Saturday, December 11, 2010

Wow! A place to do pilot experiments?

For a mere $25k, you can spend a year there? Complete with spa treatments?

I seriously thought this was some kind of joke, but it's not April, so...

check it out. As seen in a paid advertisement in Nature.

I am very curious to know how many people they have working there now, and what the breakdown is like. Are they mostly older? People from industry? Are schools buying memberships & sending students?

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At 10:28 AM, Anonymous Thinkerbell said...

The 25K a year still needs to come from somewhere. Supposedly researchers can now save time from writing grants, but instead of the confocal they now have to write VARI into their grant proposals. Of course, once VARI has proved itself as a place where the experiment always yield quality data, than at least you won't get grant comments back such as "the applicant does not have sufficient experience to perform fancy experiment X".
Other than that, it sounds a little over the top. Supposedly granting access to everyone, it sounds like the golf course and spa is going to attract a specific type of researcher... and I doubt it's going to be the poor sucker who now finally has the opportunity to do fancy science. Does this mean that with institutions like this good old collaborations are out the window? I don't know, but just sending (or receiving) a PhD student or postdoct to (or from) another lab for a couple of weeks/months were always interesting exchange experiences, IMHO

At 11:51 AM, Blogger just some guy trying to write said...

I love your blog!

I don't see where your email, so I'll just post my query here -- have you come across any good books on the lives of graduate students? I'm not talking about informative 'this is what you can expect' stuff. I'm talking about something that captures the trials and tribulations of graduate life, whether fiction or non.

Thank you so much!

At 12:04 PM, Blogger _vTg_ said...

A fascinating model! Though perhaps not too shocking for imagine scientists? Xray crystallographers used to describe their Berkley "vacations" where they had to present their carefully made crystals, then hang round for a few days while someone else got the structure...

At 10:14 AM, Blogger Ms.PhD said...


I agree. The only advantage I can see - and this is a big one - is that sometimes the only people with the cool machines are MAJOR A$$HOLES and they wouldn't collaborate with you or your trainee, or you wouldn't want to go there yourself on sabbatical or send your defenseless trainee there to be eaten alive.

Even with reasonable folks, they don't always have enough time or incentive to help visitors. There's something to be said, at least in theory, for being a paying customer rather than a non-paying guest.

And it's no fun being the only outsider. At least this way you're there with other people who are just visiting. I would think there's some great potential there for spontaneous collaborations among people who wouldn't otherwise meet.

What's not clear to me is whether they also provide you with all the disposables, food, etc. They specifically mention some things and not others. Those things can get pricey if you're going to be there a while. Or maybe they figure most people will pay for the year membership and not use up the full amount of allotted time?

@just some guy,

email is yfsblog at gmail.

Best book I can think of off the top of my head is Intuition, by Allegra Goodman. FSP has a few posts where she wrote about & requested books with academic/faculty-level themes. I liked Moo by Jane Smiley but it's about faculty, not students. Maybe other readers have additional suggestions. I've seen one or two self-published things on the web, but darned if I can't remember what they were called.

Vtg, that still happens, except now the crystals go by fedex and the data are collected remotely by robot... more like a Staycation, I guess.

At 6:09 PM, Blogger Genomic Repairman said...

This dude is going to fail to secure enough VC and if he does, this place will be shut down in under two years. How many universities are going to let there researchers dump 25K somewhere else?

At 9:56 AM, Blogger Ms.PhD said...

@Genomic, I don't think universities are really his target audience, but maybe. Most companies would see this as a great deal - MUCH cheaper than buying their own equipment & service contracts.

At 1:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

$25k actually seems like a good deal -- relate that to what a university would cost for this on a grant!


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