Thursday, September 27, 2012

Skills for Scientists

Please drop a line if you have more to add!
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Scientific knowledge base
Depth of knowledge in chosen subject area
Breadth of knowledge in general field, adjacent fields, scientific literacy

Approach-specific knowledge base
Laboratory, field, theoretical/modeling approaches

Quantitative skills
Setting up a problem
Back of the envelope calculations
            Basic computing--algebra
            More advanced computing—linear algebra/differential equations
            Programming
           
Receptive communication skills
            Reading—textbooks
            Reading—papers
            Listening to seminars

Active communication skills
            Writing papers
            Writing proposals
            Writing “one-pagers”
            Designing Posters
            Presenting research
            Graphic design

Dynamic communication skills
            Reviewing papers/proposals
Poster sessions
            Working in pairs and/or groups

“fuzzy” skills
Creativity: coming up with new approaches
Curiosity: asking scientific questions
 Sense of scale of problem: How much detail is necessary?
Productivity: Getting things off the desk, though not necessarily perfect
Self-discipline/self-management/time-management

Clich├ęd but useful:
“Eighty percent of success is showing up”            -Woody Allen
 “Don’t boil the ocean”

Science is (or should be) about play: playing with ideas, numbers, pictures, puzzles.
A good science course should introduce students to scientific puzzling—so that scientists can ultimately figure out their own puzzles and solve them.

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