How do you measure interdisciplinary graduate research?
June 29th, 2012

How do you measure interdisciplinary graduate research? The very strength of such graduate programs—diversity—makes it really hard for researchers to quantify. Traditional surveys of earned doctorates, for instance, have tended to be discipline-based, and therefore the information harvested from these surveys has been skewed or limited. We now know that asking institutions for such information doesn’t really help. Better to ask graduate students directly about whether their work is interdisciplinary or not. Not surprisingly, many who are actually pursuing their degrees in discipline-based programs claim their work is interdisciplinary in nature.

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Fascinating stuff happening at the University of Virginia (UVa) these days, a large and once prestigious public institution
June 22nd, 2012

Fascinating stuff happening at the University of Virginia (UVa) these days, a large and once prestigious public institution. In one corner, you have the ousted president, Teresa Sullivan, a neatly coiffed bespectacled woman who could easily pass as Richie Cunningham’s cookie-baking grandmother. In the other corner, you have Helen Dragas, sharp-chinned chair of the board (of visitors) of UVA, who bears an uncanny resemblance to Cruella D. Vil. Many are keeping a close eye on the dramatically unfolding events that began when Dragas announced Sullivan would be stepping down as president after two short years in the office. Sullivan hasn’t been quiet or shy about any of this, fueling the drama by very publicly disclosing she was fired.

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The New Yorker magazine’s audience is highbrow
June 15th, 2012

The New Yorker magazine’s audience is highbrow. Although the mag is undeniably informed by the city that gives it its name, it reaches well beyond to readers in Paris and St. John’s. Unlike the case of almost every other popular magazine today, The New Yorker features long, scrupulously fact-checked articles about politics and culture, books and theatre, architecture and music. You can’t scan or skim The New Yorker. You have to slow down and actually read it–digest it lovingly as if it were a perfectly ripened piece of fruit. Readers belong to a big special club who end up discussing a particular article at dinner parties.

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Last week I was lucky enough to get a tour of the award-winning Perimeter Institute in Waterloo, Ontario.
June 8th, 2012

Last week I was lucky enough to get a tour of the award-winning Perimeter Institute in Waterloo, Ontario. The brainchild of RIM founder Mike Lazaridis, the Institute, as the website declares, “is a basic research centre dedicated to exploring the world around us at its most fundamental level.’ It doesn’t get any more basic than that. A hub for theoretical physicists from around the world, the Institute is home to approximately 100 scientists and welcomes hundreds as visitors each year.

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Postcards From the Edge will return next week, as the Dean of Graduate Studies is out of town, and away from her computer
June 1st, 2012