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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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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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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CIHR Fiasco… What Now?

You probably have heard during the past few months the general discontent of Canadian scientists with the Canadian Institute of Health Research (CIHR), the agency responsible for distributing funding for research. So, what is this about? Last year, CIHR imposed a series of radical reforms to the way they hand out research money, which were not well accepted by the…
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Virginia Schutte says the March for Science won’t meet her goals or those set out by the organizers. Here, she shares some alternatives. When I was in graduate school, I learned to create classes using backward design. Backward design encourages setting goals and then planning a course of action to meet those goals. This strategy can be applied to almost…
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The announcement to create the position of a chief science advisor (CSA) for Canada by Minister of Science Kirsty Duncan has been well received by the scientific community. Bringing science to the forefront of the public sphere is a goal to be applauded, as is that of recognizing and valuing the contributions of research communities within Canadian society. In particular,…
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