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Graduate Education in the Chemical Sciences — Issues for the 21st Century: Report of a Workshop 1 The Challenges to American Graduate Education Peter M. Eisenberger Columbia University I am going to address the challenges to American graduate education by first reviewing the results of a workshop held in 1995 by the Mathematics and Physical Sciences (MPS) Directorate of the National Science Foundation (NSF) on graduate education. After reviewing those findings, I will try to update the environment in which that workshop was carried out to the present and highlight some of the changes that have occurred, even in the short period of time since then. As you will see, most of the core conclusions that came from that workshop are still relevant today. DRIVING FORCES Before reviewing the findings of the 1995 MPS workshop, I would like to review the driving forces that were in place at that time and prompted holding the workshop and how these forces have evolved to the present (Box 1.1). These forces affect the research and development enterprise and therefore the educational enterprise that is critical to it. The first force is the almost complete transition to a civilian focus, except for the recent security flap at the Department of Energy (i.e., the allegations of Chinese espionage). This is going to cause reverberations in that organization for some time. Another force present in 1995 was concern about competition from the Japanese. I think our country is more self-confident now about its ability to perform in a global marketplace. That is a major shift since that time frame. The final force I would like to mention is the heightened concern about America’s increasing global impact. I would also like to touch on an emerging trend. We are entering a new age in which the topics are going to be new applications of knowledge to many new problems. This “knowledge revolution” will be very good for us in the sense that knowledge will be recognized as important. On the other hand, the knowledge revolution is going to get us involved with many more messy problems, and it will emphasize our obligation—all of us, as an enterprise—to communicate with the society we are a part of. I will return to the changing emphasis later, when you will see how it dovetails with what was anticipated in the 1995 workshop and how it has become even more important today.
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Graduate Education in the Chemical Sciences — Issues for the 21st Century: Report of a Workshop BOX 1.1 Major Factors Driving Change in Research and Development Replacement of defense objectives by civilian and commercial needs for research and development Global competition and growing concern about America’s global impact The fast pace of innovation The information age, the Internet, and changing organization and operational practices The increased complexity of important scientific problems, emerging technologies, and societal problems The growing understanding between science and technology generators and decision makers All of these factors have an impact on graduate education in particular and on the overall educational framework as well. RESULTS OF THE 1995 NSF WORKSHOP About 100 people, including students, participated in the day-and-a-half meeting at the NSF. They came up with a series of findings, which led to a series of recommendations.1 The first finding relates to funding. In 1995 we were concerned about facing a large budget deficit and about the little discretionary money available because of the combined expenses of national security and social programs. This constraint on funding was a major concern at that time. It still exists even in today’s economic boom in the sense that we have to compete with other entities for the public dollar, and we can no longer depend on our role in national security to give us a preemptive right to resources. Now we have to compete for available funds and demonstrate our value. While federal research dollars have not declined, the shift away from military spending has caused significant dislocations in many institutions. We are in a process of completing our adjustments to the shift in spending priorities. Because of this transition, the workshop participants concluded that we should develop programs that address social priorities. In other words, if military expenditures were going to go down, what would go up? The needs identified were social concerns, concerns associated with the economy, and concerns associated with the quality of life. If we wanted to develop and apply for new resources in those directions, it would be important for us to demonstrate the value to society of the academic research enterprise and provide concrete benefits, similar to what had been done in the national security area. The second finding was supported heavily by the industrial participants. They observed that, by and large, the students coming from graduate programs were not well prepared to contribute within an industrial setting. On one hand, our educational enterprise is the envy of the world. Students from around the world come to study here. Yet, the participants at that workshop believed strongly that 1 National Science Foundation Workshop Report: Graduate Education and Postdoctoral Training in the Mathematical and Physical Sciences, Report NSF 96-21 (Office of the Assistant Directorate for Mathematics and Physical Sciences, NSF, 1996). The workshop summary report can be found on the NSF Web site at <http://www.nsf.gov/mps/workshop.htm>.
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Graduate Education in the Chemical Sciences — Issues for the 21st Century: Report of a Workshop graduate education in the physical sciences and mathematics was admirable only from one perspective, that of training someone to go back into academia, while the majority of graduates were going into nonacademic careers. The fact that students were so narrowly trained was viewed as healthy neither for them nor for the overall enterprise. Science moves forward, and individual fields are becoming more specialized. One result is that students will have to develop skills beyond their scientific expertise. They will have to learn communication, management, and other interpersonal skills because they are going to be asked increasingly to work in teams, both within and outside academia. The third finding is something that I think is familiar to all of us. As the American university enterprise becomes increasingly competitive, the emphasis on research becomes even more exaggerated. This is having a profound impact on the relationship of the faculty to the students and on the educational experience of the students. A strong bias exists toward research, even at schools that stress education. At schools of this type, such as Princeton University, the faculty still spend a minority of their time on teaching and are largely focused on research. That has an impact that shapes—some would say distorts—the nature of the educational experience. One distortion is felt in how the strong emphasis on research contributes to the long time that it takes students to get Ph.D.s. Some statistics were presented that indicated that the length of time was getting longer, not shorter. It was speculated that the time had to do with the professors’ unwillingness to let successful students go because they were essential to the professors’ successes. They had to help the professor write the next grant application or get a paper out to satisfy the previous grant. The students’ time was better correlated with that than with the actual requirements of their education. The students were complacent about this. They did not particularly want to go into the real world, because they were having a good time, in many cases, in the educational framework itself. As I will say when we get to the recommendations, the workshop participants believed that society was thereby the loser. The education enterprise at that time was viewed as a training ground for people going back into academia. It did not value the professional master’s programs in the sciences, such as the chemical sciences, which prepared students to go directly to industry but did not satisfy the academic requirements that were believed necessary to stay in academia. Those people obtaining a master’s degree were viewed as second-class citizens. The fourth finding is a very important issue. For some reason, academia seems to be one of the more resistant institutions in America to include diversity. This has become increasingly clear as evidenced by the limited involvement of women and minorities in the faculty ranks in the universities in particular. In mathematics and the physical sciences, the disciplines of physics and mathematics have been the most resistant to change. As has been documented and recently published in a study at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT),2 this problem seems to have taken on a new form. There are underrepresented groups in the pipeline, but, as these individuals move up to higher levels, the resistance to them appears to become greater. It is the academic equivalent of the glass ceiling. Much discussion at the 1995 workshop focused on the decline in the number of U.S. students. Some believed there was nothing to worry about, since this country has always obtained talent from abroad. Others believed very strongly that it was important to have a good representation of U.S. students. A fifth finding addressed the time needed to complete a Ph.D. degree. The length of time to the Ph.D. became a dynamic issue in the workshop. It seemed to be the distortion in the education process that symbolized the concerns of the workshop participants. The participants could understand that if 2 “A Study on the Status of Women Faculty in Science at MIT,” The MIT Faculty Newsletter, vol. XI, no. 4, March 1999.
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Graduate Education in the Chemical Sciences — Issues for the 21st Century: Report of a Workshop students were going to return to an academic career, or never leave academia, it did not matter when the demarcation points between graduate student, postdoctoral fellow, and assistant professor occurred. If you were going to leave academia, however, it would make a difference. People who spend a long time getting their Ph.D.s are at a disadvantage compared with their peers in other disciplines and skilled professions who enter industry earlier and get a big jump in their careers. In many cases, the high performers in industry are identified early. What you learn is that in industry how fast you move is exceptionally important. Spending many years in a Ph.D. program is not good for your success. Another issue is that the federal government and society are supporting graduate education because they want the students to contribute to society. To support students who spend more time in the research enterprise is more costly and may be unfair to taxpayers. To address the issue of broadening students’ skills, the minors were introduced. The first objective was to give students additional scientific breadth. For example, if you are a chemist, you would take some biology, a little physics, or maybe even some engineering to broaden your knowledge base. The second motivation was to develop other skills that might be useful to students who are not going into academia. A program could be developed offering them a minor in business, law, or engineering that would give them, in addition to their main expertise, other skills that could be useful to them. The objective was to develop in the physical sciences something that already had been done in other areas at the master’s level. The idea was to make master’s-level programs directly dovetail with employment—just as in business or law school. It does not, after all, do any good to have a master’s program if the students cannot get jobs. So, we were encouraged in the workshop to try to work with industry and develop specific master’s programs that would produce people that industry or society in general would be more interested in employing. At least in my institution, I see significant progress being made on that front. The next recommendation was another hot button that was discussed many times. It is very important to help the students coming out of their graduate careers to be better at communicating interpersonally, in presentations, and in writing. From many different perspectives, this is a major deficit that needs to be corrected. The shortening of the time to Ph.D. was a strong focus that attracted much discussion. Many workshop participants supported a fixed time limit, such as that for financial support at Princeton. The NSF workshop participants decided, instead, to recommend what I will call knowledge feedback by distributing best practices and making people aware of the average time in each discipline to get a Ph.D. If an institution or an individual were to fall well outside the norm, best practices would provide the basis for comment by a program officer or reviewer and might offer a way to address this issue. In the end, no definitive recommendations were made for shortening the time to degree. For broadening skills, the workshop recommended the use of internships. A program has come into being that has created opportunities for alliances with industry. The idea is to develop joint programs in which students would work on a project that had simultaneous industrial and academic support. There was also an idea for joint funding to create new programs. One program that I am aware of that resulted from the workshop was a collaboration between Lucent and the NSF. Again, the idea was to give students some experience outside the academic walls to broaden their perspectives. The effort to address the education-research balance structurally was very important for the NSF workshop. There is a basic problem with the principal investigator (PI) and graduate student relationship. Giving the money to the PIs makes their motivations dominate the educational enterprise, while those of the student and the institution are less important. Two ideas were proposed to get a better balance. The first was to give the money to the students, who would then shop around and pick the people with whom they want to work. Professors who do not have a good reputation or who require an
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Graduate Education in the Chemical Sciences — Issues for the 21st Century: Report of a Workshop excessively long time to degree are not going to get many students. Also, this will broaden the selection of interesting subjects to pursue. The second idea was to give more resources to institutions, or to have new entities within universities that bring groups together in collective enterprises to get support. The objective was to shift the responsibility of education to the larger whole and not have it be the total responsibility of an individual acting one on one with the students. Another idea was to use a similar approach with respect to the nagging problem of underrepresented groups. The problem would have more focus by requiring proposals to include bringing people together as one of the objectives. One of the criteria by which a proposal would be judged would be its ability to improve diversity. NSF also introduced the Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (IGERT) program, which by now has had three national competitions. I don’t know whether its generation is related directly to the MPS workshop, but it is so much on target in addressing all the issues identified in that workshop that I assume it was. Basically, IGERT’s criteria are very different from those of previous programs. It is intended to support comprehensive, multidisciplinary research projects, so it is explicitly trying to broaden the coterie of people to whom the students will be exposed. IGERT grants arrange for training activities in some of the “soft” skills, such as understanding ethics, improving group interactions, and teaching people how to work together in groups. In a more traditional vein, exposure to state-of-the-art research tools is also a criterion. Increasing the number of people from underrepresented groups is a criterion for assessment of performance. The awards, which range up to $500,000, are not for research but for supporting students. Professors must have their own support for research. I think the research university community accepted the program enthusiastically. In the first competition in 1998, 620 preliminary proposals were submitted. Of these, 65 full proposals were invited, and 17 were selected. At my institution the program promoted discussions and dialogues across boundaries that had not occurred before. It has resulted in creative proposals across those boundaries. The particular focus of IGERT is consistent with the point of view I have tried to express here today, in that it is trying to increase crossing the boundaries between the natural sciences and the social sciences. That is one of its characteristic features. There are additional examples of NSF programs that I consider as emblematic of this goal. One involves chemists working together with ecologists to study pollution in lakes. Besides talking with ecologists and other scientists who work on pollution problems, it has allowed students to become involved with regulators at both the state and federal level. Another program provided an opportunity for chemists to work together to design new molecules and then collaborate with their engineering colleagues to incorporate the molecules into devices. At the same time, they worked with industry. The preceding examples illustrate how to broaden the exposure of students. In many cases, an effort was made to avoid lengthening the time to Ph.D. Such programs should be consistent with the overall educational objectives, although some flexibility may be needed in the requirements for the major to allow the students to pursue these interests while getting their Ph.D. UPDATING THE WORKSHOP—CHANGES SINCE 1995 Funding has stayed stronger than we expected in 1995 for two reasons. One is the booming economy. Also, in 1995, a debate was going on between the Democrats and the Republicans about the appropriate role of the federal government in supporting research. I think in reality they both agreed, but political factors forced them to disagree. Now, they have decided they do agree and that it is important
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Graduate Education in the Chemical Sciences — Issues for the 21st Century: Report of a Workshop for the nation’s health to provide strong support for research. I believe that everybody recognizes that the so-called knowledge revolution or knowledge age is in a transition that gives America a competitive advantage. We have the social, economic, and intellectual infrastructure to make America highly competitive in a global economy that is based on expertise and knowledge. Since 1995, it has become clear to all of us that the Internet is emerging as a major force. It is beginning to penetrate in many forms the academic and intellectual enterprise. We are just at the beginning of that and don’t know yet how far-reaching the changes will be. This suggests a manufacturing analogy. I think the university of today is going to look like a small textile plant in New England before mass production and technology. Because of the changing ways that research is supported, we are going to have a continued shift to what I call messy problems. We can see it in many ways. The National Science Board has considered the environment as a new program for the NSF. Studies of urban issues are growing at many schools as well as new multidisciplinary neuroscience centers. We are beginning to see this shifting in many places to problems more directly related to societal needs. As part of this shift—not surprisingly, to my way of thinking—the whole question of the postmodern debate arises. The reason is that science has left the sanctity and security of working on basic science and having military impact. In a complicated way, we are becoming increasingly involved in societal questions that are not necessarily amenable to the simple reductionist answers of yes and no. For example, is global warming occurring or not? This is not a simple question, and there is no simple answer. Scientists disagree. It has made the entire process by which the enterprise operates more problematic. What do you do when there is ambiguity? What do you do when what you choose to focus on makes a difference in the social context? What you choose can shape the social agenda of a country. That makes the debate extremely important. In that sense, the postmodernists have a point. However, the fact that the apple will fall to the ground—if it falls from the tree—is not a subject for debate. There is a middle ground that those of us on the reductionist side would be ill-advised to ignore. I have said several times that we are undergoing a transition from an industrial to a knowledge age, not an information age. There is a big difference. You can have all the information you want, but it may not do you any good. Knowledge, however, will have an impact. The good news is that we are in a growth area. The demand for educated and trained individuals will continue to increase. It will pervade all aspects of life, and it will be very important that our students obtain a good education. Because we academics are at the heart of this transition, we are going to be subjected to significant changes. There is a real possibility that new institutions will replace the existing ones. History shows that it is rare to go through a transition as profound as this and to have the original institutions emerge unchanged or even continue to exist. The changes are just beginning, and they are going to happen very quickly. The transition from military to social objectives, and the transition of focus to issues such as global warming and urban problems, will have us continually interacting with the decision makers. It is going to be very complicated and very messy, because we are going to have experts on both sides of the debates. We are going to be worried, and rightfully so, about how respect for our professions can be maintained if the experts can widely disagree about something that is supposed to be understandable. We are going to have to get used to the idea of giving advice without giving definitive answers. Instead, we will have to give a portfolio of options with probabilities of their outcomes. Can you imagine Congress dealing with that today? That is what must happen. We are going to have to evolve a much more sophisticated way of communicating our knowledge to decision makers. Otherwise, the feedback to us is going to be awful. We will get blamed for all the mistakes. On the other hand, if we can solve the problems, we would be eminently useful.
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Graduate Education in the Chemical Sciences — Issues for the 21st Century: Report of a Workshop The institutional impact of these changes is that we will see Internet-based alternatives to our offerings. I believe that people will try to hire some of our best faculty, who are not fully employed by their universities. They are sometimes employed only nine months a year and four days a week. The alternative institution is going to take the best faculty and put them on the Internet in some form to deliver high-quality education to a large number of people. The new institutions will be able to afford to pay these faculty well. It is just a matter of time before a credible version of this occurs. New institutions, being more innovative, and not restricted by faculty meetings, are going to be more responsive than universities to these emerging opportunities. I don’t know if you noticed in recent news reports that MIT and the University of Cambridge have come up with a new partnership.3 I think we are going to see more schools getting together to try to strengthen themselves in the face of these changes. We can try to make universities more adaptive by crossing disciplinary boundaries. We are going to have to think of how to return a little more control to the center, so that the institution can direct itself. We need to avoid the “tragedy of the commons”4 in the university structure. We need to regard students more as customers who have many choices. If we don’t, the students will go elsewhere. Some universities, for example, are thinking about developing their own Internet alternatives to the traditional university environment. These changes make the 1995 MPS workshop recommendations even more important. I think that the NSF workshop identified many of the core issues. I don’t know if the workshop participants successfully addressed all of the issues or if you agree with their recommendations. I hope to see that clarified in the discussion. However, I think they were on target. The urgency to address the issues has increased, and the outlook for science is much stronger than it was in 1995. An important part of that positive outlook is the need for us to adapt. If we do not adapt and respond to the challenges, somebody else will do it for us. DISCUSSION Eric Jakobsson, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign: We don’t need to wait for credible proof that you can do high-quality graduate programs on the Internet. Our graduate school of library and information sciences at the University of Illinois offers an Internet distance master’s degree. The only time required on campus is a couple of weeks at the beginning of the program and a short time at the end. In the latest U.S. News and World Report rankings of graduate programs, this program is tied for first in the nation.5 It is absolutely possible, and it is being done, to offer a nationally ranked graduate program on the Internet. Peter Eisenberger: Thank you for that comment. At Columbia also, our engineering school has developed a program that is offered on the Internet. Isiah Warner, Louisiana State University: I sometimes like to play the devil’s advocate, and I am going to do that now. When we talk about training graduate students for industry, we encounter the problem that industry does not have one model, whereas academia has a single model. It is easier to 3 “International Collaboration: University of Cambridge to Team Up with MIT,” Michael Hagmann, Science 1999, November 12, 286:1271. 4 Garrett Hardin. The tragedy of the commons. Science, 162:1243-1248, 1968. 5 “America’s Best Graduate Schools,” U.S. News & World Report, August 30, 1999.
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Graduate Education in the Chemical Sciences — Issues for the 21st Century: Report of a Workshop train students for a single model. What I am asking is that when you start to train students in a particular focus area of industry—let’s say to train them for the microelectronics industry—this is training them for a very narrow area. How do you overcome that problem and still train people for industry? I have had students who say, “I was well trained for industry,” and others who say, “I was not well trained for industry,” because of its diverse operations. Peter Eisenberger: I believe that education should give people skills, not facts. Because it has been connected to the research enterprise in graduate education, it has stressed facts. What I am suggesting is that we focus on flexible skills. People in my son’s generation are going to have seven or eight jobs in their lifetime, unlike those in my generation, who were likely to have only one. Isiah Warner: That is the old model. Even if we don’t always keep it. Peter Eisenberger: The old model was to give them facts, not skills. Laren Tolbert, Georgia Institute of Technology: I found much to agree with in what Dr. Eisenberger said today, but in the spirit of this meeting, I also found much to disagree with, so let me emphasize the latter. We have heard over a number of years that what we need in graduate education is something similar to the Saturn assembly line and that the education process should work faster and do more in a shorter period of time. I think that has been inflicted on us, to a large extent, by success in manufacturing, but educating people is different. One of the issues of disagreement is exactly the issue that just came up: What is graduate education all about? It is not about knowledge and not about facts but rather it is about thinking. I tell my students that when they leave I expect them to be able to enter a bare room, be told to work on surfactants, for example, and make something happen. That is the skill I think our graduate program is famous for in the United States. I think we need to be careful about adding more expectations onto our graduate students and trying to do it in 4 years. No consensus exists regarding the contents of graduate education. I think that is really the key issue: What is it that we are expecting a student to be like when she or he gets a Ph.D.? Although we have not yet resolved this issue, this workshop is a step in that direction. Peter Eisenberger: I couldn’t agree more about what you are trying to do in education. I would like to make some comments, though. Rarely would a student go into a room alone. More and more people are working on a team, and they are going to be working with things that may not be surfactants or may not be chemistry but may be things related to chemistry. Therefore, education now for the majority of students is not going to focus on a particular area such as surfactants, because that is not what they are going to do when they get out. If you want to orient education programs to the majority of students, you cannot argue with what was said. The programs should therefore be oriented to cover both situations. Stanley Pine, California State University, Los Angeles: As chair of the American Chemical Society (ACS) Task Force on Graduate Education, I want to be sure all of you are aware that, as of January, the American Chemical Society will have an office of graduate education. Through an invitational conference earlier this year, we decided that it was time to really focus, at least in the chemistry area and chemical sciences, on activities in graduate education. Clearly, ACS has been doing a lot, but it has been scattered. As a professional society, looking at graduate education seemed like a timely thing to do. One of the emphases will be looking at consensus. Is there a right way? There is probably not one
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Graduate Education in the Chemical Sciences — Issues for the 21st Century: Report of a Workshop way to do graduate education, so how can all of this be brought together. I am hoping, through this conference, that I will have many opportunities to talk to you, as will other members of that task force, to see how ACS can play the kind of broad leadership role that I think it has for a long time. We think this is part of the continuum of education. It isn’t just the graduate level. It starts at pre-kindergarten and continues through K-12 and undergraduate education. ACS has all of those areas well covered, and now we hope that this graduate education office will effectively extend that continuum. Peter Eisenberger: The other comment I would make is that I think our field is getting a little bit more like medicine. The internship and the initial years of the job are also an important part of training. The boundaries have become blurred between having to learn more within the walls of academia and what you can learn on the job. I think many people in industry observed that there was a retraining process that had to go on. Lynda Jordan, North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University: I would like to address the issue of increasing the number of women and minorities in the chemical sciences. In fact, a major issue is the attrition of minorities and women graduate students from the graduate education process in this country. As to the former meetings that were held, let us start by examining who was invited to participate in those meetings and were those participants representative of all the various types of graduate education programs in this country? Without proper representation, how could the appropriate pertinent issues be brought to the table or addressed? Who contributed the information that examined what the issues are in this area? The second point I would like to address is directly focused on increasing the number of minority graduates in the chemical sciences. A lot of emphasis, at least during the last 10 years, has been on the recruitment of minority graduate students in sciences and engineering. We can see from our data that recruitment is not the major issue. The retention and successful matriculation of minority graduate students in the sciences and engineering are the major points of concern. There is no question of the intellectual capability of the students or the students’ abilities to do the work. What is lacking and is not in place is the infrastructure for supporting minority graduate students once they get to the university system. How amenable are we, as educators and administrators, to addressing our own intellectual and cultural comfort zones? Are we able to accept graduate students who are different from us into our education arena, at our universities, and really educate them without the obstacle of our bias? This problem exists in the chemical sciences, not only in the education arena, but also in the workforce as well. How well are we equipped, or willing to surpass our own personal limitations of diversity, to deal with these “soft education” issues if we really want to change the demographics of the chemical science professions? At the eve of the new millennium we have to address diversity effectively, or we will have a greater problem than we do now. Peter Eisenberger: I have addressed this many times to no avail in my own institution. There has to be cultural change within these institutions, and they are not willing to take it on. They are not willing to ask the professoriate to confront their biases. I am very sympathetic personally to the concept, but until they do that there will be no change. When you look at the other parts of our society that have made those changes, they have confronted their workers directly. In universities, they are unwilling to do that. Peter K. Dorhout, Colorado State University: The IGERT program and a number of the other issues that you raised represent a number of creative ideas for making changes to graduate programs. I want to point out an aspect for caution, though, with respect to evaluating our faculty in terms of tenure and
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Graduate Education in the Chemical Sciences — Issues for the 21st Century: Report of a Workshop promotion. I have been in the smoke-filled room a number of times, and I have not seen much change in how we are evaluating young faculty. The young, energetic faculty are the ones that we hope will make an impact in terms of these changes that you are suggesting. Giving fellowships that would grant to the individual student and not to the faculty member is going to have an impact on how that faculty member could be viewed in the future. I don’t see changes in the letters that are being written for faculty members. So, I think the onus is on all of us to try to improve the way in which we write tenure letters. It is still being said in the smoke-filled room that small grants are not real grants, or that a person does not have enough money even though they have 12 graduate students and 4 of them have been granted Ph.D.s. There is still the idea that only a $300,000 NSF grant or a $600,000 NIH grant counts as a real grant. The onus is on us to make changes. Peter Eisenberger: You have correctly analyzed what is going on. There is an underlying problem that you did not mention and that does not get discussed, and that is that universities, too, are behind this. The universities are in partnership with their faculties in emphasizing grant size. They are saying that they want to stress education, but they also look at their books and at the flow of money coming in. Without the money, they can’t do anything. So, there is a real problem with coupling education and research, which is the way it is with graduate education. That is why there was some intent in academia to unbundle the financial aspects and the performance aspects. It is a very difficult problem, and you could argue about how parallel these things are. Soni Oyekan, Marathon Ashland Petroleum: I agree with many of the recommendations from the 1995 MPS workshop, and I would like to suggest they are still valid and may represent some of the recommendations from this workshop. Speaking as someone who has been in industry for some time, I believe that in industry today new graduate students need a multitude of skills. I have a Ph.D. in chemical engineering with specialization in reaction engineering and catalysis. The specific knowledge from those studies was used in the first few years in reaction engineering and catalyst development studies at Exxon and Engelhard. Thereafter, I have had to rely on other skill sets to function in industry. Since the first three years, the skills that have come into play have been those associated with coordination of technology management and support for a variety of oil companies—Exxon, Sunoco, Amoco, and currently Marathon Ashland Petroleum. So, we can presume that the oil industry is looking for a wide variety of skill sets from Ph.D. holders. These broad sets of skills are in high demand today. In the oil industry, we have essentially eliminated research and development in the main as a result of rationalizations and cost cuttings, and as a result Ph.D. holders entering the oil industry have to come prepared to function in management. Courses such as plant optimization, communication, and advanced process control will be helpful to the incoming graduate students. David Oxtoby, University of Chicago: When I talk to Ph.D.s from our university working in industry, they say almost uniformly that the most valuable part of their Ph.D. experience was grappling with a real problem. In many cases it was a messy problem of the type you are talking about, one without definite solutions and without a timeline that would enable one to finish in a specific time period. I would say a couple of things about your comments. First, I think the distinctions between research and education are false and that the whole research process and working together in research is education at the graduate level. I think that trying to draw lines and saying, “We are doing too much research and not enough education,” is really misleading. Second, I would agree with you that there should be more
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Graduate Education in the Chemical Sciences — Issues for the 21st Century: Report of a Workshop emphasis on team work and on skills such as writing and communicating and that these should be done more systematically at the graduate level. Third, in terms of time, I think it is unrealistic to fit things into narrow timelines. One of the consequences will be, and is already, more and more expectations of postdoctoral experience, not only in academic positions but also in industry. If we shorten the Ph.D. program, we will have more and longer postdocs. I am not sure that is a step forward. Peter Eisenberger: I agree with you that a strong separation between graduate education and research is not right. However, to say they are the same is also not right. I think the intent in the workshop was to show that the distortion seems to be the greatest if learning is not educationally bundled but is essentially research bundled. That affects the time. I think it is a difficult question, and it is not black and white. It requires looking at the part of the research programs that is destroying the educational factors and modifying the research activity so that you don’t lose it.
Representative terms from entire chapter: