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The Black Hole

BY DAVID KENT | MAY 23 2010

While I was completing my doctorate, I was in a “big” lab. At its peak, the lab reached about 25 people (~8 each of graduate students and post doctoral fellows plus technicians and research students). Competing for time and attention with the boss was a definite reality – and my particular supervisor was not exactly […]

BY MARIANNE | MAY 12 2010

— Quick Hit: A big welcome to our second guest blogger Marianne Stanford, current chair of the CAPS group. As a follow up to Carl’s excellent article on the CRA’s response to the CAPS letter on Post Doc status. This is exactly the type of discussion that needs to be had and The Black Hole […]

BY CARL | MAY 11 2010

QUICK HIT: The Black Hole team is thrilled to welcome its first guest blogger to the site. Carl Wonders is a post doctoral fellow at the University of Toronto and one of the founding members of the UofT Post Doc Association. We are always open to ideas for guest blog entries on a one time […]

BY DAVID KENT | APR 25 2010

Quick hit: 1. The Stem Cell Foundation has been nominated for a Webby – the Oscars of the Internet – in the category of Best Activism Website. It’s quite impressive that they were nominated as these are a big deal, and what’s even more impressive is that when I cast my vote, they had a […]

BY BETH | APR 22 2010

A comment on one of Dave’s recent postings got me thinking about an “issue affecting trainees” that we haven’t yet talked about here on The Black Hole: babies.  Specifically, the having of babies and where to keep your babies while you are in the lab. Having Babies PhDs take a long time and by the […]

BY DAVID KENT | APR 12 2010

I received a pamphlet the other day entitled: Careers Support for Life Science Post Docs (thanks to Anne and Lynn for letting me post this!) This got me thinking and building on the momentum from Beth’s Why do PhDs leave and What Types of Jobs are out there entries along with the heated discussion around […]

BY BETH | APR 08 2010

I recently attended a Stats Can workshop and it struck me that a few of the things I learned about there would be useful here in our conversations about communicating science to nonscientists. One was “20 Questions A Journalist Should Ask About Poll Results” from the National Council on Public Polls.  While this list is […]

BY DAVID KENT | APR 01 2010

This quarter has been a very active one for the Black Hole site, marked most notably by a tripling of site traffic in the month of March. Admittedly, most of this increased traffic was due to Budget 2010 and the sheer panic it invoked in the post doc community. Fortunately, the momentum that I hoped […]

BY BETH | MAR 27 2010

I think I’ve mentioned on here before that I now work in the world of evaluation.  One thing I’ve noticed since I’ve been in this world is the tendency of some to view “evaluation” and “research” as different things.  I get a lot of confused “how did you get into evaluation after doing a PhD?” […]

BY DAVID KENT | MAR 24 2010

I just thought I would quickly bring it to people’s attention that the Canadian House of Commons has been hopping with activity regarding post doctoral fellows and the repercussions of Budget 2010. A quick scan of the comments in March can be found here and if you want to keep track on your own, check […]

BY DAVID KENT | MAR 22 2010

***Quick Hit: The CAPS petition to maintain the competitiveness of a postdoctoral research career in Canada is up to 1750 signatures. For more information on why this petition has been written, visit the CAPS website. Perception, Power and Principles: Human induced climate change and why people have trouble accepting the science Over the last three […]

BY DAVID KENT | MAR 10 2010

Last week Canadians were treated to another Harper Government budget where the post doctoral stage of developing highly qualified researchers was finally recognized as an important part of the research enterprise. Post docs shared a grand “hurrah!” as this was a good thing, and long overdue. Oddly enough, it was not just lip service as […]

BY BETH | MAR 04 2010

Piggybacking off of Dave’s last post, which detailed ways that scientists can “help further the public knowledge of, and excitement about, scientific research,” with a specific focus on disseminating academic research and communicating with government, my posting today is going to take a look ways to increase science literacy and getting the general public excited […]

BY DAVID KENT | FEB 22 2010

As promised in my least work principle entry, today’s entry will try to identify relatively easy ways for science trainees and professors to help further the public knowledge of, and excitement about, scientific research. I’ll try to stick to dissemination of academic information and communicating with governments and Beth will follow up next week with getting general information out to the public (adults and kids!)…

BY DAVID KENT | FEB 21 2010

This short blog entry argues that when looking at the relationship or science and society, the majority of scientists only see (and avoid) the energy barrier in front of them and fail to imagine and strive toward the products on the other side. There are of course exceptions to the rule and this article hopes to inspire such visionary thinking. It contends that the products, similar to those in a chemical reaction, will provide a state that will in their own time lead to less energy expenditure for scientists.

BY BETH | FEB 18 2010

“Knowledge translation” is one of those buzz words you seem to hear a lot these days.  To put it briefly, it basically means getting research results to be used in “the real world.” Traditionally, academics have disseminated their research results through publishing in academic journals and presenting at academic conferences, but of course the people […]

BY DAVID KENT | FEB 07 2010

As I outlined in one of my very first blog entries the waters are quite muddied when it comes to understanding the tax benefit regarding scholarships outlined in the 2006 budget. It became quickly apparent that things were a little more complicated though, especially when it came to post docs on fellowship or trainees paid from their supervisor’s grant.

BY BETH | JAN 31 2010

While looking at the Canadian Institutes of Health Research’s (CIHR) funding opportunities ((despite the fact that I’m out of academia, I don’t seem to have entirely escaped the world of grants, as the organization that I work for is interested in getting more involved in research)) the other day, I came across this interesting opportunity: […]

BY DAVID KENT | JAN 21 2010

When asked to identify the most important issues affecting their country, Canadians often list three items: economy, healthcare, and environment. Though often underappreciated, the advancement of science and technology is a common thread that underpins and indeed is inextricably tied to these three major issues. We live in a world where the economy is driven by innovation, medicine requires further advances each day to save and improve lives, and an environmental crisis is upon us as our climate changes as a direct consequence of our modern lifestyle.

BY BETH | JAN 17 2010

I can honestly say that I never truly experienced science until I was a graduate student. Sure, I had a fair chunk of labs in my undergraduate degree – first year involved a full year of biology, chemistry and physics lab sections, and upper years included labs sections in analytical chemistry and organic chem and an entire course that consisted of a biochemistry lab. But each of these labs was what we like to call “cookbook labs” – we weren’t generating and then testing any hypotheses; rather, we were following a recipe that we were given to try to find a predetermined answer – the person with the answer closest to the one the prof has already determined gets the best grade. We were learning the technical skills – how to use a pipette, run a DNA fingerprint, or perform a titration, but that was all…