It was something like a flashback for Canadian scientists who gathered across the country Saturday to rally in support of their American counterparts, who say they’re facing mounting attacks against science. Science advocate Katie Gibbs said she felt like she was returning a favour. Nearly five years ago, she was in the same place, doing almost the same thing. In…
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In Steven Soderbergh’s classy television show The Knick, set in a New York City hospital in the early 1900s, competitive and obsessively driven surgeon-scientists work on the burning medical issues of the day — identification of blood groups to allow blood transfusions, for example, and facial reconstruction surgery that returns dignity to those disfigured by syphilis. Would-be healers have been testing surgical…
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The panel charged with reviewing the federal government’s support of fundamental science released its final report on April 10, laying out a multi-year strategy that includes greater investment in independent investigator-led projects, better coordination between the four core research funding agencies and the creation of an oversight body called the National Advisory Council on Research and Innovation. The panel also…
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My PhD journey is coming to its end and I am considering a non-academic career. Looking at job descriptions, I know I tick the box marked ‘strong analytical and problem-solving skills.’ However, there are other boxes to consider: ‘Strong time and project management skills.’ ‘A team player with a proven track record of collaborations.’ ‘The ability to communicate clearly and…
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CRISPR Has a Terrible Name

Imagine this: What if scientists had a tool that allowed them to edit genes directly, altering their underlying DNA? The science-fictional applications, like designer babies or Frankensteined organisms, would be obvious—although ethical and legal rules in science and medicine might prevent such uses. Immediate applications would be more mundane, but also more significant: understanding and treating disease, manufacturing new types…
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A Growing Phobia

Supervisor phobia, as I call it, is an irrational fear that I have seen often among trainees in my 30-plus years as a faculty member. Yes, some principal investigators are harsh and unsupportive. But in my experience, this phobia is unrelated to a supervisor’s behaviour — or even to a graduate student’s or postdoc’s initial promise. Instead, it describes junior…
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Teaching in the Age of Social Media

To some of my students’ displeasure, I have my office hours on Friday afternoons. I prepare for this ancient tradition of face-to-face, pen-and-paper pedagogy by tidying my office, purging unwanted scraps of paper, removing half-empty coffee cups, and sometimes even plugging in an air freshener. Then I sit in my swivel chair, arms crossed, and wait for the barrage of…
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Approximately one-third of Ph.D. students are at risk of having or developing a common psychiatric disorder like depression, a recent study reports. Although these results come from a small sample—3659 students at universities in Flanders, Belgium, 90% of whom were studying the sciences and social sciences—they are nonetheless an important addition to the growing literature about the prevalence of mental…
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As information-sharing has become decentralized in our digital age, are traditional approaches to science communication selling research short? An editorial from Dr. Julie Robillard, published today in Movement Disorders, suggests that new challenges in communicating research discoveries are an opportunity for researchers to take greater initiative in sharing their work with the public, especially online. “The prevalence of low-quality information about…
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