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Friday, April 19, 2019

Panel focuses on careers for PhD students outside of academia | Student Life - The Hub at Johns Hopkins

Philosophy PhD graduates discuss the paths they took to develop their careers and share tips on navigating the job market, writes Saralyn Cruickshank, Web Producer at Johns Hopkins University.

Photo: courtesy of IndypendenZ at
A PhD carries significant gravitas, signaling academic achievement and intellectual prestige.

But as a group of former philosophy PhD graduates attested during a panel discussion Thursday, a variety of additional activities and skills can be essential in pursuing jobs after graduation.

The Non-academic Career Panel Discussion—held in the Mattin Center and hosted by the Department of Philosophy and Nancy Kass, vice provost for graduate and professional education—brought together PhD students in humanities fields to discuss career paths outside of academia, and how a background in the humanities can help these students excel in other fields.

"PhD programs have always prepared students to be critical thinkers and to break new ground in their fields of study," said Kass. "But they've also traditionally trained students to enter the academy. In the 21st century, we must adapt to make sure our students learn about, and are prepared for, a range of career paths and are provided the opportunities they need to be able to thrive. We're thrilled to collaborate with the Department of Philosophy to put this panel together."

Speaking on the panel were four philosophy PhD graduates who hold fulfilling professional positions outside of the university setting...

The students in the audience—who were in various stages of their graduate studies, including several who had already begun writing their dissertations—said they were glad to have such a candid discussion about their future careers.

Source: The Hub at Johns Hopkins

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BYU actuarial science program named Center of Excellence | Campus -

Madison Everett, Author at The Daily Universe reports, BYU has been recognized as a Center of Actuarial Excellence by the Society of Actuaries, and is the first western program to receive this honor.

Students in the BYU actuarial club.
The Society of Actuaries has recognized BYU as a Center of Actuarial Excellence by the Society of Actuaries, making the university the first western program to receive the honor and 17th to receive the title out of the country’s 185 actuarial programs.

“I’m excited about the additional opportunities that this will provide for the students and the fact that we will now be better known,” BYU actuarial science program director Brian Hartman said.

Actuarial science major Cason Wight said he feels proud to be from a school with such a strong actuarial program...

Actuaries need a deep understanding of risk to use analytical skills to protect organizations against loss from accidents. Hartman said it is largely a mix of finance and statistics.

According to Hartman, the prestigious designation goes to programs that meet demanding standards, including having a high graduate placement and a robust curriculum that prepares students to succeed in the industry and pass the rigorous actuarial exams...

The program has expanded its research and will continue to expand in the years to come.


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Statisticians want to abandon science’s standard measure of ‘significance’ | Science & Society - Science News

Here’s why “statistically significant” shouldn’t be a stamp of scientific approval, according to Bethany Brookshire, science writer with Science News magazine and Science News for Students.

The concept of “statistical significance” has become scientific shorthand for a finding’s worth. What might science look like without it?
Photo: nicolas_/iStock /Getty Images Plus
In science, the success of an experiment is often determined by a measure called “statistical significance.” A result is considered to be “significant” if the difference observed in the experiment between groups (of people, plants, animals and so on) would be very unlikely if no difference actually exists. The common cutoff for “very unlikely” is that you’d see a difference as big or bigger only 5 percent of the time if it wasn’t really there — a cutoff that might seem, at first blush, very strict.

It sounds esoteric, but statistical significance has been used to draw a bright line between experimental success and failure. Achieving an experimental result with statistical significance often determines if a scientist’s paper gets published or if further research gets funded. That makes the measure far too important in deciding research priorities, statisticians say, and so it’s time to throw it in the trash.

More than 800 statisticians and scientists are calling for an end to judging studies by statistical significance in a March 20 comment published in Nature. An accompanying March 20 special issue of the American Statistician makes the manifesto crystal clear in its introduction: “‘statistically significant’ — don’t say it and don’t use it.”...
What’s the problem with statistical significance? 
But science and statistics have never been so simple as to cater to convenient cutoffs. A P value, no matter how small, is just a probability. It doesn’t mean an experiment worked. And it doesn’t tell you if the difference in results between experimental groups is big or small. In fact, it doesn’t even say whether the difference is meaningful.

The 0.05 cutoff has become shorthand for scientific quality, says Blake McShane, one of the authors on the Nature commentary and a statistician at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill. “First you show me your P less than 0.05, and then I will go and think about the data quality and study design,” he says. “But you better have that [P less than 0.05] first.”

Source: Science News

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The 88th annual Waa-Mu Show ‘For the Record’ will feature the untold stories of history-making women | Arts & Humanities - Northwestern University NewsCenter

Stephanie Kulke, fine arts editor suggest, A Chicago journalist embarks on a project to chronicle the lives of history’s most incredible women, including groundbreaking mathematician Gene Grabeel, French swordswoman and opera singer Julie D’Aubigny and early civil rights leader Ida B. Wells in the 88th annual Waa-Mu Show.

The 88th annual Waa-Mu Show 'For the Record' runs May 3 to 12.
Photo: Sean Su
Presented by the Wirtz Center for the Performing Arts at Northwestern University, the entirely student-written and orchestrated musical “For The Record” will run May 3 to 12 in the Cahn Auditorium, 600 Emerson Street, on the Evanston campus.

Amisha (Amy) Padnani, editor at The New York Times and creator of “Overlooked,” the Times’ series chronicling the lives of forgotten women, will attend the May 9 performance and participate in a post-show discussion. Padnani inspired the themes of “For the Record.”

Though Grabeel, D’Aubigny and Wells dedicated their careers to changing the world, their stories have been largely overlooked in historical records. Now one woman’s quest to reveal their lives will end up shaping her own. Inspired by incredible true stories, “For The Record”asks how we can learn from our past in order to create a more enlightened future...

“With Waa-Mu, I get to watch young professionals hone their craft and skills in a supportive, positive and diverse environment,” Schellhardt said. “I believe this year’s show will reflect the passion and talent of our enormously talented student body, and that makes me beyond excited to bring this show to life.”

The historical women in “For The Record” are:...

Waa-Mu tickets are $25 (tier two) and $30 (tier one) general admission, $22 for seniors and educators, $20 for NU faculty and staff and $10 for full-time students with valid ID.

Tickets are available on the Wirtz Center website, by phone at 847-491-7282 or in-person at the Wirtz Center box office, located in the lobby of the Ethel M. Barber Theater, 30 Arts Circle Drive.

Box office hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays and noon to 4 p.m. Saturdays. The box office is closed Sundays and Mondays.  

Source: Northwestern University NewsCenter

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A new alphabet for Europe: Algorithms, big data, and the computer chip | Future Development - Brookings Institution

If the biggest disrupter of the last few decades was Deng Xiaoping—the father of modern China—the big disrupter of the next few decades may well be John McCarthy, explains Wolfgang Fengler, World Bank’s Lead Economist in Trade and Competitiveness for Eastern Europe and Central Asia and Indermit Gill, nonresident senior fellow in the Global Economy and Development program at the Brookings Institution.

Photo: Brookings Institution (Blog)
McCarthy, an American professor of Computer Science, is believed by many to be the father of artificial intelligence. Interestingly, the two have an epiphany in common. In 1979, Deng, a lifelong communist, visited the United States and came back a believer in market capitalism. In 1968, after a two-day visit to Czechoslovakia, McCarthy, who was raised as a communist by his immigrant parents, became a free-market Republican.

The ideas of computer scientists and mathematicians like McCarthy are radically transforming the way we communicate, and the way we make, buy, and sell goods and services. The changes will likely be so great that societies will have to reorganize government policy—rethinking how to regulate, what to subsidize, and whom to tax.

Change comes to Europe, again
Nowhere are these changes being considered more seriously than in Europe, where the technological transformations collectively called “Industry 4.0” are not unprecedented. At the end of the 19th century, as the Second Industrial Revolution unfolded in Western Europe, it brought mass unemployment in the countryside and squalor in the cities. Machines replaced peasants, who fled to cities and became the new urban poor. As they found new employment, mostly in the urban industrial sector, they joined a growing middle class. They would eventually transform Europe into a continent with the highest standards of living in the world...

Europe 4.0 organizes these technologies into three types (Figure 1):
  • Informational technologies that exploit the exponential growth of data. Examples include the internet of things, big data analytics, and cloud computing. The fundamental driver is the falling cost of computing. The main effect is to lower coordination costs.
  • Transactional technologies that digitize business models. Examples include the sharing economy, gig economy, digital platforms, and blockchain. The fundamental driver is the falling cost of matching demand and supply. The main effect is to reduce information asymmetries.
  • Operational technologies that combine data with automation. Examples include robotics, 3D printing, artificial intelligence, and machine learning. The fundamental driver is the falling cost of routine functions. The main effect is to reduce labor costs by automating activities.
Figure 1: Industry 4.0 technologies
It is not clear whether these technologies will lead to greater concentration of production in leading regions or countries, or in larger enterprises that use more capital-intensive forms of production. For Europe, it matters a lot whether they do.
Read more... 

Source: Brookings Institution

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Thursday, April 18, 2019

New PhD program in Quantitative Life Sciences approved | Newsroom - McGill University

An innovative interdisciplinary PhD program will bridge the gap between the quantitative and biological domains to improve life sciences research, continues News releases.

Photo: McGill University
Quantitative Life Sciences (QLS), a joint venture initiated by the Faculties of Medicine and Science at McGill University and now involving many other faculties, has been given the green light by the Ministère de l’Éducation et l’Enseignement supérieur (MEES). The new program is one of three offered through McGill’s Interfaculty Studies (Biological and Biomedical Engineering and the Integrated Program in Neuroscience are the others) and is currently accepting applicants for September 2019.

“We need researchers who can develop and apply powerful mathematical and computational methods to life sciences research, and thereby help to solve pressing biological and medical challenges,” says inaugural Graduate Program Director for the PhD program, Dr. Celia Greenwood, Professor in the departments of Oncology, Human Genetics and Epidemiology, Biostatistics & Occupational Health, in the Faculty of Medicine. “The current timelines for translational bioscience research can be slow and costly. Often this is because we lack quantitative tools and approaches to work with the enormous datasets currently being generated.”

The new program will equip students to create, improve and apply quantitative methods originating in the fields of mathematics, physics, statistics and computer science to the broad study of biological systems, from single molecules to entire ecosystems.

Source: McGill University

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How to be a PhD supervisor | Features - Times Higher Education (THE)

The relationship between PhD students and their supervisors is often said to be the most intense in the academy, with huge implications for student success. Yet most supervisors receive little if any training, argues Philip Moriarty et al.

Photo: Times Higher Education (THE)

The anomaly of academics receiving years of training in research but none in teaching is often remarked upon. But, equally notoriously, what that research training amounts to very much depends on the individual supervisor. After all, academics are not trained in research supervision either, and both supervisors and supervisees have their own set of expectations, needs and aptitudes.

How much and what variety of direction is appropriate? And to what end? Is the PhD still best conceived exclusively as an apprenticeship for would-be academics, even though many doctoral graduates end up – willingly or otherwise – in other walks of life? Indeed, is it realistic to expect all PhD students to be proficient in independent research at the end of the process? And what to do with those who are not? Is it the supervisor’s task to make sure they drop out early? Must supervisors always be optimistic and encouraging, offering whatever level of micromanagement is necessary to get the student through?

Here, six academics give their own takes on where the lines should be drawn in the doctoral quicksand.
Read more... 

Source: Times Higher Education (THE)

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Riverside-area students show off their skills with robots | Press-Enterprise

Ryan Hagen, reporter observes, April 17, to display the abilities they learned in robotics engineering classes.

Candice, a robotic dog programmed in part by the Art Club and Robotics Club from Riverside’s Wells Middle School students takes part Wednesday, April 17, in the second annual After-School Robotics Showcase in the Alvord Unified School District.
Photo: Milka Soko, contributing photographer
It was part of a robotics and STEM celebration at Riverside’s Arizona Middle School in the Alvord Unified School District...

Students worked with LEGO-compatible programmable robotic kits that were developed by Blue Brain Bot in Riverside, a division of Creative Brain Learning.

Source: Press-Enterprise

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Plini, BTBAM, Tesseract Discuss: Should You Take Guitar Lessons & Learn Music Theory? | Ultimate-Guitar.Com

During a conversation with Total Guitar, Between the Buried and Me guitarists Paul Waggoner and Dustie Waring, Plini, Jake Howsam, and Tesseract guitarists Acle Kahney and James Monteith talked about guitar lessons and the importance of mastering music theory.

Photo: © Olly Curtis / Future
You can check out a part of the interview below. 

You're all a mix of being self-taught and having had formal lessons when you were starting out, are there advantages to being self-taught when it comes to finding your own way?

Plini: "I think it might have been bad if I'd had a bad teacher who had told me I'd never be anything and that C is the only scale. But I think if you have a good teacher it's probably inspiring."

Acle Kahney, Tesseract: "Yes, inspiring more than stifling."

Paul Waggoner, BTBAM: "I think it depends on what trajectory you're looking for as a musician. If you want to be a classical guitar player, obviously, you're going to want to learn how to sight-read.

"But in the world that we're in, it's probably good to have a healthy balance. For me, learning music theory was more of a communication tool, a way to communicate to other band members. But I could see how it could maybe stifle creativity a little bit; if you adhere to that kind of thing too much it becomes very regimented and can maybe build a wall around your creativity."
Read more... 

Source: Ultimate-Guitar.Com

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Foundation names Dracut one of best school systems for music | Lowell Sun

The sounds of Dracut High School's string orchestra filled every corner of the room on a recent Tuesday morning with Robin Mallory at the helm, notes Amaris Castillo, reporter for The Lowell Sun.

Orchestra Director Robin Mallory conducts Dracut High School's string orchestra on April 2. Dracut Public Schools was recently named one of the Best Communities for Music Education from the NAMM Foundation. NAMM stands for National Association of Music Merchants.
Photo: SUN/Amaris Castillo
"Here we go, ba-dam!" the orchestra director said as the student musicians performed a medley of songs featured in the Academy Award-winning film "La La Land."

Over the next hour, Mallory would periodically pause the ninth- to 12th-grade students to give them instruction and perfect their collective sound.

Mallory's leadership at Dracut High is just one facet of music education within Dracut Public Schools, which was recently named one of the Best Communities for Music Education from the NAMM Foundation. NAMM stands for National Association of Music Merchants. The signature program recognizes and celebrates school districts and schools for their support and commitment to music education and efforts to assure access to music for all students as part of a well-rounded education, according to the NAMM Foundation's website...

In an email Zolezzi said the survey administered by The Music Research Institute at the University of Kansas evaluates schools and districts "based on funding, staffing of highly qualified teachers, commitment to standards, and access to music instruction."
Coordinator of Performing Arts Carolyn Cardella submitted the survey on Dracut Public Schools' behalf with the support of Superintendent of Schools Steven Stone. It is one of 14 communities in Massachusetts to be recognized.

"I'm extremely proud of the staff and the students," Cardella said recently. "I don't feel that I can claim any credit for it because it's the programs that they've had in place that they've been doing for many years now. I just helped them get recognized for it."

Source: Lowell Sun

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