parcel of the “well established system”.

I’ve touched on this ever so briefly before, see Program Interferes with…. and NIH Administrators Ignore…

Oh glory…since I started writing this post, the commenter doubled down:

If the grants do not fit the NCI portofolio they should not be sent forward for peer review in the first instance; and more importantly these same grants that do not fit the portofolio in the first place should not be sent back for an A1 revision which consumes a whole lot of funds to generate additional preliminary data. I think this suggests that not all the decisions are made by well qualified individuals at NCI.

and an echo from yet another commenter….

If NCI had told me that my app. did not fit their portofolio, I wouldn’t have wasted freaking 4 yrs submitting A0 and A1( plus wasting peer review efforts). And before submitting my A0, I had even consulted my SRO. I’m pissed that NCI changed rules in the middle of the game

HAHAHAHAAHA!!!! This commenter no doubt would be raising a big stink if his/her grant got rejected without even going out to peer review. But the underlying principle that Program should be highly pro-active about refusing grants before they even get reviewed is stupid. There is no chance for reviewers who are more expert in the science to point out whether it fits the mission or not. Program staff are not omniscient. They need their extramural scientists to educate them. Not to dictate their job priorities, not at all. To educate. To provide a portion of the knowledge, information and evidence that Program staff require to do their part of the job. This is at the root of the investigator-initiated science funding system is it not? It is our job to make our case. The job of peer review to provide one viewpoint on that case. The job of Program Staff to provide another set of inputs.

I like this. I like the ability to make my case for what I am interested in studying. I would be far less enthralled to have to always fit into some pre-existing set of Programmatic interests. I think our friends over at writedit’s blog would be similarly distressed if there were a more heavy handed triage of applications prior to review.

The only way that would work is if someone at the Program level does a lot of triaging on the basis of the Abstract. Because I guarantee you the POs are not going to be reading all the apps in detail under such a scenario. Too many applications and too few POs. And if there were enough of them to do so? We’d all be crying foul about why it took 10X as many Program staff as they have now! Think of how many grants that would suck up. And they still couldn’t offer the kind of specific expertise that the current peer-review system can muster.

and back to the original commenter…..

I would scream bloody murder if the grant was peer reviewed, fell in the upper 10th percentile and then was told that it did not fit the portofolio…….to an extent that is what is happening at the NCI….but you are entitled to your opinion

Of course the grey zone has long been familiar to those of us who seek funding from some of the other institutes. I have my doubts, of course, about assertions that some of the ICs have or had a policy of sticking strictly to the outcome of the initial peer review. But….perhaps this has indeed been the case at NCI. And the Chicken Littles can be excused, a trifle, for not knowing how it goes down. We have only the hard data from NIGMS but these graphs fit very well with my subjective experiences as an applicant, a friend and colleague of applicants, watching what emerges from a study section on which I served, talking with POs, etc. Take this FY2010 R01 funding outcome graph from NIGMS as an example:

Open rectangles depict the number of grants reviewed, the dark bars the number funded. The X axis depicts percentile scores that emerged from initial peer review. What this shows is that genuine “skips” are relatively rare. There is a clear payline (formally published or not, you can see where it lies) below which almost everything gets funded. Above that line is the grey area. A zone above the payline (I note for those who are thinking that they “deserve” to get funded) in which only a subset of the grants get funded. Notice the trendline though? Even this is influenced strongly by the priority score/percentile rank, right? The chances of an application being funded as an exception to the payline increases as the score moves closer to that payline.

The NCI has apparently been talking a payline in the 7-8%ile zone and mollifying investigators that they will “consider” everything up to some 25 %ile for exception funding. Pickups. So the scenario raised by the commenter is asking about apps in the 8-10%ile range and their chances of being skippped over. Unless NCI takes a very different approach to exception funding, the chances for such a score are probably still quite good. Once you get a couple of bins away from the payline in the NIGMS data above (and check the sidebar at the NIGMS page for prior Fiscal Year trends) then the chances for any application funding get pretty slim.

It is difficult for me to understand how anyone can look at the distribution of funded/unfunded grant application in this grey area and think that they “deserve” to be funded with scores that are above the payline. I say rather that people should feel lucky to get the nod, given that few of the apps are being funded.

Do you like arbitrary targets? The overall blogger drive is sitting at $49,620 as of this writing.

Can we make it an even $50,000?

The final hours are upon us….. you know what to do!

Technically we have until tomorrow but I know my audience dries up on the weekend. So let’s overview.

Your new donations will be matched by the DonorsChoose Board of Directors, as detailed by Janet. So no time like the present to drop your pennies in the bucket. This particular match will be applied by means of a gift code assigned to you after the conclusion of the drive so pay attention in the coming weeks to emails from DonorsChoose and spend out the matching funds.

Now, if you are a success oriented person, there’s a project in a high poverty school in Hickory, NC, for a plant and insect habitat that has a mere $26 to go. One person has a chance to have a little dopamine rush of satisfaction today.

Doc Becca and Odyssey tag teamed the Baltimore project to put copies of Skloot’s Henrietta Lacks book into the hands of school kids. Great job folks! If you saw their Tweets and posts too late, no problemo! Jump into some other project selected by either Doc Becca or Odyssey.

If, like me, you’d been wondering where the hellz PZ and the Pharynguloid horde were this year, no worries. The Freethought Blogs leaderboard now has his drive properly linked. Phew, you readers of science blogs, free thinkers and the like have passed last year’s drive. I thank you all.

Ok, back to the real purpose here…the self-aggrandizement of the DM blog readership! Still a lot of projects on my list that could use some help if you feel able to donate. Every $5 or $10 counts people (and I will note that Doc Becca’s readers have put on a very strong push to catch the DM Blog readers in the all-important number-of-contributors stat. ahem.). Success breeds success in this philanthropy- push a project closer to the finish line and the next person is a tad bit more motivated to donate. Contributions speed up the closer a project gets to completion. So even if you can only take a bite out of the amount remaining, do so. It all counts.

From Research!America we find link to a letter from Reps Markey (D; MA) and Bilbray (R; CA) who ask their colleagues for support in an effort to increase NIH funding. It reads.

We urge you to join the following bipartisan letter supporting the proposed level of funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the FY 2012 Labor-HHS appropriations bill.
The $31.75 billion proposed for NIH (a $1 billion increase from FY 2011) is vital to sustaining NIH’s mission of improving health through medical science breakthroughs and maintaining international leadership in science and biomedical research.
By supporting bright and talented researchers, NIH ensures that the next medical breakthrough will be discovered in American rather than imported from China or India. Today, NIH funding supports more than 350,000 high-paying research positions at over 3,000 universities and research institutions across the country. Another 6,000 scientists work in NIH’s own laboratories.
The letter also urges the Appropriations Committee not to fund NIH at the expense of other programs that improve the health of Americans and supplement the work of the NIH, such as CDC or other medical research and surveillance programs.
We urge you to join this letter and support promising scientific research projects, high-paying jobs, and the hopes of finding cures for devastating diseases that impact millions.
Edward J. Markey Brian Bilbray
Member of Congress Member of Congress

Indeed. Please go to the Congressional directory, find your CongressCritter, click to his/her page and find the “submit email” button. Use their Web form, not capwiz or your own email. Write a note expressing why NIH funded science is important to you, your community, your Congressional district and our country.

If you need some talking points, go on over to RePORTER and do a search gated by your Congressional District. Say something specific about the amount of funding, the awesomeness of your research University or Institute, the types of projects, etc. Take note of your Critter’s pet interests that may intersect with NIH funded science, be they health, the military, children or whatever. Point out the connection between your interest and theirs.

Thanks. All it takes is a few minutes of your time.

[h/t: Isis]

Thanks to all my Readers who have already contributed to Donors Choose this year under my challenge, those of other Scientopians or those of blogs affiliated elsewhere. At present, $24,796 has been contributed by 364 readers of science-related and freethinking blogs. This is fantastic.

We can, however, do more. My blog has only a medium sized audience and I know there are thousands of readers over the course of a couple of weeks.

If you have not contributed yet because you were waiting for a paycheck or have been working on a grant or manuscript, I have another one that caught my eye for your consideration.

A teacher in a high poverty school in San Diego CA explains:

We have two classes of third graders and 1 class each of fourth and fifth graders that include GATE, Special Education and regular ed students. I will be sharing many of these materials with all of our third, fourth and fifth graders. Our school has a 76% free and reduced student population. Many of our students spend 8-10 hours at school each day due to childcare issues.

We are a small public school in a large urban school district in California. With all of the cutbacks in our state, all of our budgets for extension activities have been cut to almost nothing. Without assistance from grants, etc. our students will not be able to experience educational and fun activities like these.

She had me at “GATE”, which stands for “Gifted and Talented Education“. It may be elitist of me, but so be it. The available demographic IQ stats that are available suggest that post-graduate students are on average at least a standard deviation above the mean. We all know that “smarts” are highly valued in our business. We have the sneaking suspicion that very smart people are disproportionally drawn to science careers.

My researches (ok, a few minutes with Google, sue me) suggests that while Gifted students are identified in public education around the US, they are not always well served. Why should they be? They can meet the minimum standards and public education is not so much interested in making sure everyone reaches their potential, just that they meet minimum competency. Middle and upper middle class parents with a smart kid have some options, typically. I may have mentioned that my own children are given numerous extra-curricular educational opportunities because my spouse and I can afford it. Many of your children have, do or will enjoy a similar benefit. Can we not spare $10 or $25 to help some kids who do not have parents who can afford science camps?

My Project: Our 3rd, 4th and 5th graders need live animals to observe (i.e., ladybugs and praying mantis), as well as preserved specimens to dissect (i.e., crayfish, earthworms, starfish.) With this project, we will be able to ensure that our students are able to take part in activities that are meaningful, as well as educational and FUN! This will help me to expose our 3rd, 4th and 5th graders to experiences that they will not be exposed to outside of our classrooms.

It is ever so slightly unusual that this project will impact three grade levels instead of a single classroom. That’s kind of neat. As the teacher states, this is not solely for GATE kids but rather for the general classrooms that happen to include the Gifted children along with the general population and even some Special Ed kids. A nice broad impact for the low, low price of $492 to complete the project.

Won’t you take a moment to donate?

The latest thread over at OER head Sally Rockey’s blog is a treasure trove of disgruntleprofness. I’d like to draw your attention to this comment from “seasoned reviewer”.

As a reviewer, I see grants all of the time with 400K budgets that are essentially paying a PI 180K, a postdoc 50K and a senior tech 75K that produce 1-2 papers per year. Yes, that is reasonable for the amount of staff, but it is WAY over priced in relationship to grants with 250K per year budgets that have a PI paid 25% of salary, a tech and some grad students that publish 2-3 papers per year. Further, the grad students end up paying back the US economy greatly since they then go to high paying jobs in industry, increase the tax base, and provide skilled workers for the biotech industry. Thus, the grant’s impact is greatly multiplied, great science is done and skilled workers are produced.

Easy fix, no? Well…no.

I’m not going to argue with the soft money versus hard money PI issue except to point out that in my grant reviewing experience, and general knowledge of how many grants a lot of hard- and soft-money colleagues maintain, it is rare that a PI who is at cap is devoting 100% effort to one R01.

One essential point is that this person seems to be objecting to the sort of living wage, career stability and anti-exploitation issues that often pop up on the other side of the equation. How can this person suggest prioritizing grad student labor over postdoc labor? Where are all those grad students supposed to go after they defend if we shrink back the postdoctoral support on funded grants? They are all going to just shuffle off into “high paying” jobs in industry and biotech, eh? This betrays fantastical thinking. Those jobs are drying up too! There is no guarantee that a steady stream of graduate student labor (and there is an argument that you are going to need even more warm bodies if you dispense with the expertise that is represented by the postdoc cadre of labor) is going to find a home in industry the minute they defend their PhD.

The comment objects to “senior techs” and presumably refers to more junior ones in the second sentence. Again, where are these junior techs supposed to go? Is this person recommending age discrimination as an industry (NIH funded science, that is) wide practice to save money? Really? This is morally reprehensible.

Then we come to this prediction that the single* grant lab is more productive on a per dollar basis. I used to share this bias but it needs to be placed in a bit of context. One of the things I have ranted on about in the past is the assessment of productivity of a PI. I’ve commented that it is unfair during grant review that the Gestalt impression of a lab’s productivity usually fails to account for the denominator. This can be because a reviewer has an impression based on reviewing manuscripts, seeing TOC feeds and PubMed alerts that this lab is really pumping out the papers. When it gets more objective, say on a competing renewal application, there can be a lot of papers listed which serve double duty. That is, a smart PI will list every plausible grant award as having contributed to each paper. That way each paper counts 2 or 3 times. The reviewer who looks at the Progress Report is not typically motivated to assign fractional publication credit by delving into the PIs other Awards, the Acknowledgement sections of each paper, etc. It is just too much work, there is no good, objective way to do the fractional crediting and it is unclear that such an analysis would do anything but irritate the rest of the panel anyway!

So far I’m sounding on the side of “seasoned reviewer” on the productivity front, no? But here’s the thing….the appearance of higher productivity is also the reality of higher productivity…over the long haul. Sometimes projects go into a rut. Sometimes the grant renewal cycle is painful and long….and can introduce funding gaps. You can’t always hire 1.5 staff members on one grant but you can hire 3 on two grants. Major equipment or other resources…ditto.

I am reluctant to admit this. I still believe that all else equal the starting out, n00b young lab with one grant is likely to be the best productivity bet. But this requires that things go well. That the person has startup to buy the equipment. That staff can be found when needed (i.e., day 1 of the award). That the scope of the science that is necessary (in a post-hoc sort of way) to good productivity has been proposed and funded by the award. That unforeseen holes are not stepped into.

The trouble is, things don’t always go perfectly in science. And the single-award, $250K direct costs laboratory is at greater risk for major productivity disturbance from hindrances that a multi-award lab can surmount.

*I’m assuming from context the person doesn’t really mean only $400K single-R01s but is probably referring to overall level of support…

ok, ok, a few people have communicated with me regarding a set of highly fascinating slides posted by the NIH on “Ways of Managing NIH Resources“.

Many people seem to think Slide 13 is going to start some controversy. It apparently* shows that success rate goes up if you ask for a huge amount of money on one grant.

Personally, I think the interactive online slider which allows you to see what fraction of PIs enjoy X amount of Research Project Grant support is way more fun.

*The vast majority of normal folks are submitting R01s requesting no more than $250,000 in annual direct costs. There is another variable at play here. Only the BSD types are asking for this kind of cashola on one project.

Just dump it in….

October 18, 2011

The notion that there is such a thing as a “dump journal” in your field should be treated like:

1) Fight Club

2) Beer goggles


Donor's Choose update

October 17, 2011

A few thoughts

First, check out the completed projects page for my challenge. The generous contributions of the readers of this blog have contributed to the funding of three projects already! thanks, and be sure to read the notes from the teachers.

Twenty one of you have thrown down over $1,500 under my challenge. This, my friends, is one of the best things of all about this community you have built around my random blathering. I am humbled. (You know, for once anyway….)

Janet, aka, she who has been the driving force behind science-blogger drives for Donor’s Choose for six years now, has a post up riffing on the I am the 99% idea. Go check it out and feel free to make your own picture. Post it on your blog, Twitt it or send it to her (or to me and I’ll post ’em here). Or heck, just type out your reasons in the comments.

At this writing the Scientopia readership has pulled our challenge board into a precarious second place (ahead of a Phil Plait driven Discover Blogs challengeboard) in the number of people contributing. My readers know that I just love this measure. The more of you that donate, with whatever small amount you can afford, the better I like it. This is about community engagement.

Overall, the Science Bloggers for Students 2011 drive has generated $18,617 from 287 contributors. Wow. Keep it rolling folks. We have until October 22.