RIP materialsGIRL

I started materialsGIRL because I couldn’t find an online community to discuss materials science. This seemed like a huge ‘unmet need’ to me, but ultimately I failed to build a critical mass. Here is the welcome message on materialsGIRL for context: Welcome to materialsGIRL - a community enthusiastic about making materials. We encourage anyone interested in learning about materials to join, regardless of your education, background, discipline or specialty. GIRL stands for Group Interaction Reinforces Learning - we hope to develop tools to promote scientific understanding, collaboration & discourse. »

Teaching Disabilities

I really enjoyed this recent interview of Eric Weinstein on The Tim Ferriss Show Podcast. One of the most powerful moments for me was when Eric says, “We don’t talk about teaching disabilities, we talk about learning disabilities.” (1:08:41) Eric continues: A lot of the kids that I want are kids that have been labelled learning disabled but they are actually superlearners, they’re like learners on steroids who have some deficits to pay for their superpower. »

Materials Science Startup Lessons

I’ve learned a lot over the last year of running polySpectra, as part of the Cyclotron Road accelerator program at LBNL. Here are a few bite-sized tips that might help you in your endeavors: A prototype is worth a million words. Most people have a very hard time hearing descriptions of chemical and physical properties and translating that into an accurate mental image. Even people with PhDs in your field may not immediately understand what you are talking about (although they will pretend they do, which is even worse). »

Graduate School Application Advice

Some advice on your graduate school applications from someone who’s done it (thankfully only once) and advised other people to do it (a few times ;)): Get your applications in early. Most schools won’t admit it, but admissions are very often a rolling process. I know students who were admitted to schools 2 months before the deadline. Get in touch with the professors you think you’d like to work for. »

The Economics of Scientific Collaboration

I just finished reading Michael Nielsen’s book, “Reinventing Discovery”, which I highly recommend. One of my favorite discussions in the book is also explored in his 2008 essay “The economics of scientific collaboration”. Nielsen’s concept of “expert attention” as a scare resource provides a unique lens through which to explore the economic aspects of scientific research, as a market in and of itself. While there are plenty of debates on the economics of science in the typical ‘discovery > technology > commercial products > quality of life’ arc, Nielsen explores the market aspects of doing science, as opposed to the output of science. »