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Saturday, March 31, 2018

Life Insurers Face Digital Age 2.0 | ThinkAdvisor

Photo: Jonathan Holloway
The author contends that the way for life insurers to jump ahead this year will be to use data better.

Photo: ThinkAdvisor

Are life insurance companies ready for the next phase of the digital age?

As we enter 2018, the life insurance industry is still in a downturn. According to the MIB Life Index, which tracks nearly 90% of life insurance application activity in US and Canada, 2017 ended down 1.8%. 2018 is currently down 4.4% YTD and is 3.5% lower than that of December 2017, according to Wink.

In addition to lower overall sales, the life insurance industry is beginning to feel some waves coming from insuretech startups. JLT Re has reported that, since 2012 over $7 billion of funding has been raised via 600 deals. About 9% of insuretech startups are looking to disrupt life insurance distribution. Distribution is ripe for disruption, given that consumers are growing increasingly comfortable with shopping online.

The coming change will revolve around how consumers are buying life insurance. For companies looking to maintain and possibly grow sales through this downturn, Insuretech companies are a welcomed ally.

How are people currently buying life insurance?

According to the 2016 Insurance Barometer Study by LIMRA, 51% of people would prefer to buy  life insurance in person. About one in five people prefer to apply for life insurance online, citing the ability to research, comparison shop and avoid pressure as their reasons.

Given the current hype around insuretech, some may be surprised by these numbers. To industry veterans, however, these numbers likely line up with what would be expected, given the current makeup of distribution. Over the next five years, as demand for online solutions grow, companies will become increasingly competent at removing the barriers that make online shoppers wary of buying life insurance without an agent.

The same LIMRA study reports that the top five major reasons people prefer to buy life insurance online are as follows:
  • Convenience.
  • Ability to Research.
  • Speed.
  • Ability to Compare.
  • Less Pressure.
One key observation is that consumers prefer person-to-person support when buying life insurance, so one can assume that online sales supplemented with human support will be key as the market transitions.

Source: ThinkAdvisor

How AI can help the insurance industry go digital | Computer Business Review

"It is important for insurers to know what they need while choosing which AI technology to invest in" reports CBR Staff Writer.

Businesses must assess which areas AI will benefit the most.
Photo: Computer Business Review

Artificial intelligence (AI) technologies can provide a golden opportunity to insurance carriers to improve their businesses and establish themselves.

Achieving operational efficiency and customer engagement would be a difficult task, according to Forrester Research, but many insurance companies would be able to achieve this if right guidance was provided.

In a blog post, co-authored by Forrester research associate Alyssa Danilow, it said insurance companies will have to consider several factors before investing in AI. These include how to manage risk exposure and fraud detection, understand the needs of customers, and how insurance products and services can deliver the experience expected by consumers.

AI technologies can help companies focus more on clients, enabling insurance carriers to become digital insurers. The technology can quickly sift through data and make more informed decisions on the recommended paths customers should take, or better tailor services to them.

However, he said it is important for companies to know what they need while choosing which AI technology to invest in. Those insurers that are planning on investing in AI technologies should examine what the company will most benefit from, and which technology will enable the company to reach its goals.

Despite AI not being widely used in the insurance industry currently, the research has identified 12 AI technologies and solutions using which insurers can improve operational efficiencies and offer better customer experience.

Source: Computer Business Review

From car insurance to banking, a new digital age is dawning | Money - The Guardian

How we handle money, what we drive and how we even divorce will become cheaper and simpler soon, says a leading futurist Gerd Leonhard and Juliet Stott, Freelance Journalist & Content Creator.
Borrowing cash may soon come from friends in your social network.
Photo: Donald Iain Smith/Getty Images/Blend Images

The way we bank, borrow money and buy products such as insurance, cars and legal services will change dramatically due to exponential advances in technology. Leading futurist Gerd Leonhard, whose clients include Vodafone, Prudential, Lloyds Bank and UBS, spoke to Guardian Money about how handling money will change more in the next 20 years than it has done in the previous 300.

“What’s happening in finance is what has already happened in music. Spotify digitised it, made it easier to access, more convenient and cost-efficient. People can access 20m songs for £10 a month, rather than £1 per song as before. A very similar change is going to happen with money and financial services,” says Leonhard.

In the not-too-distant future, transactions such as cross-border payments, small business and personal loans, and sharing the bill with friends, will be conducted within social networks and run by artificially intelligent systems. “Increasingly, things will be done by cloud apps and intelligent assistants. You won’t need the banks for that. It will be a boon for consumers,” claims Switzerland-based Leonhard.

Borrowing money
Forget going to a bank – soon you will turn to your friends and family, or those in your social network. The borrowing process will all be facilitated by digital platforms such as Facebook, Google, Alibaba and Baidu, divisions of which all have banking licences, so it’s not a question of if, but when. Currently, Leonhard says, this isn’t happening fast enough, but “within the next five years, low-level loans will be increasingly done via leading digital platforms”...

Car sharing and the rise of self-driving cars will eventually make motor insurance, as we know it, obsolete, says Leonhard.

“It’s very likely that you won’t need this kind of traditional insurance any more. The vehicles will be insured, not the drivers, and self-driving cars will have a greatly reduced accident rate. Manufacturers will bundle insurance into the car package, so you’ll always be insured,” he says. Of course, this month’s accident in the US in which a pedestrian was killed by a self-driving car has cast a cloud over the sector. But Leonhard says that as the technology gets better and cars aren’t used for racing around the city, “there will be very few accidents. Less accidents means lower premiums”.

Other types of insurance, such as for buildings, will be upended due to the “internet of things” (IoT). As homes begin to accumulate smart gadgets connected online, the chances of unexpected failures leading to fire, flood etc will diminish – and, as risk is reduced, premiums should fall. Or at least that’s the theory. With all the data available from the IoT, drones and so on, Leonhard says “an algorithm can either augment or even replace a human actuary and accurately predict the chance of a fire”.

Source: The Guardian

Friday, March 30, 2018

The Statistics and Probability Study Guide |

Check out this Study Guide from below.
Study is the main prospective for us and it will be easy for us to get it better if we are trying to get it through the right ways and means. Statistic is one of the best aspects for us and also as applied match as its use is vital and using into the main collections of the world. Some kind of the different and unique classification and interpretation of the data in various and unique industries in all around the world are required.

Now the statistics is a complete part of the math and often its shorter part is actually given to syllabus books. While as making the use of statistics makes the job of a lot easier and then the simpler with the different and unique concepts. On the time much hinges on the subject statistics is only natural for the colleges, schools and also to impart the knowledge to the students for their life achieving. Do not forget to write statistics assignments on time.

Statistics Helpful Tips for All Students
It is a completely easy way for us and one of the most widely used areas of math books and for the syllabus texts. So as the statistics will be easier to study on the time students understand as why they are studying it and what the knowledge of the statics is very useful and helpful. Really all these things actually does not stop it from being a tad or hard on the time of studying about it.

Online Statistics Help Tips For the College Students
Some kinds of studies are hard to verify with the education things we may have. So as that it is best for you to get the things easy to explain into the future are also necessary. So as then it will be much easier to study on the time of preparation of the examination and then understand how they are studying it and what the knowledge of the statistics is very useful to read and complete the questions.

Better Ways of Online Statistics Tutoring
Actually the online statistical help and teaching services help the students for complete easy subjects and as well as difficult subjects like the further more calculus and algebra and the other important and necessary business studies.



Opinion Weekly Wrapup: Insurers struggle to integrate, hire data scientists | Digital Insurance

The Weekly Wrapup is an analysis of the week's insurance tech news from the editors of Digital Insurance.

Photo: Nathan Golia
Insurance companies expect to hire more data scientists and integrate their skills across the value chain, but are finding it difficult to ramp up these efforts, according to new reports from PwC and Nathan Golia, editor-in-chief of Digital Insurance.

Photo: Digital Insurance

The management-consulting firm released items evaluating how actuarial and data science are converging at P&C insurers and life carriers, respectively. Across both lines of business, insurers' top reported challenges are the same:
  • Integrating data science into the actuarial function
  • Hiring and retaining data scientists
  • Clearly measuring the value of data science
  • Lacking a formalized data science function
PwC recommends insurers set up a cross-functional team of data scientists that isn't necessarily embedded with actuaries, but is available to assist them. The company also says it's crucial that insurers develop clear career-path options for these valuable staff, because there will be lots of competition for the skills. In fact, the company concludes, cross-training staff is also something to consider in order to keep the data-science team current with insurance needs. 

"Enabling knowledge sharing will reduce dependency on certain key individuals and allow insurers to better pivot towards analytical needs," PwC writes. "It is essential that senior leadership make appropriate training and knowledge sharing resources available to the analytics function." 

This strategy has been recommended as an increasing number of data scientists have arrived at insurance companies. Novarica's Mitch Wein once called it "enforced collaboration," back at a time when actuaries viewed the entrance of data scientists as an incursion. Since then, however, the roles of actuaries and data scientists in insurance have been better-defined, with actuaries even dipping their toes into data science themselves, PwC notes. While data scientists are expected to take larger roles of different proportions in areas like P&C reserving (much larger) to life insurance risk and capital management (minimally more) up to 2030, there is one area where actuarial skills will be more in demand in that time: P&C claims. 

"Data scientists’ predictive modelling skills are suited to the development of predictive claims models," PwC says. "But, as models become more sophisticated, actuarial domain expertise will be increasingly important to ensure the design and deployment of appropriate model variables." 
Read more... 

Additional resources
How do actuarial and data science skills converge at insurers? 
Download this report 

Source: Digital Insurance

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Women in STEM initiatives push flawed focus | Opinions - University of Pittsburgh The Pitt News

Neena Hagen, Senior Columnist, primarily writes about politics and local issues argues, "As a female actuarial mathematics student, you don’t have to tell me that my gender puts me in the minority in my academic field."

That’s why I’m never surprised when feminist activists point out the gender gap in STEM — what really loses me is how they tell me I should feel about it.

Photo: Abigail Katz, Staff Illustrator

Universities across the country seem determined to jump on the bandwagon — holding their own women-only networking events and Q&A sessions to combat the supposedly rampant discrimination against women in technical fields.

Eager to take advantage of the special opportunities afforded to me as a woman, I decided to attend two women in STEM events right here in Pittsburgh.

The first one — sponsored by Pitt’s chapter of Society of Women Engineers last month — allowed attendees to spend six hours listening to keynote speakers, socializing with peers and networking with established employees in engineering-oriented firms. Among the speakers at this event was Barbara Staniscia, whose “pyramid for success” detailed a simple recipe for greatness in STEM fields. The formula included poise, passion and a technical foundation, a formula not only for women, but for any prospective STEM student.

And Robert Morris University’s “Empowering Women in Actuarial Science” event on March 16 featured a panel discussion between four female actuaries — Allison Young from Erie Insurance, Tove Stigum from Highmark, Lara Will from New York Life and Diane Keller, who works for Principal.

Both initiatives had good intentions — promoting STEM fields to a women where men outnumber them four to one. But they unfortunately misdiagnosed the reasons women remain underrepresented in science, and put forward solutions to the problems that miss the mark for women who actually choose to go into STEM.

Many involved in organizing events like these suggest we need women in STEM initiatives to make up for the constant discrimination they face in technical fields. These ideas seem to be conventional wisdom, but no panelist at RMU pointed to examples where they faced explicit sexism in their career.

“I’ve been very fortunate to have male colleagues who almost always respect and support me,” Stigum said.

If discrimination truly was a huge barrier to women trying to enter STEM fields, surely most panelists would have grueling stories about their victimization at the hands of a patriarchal industry — but the gender gap in STEM being attributed to discrimination is a complete distortion.

A 2016 study from the University of Glasgow that examined Scandinavia, the most progressive region in the world, suggested there are elements to the gender gap in STEM unrelated to women’s opportunity to pursue those fields. 

Source: University of Pittsburgh The Pitt News

Region besting nation in rate of awarding STEM degrees to women | Albany Times Union

Photo: Alicia Biggs
"Technology companies interested in eliminating the gender gap among technical workers will find an unmatched talent pipeline in the Capital Region, the Center for Economic Growth said in December in response to its analysis of National Center for Education Statistics" summarizes Alicia Biggs, Freelance Writer/Editor. 

Kaylee Petraccione, 17, of Schenectady, left, an alum of the summer camp, programs a robot with the help of GE intern Kelsey Harper during the 5th annual GE Girls summer STEM experience on Thursday, Aug. 11, 2016, at General Electric in Schenectady, N.Y.
Photo: Cindy Schultz / Times Union

During the past three years, area colleges and universities have awarded undergraduate and graduate science, technology, engineering and math degrees to women at a higher rate than the nation, according to NCES Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System statistics.

"If there's anything that employers want more than STEM talent, it's a diverse STEM talent pool," CEG President Andrew Kennedy said. "To be able to show that our colleges and universities are training so many women with STEM skills — and that the Capital Region regularly hosts popular STEM events such as Girls in STEM — definitely enhances CEG's industry attraction efforts."

General Electric is looking to have 20,000 women in STEM roles by 2020, to help it achieve 50:50 representation between men and women in its technical entry-level programs, Todd Alhart, a GE spokesman, said.

"Our commitment to increase the number of women in STEM roles comes from our strong belief that GE's engine of innovation should reflect the world we live in," Alhart said. "Men and women working together to advance scientific and engineering endeavors. This is what we're building across GE's engineering function."

Between the 2014 and 2016 school years in the Capital Region, 13 colleges and universities awarded women with 2,621 bachelor, masters and doctorate degrees in seven STEM fields, according to IPEDS. That represented 35.2 percent of the 7,455 total STEM degrees awarded during that period, above the national average of 34.6 percent and slightly below the statewide average of 35.5 percent. 
Read more...  

Source: Albany Times Union

The mathematics of music | Perspective - Honi Soit

"Full STEAM ahead" inform author, Lena Wang - Honi Soit.

Photo: Honi Soit

The divide between USyd arts and STEM students is both literal and metaphorical. Engo grill and PNR Hub, the cornerstones of the engineering faculty, lie far away from the light-filled, wooden interiors of Courtyard. The metaphorical divide, however, manifests itself as a subtle, simmering contempt, grounded in stereotypes. Science and engineering students bemoan the relative freedom and relaxation of arts students while dragging their feet to 20+ contact hours a week. Arts students bemoan the starting salaries of chemical engineers.

But this divide is a superficial one. Arts and sciences are just two fields of study, each  hoping to accomplish the same simple thing with differing methodologies: to understand the mechanisms of the world. Arts and the humanities do this by interrogating culture, using language. Science does this by modelling the world, using mathematics. Jupiter, then, is a gaseous giant and also a mythological giant. Metaphysics and physics parallel each other in thought, if not in practice. And both reveal facets of the same phenomena.

Photo: Richard P. Feynman
Richard Feynman, one of the most famous theoretical physicists of the 20th century, once said that “if we look in a glass of wine closely enough we see the entire universe”. He describes the physics it revealed—the fluid mechanics of the liquid, the reflections in the wine. It revealed geology, for glass is from the earth, and its materials can be traced back to their formations in the cores of stars. It revealed chemistry in the fermentation of the wine. Hence all there is to know about the universe is in this humble glass.

It is easy to see STEM, with its mathematical symbolism and inscrutable proofs as cold, technical, and removed from the everyday. But to view it in this way is to ignore the romance of the extra dimension it adds to the everyday, to glasses of wine, to arts and the humanities.

Music, for example, is a human creation that relies heavily on emotion, and subjective preferences concerning sonic aesthetics. And yet underlying music is physics and mathematics...

Science and mathematics reveal a world that is weird, uncertain, and inextricably tied to the ways in which we live and experience our environment. Learning science does not remove one from the world—it adds to one’s understanding of it. Any perceived coldness or technicality results from forgetting to augment our study of science with the arts, with humanities, with philosophy and politics, literature and language, and music.
Read more... 

Source: Honi Soit   

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

A good philosophy makes life worthwhile | Blog - TOI Edit Page

Extract from ‘A Time For All Things’ published by Speaking Tiger.

Photo: Ruskin Bond
"The other day, when I was with a group of students, a bright young thing asked me, ‘Sir, what is your philosophy of life?’" according to Ruskin Bond, India's most loved children's writer. 

She had me stumped.

Photo: Times of India (blog)
There I was, a seventy-five-year-old, still writing, and still functioning physically and mentally (or so I believed), but quite helpless when it came to formulating ‘a philosophy of life’.

How dare I reach the venerable age of seventy-five without a philosophy; without anything resembling a religious outlook; without arming myself with a battery of great thoughts with which to impress my young interlocutor, who is obviously in need of a little practical if not spiritual guidance to help her navigate the shoals of life?

This morning I was pondering on this absence of a philosophy or religious outlook in my make-up, and feeling a little low because it was cloudy and dark outside, and gloomy weather always seems to dampen my spirits. Then the clouds broke up and the sun came out, large, yellow splashes of sunshine in my room and upon my desk, and almost immediately I felt an uplift of spirit.  And at the same time I realised that no philosophy would be of any use to a person so susceptible to changes in light and shade, sunshine and shadow.  I was a pagan, pure and simple; a sensualist; sensitive to touch and colour and fragrance and odour and sounds of every description; a creature of instinct, of spontaneous attractions, given to illogical fancies and attachments. As a guide, philosopher and friend I am of no use to anyone, least of all to myself.

I think the best advice I ever had was contained in these lines from Shakespeare which my father had copied into one of my notebooks when I was nine years old:

This above all, to thine own self be true,

And it must follow as the night of the day,

Thou can’st not then be false to any man.

Each one of us is a mass of imperfections, and to be able to recognise and live with our imperfections, our basic natures, defects of genes and birth – hereditary flaws – makes for an easier transit on life’s journey …
Read more... 

Source: Times of India (blog)

Philosophy at Oxford: too many men | Comment - Oxford Student

"The Faculty of Philosophy’s recently announced measures to ‘feminise the curriculum’ have angered some quarters" continues Oxford Student
Photo: Oxford Student

Critics appear particularly taken aback by the call for a 40% target for female representation on our reading lists. The move has been dismissed as ‘virtue signalling’ (see the initial OxStu article here), a claim which suggests the department’s support for gender equality is merely superficial. However, it is an ignorant viewer who presumes that female philosophers, or writers of any subject, cannot offer us anything that has not already been uttered by a man. The exclusion of female writers from our reading lists is a consequence of prolonged and institutionalised sexism, and active effort must be taken to reverse this. Without this change, we risk sacrificing our own learning by closing our books and our minds to crucial schools of philosophical and political thought.

The target of 40% has been treated in the media as both arbitrary and excessive, but it is not radical and should not be considered so. As always, we can learn from US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who pointed out “People ask me sometimes… when will there be enough [women on the Supreme Court]? And my answer is ‘when there are nine’. People are shocked. But there’d been nine men, and nobody’s ever raised a question about that.” Give me a reading list consisting of only 40% men, and I would be shocked. Why, then, is a 40% female reading list being portrayed as dangerous? It will not damage the “traditional canon of the degree”, but will serve only to broaden the views which we are presented and arguably increase the standard of study. A recent article published on the ‘Conservative Women’ site claimed that the move “suggests that far from achieving excellence, philosophy students will be indoctrinated in what until recently had been a minority obsession – the ideology of equality.” Equality, by its very nature, will never simply benefit a minority. On the contrary, we all have something to learn from those who differ from us, be it in race, sexuality or gender.

Without proper representation, the battle for equality faces an impossible task. The impact may at first be subtle, and is often subconscious, playing largely into self-perceptions. How can a female student of philosophy such as myself suppose they can equal the academic achievements of her male counterparts when exclusively exposed to the work of men? Is it surprising that a woman might view herself as less likely to fit in or be accepted in the world of academia if we have no role models to show us the way?

We need to highlight the female potential for original, groundbreaking ideas. Without these role models, women are less likely to pursue a path in the world of academia. Indeed, women and men currently enter undergraduate philosophy courses at roughly the same rate, with about 46% students being female. This tails off as we progress, though – by PhD level, only 30% of philosophy students are women, and in terms of those with permanent jobs in the field only one-quarter are women. Countless studies have demonstrated the vital importance of role models for our own success. An American Psychological Association study found that PhD students with a supervisor of their own gender produced substantially more research than the cross-gender cases. Other studies have also pointed out that female students find role models to be of greater importance and value than males, and that the personal characteristics of a role model, such as gender, were more important to them.

Source: Oxford Student

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Deep learning: Why it’s time for AI to get philosophical | Opinion - The Globe and Mail

Photo: Catherine Stinson
For years, science fiction writers have spelled out the technological marvels and doomsday scenarios that might result from artificial intelligence. Now that it’s a part of our lives, argues Catherine Stinson, postdoctoral scholar at the Rotman Institute of Philosophy, at the University of Western Ontario, and former machine-learning researcher. 

Photo: Raymond Biesinger

Those working in AI need to take their work’s social and ethical implications much more seriously.

I wrote my first lines of code in 1992, in a high school computer science class. When the words “Hello world” appeared in acid green on the tiny screen of a boxy Macintosh computer, I was hooked. I remember thinking with exhilaration, “This thing will do exactly what I tell it to do!” and, only half-ironically, “Finally, someone understands me!” For a kid in the throes of puberty, used to being told what to do by adults of dubious authority, it was freeing to interact with something that hung on my every word – and let me be completely in charge.

For a lot of coders, the feeling of empowerment you get from knowing exactly how a thing works – and having complete control over it – is what attracts them to the job. Artificial intelligence (AI) is producing some pretty nifty gadgets, from self-driving cars (in space!) to automated medical diagnoses. The product I’m most looking forward to is real-time translation of spoken language, so I’ll never again make gaffes such as telling a child I’ve just met that I’m their parent or announcing to a room full of people that I’m going to change my clothes in December.

But it’s starting to feel as though we’re losing control.

These days, most of my interactions with AI consist of shouting, “No, Siri! I said Paris, not bratwurst!” And when my computer does completely understand me, it no longer feels empowering. The targeted ads about early menopause and career counselling hit just a little too close to home, and my Fitbit seems like a creepy Santa Claus who knows when I am sleeping, knows when I’m awake and knows if I’ve been bad or good at sticking to my exercise regimen.

Algorithms tracking our every step and keystroke expose us to dangers much more serious than impulsively buying wrinkle cream. Increasingly polarized and radicalized political movements, leaked health data and the manipulation of elections using harvested Facebook profiles are among the documented outcomes of the mass deployment of AI. Something as seemingly innocent as sharing your jogging routes online can reveal military secrets. These cases are just the tip of the iceberg. Even our beloved Canadian Tire money is being repurposed as a surveillance tool for a machine-learning team.

For years, science-fiction writers have spelled out both the technological marvels and the doomsday scenarios that might result from intelligent technology that understands us perfectly and does exactly what we tell it to do. But only recently has the inevitability of tricorders, robocops and constant surveillance become obvious to the non-fan general public... 

...The current generation of AI researchers (with a few exceptions) do not have the training necessary to deal with the implications of the AI they are building. So far, the experts who do have that training are not being hired to help. That needs to change – or the darkest of science fiction will become reality. 

Source: The Globe and Mail

YEARBOOK 2018: Abney enriches students’ lives through music | Richmond Register

"Shannon Abney always knew she wanted to be a music teacher. Music was a natural love of her life, and sharing that love with the next generation seemed perfect."

Mrs. Shannon Abney with third-grade music student Hayley Higdon. Abney was recently honored as the Kentucky Music Education Association Teacher of the Year.
Photo: Kate Underwood/ The Register.

“It’s always what I was going to do,” she said, reflecting on her career decision.

Public school teachers may not often get the respect or recognition they deserve, but Mrs. Shannon Abney, the general music teacher at Silver Creek Elementary in Berea, has attracted attention recently. She was honored by her peers in music education at the Kentucky Music Education Association’s conference as the KMEA Teacher of the Year. At February’s conference in Louisville, she was awarded a plaque and recognized for her contributions in music education.

“The awards ceremony was so exciting! I was still in a state of shock that I had been chosen,” she said.

Because of “her dedication and love for teaching,” fellow district music teacher Kimberly Evans chose to nominate Abney for the Teacher of the Year award at the district level.

Evans, who teaches music at Waco Elementary School in Richmond, said, “(Abney) goes above and beyond to provide her students with a well-rounded music education while also instilling in them a passion for music.”

After that initial nomination and winning the District 11 award, Abney completed an additional application process to be considered for the state-level award. Besides submitting her CV and additional references, she described her educational philosophy and teaching techniques in her application.

“It meant so much to be recognized by my peers,” Abney said.

KMEA Conference
Abney said, “The KMEA Conference is nice because sessions are often led by colleagues in music education.”

It was a gathering of like-minded teachers with similar goals of advancing music education departments around Kentucky.
Read more... 

Source: Richmond Register

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Meet the PhD student who makes science accessible through social media |

Follow on Twitter as @samanthalui_
You can listen to Samantha Yammine's full interview on Cross Country Checkup.

"By day, Samantha Yammine studies how the brain works" according to Samantha Lui, Journalist and videographer.

Along the way, she snaps selfies, takes photos of her research and tweets updates to thousands of her followers on social media.

Can we teach science in the streets?

Yammine, a PhD candidate at the University of Toronto's molecular genetics department, is a science communicator: she shares science-related topics with non-experts, whether it's through teaching workshops, giving lab tours or talking to others about her research.

"I want to show people what science really is, which is the iterative reproducible process of finding [and] getting closer to new truths," she said in an interview with host Duncan McCue during Checkup's episode on Canadians' trust in science.

For Yammine, Twitter and Instagram are her way of educating the public about her studies.

"I couldn't think of a better way to do it than just doing it the way every other industry does it, which is through social media," she said.

Yammine, 27, has been teaching and doing public outreach for most of her life. In 2016, she started an Instagram to get a bigger audience. Since then, she's gained over 20,000 followers.

"I think that the audience size tells us about a thirst people have to better understand the process of science," she said.

"I have a mixture of aspiring scientists, a lot of high school and undergraduate students. I have a ton of parents who have young kids who want to learn more about how their kids can get into a [university] program like mine. And then, I have other scientists following along as well who are just curious to learn about other people's work."

Criticism over her content
Samantha Yammine, who often 
posts selfies on her Instagram, 
has been criticized 
on her approach 
to educating others about science.
Photo: Submitted by Samantha Yammine.
Scrolling through Yammine's social feed, it's clear makeup and fashion are among her many interests including science. Along with her photos, she often posts about neuroscience, her daily work life and fun facts from studies she finds interesting. 

However, her approach to teaching others about science isn't always met favourably.

Yammine has attracted her fair share of detractors on the internet. In fact, her selfies, videos and use of emojis have even been criticized from her own colleagues at school.

Being a woman in the field
With science still heavily male-dominated, Yammine admits being a woman in the field can often be a challenge.
"It's difficult getting people to take you seriously, and I often have to prove my credibility and convince people that I know what I'm talking about," she said.

Samantha Lui writes in the end of her article,"The beauty is that as a female scientist, I think I can better reach half the population and those people who have never felt themselves, never seen themselves in [the field]. I have this immediate advantage just because I am a woman. I think people can relate to me more."

Source: and Science.Sam Channel (YouTube)

Friday, March 23, 2018

They called my university a PhD factory – now I understand why | The Guardian

Academics Anonymous is the blog series where academics tell it like it is.

Check out this post in Higher Education Network, Academics Anonymous, "Senior academics warned that my university cared more about cheap labour than launching academic careers. It turns out they were right."

‘PhDs drop off the end of a conveyer belt, but no one cares what happens to graduates after that.’  ’ 
Photo: Alamy

As I reluctantly consider quitting academia after a year-long research fellowship, I find myself recalling a drug dealer’s line in the film Withnail and I: “If you’re hanging on to a rising balloon, you’re presented with a difficult decision – let go before it’s too late or hang on and keep getting higher, posing the question: how long can you keep a grip on the rope?” His words describe my dilemma: do I hold on to my dream of a permanent university lectureship or abandon it as illusory and hazardous to my mental health?
I’m not, of course, the first postdoc to feel this way. As I neared the end of my doctorate in 2013, I read an essay by Rebecca Schuman, which argued that getting a literature PhD will turn you into an emotional trainwreck, not a professor. Her article added to an expanding genre known as quit lit, which reflects the growing disillusionment of many academics with university culture.

Perusing job ads, it strikes me that lectureship vacancies are rare, in contrast to the plethora of positions for university bureaucrats. When permanent jobs come up, the ensuing feeding frenzy sees hundreds of applications from superbly qualified candidates. I’ve got peer-reviewed publications and a book contract – and so has everyone else.

When I was considering whether to study for a doctorate, I heard my chosen university disparaged as a PhD factory. At the time, I took this to be a sign of efficiency. Now I understand. PhDs are manufactured; they drop off the end of a conveyer belt, but no one cares what happens to graduates after that. All universities care about are the fees paid by students and the cheap labour they provide. This is the opposite of efficiency: no factory would mindlessly churn out goods that no one wants...

 ...the overwhelming majority of PhD students I’ve encountered desperately want a career in academia. They didn’t saddle themselves with debt because they wanted intellectual stimulation.
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Source: The Guardian

Landmark moments for women in philosophy [timeline] | OUPblog

Catherine Pugh, Marketing Assistant at Oxford University Press in Oxford, UK. summarizes, "This March, in recognition of Women’s History Month, the OUP Philosophy team will be celebrating Women in Philosophy." 

Nine Living Muses of Great Britain by Richard Samuel. 
Photo: Wikimedia Commons
The philosophy discipline has long been perceived as male-dominated, so we want to recognize some of the incredible female philosophers from the past including Simone de Beauvoir, Mary Wollstonecraft, and Hannah Arendt, plus female philosophers doing great things in 2018 like Martha Nussbaum, Clare Chambers, and Kate Manne.

Find these and more in our reading list below, highlighting recent works in the field of feminist philosophy and classic female philosophers. Visit our Women in Philosophy page for more book recommendations, along with free access to online products and journal articles focusing on female philosophers and feminist philosophy.

Additional resources
  Blue and Gold Cover Book by Negative Space.
Photo: Pexels
Women in philosophy: A reading list by Catherine Pugh, Marketing Assistant at Oxford University Press in Oxford, UK.

Source: OUPblog (blog)