How much to charge for independent consulting work

A significant non-zero number of scientists do additional paid work on top of their day job in the form of consulting, or being paid for their expertise by someone other than their main employer (a university or research organization, for example). This inevitably leads to the question of how much a given service/task will cost, and as a the usual outcome is an under-estimate on the part of the would-be consultant. As someone who’s done…

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On generality, centrism, and science blogging

There has been much discussion in the last decade about how to better prepare graduate students for jobs outside the research-driven ivory tower, so called “alternative academic” or “altac” jobs, for example those in corporate, government, or NGO organizations to name just a few. And I think it’s generally recognized that not every graduate student defending their thesis or dissertation, and passing their oral exam or viva will end up a tenured research professor. Which…

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A new adventure

When I first visited the American Museum of Natural History during my PhD, I was amazed at many things. The room of extinct specimens, the diversity of species represented, the wide array of collections (skins, skeletons, eggs, nests, fluid-preserved, mounts), and the fact that friendly curators basically let me loose in the rooms and I could explore. All for free. It was transformative. Years later as a postdoc, I visited yet more large museums (the…

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On the loss of a friend

Earlier this week, Terry Wheeler passed away. Terry taught at McGill, and was curator of the Lyman Entomological Museum. He was a fantastic naturalist, praised the role of museums and natural history in modern science, and was generally quite a lot of fun. About 10 months ago, he was diagnosed with fairly aggressive brain cancer, which eventually took him from us. Terry was what I would call an Exceptionally Very Good Person. Over the years…

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So you want to “do something about/for diversity”

In the last several months/years, I’ve seen an increasing number of “diversity initiatives”, and attention paid to issues of diversity in STEM fields. Which is, on the whole, good. But as a member of a minority community, these can often come across as botched jobs. Scientists are good at science, but not necessarily (or one might say not at all good) at sociology and psychology. And it’s become tiring. Here, dear reader, is a handy,…

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Listing grants on one’s CV

I was going through my semi-regular update of my CV because, frankly, if I don’t I won’t be able to keep track of everything! It’s as much for me as it is for others (and arguably more so these days). Which got me thinking about grants, and how they’re recorded. On my CV, it’s a combination of year(s), project title, funding source, and grant amount. So far, all the grants that I’ve received have been one…

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The vast unread masses (or, tremendously unpopular posts)

So The Lab and Field turned 4 years old recently, and as someone not opposed to a little but of navel gazing, I thought it might be interesting to look at the least popular posts since 2013. This was also sort of prompted by a couple of folks who recently read older posts, and exclaimed (well, I imagine them exclaiming) that they’d missed it, or forgotten about it. One of the things I enjoy about blogging is…

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In defence of gulls, skuas, and giant petrels

I’m a lariphile. I love gulls, skuas, and their ilk. I think they’re gorgeous, intelligent, highly adaptable, and I will always have a soft spot for them in my heart. It will not likely come as a surprise to know that this is a minority view. Gulls, skuas, giant petrels and other predatory seabirds (i.e., those that eat other birds) are often maligned, both in terms of management and in culture. They’re called flying rats,…

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Another year of male-dominated NSERC prizes

Once again, NSERC (the national science and engineering funding council in Canada) has announced the winners of its prestigious prizes, which highlight the crème de la crème of Canadian science. And once again, the list of winners has an overabundance of Y chromosomes. Herzberg Medal (“Canada’s top scientist”): man (only one woman has ever won this award, and it was last year) Polyani Award: man Brockhouse Canada Prize: 2 men Synergy Award for Innovation: 4 men E.W.R. Steacie Memorial…

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The locations of scientific meetings matter

I think it’s fair to say that in the last week, there’s been quite a shift in the scientific community, or at least certain parts thereof, particularly in the United States. Yesterday’s Executive Orders restricting immigration, though temporarily stayed as of this writing, have rightly caused consternation among many. In research circles, this has meant difficulties for students, faculty, and staff who were travelling overseas, and restrictions on nationals of seven countries from entering the US. The growing…

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