Thursday, December 31, 2015

PhD Dissertation Quality: A Workshop at IISc

Some of you may know about the DST Centre for Policy Research (DST-CPR) at IISc, which is a part of a network of five Centres set up with funding from the Department of Science and Technology. The research at these Centres could help inform S&T policies [Disclosure: I am coordinating the activities at the DST-CPR at IISc].

The reason I'm mentioning all this is to alert you about an upcoming one-day Workshop entitled "Dissertation Expectations and Quality Criteria: Is it Enough to have a Good Dissertation?" This Workshop will be conducted by Prof. Maresi Nerad (College of Education, University of Washington, Seattle, USA), a Visiting Professor at our DST-CPR this month; it is meant for "PhD scholars [from Indian universities / institutions] who have completed at least 2 years of doctoral studies, who know what they will do in their dissertation."

Here's my request (bleg? do people still use this term?): If you know 3rd or 4th year PhD students in an Indian university / institution, please encourage them to apply. We are looking for a diversity of students (in terms of backgrounds, fields of study, types of institutions). Do please spread the word; the deadline for filing applications is the 5th of January, and the event itself will be held on the 12th of January (Tuesday).

Thank you for your help!

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Prof. Venki Ramakrishnan on Nobels and Nationalism

In The Telegraph today, Prof. Venki Ramakrishnan (who will visit India soon for a vacation and a lecture tour) says a lot of sensible things:

As for India sharing in the glory of his Nobel Prize (and that of Amartya Sen), he wonders why Indians are relatively unexcited about Ashoke Sen, the theoretical physicist known for his work on string theory and who shared in the $22m Breakthrough Prize in fundamental physics set up by the Russian Yuri Milner.

In Indians not giving as much importance to Sen as they do to Nobel Prize winners, "there is something a little wrong," he remarks. [...]

A question not to ask Venki is: "How should India win more Nobel Prizes?"

"That's actually completely the wrong question because there are so many discoveries that never get a Nobel Prize. It's not a good reason to go into anything," he responds.

"First of all countries don't win them, it's people who win them," he points out. "If a person from a country wins a Nobel Prize it doesn't necessarily mean that that county is doing well overall. It could be just a fluke. It is more important for a country to just nurture scientists and provide them good environments, a decent living and help them to lead a productive life."