Creating a garden for scientific success

Nobel laureate Ahmed Zewail’s editorial in Nature is here. Hat tip Harry Erwin.

Money quote:

How can we ensure that such research is encouraged today? Curiosity-driven research requires that creative scientists work in an environment that encourages interactions between researchers and collaborations across different fields. But such attributes cannot and should not be orchestrated by structured and weighty management, as creative minds and bureaucracies do not work harmoniously together.

Janelia East

Noah Gray’s blog at Nature Network comments on “the future construction of a brand new neuroscience research institute based at University College London”.

Karel Svoboda used the term “Janelia East” to characterize it.

Interestingly, Noah refers to hiring issues at Janelia “West”. Money quote:

JFRC has been around for longer and has gone through this hiring cycle a few times. They have slowly brought in a mix of established and newish investigators and have put together quite a fabulous team. However, the fact that they are still advertising for positions 2-3 years on (having been through quite a few cycles of interviewing and job offers at this point) suggests that these innovative, passionate scientists they are striving to hire are either reluctant to come, or are simply not out there in droves.

Therefore, once these new European ventures are online, they may run into a similar personnel problem that is plaguing Janelia. Perhaps this will not be the case. The UCL center has quite a lot going for it, being associated with a world-class university, and also being smack-dab in the middle of a major international city. This can only help with recruitment. It will be interesting to see if in a few years, whether the UCL center fills its new buildings with researchers any faster than Janelia has filled its beautiful glimmering glass-walled laboratories. But even if recruitment problems do not arise, this concept got me thinking about how to best match specific research goals with the individual labs that will actually conduct the work.


More from the Cape

A wonderful dinner last night with a former student, now a valued member of my editorial board, and her husband.  This evening sitting out under a cool, cloudy sky in Falmouth working on a new paper about the trajectory of cortical development in post-natal humans (from zero till six years old).

I’m thinking about ideas for Nature’s Scifoo Camp at Google later this week. It’s a lot of fun.