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On his way to receive the Nobel, physicist Peter Higgs (of Higgs-Boson) was interviewed by the Grauniad. He said:

Today I wouldn’t get an academic job. It’s as simple as that. I don’t think I would be regarded as productive enough.

What should one make of this statement? Looking at Higgs’ description of his record at the time, it seems very clear that he would not have made it through the ranks now. Bad for Higgs. But is it bad for Science as some  have concluded? The article suggests so. But, there is a gap in logic. It implies, for example, that were Newton to have succumbed to the plague, Calculus and  the laws of motion would not be uncovered. This we know is false. The question of the best way to engineer a climate most conducive to research is not resolved by such reflections. It is not obvious that long periods of inactivity punctuated by bursts of magisterial insights is any better or worse than continued activity generating small insights that eventually cumulate into something larger. 


Two public service announcements. The first about post-doc positions. The second about nominations for SIGecom dissertation awards.

Postdoc Positions

Penn’s newly-launched Warren Center for Network and Data Sciences seeks nominations for 2014 Warren Postdoctoral Fellowships. Warren Fellow candidates should have research interests in the subjects supported by the center, which include but are not limited to network science (including the study of social, technological, economic, organizational and biological networks, as well as underlying foundational areas such as graph theory, game theory, mechanism design) and data science (including machine learning, statistics, data privacy and security). The ideal candidate will have a strongly interdisciplinary research agenda with a demonstrated track record, and would be nominated by faculty affiliates of the Warren Center in two or more Penn departments who will act as hosts, advisors and collaborators of the candidate.

Warren Postdoctoral Fellows will receive generous and competitive stipends and research support, and will participate in a vibrant and community of Warren Center faculty affiliates, postdocs and students. We expect to fund multiple Warren Fellows for the 2014-15 academic year. Fellowships are for a one-year period, extendable to two by mutual agreement.

Dissertation Awards

SIGecom Doctoral Dissertation Award for dissertations defended in 2013. Nomination deadline end of February, 2014.


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