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Why academia?

Why academia?

why not?

Anton Nekrutenko

April 15, 2019
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  1. This presentation has been made
    possible by:
    Martin Cech, Delphine Lariviere, Han Mei,
    Nate Coraor, Emil Bouvier, Nick Stoler, John
    Chilton and the Galaxy Team

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  2. A brief history of the American System

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  3. Anglophilia of Colonial Era
    1636 Harvard College
    1693 William and Mary
    1701 Yale
    1747 College of New Jersey
    1746 King College
    1764 Rhode Island College
    1749 The Academy of Pennsylvania

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  4. Anglophilia of Colonial Era
    American colleges united teaching and evaluation within a single institution
    They also curtailed power of faculty and strengthened the power of presidents
    College financing was well intended but insufficient = tuition was needed
    Philanthropy - from educating “savages” to “flexible interpretation of wills and
    bequests” and donations from pirates.
    Naming after benefactors: the Yale example
    Fund-raising begins early

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  5. Anglophilia of Colonial Era
    For young men like Adams, the value of a higher education lay not in professional training but elsewhere.
    It derived from the belief that a course of learning endowed those who completed it with cultural
    attributes that were signs of superior status . This was by no means a crude , calculating attitude , but
    rather one composed of multiple , scarcely conscious , sets of values . The ability to quote a Greek
    maxim in a legal brief was not essential but helpful. More important was the prevailing conviction that
    those who had sharpened their minds on the complexities of Greek thought would be better able as a
    result to deal with the day - to - day problems of trespass and contract. Most important was the
    awareness that colonial society still put a premium on and assigned practical rewards to people who
    could display such signs of gentlemanly rank as command of the classics.
    Thelin, John R.. A History of American Higher Education (p. 36). Johns Hopkins University Press.

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  6. New National Period
    1800: 25 degree-granting colleges
    1860: 241
    Higher education is not a National effort but a state one
    1785 University of Georgia
    1789 University of North Carolina
    1819 University of Virginia
    Hilltop Colleges

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  7. Morrill Act 1862/1890

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  8. Einheit von Lehre und Forschung
    ● The integration of teaching and research
    ● Freedom to teach and to study
    ● Autonomous pursuit of truth
    ● Community of teachers and students
    Alexander von Humboldt

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  9. Johns Hopkins University
    1. All sciences are worthy of promotion
    2. Religion has nothing to fear from science
    3. Remote utility is quite as worthy to be thought
    of as immediate advantage
    4. The best scholars will almost invariably be
    those who make special attainments on the
    foundation of a broad and liberal culture
    5. The best teachers are usually those who are
    free, competent and willing to make original
    researches in the library and the laboratory.
    Daniel Coit Gilman

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  10. Morrill Act 1862/1890

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  11. Penn State: 1855 | Pugh era

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  12. Penn State: 1882 Atherton era
    1. Lobbying in DC
    2. Hatch Act 1887
    3. Morrill Act of 1890
    4. Great Land-grant Universities of the
    Midwest and West
    George W. Atherton

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  13. Land grant institutions: Morrill Act 1862/1890

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  14. 1890 - 1920: Education is fashionable
    A clue is found in the experience of Henry Adams, the brooding Boston patrician and Harvard history
    professor who was puzzled by American popular culture. In 1876 an undergraduate matter-of-factly told
    Adams that “a degree from Harvard was worth money in Chicago.” Although Adams was bothered by this
    observation, most Americans were not. College-going was rising in popularity, for several reasons. It was a
    means of socioeconomic mobility and hence an experience coveted by an increasing number of
    adolescents. In addition to increasing earning power, a bachelor’s degree was perceived as a way for a
    nouveau riche family to gain social standing. An education at a prestigious college was most likely to be
    prized by a father who had made a fortune but had not gone to college himself. The self-made man
    wanted his sons to have the shared campus experience that would position them to associate with young
    men from established, educated families.
    Thelin, John R.. A History of American Higher Education (p. 155). Johns Hopkins University Press.

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  15. Post war expansion

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  16. After the War: The GI bill
    ● How to adjust wartime production to
    peacetime?
    ● How to pacify returning troops?

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  17. Stanford model and industry cooperation
    Frederick Terman

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  18. Science The Endless Frontier
    Vannevar Bush
    1. … there must be stability of funds over a period of
    years so that long-range programs may be undertaken.
    2. The agency ... should be composed of citizens selected
    only on the basis of their interest in and capacity to
    promote the work of the agency.
    3. The agency should promote research through contracts
    or grants to organizations outside the Federal
    Government. It should not operate any laboratories of
    its own.
    4. Support of basic research ... must leave the internal
    control ... to the institutions themselves. This is of the
    utmost importance.
    5. While assuring complete independence and freedom
    of research carried on in the institutions receiving
    public funds, and while retaining discretion in the
    allocation of funds among such institutions, the
    Foundation proposed herein must be responsible to
    the President and the Congress.

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  19. The ramifications of “Big Science”
    1. Academic freedom
    2. The distribution skew
    3. “Rich got richer”
    4. Hard money versus Soft money
    5. Grants don’t pay for teaching
    6. Bayh-Dole Act of 1980
    7. This situation still persists
    Alberts et al. 2014

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  20. Спутник

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  21. Soviet model: The power of rigidity
    1. Education is free
    2. Universities are not research
    institutions per se
    3. Curriculum is rigid
    4. Admission requires creative
    approach
    5. Student = slave apprentice
    (in good sense)

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  22. Soviet model: Make life slightly better
    Koroliov Solzhenitsyn Tupolev

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  23. Great Migrations

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  24. So?
    Don’t they pay, like, 6 figure salaries
    in the Bay Area? I’ll just be a data analyst
    for Illumina...

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  25. 1. You can do whatever you want
    2. You can work with anyone
    3. You can live in a bubble
    4. You can leave a legacy

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  26. Everything is a distribution

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  27. BG has one key advantage:
    It is interdisciplinary

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  28. Life Sciences as Aerospace Engineering

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  29. Research is diverse

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  30. Dataset size and complexity
    Number of users

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  31. Dataset size and complexity
    Number of users
    Clinical
    High propensity
    for standardization
    Non clinical
    Low propensity
    for standardization

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  32. Individual research projects

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  33. Academia (as any human activity)
    has issues

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  34. 1. It is a (optimistic) model of society
    2. Some practices can be improved
    3. The phenomenon of “no novelty”
    4. Be kind to your colleagues

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  35. The French System and the pursuit of happiness
    (a.k.a. “I can’t wait till my grant expires”)

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  36. What I am grateful for ...

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  37. Robert J. Baker Wen-Hsiung Li (李文雄)

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  38. How to choose an advisor?

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  39. 1. Are there 40+ postdocs in the lab?
    2. Do students get first author pubs?
    3. Is there a paper/Ph.D. ratio?

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  40. The take-home message

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  41. 1. Try it (you can do customer support for BioRad later)
    2. Be relentless in getting papers and grants out
    3. View start-up as your lottery ticket
    4. Be a peer to your spouse
    5. Tenure is a not an institutional problem
    6. There is bad advice
    7. What is the worst thing that can happen?

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  42. Colors
    We used (nearly) the “Paired” colormap for the grant figures

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