Of Schemes and Memes Blog

Communities Happenings – 20th August

Communities Happenings is a weekly post with news of interest to NPG’s online communities. The aim is to provide this info in one handy summary. Listings include tweetups and conferences which we’re attending and/or organising as well as new online tools, products or cool videos. We also occasionally flag up NPG special offers and competitions plus updates about NPG social media activities such as new accounts you might want to follow. Do let us know what you find most useful! 


Science Online NYC (SoNYC) is back tonight after a summer break! This month’s event is held in collaboration with the New York Academy of Sciences and the focus will be on science PhDs. Does the current PhD system need revamping to better equip researchers to continue in academia or to pursue other careers after graduating?

A recent Washington Post article let the public in on one of science’s worst kept secrets: we produce far more PhDs than will ever find faculty positions. Despite this reality, most PhD programs only prepare their students to do research and, in many ways, leave them poorly prepared to be faculty. In this program, we’ll look at the programs offered by current PhD programs and consider potential additions that could better prepare students for life outside of the lab — and just might make them better faculty.

This month’s panelists:

  • Elizabeth Bass, a professor of journalism at SUNY Stony Brook, runs their Center for Communicating Science.
  • Eric Vieira, Assistant Director at the Office of Technology & Business Development of the Mount Sinai Medical Center, has worked for more than 15 years in in the biomedical industry.
  • Monica Kerr is the Director of the NYAS’ Science Alliance, which focuses on career development for students and post-docs.
  • Kira Anthony is a former cancer researcher and bioinformatician who will talk about existing PhD programs.
  • Christopher Mason is a professor of computational biomedicine at Cornell Medical College.
You don’t have to be in NYC to take part – the event will be also be live-streamed and live-tweeted so do join us online and follow #SoNYC. 


To tie in with this month’s SoNYC event we have been running a mini-series of guest posts on Soapbox Science.  So far we’ve heard from a variety of contributors about how the current system works, where the gaps are, which additional skills they think PhD courses should incorporate and what their personal experiences have been. In the latest post, Marcus D. Hanwell talks about the “road less travelled” – his career journey from a PhD into software development:

In all honesty, I am largely self-taught and my PhD did little to train me in the skills required to begin a career in software development. I did a couple of courses as an undergraduate in C++, and sat in on a class during my PhD for advanced C++ (the primary language I use develop code today). These courses were at such a basic level in terms of programming that I had already covered and moved beyond the material being taught, and they unfortunately chose to concentrate on the mathematical challenges rather than introducing graphics or interactivity. This was something I struggled through in my spare time, and spent many hours trying to figure out how I might write custom software to not only crunch numbers but visualize and interact with my data in real time. There was also little in the way of training for proposal writing, and I left knowing little outside of the theory of writing a proposal. 

Make sure you follow and join in the conversations online using #PhDelta and share your thoughts in the comment threads on the blog posts too.

Experimental & Molecular Medicine

NPG is inviting submissions for Experimental & Molecular Medicine (EMM) following its publishing partnership with the Korean Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (KSBMB). NPG will co-publish EMM, South Korea’s highest ranked journal, on nature.com from January 2013. Submissions can be made here and you can find the official press release here.

Science Online London – Deadline for suggestions

We’re currently in the process of putting together the programme for this year’s Science Online London event which will take place on Sunday 11th and Monday 12th November,  and we’d like to include your input! Much of the conference will consist of discussion sessions and workshops led by attendees and this year we’re focusing on three main topic strands:

  • Science communication and outreach
  • Online tools and digital publishing
  • Science policy and community issues.

Ideally, for the discussion sessions we’d like to include a mixture of different voices and opinions so if you’re thinking of making a suggestion, please consider who else might have something to contribute to the conversation. If you have an idea for a session, please add it to the wikiTo help with our planning, we’d like to receive your suggestions by 6pm on Monday 27th August.

Tickets for the event will be released soon, you can find out here or via our Twitter Account as soon as they are. Alternatively, email us at scienceonline@nature.com to be added to our mailing list for further updates. Finally, if you’d like a reminder of the topics that were discussed at last year’s conference, see the blog posts, video archives and Storifys collated on the wiki.


For those in the UK, the date is confirmed for the next #UKSciTweetUp! Join in at 7pm on Tuesday 28th August at The Lamb, Lambs Conduit, London. All are welcome to join in for an informal chance to meet other locals interested in science.

Online-only personal subscriptions

For the first time, we are offering online-only personal subscriptions to a selection of journals for $49/€29/£29. See the list of journals included in this deal, here.


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