Science Education & Policy

Today and tomorrow I am attending a workshop in Padova titled as per the title above (but it is in Italian). If you know the language and are interested in the topic, there is available live streaming at the workshop's site, here: http://www.scicomm.it/p/pbt-2014.html

My contribution will be titled "The researcher who blogs: social value, opportunities, challenges, anathemas". I am speaking tomorrow at 10AM (Rome time zone - it's 1AM in California!). I will post some extract of my slides in the blog later on...

The workshop should be interesting, as many reknowned science popularization operators are present, and the topics in the agenda are attractive. Give it a look if you like...

Abortion and teen pregnancy dropped among teens who received free contraception and were educated about the pros and cons of various birth control methods, according to a new study in the New England Journal of Medicine.



Norway to the rescue? Credit: Travis Lupick, CC BY-NC-SA

By Steffen Böhm, University of Essex and Katharine Rockett, University of Essex


Just don't forget to listen scientists too. Credit: EPA

By Toby Miller, Cardiff University

Who should political leaders follow when it comes to climate change: environmental scientists, powerful corporations, or a million marchers? Sometimes the three groups disagree, sometimes they concur; but even then, their claims to authority are based on different and frequently conflicting ideas. The recent United Nations climate summit highlighted the confusion over how best to make progress.

The public is not aware of this, but academic science is more like a small business than being part of a vast university structure. An investigator is the business owner and the researchers are independent contractors, augmented by graduate students who go to the school.

In that sort of environment, where the life and death of the business is determined by beating other labs for a finite pool of money, while the government spends billions to try and increase the number of competitors who want to be in government-funded academia rather than the private sector, competitive instincts run high.

Sharing data either dilutes the strength of a research group or it allows a competitor to have a shortcut that another lab funded.  Lose-lose. 


The public supports most traffic safety laws. They routinely defy cell phone laws, believing that they should be pulled over for driving recklessly, not for having a cell phone, and they defy speed limits - but nothing like when the onerous national 55 MPH speed limit was forced on society - yet for the most part, road safety laws are obeyed. People stop at stop signs.

Yet a new survey shows how to strengthen road laws; quantify the traffic-related injury risks associated with a given law.



Climate March, New York City

By Alessandro R Demaio, Harvard University

In 1993, Professor John Anthony Allan of King’s College London coined the term "Virtual water" because the term 'embedded water' "did not capture the attention of the water managing community" and he wanted to create a metaphor to talk about why the long-predicted water wars have still not happened.



US Army scientists analyze unknown samples to determine whether hazardous. That's typical of research trying to understand the unknowns and expand on our knowledge. Credit: Flickr/US Army RDECOM, CC BY

By Tim Dean

UNDERSTANDING RESEARCH: What do we actually mean by research and how does it help inform our understanding of things? We begin today by looking at the origins of research.

Enhancing the marketability of the graduates and improving curricular programs are two of the main concerns of any academic department in a university. In line to this, the Department of Chemistry where I belong wanted to know the status of its graduates, hoping that it will reveal information relevant to enhancing the marketability of the graduates and on improving its B.Sc. in Chemistry curriculum.