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THE BLACK HOLE

By DAVID KENT | March 26 2014

Scientific research extends well beyond borders and its internationalization has been a major boon for collaboration and advancement. Last month, Switzerland made news by putting a cap on immigrant labour that would prevent mobility into their scientific research environment. This met with much criticism and resulted in the EU banning Swiss applications to its Horizon […]

By JONATHAN THON | March 17 2014

I was recently invited to give a keynote address at the Human Disease Mapping conference at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland  that was fully coordinated by a small group of the college’s PhD students and postdoctoral fellows. The scope was to share my experience and story of my academic career in a period […]

By DAVID KENT | March 10 2014

Last week, I attended a lecture by Jorge Cham, creator of PhD Comics who preached about the “power of procrastination.” For those who have seen this lecture before, you may have left wondering whether his statements about what you do while procrastinating are true. He maintains that such oft-demonized activities are the process of discovering […]

By JONATHAN THON | March 03 2014

I was recently invited to give a keynote address at the Human Disease Mapping conference at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland  that was coordinated by a small group of the college’s PhD students and postdoctoral fellows. I was asked to share my experiences and story of my academic career in a period where […]

By DAVID KENT | February 24 2014

Editors Note: The Black Hole team is delighted to have guest blogger Dr. Kelly Holloway share her thoughts on the recent Canadian Science Policy Conference and the dangers of pushing researchers toward an entrepreneurial mindset. Her research group focuses on this issue and others and their website is listed below. The November 2013 meeting of the […]

By JONATHAN THON | February 13 2014

We are very pleased to introduce a guest post from Dr. Mark Larson, an associate professor of biology at Augustana College, South Dakota. Mark is a distinguished scientist, a gifted lecturer and a strong advocate for science education. His article this week is particularly timely in light of recent events in the South Dakota Legislature. […]

By DAVID KENT | February 05 2014

Last spring I wrote an article called “Postdoctoral mentors and a regular reality check” which discussed the topic of a secondary mentorship program. The postdoctoral-fellow second mentor is something I’ve been pushing to create here in Cambridge. Many people find some type of mentorship on their own through departmental seminars, collaborations, conferences, etc. – but are all […]

By SONJA B. | January 27 2014

Following from last week’s post containing an overview of different pathways to immigration in Canada, today’s entry by guest blogger Sonja B. will focus on specific considerations relevant to the Canadian Experience Class. This is Part 2 of a two-part series on immigration issues relevant to international trainees in science. I hope readers will find this a […]

By SONJA B. | January 19 2014

We are very pleased to have a series of posts from Sonja B. in the coming weeks on the experiences of an international student moving from Europe to Canada. The idea of the posts is to stimulate a discussion amongst international scholars in Canadian science labs to help each other wade through the sometimes confusing […]

By JONATHAN THON | January 13 2014

It’s a new year, and with it come renewed efforts to improve the status of academic funding in Canada. While our reader feedback  has been phenomenal this last year, our government’s has been less so. Back in June 2013 I wrote a series of open letters on the status of science funding in Canada which […]

By DAVID KENT | January 06 2014

Happy New Year to all of our readers. It was an extremely busy autumn and there has been a lot of reader commentary on the Black Hole site – many thanks from both Jon and me. Of particular note, we ran a session at the Canadian Science Policy Conference and asked readers for feedback on […]

By JONATHAN THON | December 11 2013

In a previous post I made the argument that one way of recovering federally funded-research costs and bringing discoveries and innovations to the marketplace is by having governments included in intellectual property agreements. My guess is that getting universities to give up their patent rights and ability to claim  indirect costs from incoming grants are […]

By DAVID KENT | December 04 2013

As our readers know, we ran a panel discussion last month in Toronto at the 5th Annual Canadian Science Policy Conference. It was a packed room and the panel featured heated exchanges at some points (even between panellists!). Many diverse opinions were shared, pointing to a clear need for academic-training reform. Chris Corkery began by […]

By JONATHAN THON | November 25 2013

In my previous blog post, I highlighted the fact that despite their academic laurels, publically funded research institutes are no less aware of their bottom line and profit margins, and no less risk-averse, than private businesses. The problem is that while research departments are run like corporations, few principal investigators see themselves as small business […]

By DAVID KENT | November 19 2013

This Thursday, I’ll be attending the Canadian Science Policy Conference in Toronto to run a session on the training the next generation of scientists. The session promises to be discussion-based and I hope that some practical ideas and solutions will be proposed by audience members and panelists to help address what I consider to be […]

By DAVID KENT | November 13 2013

Last week, the International Consortium of Research Staff Associations (ICoRSA) was launched in connection with the VITAE Research Staff Conference. Forged in the fire that burns in the bellies of early career researchers with low salaries, little stability and poor career prospects, this organization aims to better the researcher profession by linking the individual (often […]

By JONATHAN THON | November 04 2013

In the United States most universities and hospitals are private businesses, and are run as such, maximizing profit margins and generally promoting low-risk ventures with greatest return on investment. Basic research by comparison is high-risk and generally takes 10 to 20 years to show a financial return on investment (if there is a financial return […]

By DAVID KENT | October 29 2013

One of the most popular topics on our site over the years has been the taxation and administrative status of postdoctoral fellows. The budgetary changes and the resultant discrepancy between postdoctoral and graduate student take-home pay galvanized Canadian postdoctoral fellows across the country and was a primary driver of the enthusiasm that formed the Canadian […]

By DAVID KENT | October 21 2013

Over the coming weeks, I’ll be breaking down the fantastic information found in the Canadian Association of Postdoctoral Scholars 2013 Survey of Canadian Postdocs. To start this, I thought I would focus on the most surprising finding in my mind: 53.1% of the 1,830 respondents were either landed immigrants or holding a work permit. This […]

By JONATHAN THON | October 15 2013

“Doctorate recipients begin careers in large and small organizations, teach in universities, and start new businesses. Doctoral education develops human resources that are critical to a nation’s progress—scientists, engineers, researchers, and scholars who create and share new knowledge and new ways of thinking that lead, directly and indirectly, to innovative products, services, and works of […]