With Keith Micoli, New York University Langone Medical Center
The Academic Executive Brief interviews Keith Micoli, Postdoctoral Program Director at New York University Langone Medical Center and former chair of the National Postdoctoral Association. Micoli reflects on the importance of postdocs to the US research enterprise, the largely international nature of the position, and the importance of making the postdoc an attractive career option.
By Adam Tickell, University of Birmingham
During the past 15 years or so, the University of Birmingham progressively slipped according to the UK’s research evaluation measures. Under the leadership of a new Vice Chancellor, Professor David Eastwood, the university went through an ambitious transformation to achieve its goal of becoming a leading global university.
Eye on Mexico: Public support for science is high, but transition to a research-based economy remains the challenge
By Edmundo A. Gutiérrez-D., National Institute for Astrophysics, Optics and Electronics, Mexico
Most Mexican companies are oriented towards low-tech production and commercialization of imported goods, while the government is steering the research community, through the evaluation process, towards an international qualification level, which is not correlated with the country’s current industrial needs. This disconnect is hindering the transition toward a more technology-oriented base economy. There is an urgent need to build confidence in the joint university-industry relationship and to reorient high-skilled human resources to meet Mexico’s industrial and technology needs.
By Francesc Xavier Grau Vidal, University Rovira i Virgili
The recent large reduction in public finance in Spain is affecting all public services, including the pillars of our society: the health service, social cohesion, and education. In the case of universities, the effect is twofold. In addition to negatively influencing their role as providers of higher education, the reduction in public finance is harming our universities’ ability to generate knowledge and their power to bring about cultural, social and economic change.
By Byoung Yoon Kim and Sung-Mo “Steve” Kang, KAIST
For the new economy, KAIST is recharging itself to educate future entrepreneurs and to create an ecosystem for world-class technology startups. It is planning new programs for entrepreneurship education and adding the supporting infrastructure, while strengthening basic R&D activities to sustain creativity and innovation.
By Scott Rutherford, Queen's University Belfast
It is no surprise that the need for research information comes from both internal and external drivers. Perhaps the most important external driver for information within the UK context is the Research Excellence Framework (REF), an initiative of the four UK higher education funding bodies to assess the performance of UK researchers.
Interview with Yuko Harayama, Council for Science and Technology Policy, Cabinet Office of Japan
In Japan, we realized we needed to take advantage of our existing universities’ knowledge-creation capacity and transform that into industry. However is there a danger in moving away from basic research? The serendipitous use of created knowledge is a key component of innovation, but the pressure from policy makers is to explain the impact up front, which cannot be done in such a scenario.
Interview with Per Eriksson, Lund University
Exemplifying adaptation and innovation, institutions like Lund University help Sweden consistently top the European Union’s Innovation Scoreboard. The university offers a comprehensive education as it establishes top research teams and a new international hub for materials science, and champions local development while seeding global companies.
Interview with Marye Anne Fox, UC San Diego
Chancellor Fox discusses the University of California, San Diego's global reputation/regional impact, funding successes and challenges, and the Sanford Consortium for Regenerative Medicine. "It’s a challenge to manage public opinion when a large part of the public may not understand the difference between an operating budget and a capital budget."
By Joshua Rosenbloom, National Science Foundation
Measuring the economic benefits of investments in R&D requires tracing a complex web of influences over periods of several decades. A community of practice centered on key issues in science and innovation policy has emerged in support of drivers to place policy decisions on a sound scientific basis. Only through a sustained and systematic study of this subject will we improve our understanding of the key issues that motivated the call for a Science of Science Policy.
An interview with Alicia Löffler, Northwestern University
In 2010 Northwestern University decided to change the way it moves innovations to the market, instituting a more holistic approach and incorporating translational activities: discovering research with potential and moving innovations toward commercialization.
In the wake of 3-11, Japanese academics must further increase understanding of and interest in science and technology in Japan
By Yoichiro Matsumoto, The University of Tokyo
Before the triple disaster — earthquake, tsunami and nuclear accident — of March 11, 2011 (3-11), struck Japan, our faculty members within science and technology (S&T) were already under pressure. Historically, professors have been accorded much respect in Japan, and the academic freedom offered at universities presented a desirable career option. However, changing attitudes and conditions have tempered benefits and diminished the pool of next-generation aspirants.
By John T. Green, Fellow of Queens’ College, University of Cambridge
John Green's interest in research metrics grew in concert with the UK’s downturn in higher education funding, when it became increasingly apparent that the academic research enterprise required the application of business principles in order to survive and thrive. He later became involved in developing Snowball Metrics, an agreed set of robust and consistent definitions for tried-and tested metrics across the entire spectrum of research activities.
Interview with George Baxter, University of Salford
In October 2013 Sir Andrew Witty published a report exploring how UK universities can maximize the potential of their research output and translate it into supporting economic growth. The report helped the University of Salford confirm areas of focus in research and community engagement.
By Andrew Plume, Elsevier
Historically, studies have shown and continue to demonstrate that researchers desire to disseminate information and further knowledge within their disciplines. But they are also fundamentally human and susceptible to the drivers that motivate us all, including advancement and competition.
By David Kross, Elsevier
Research is big business. But identifying return on investment is not easy for research funders. While publishers almost always include an acknowledgements section in their journals, where authors credit their funding sources, the lack of standardization of funding organizations’ names and their abbreviations make it difficult to use the information for reporting or analysis. Several funding bodies and publishers are now collaborating with CrossRef to address this problem.
Attracting talent in a global academic world: How emerging research universities can benefit from brain circulation
By Jamil Salmi, Global Tertiary Education Expert
Though academic mobility has been a defining element of higher education from its beginnings, it has now reached unprecedented levels, and is likely to continue growing as countries and tertiary education institutions compete for the most talented professionals. As the examples in this article illustrate, a notable selection of universities in emerging economies have succeeded in building their teaching and research capacity by relying extensively on their ability to lure and keep foreign academics, often through directed recruitment from their diasporas.
Ambitious and agile: The University of Bremen’s institutional strategy for advancing research strengths at a mid-sized university
By Rolf Drechsler and Achim Wiesner, University of Bremen
The University of Bremen produces internationally competitive research, ranking especially high in volume of third-party funding for that research. Bremen has been notably boosted in its development by its capacity for internal cooperation and communication.
Tackling grand challenges: Boosting interdisciplinarity to embrace complexity, unknowns and imperfection
By Gabriele Bammer, The Australian National University
For a team-based interdisciplinary effort to successfully address complex, real-world grand challenges, we need to boost our problem-solving skill sets. In addition to reductionist thinking, which gives us detailed understanding of specific elements of the problem, we need to enhance our ability to also understand the problem as a system. This involves understanding interconnections, possible vicious or stabilizing cycles, simple rules that may underpin complex behaviors, properties that emerge when the focus moves from one level in a hierarchy to another, and so on.
By Andrew Plume, Elsevier
The International Comparative Performance of the UK Research Base: 2011 report assessed the performance of the UK's research base. It found that UK researchers generate more articles per researcher, more citations per researcher, and more usage per article authored, and that the researchers' mobility was a key factor.
By Holly J. Falk-Krzesinski, Elsevier
The author explores recent findings about team assembly and composition, as well as trust and communication, and offers related tools leaders can use to implement effective practices in team science.
By Norhayati Zakaria, Universiti Utara Malaysia
With the globalization of research teams, institutions are increasingly paying attention to the interconnections between management competencies and culture. Whether the team is together in one physical location or operates in a virtual environment, challenges can arise from many sources: cultural, managerial, operational, efficiency or effectiveness concerns, and more.
China: Building an innovation talent program system and facing global competition in a knowledge economy
By Yu Wei and Zhaojun Sun, Peking University
China is experiencing a serious shortage of high-level innovation talent, which presents a challenge to current efforts to develop the knowledge economy and build an innovation-oriented country. Efforts are underway to recruit special talents from among the 200,000 Chinese citizens estimated to be working in major developed countries after completing their overseas studies.
By Mohd Jailani Mohd Nor, Universiti Teknikal Malaysia Melaka
Realizing that R&D excellence cannot happen in bits and pieces, the Ministry of Higher Education has launched a comprehensive initiative to create synergistic efforts in promoting R&D excellence throughout Malaysia. To secure the new incentives, all parties interested in conducting research in Malaysia, including university administrators, research offices, research groups and individual researchers, must now work together in multi-disciplinary and multi-institutional teams.
Interview with Mary Ellen Perry, NIH, and George Weinstock, WUSTL
Hundreds of researchers and multiple academic institutions and NIH institutes participated in the Human Microbiome Project (HMP) to sequence and analyze microbial genomes, create resource repositories, and examine the associated ethical, legal and social implications. The NIH Common Fund supported the HMP as its goals spanned the missions of several NIH Institutes and Centers.