NextGen Results

NextGen VOICES: Results

We asked young scientists to answer this question:

What was missing from your science education? Name and describe a course that would have better prepared you for your science career.

In the 2 January 2015 issue, we ran excerpts from 23 of the many interesting responses we received. Below, you will find the full versions of those 23 essays (in the order they were printed) as well as the best of the other submissions we received (ordered alphabetically by author name).

Would you like to participate in the next NextGen VOICES survey? To make your voice heard, go to

(Can't get enough NextGen? See the results of previous surveys at Future of a Generation, Definition of Success, Experiences that Changed Us, Big Ideas, Experiments in Governing, Science Communication's Future, Science Time Travel, Work-Life Balance, Enduring Ideas, Science Advocacy, Science Ethics, and Global Collaboration)

Follow the NextGen VOICES survey on Twitter with the hashtag #NextGenSci.

Essays in print


PSY302: Preparation for science
This course provides an introduction to the survival skills for a successful science career. The course covers the following topics: Never give up no matter how many times your manuscript has been rejected, stay optimistic when others are doubting your research, believe that science will love you back, prepare dinner and analyze data at the same time, seek a balance between the family time and scientific research. This module will be particularly valuable for avoiding depression and lack of efficiency while pursuing science, and will help you become a strong-hearted and qualified scientist.
Li Dai
School of Geographic and Environmental Sciences, Guizhou Normal University, Guiyang, Guizhou, 550001, China.
E-mail: daili_helen{at}

PSY501: Fake it to make it
In this essential 1-credit seminar you will learn to cultivate a hearty confidence while presenting ideas you barely understand, a stern resilience under repeated failure, and a keen cynicism about everything. Minor skills introduced include the efficient brewing of strong coffee, task layering on Google calendar, and organizing internet time for optimal productivity. Additionally, you will have access to Mindr to match you with a compatible graduate advisor. All students will be equipped with a BS radar upon completion of the course. Required reading: PHD comics, #WhatShouldWeCallGradSchool
Anna Beiler
Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ 85281, USA.

PSY516: Dealing with failure
Think you have dealt with real failure as an undergrad? Think again. This advanced course analyzes the frustration, depression, and questioning-of-life-choices that accompany the months or years of repeated experimental failures you can expect to encounter in your scientific career. Through this course you will develop helpful strategies for dealing with inevitable setbacks. Topics include setting realistic goals, building a supportive network of colleagues and mentors, learning from your mistakes, keeping your end goal in mind, and having fun along the way. The summative project is a personalized action plan for re-evaluating demoralizing failures as opportunities that enable future growth.
Yonatan Lipsitz
Institute for Biomaterials and Biomedical Engineering, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON M5S 3E1, Canada.
E-mail: yonatan.lipsitz{at}

PSY549: You probably won't save the world
This class is designed to set realistic expectations for you in your career, allowing you to skip the disenchantment phase and focus instead on your talents. Through presentations and peer-to-peer learning, you will learn that the world's problems are complex and require many, many dedicated scientists to tackle them, of which you will be only one. Learn how you can use your research or your teaching to improve, and even transform, the lives of people around you, and begin to build the skills to be satisfied with that. Prerequisites include Your Spouse Probably Won't Be a Supermodel.
Toni Lyn Morelli
Department of Environmental Conservation, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA 01035, USA.
E-mail: morelli{at}

Statistics and Logic

STL13: Breaking biologists' arithmophobia
13.1. Numbers: Learn that numbers are not adversaries to biologists and why numbers are an absolute necessity when studying bio-logical systems, which have immense entropy. 13.2. Arithmophobia: Discuss the fear of numbers, with particular emphasis on how biologists and clinicians are terrorized by anything remotely numerical. 13.3. Statistics: Learn that statistics is a tool for solving problems, not a problem itself, that P < 0.05 isn't a catchphrase or a style statement, that standard error is not an error in the data, that ANOVA and t tests are not interchangeable, and that the term significance has deeper meaning. 13.4. Software: Explore the idea that using statistical software packages without knowing statistics is not an alternative to knowing statistics.
Gunjan Guha
Department of Biotechnology, School of Chemical and Bio Technology, SASTRA University, Thanjavur, Tamil, Nadu, 613401, India.
E-mail: gunjan.doc{at}

STL210: Science in the real world: Learning to love it messy
Scientific researchers often strive to find "clean" questions: Does treatment X cause effect Y? To do so, we need to carefully control our experiment and isolate our test subjects from all confounding factors. Unfortunately, in the real world, everything is a confounding factor and isolation is functionally impossible. This class will teach you how to cope when normal experimental practices cannot yield significant, interpretable answers. By using Big Data, qualitative research, natural experiments, and inductive logic, you will be prepared to address even the most confounding real-world problem. You will also learn how to communicate your results, without excessive over-qualification and undue focus on potential error. Despite the messiness of the world, science outside the laboratory can still lead to useful conclusions. Science in the Real World 210 will show you the way.
Colin W. Murphy
NextGen Climate America, San Francisco, CA 94104, USA.
E-mail: cmurphy{at}

Editor’s Note: NextGen Climate America is not affiliated with Science’s NextGen VOICES survey.

STL227: How to question
Science is all about questions: What are the fundamentals of natural phenomena? How can we improve our quality of life? Other courses cover the knowledge we’ve already acquired and focus on taking the next logical step. But how can we prepare ourselves to ask the questions nobody has asked before? In this course, you will analyze the questioning process as you study a historic panorama of questions that generated a paradigm change in science. Activities will train you to use creativity and to look at problems and solutions from different perspectives. Better questions, better science.
Rolando Manuel Caraballo
INQUIMAE—Facultad de Ciencias Exactas y Naturales, Universidad de Buenos Aires, Ciudad Autónoma de Buenos Aires, 1428, Argentina.
E-mail: rcaraballo{at}

STL666: Scientific skeptical thinking
Learn to think like a skeptical scientist through an exploration of literature ranging from primary sources, newspaper and magazine articles, television, and talk radio, to blogs and memes on social media. Various logical fallacies and common misconceptions will be dissected so as to be easily recognizable. You will learn to debunk false claims in a concise and meaningful way. Finally, you will take a tour of common pseudoscience manifestations existing today: examples include astrology, homeopathy, magnetic bracelets to improve athletic ability, and alien abductions. Learning outcomes include a scientific way of thinking as well as communication skills.
Keah Schuenemann
Meteorology Program, Earth and Atmospheric Science Department, Metropolitan State University of Denver, Denver, CO 80217–3362, USA.
E-mail: kschuene{at}

Laboratory Science

LBS101: The joy of science
Do you think of science as complicated jargon and formulas to be memorized? What if a science course could be about curiosity and discovery? In this new hands-on course, you will use state-of-the-art science equipment to investigate real research questions. Your findings will contribute to current research projects and to the advancement of scientific knowledge. You will learn how to formulate research questions, identify suitable methods, analyze your data, and communicate your findings. The hands-on activities will align with online study material that provides the theoretical knowledge for the course. Experience the joy of science!
Beat A. Schwendimann
Computer-Human Interaction in Learning and Instruction, École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, 1015, Lausanne, Switzerland.
E-mail: beat.schwendimann{at}

LBS201: MacGyver it!
Can't figure out how to remove that pesky stir bar that just won't come out with the retriever? Rusty clamp won't hold your flask properly in the oil bath? Rotavap won’t hold its vacuum? Temperature keeps creeping up on that water bath? Still see some solid on that filter paper from the Buchner that won’t come off? Want to learn how to construct a glove box from cardboard and duct tape? Have no worries! This course will show you all the lab tricks to being a super savvy chemist that the textbooks don’t mention!
Masha G. Savelieff
Life Sciences Institute, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, USA.
E-mail: savelief{at}

LBS501: How to set up your very own 500 square feet of lab space
Congratulations! You just got hired as an assistant professor. Your new lab has nothing but walls and old benches. Do you know which cylinder regulator you need for the incubators? Oh, yes, you need that "thingy." The huge Sorvall centrifuge will be left on the floor when delivered. Those tips aren’t compatible with those pipettes: They will fall off right into your cell suspension. Do you know how and where to order liquid nitrogen? For everything you took for granted in your graduate lab, there’s a specific diameter, catalog number, and safety regulation. Required course materials: measuring tape, wrench.
Irina Tiper
Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD 21201, USA.
E-mail: pc.itiper{at}>

Computer Science

CPS198: Digital library organization
In today’s digital world, scientists must maintain vast and ever-growing libraries of journal article PDFs. If there is no organizational system in place, these files often retain their original unhelpful names, such as "7320.full.pdf" and get hopelessly scattered throughout a computer system. In this course, you will learn to use citation management software to automatically rename and sort journal article PDFs based on useful metadata, such as author last names and year of publication. As an added bonus, you will learn to use the same soft-ware to insert citations and automatically generate bibliographies in any citation style.
Rosa Li
Department of Psychology and Neuroscience, Center for Cognitive Neuroscience, Duke University, Durham, NC 27708, USA.

CPS201: Stone-age technology: Comput-ers from the 1990s and 2000s
Scientists are often forced to deal with restrictive budgets and old computer equipment. In this course, learn about the ancient technology of our parents and grandparents in order to cope with the devices you may be required to use in the pursuit of knowledge. Topics include mice with rubber balls, dot matrix printers, cathode-ray tube monitors, floppy disks, and many more.
Aric Campling
McLean, VA 22102, USA.
E-mail: ascampling{at}

Business and Finance

BSF101: Grant writing
The objective of this course is to provide you with the necessary skills to effectively market your scientific ideas to funding agencies and grant review panels. This foundation course will therefore be essential for survival as a scientist in an era of limited research funding. Topics will include developing professional connections, understanding reviewer psychology and bias, memorizing detailed grant instructions and guidelines, and maximizing page use and space in proposals. Course will be graded as Pass/Fail. However, only 10% of the students will pass during each term. Course can be repeated indefinitely.
Michael G. Kemp
Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC 27599, USA.
E-mail: michael_kemp{at}

BSF301: Research funding
A substantial duty for scientists is to secure funding to cover operational expenses and wages. Although often perceived as a time-consuming and challenging process by novices, it is nevertheless an unavoidable task. This course is designed to prepare those aiming toward a scientific career to find, apply for, and secure research funding. Differences between fellowships, grants, and awards will also be covered. Guest speakers from local and international funding agencies will participate in the lectures. You will propose a funding application project as summative assessment.
Marie-Caroline Lefort
Bio-Protection Research Centre and Library, Teaching and Learning, Lincoln University, 7647, Christchurch, New Zealand.
E-mail: Marie-Caroline.Lefort{at}

BSF329: Business management: Fiscal realities of science
This course lays a foundation of basic business management for running a laboratory. Specifically, this course will include creating a business plan that aligns your budget with the pursuit of your hypotheses and the management of a fiscally responsible laboratory. Whereas most of your coursework focuses on core scientific principles, methodologies, and hypotheses driving scientific inquiry, this course will help you lay the fiscal framework to ensure your research stays within your fiscal boundaries. This course will also explore developing and working with intellectual property, common avenues of commercialization, and working with commercial partners. Mastering the fundamentals of fiscal responsibility will prepare you for a subsequent course in entrepreneurship.
E. Loren Buhle Jr.
Global Customer Success, Model N, Princeton, NJ 08540, USA.
E-mail: lorenbuhle{at}

BSF346: Translating research into a commercial product
This course introduces the steps required to translate lab (i.e., in vitro) research into a vi-able commercial product. You will learn about intellectual property protections, development costs, attracting venture capital, and making inventions commercially viable. You will analyze real-world examples of products that have been commercialized from basic research and discuss how to at-tract grant funding from the government and private sources to develop products. The opportunities and challenges of interacting with companies as a graduate student will be emphasized.
Ajay Kashi
Rochester, NY 14620, USA.
E-mail: ajay.kashi{at}


COM101: Don't talk nerdy to me: Communicating with the public
Scientists publish thousands of re-search articles per day, but rarely communicate with non-specialized audiences. The general public is not aware of how scientific advancement could change their lives, which affect their inclination to support evidence-based policy and to fund research. Distorted reports in the media also cause panic and confusion. In this class, public relations managers from the industry will share their insights into conveying the right message at the right time through the right channel, and we will coach communication skills by role-playing. Through effective communication, you can build the bridge connecting the ivory tower with the society.
Kun-Hsing Yu
Biomedical Informatics Training Program, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305, USA.
E-mail: khyu{at}

COM201: How to design catchy posters and write engaging articles
One of the fundamental aspects of a scientist's work is to present research results. This causes a bit of a problem when it comes to poster design (have you seen those walls of text?), PowerPoint presentations (ever fall asleep while reading your own slides?) or crazy-difficult articles that give you a headache. Let's stop that! In this course we will drill writing, designing, and presenting so that no one ever falls asleep when confronted with your data.
Ilona Kotlewska
Laboratory of Neurophysiology, Nencki Institute for Experimental Biology, Polish Academy of Science, Warsaw, 02-093, Poland.
E-mail: i.kotlewska{at}


CAR501: So you think you can be a PI?
The prerequisite is academic excellence at the undergraduate level and an extensive publication profile at the Ph.D. level. Module 1: Coping with no longer experimenting on a daily basis Module 2: One style of supervision does not suit all—embracing the broad spectrum of personalities and ability levels of your re-search students Module 3: Is everyone a competitor—what’s happening to openness in solving important and interesting problems? Module 4: Workplace politics—juggling the often disparate objectives of administrators, students, colleagues, and executives Module 5: Hope—rediscovering the joy of scientific research.
Anthony O'Mullane
School of Chemistry, Physics, and Mechanical Engineering, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, QLD 4001, Australia.
E-mail: anthony.omullane{at}

CAR502: Translating competencies
So often graduate programs guide students toward an academic career, when in fact fewer than 23% of science Ph.D.s will take that road, according to recent NSF data. Most of those students will end up finding careers in other sectors such as government, industry, or NGOs. This course will enable graduate students to translate the academic achievements you spend years toiling to obtain (e.g., published results) into competencies that fit the jargon and framework (e.g., project management) of these other sectors in order to be both appreciated and under-stood by human resources and hiring offices.
Sarah M. Anderson
School of Biological Sciences, Washington State University, Pullman, WA 99164, USA.
E-mail: sarah.anderson2{at}

CAR503: PI or bust: Life beyond academia
Can I be something other than a PI when I grow up? How do I decide what I want to do (even if I can be a PI)? How do I look my Ph.D. supervisor in the eye after moving over to the dark side (i.e., industry or god forbid, patent law)? This course will give you a broader perspective on job options outside of academia, with guest lectures from talented people who chose to go elsewhere. The pros and cons of each job and its accompanying lifestyle will be dis-cussed.
Noa Sher
Bioinformatics Service Unit, University of Haifa, Haifa, 3498838, Israel.
E-mail: nsher{at}

Interdisciplinary Capstone

INT600: Science without borders
Every research project has multiple facets, and expertise in each one of them is nearly impossible. This seminar exposes students to diverse ways of thinking and expertise through the inception and completion of interdisciplinary collaborative projects in small teams. Each stage of project development will be presented to the class. These presentations will offer the opportunity to share and discuss disciplinary dogmas that shape ethics, theories, methodology, and analysis. Tackling issues from multiple experts’ points of view will allow for a more holistic approach in a world where everything is connected.
Félicia Olmeta-Schult
School of the Environment, Washington State University, Vancouver, WA 98686, USA.
E-mail: felicia.olmeta{at}

Top Online Essays

Media chemistry 101
Apply concepts learned in chemistry, microbiology, and math class to real world lab scenarios. You will learn to associate media recipe ingredients with formula weight and not by name alone and how to calculate final molarity and use math to substitute an ingredient you need with a more hydrated version that you have available. You will also learn about proper chemical disposal and how to investigate disposal procedures. You will explore chemical reactions for common lab media ingredients and the role they play in the media (i.e., PIPES as a buffer; bicarbonate, CO2, and pH). Finally, you will learn why ingredient order matters if you ever want your media ingredients to go into solution.
Laura Camilleri
Microbiology and Immunology, Montana State University, Bozeman, MT 59717, USA.
E-mail: laura.camilleri{at}

Public communication for scientists 101
The first half of the course will teach you how to communicate science’s most mind-boggling discoveries—for example, the expanding universe or wave-particle duality—to friends and family at home. The goal is to enhance your dinner conversations as well as your ability to speak clearly and vividly in terms non-scientists can understand. The second half of the course will explore improvisational techniques that help engage and connect with an audience in various public interactions (such as media interviews, elevator pitches, and public lectures). You will also practice telling narratives about discovery that can captivate high school students, busy parents, or members of Congress.
Kevin Y. Chen
University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104—6007, USA.
E-mail: chekevin{at}

Jumping out of the fish tank and into the sea: Biologists designing solutions for some of society's problems
Biological studies are vital when it comes to dealing with environmental, demographic, and health challenges. But are we as biologists qualified to carry out careful planning and perform risk analysis? Are we ready to present these ideas to others? The goal of this course is to provide you with these diverse tools. It is divided into three modules: Communication of Science to the Public, Project Management, and a third module in which you will design a possible solution to a real problem related to your specific field and prepare a presentation for the authorities concerned.
Lucia Beatriz Chisari
Facultad de Ciencias Exactas y Naturales, Universidad de Buenos Aires, Capital Federal, Buenos Aires, 1440, Argentina.
E-mail: luciachisari{at}

How to read (and write) a scientific paper 101
For young scientists, deciphering peer-reviewed articles can be like learning a new language. In the best cases, the hypothesis driven structure, unfamiliar methods, and complex statistics make for a different type of reading. In the worst cases, jargon, hedging, and lack of concision can cloud comprehension. This course will provide you with a toolbox of effective scientific reading and writing skills. The ability to both read and write scientific stories, from start to finish, not only makes us better scientists, it helps us to better communicate what we love to the rest of the world.
Bridget R. Deemer
School of the Environment, Washington State University, Vancouver, WA 98686, USA.
E-mail: bridget.deemer{at}

The process of scientific discovery 007
This course aims to mentally prepare you for potentially troublesome 7 to 8 years of graduate school. Undergraduate students, with their fancy degrees obtained by reading and memorizing the glamorous discovery of the double-helix, want to be next Watson-Crick and are never informed about the real process involved in scientific discovery, which requires patience, long hours in the laboratory, and strong willpower. This course includes backstories of scientific failures that were never told before so that students do not enter the graduate school thinking that they can make an overnight sensational discovery to cure cancer or end global hunger.
Sushil Devkota
Department of Biochemistry, Yonsei University, Seoul, 120-749, South Korea.
E-mail: capsiannum{at}

Analog to digital innovation 22010
The history of innovation conjures images of great inventors and scientists of the past. The contribution of these innovators to progress in their field is often thought of as a quantum leap forward. In this course, we review case studies of some of the greatest leaps forward in history, focusing on the role played by previous advancement, contemporary competition, chance, and risk. Finally, we evaluate the impact of the digital age on innovation in the modern scientific funding environment. Bring your scientific and quantitative A game! We will bring the data, but we need you to provide the hypotheses. Extra credit if you understand the course title.
Atray Dixit
HST, Harvard-MIT, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA.

Grant writing 101
Intended only for serious scientists who wish to become Principal Investigators. This course teaches the art of persuasive rhetoric and encourages budding researchers to learn how to properly communicate with other human beings. No hard science will be conducted during this class. However, a serious amount of reading is necessary. Required textbooks include Grant Writing for Dummies, People Skills, and How to Make People Like You in 90 Seconds or Less. Every examination will consist of a timed, persuasive essay (NOT assay), and grammar WILL be graded. Expect to leave this course with the ability to clearly express your thoughts.
Roberto Gomez
Department of Chemistry, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.
E-mail: gomezr{at}

Public science presentation 353
This course will cover techniques for publicly presenting scientific research. The course will cover poster design and presentation, multimedia presentations, informal oral presentations including the "elevator pitch," and formal oral presentations. Public speaking skills will be emphasized. Good and bad examples from professional presentations will be presented and analyzed. You will design and present a poster and a formal oral presentation on a selected topic as final projects. Corequisite: Scientific Writing and Publication 378
Phillip Gregory Gross
University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30605, USA.
E-mail: pgg65656{at}

How to ask
The task of a researcher is to come up with and test constructive questions. So why aren’t students being prepared for the job? Too often, as science students, we are given a directive: Solve question X using procedure Y. While it is undoubtedly important to learn how to follow directions, too much of this can hinder independent thinking. "How to ask" is a high school class designed to give you the opportunity to come up with and answer your own questions through scientific experiment. This experience would provide students with essential exposure into the world of research.
Gideon Joseph Haber
University of Pennsylvania, Merion Station, PA 19066, USA.
E-mail: ghaber{at}

Speaking science 101
An elementary course covering the correct verbiage of scientific and mathematical formulas. You will begin by learning the Greek alphabet and progress to the unique names of variables that appear in equations mainly in the fields of physics, chemistry, biology, and astronomy. Exams will be administered orally, and students will spend much of class conversing with each other in scientific terms. By the end of the course, students will be able to communicate fluently with professors and peers in institutions of higher education. Recommended for anyone planning a career in physical sciences.
Nicholas Mark Hagemann
Department of Chemistry, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.
E-mail: nichh{at}

Science career development: You have to know guanxi
Guanxi, a Chinese word meaning "social connections," is considered important in most every realm of life in Chinese society (as well as other societies), of course including the scientific community. If one does not have good guanxi with "big shots" in a research field, or other colleagues in a same department, he or she may not be able to easily find a job or get promoted. This course is designed to promote student awareness of the importance and major types of guanxi in scientific community, and develop their practical skills and abilities of guanxi in future science career. The class is team-taught and discussion-based.
Xiaolei Huang
College of Plant Protection, Fujian Agriculture and Forestry University, Fuzhou, Fujian, 350002, China.
E-mail: huangxl{at}

Theory of research 352
While many courses cover basic laboratory techniques, very few teach students the art of seeing an initial inspiration through to a published paper. This course will focus on (i) using the literature to assess a given field of research; (ii) formulating a novel hypothesis; (iii) developing a feasible set of experiments to address that hypothesis; (iv) adjusting one's research plan for unexpected results; and (v) compiling a clear, convincing submission for a scientific journal. These abilities are key to successful research across the natural sciences. This approach will empower you to effectively use any techniques they learn in undergrad and beyond.
E. Keith Keenan
Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.
E-mail: ekeenan{at}

Hard truth ethics 101
Doing the right thing is not always easy in science, this is especially true when considering grants. In this course you will learn how to avoid ethical pitfalls through the studying of examples from labs around the world. In this course you will learn how to: Review a paper without looking at the authors name and institution. Not claim others’ ideas as your own. Detect and not commit plagiarism. Not reject a manuscript that conflicts with, or does not cite, your work. Not leave data out of graphs that make your results look less perfect.
Christian Kemp
Department of Chemistry, Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology, Ulsan, 689-798, South Korea.
E-mail: christiankemp{at}

Basics of scientific research
This course covers the basics of carrying out scientific research, including experimental layout and fundamentals of bio-statistics. It provides knowledge on data collection, analysis, and research ethics including plagiarism, intellectual property rights, and legalities of procuring materials and germplasms. The course also provides hands-on training on do’s and don’ts of documentation, preparation of manuscripts and grant-in-aid project proposals, as well as research data presentation. In India, opportunities for researchers are very scanty; most prefer to move to west for a doctoral degree or postdoctoral experience as scientific advancement here is still considered far behind those of developed nations. Those who prefer to stay back in India and pursue their dreams often have to struggle with day-to-day red tape and an inferior research environment as not many care or understand about the very basics of conducting a scientific research. This foundation course offered at the beginning of graduate school will be a great help in laying out a solid foundation for young researchers and would also help you prepare better for your science career.
Charu Lata
Division of Plant-Microbe Interactions, CSIR-National Botanical Research Institute, Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, 226001, India.
E-mail: charulata{at}

Leading and managing people
Leading and managing a diverse group of people can be difficult for recent graduate students and early-career scientists. This class teaches you how to effectively lead and manage people whether it’s an academic lab, a group of collaborators, or small research facility. Using role-play and examining case studies, you will learn interpersonal communication skills, negotiating techniques, and methods for developing an effective work environment. Students enrolled in this course should consider taking Conflict Resolution and Problem Solving next semester.
Tammy A. Lee
School of the Environment, Washington State University, Vancouver, WA 98686, USA.
E-mail: tammy.lee{at}

What does authorship mean for an article?
When you get your degree and decide to become a Ph.D. student, you realize that the most important thing is to publish "your" work in articles. Not only that, but also to avoid other people publishing your work as theirs. You also have to think about the order in which these "helpful" people should be placed in regard to authorship. I used the word "help", but isn’t there already a section called "acknowledgments" for that? In this course, you will to learn the difference between these concepts.
Julia Lombardi
Facultad de Ciencias Bioquímicas y Farmacéuticas, Rosario, Santa Fe, 2000, Argentina.
E-mail: julia.lombardi{at}

Psychological research ethics
This course provides an overview of the many ethical issues and perspectives surrounding the use of humans and animals in psychological research. You will debate the ethics of using humans in potentially harmful research, as well as the use of vulnerable subjects including animals, mentally impaired individuals, and children. The strengths and limitations of existing policies and procedures in place to protect research subjects will be discussed. This course will prepare you to effectively implement the 3Rs (refinement, reduction, and replacement) in animal research and to conduct appropriate harm/benefit analyses on proposed experimental procedures on humans and animals.
Stacy Lopresti-Goodman
Department of Psychology, Marymount University, Arlington, VA 22207, USA.
E-mail: stacy.lopresti-goodman{at}

Unsuccessful moments in the history of science
We know many successful stories of famous scientists and great discoveries. What about failures? Failures often precede scientific advances, though serendipity sometimes contributes. This course aims to provide historical background that enables students to learn from mistakes. Real examples will illustrate why "wrong" hypotheses had been proposed, what kinds of experiments failed to reveal the truth, which findings led to rejection of incorrect ideas, and how scientists eventually overcame the difficulties. It is anticipated that after the course, you will understand the importance of critical thinking in experimental design and problem solving, thereby consolidating skills for your career in science.
Chun-Wai Ma
Department of Physiology, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China.
E-mail: cwma2010{at}

Life outside the lab 101
Students often find themselves so immersed in their work and studies that they forget what’s happening around them. This course will remind you that there is more to life than pure dedication to your work by covering: exposure to nature, daily interaction with other individuals, and investigation of local culture. The course gives you the opportunity to expand your interests into other aspects of life, which will allow for your other studies to become much more meaningful and authentic. This course will lay the foundation for meaningful societal interaction and will graded based on participation.
Kyle Joseph McKee
University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.
E-mail: mckeekyl{at}

Fit for science 101
Science can be a stressful profession for which graduate school doesn’t completely prepare us. Career scientists are above all resilient to failure, and continue to do science for the love of inquisition and discovery, despite almost never having adequate funding. Resilience doesn’t necessarily come from knowledge of scientific content, but learning how to prioritize goals, how to cope with stress, how to spring back from failure without losing time, how to collaborate better, and how to be brilliantly creative in pitching our research ideas. This class provides condensed wisdom from science experts on how to be fit for science.
Jyoti Mishra
Department of Neurology, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, CA 94158, USA.
E-mail: jyoti.mishra{at}

Persevering with challenges and the challenge of persevering
Science in the workplace invariably involves solving new problems, beyond those found in textbooks. This interdisciplinary course introduces the determination, resilience, and creativity that successful scientists use to meet these challenges and covers: —Overcoming challenges by finding new approaches —Asking for help: who, when and how —The importance of taking breaks and knowing when to come back afterward —Ascertaining when to persevere: how to determine whether a problem is both interesting and solvable before investing substantial amounts of time in it This course is highly recommended for all students and is essential for those considering undertaking a Ph.D.
Sarah Elizabeth Morgan
Theory of Condensed Matter Group, Physics Department, Cambridge University, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, CB3 0HE, UK.
E-mail: sem91{at}

Statistics: How numbers work
What do energy, information, the bell-shaped probability curve, and Pythagoras’ Theorem have in common? Using simple arithmetic, they are combined to show how we can distinguish knowledge from random effects. Hand calculations are used throughout to show you what is happening. Mathematical mistakes are not critical, but the attempted method is. Equations are introduced only as short-cut descriptions to relate what you do to predominant authorities. We begin with an exploration of variability in measurements, which is the main reason why statistics are necessary. The remainder of the course is largely about describing variability and taking it into account.
Thomy Nilsson
Department of Psychology, University of Prince Edward Island, Charlottetown, PEI, C1A 4P3, Canada.
E-mail: nilsson{at}

Communicating in science 411
An integral part of being a scientist is effectively presenting your work to a given audience. Without this skill, progress is hindered; recent discoveries that could spark or improve the research of others are limited because of miscommunication, or lack of communication itself. This course teaches the importance of communications in a scientific context. You will analyze how print, film, television, and other forms of media can inform the research community and educate the general public. You will also explore how social media and today’s technology connects people around the world, promoting an international collaboration in scientific research.
Rommell Noche
University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.
E-mail: nocher{at}

A social history of truth
In most science curricula, the route toward the truth is presented as straightforward: Adhere to both methodological rules and research ethics principles. The first ensures that things make sense, and the latter ensures that no one cheats during the path towards truth (or gets hurt along the way). However, what counts as true really isn't that stable and over time our positions on how to get there have grown to differ. What is the role of software in this process? Do statistics enable access to, or obscure truth? The history of truth will teach you to understand why certain scientific claims are considered credible and some are considered nonsense and, very importantly, that the boundary between the two is forever shifting.
Bart Penders
School for Public Health and Primary Care, Maastricht University, Maastricht, Limburg, 6200MD, Netherlands.
E-mail: b.penders{at}

Statistics for physical scientists 301
This course introduces would-be scientists, physicists in particular, to proper statistics and curve fitting. In the first part, using examples of famous predictions that didn't pan out, you will learn that there is more to science than the ability to compute averages, expectation values, and standard deviations. In the second part, you will explore the theory behind regression analysis, confidence intervals, and hypothesis testing. On completing the course, you will know which statistical tool to use and how to use it instead of picking the most handy one and saying "the data fits the model well."
Anand K. Ramanathan
Earth System Science Interdisciplinary Center, University of Maryland, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD 20771, USA.
E-mail: anand.ramanathan{at}

Cramming 101
Students are always finding unique ways to stay awake while studying; some good and some very, very bad. What kind of things can you do to maximize those last hours of cramming that night before a test? This is an in-depth course diving deep into what causes students to become sleepy while studying, what kinds of foods and napping tactics can help through those all-nighters, and how you can have the best study experience while climbing toward a science degree.
Caroline Cochran Ray
University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30605, USA.
E-mail: ccr34{at}

Units: Your best friend, your worst enemy
Units are the guideposts of modern science. They enable our intuition about the natural world and serve as a built-in error checking mechanism for our work. But why do we define them as we do, how did these definitions come about, and how have they lead us astray in the past? From the standard SI units used across fields to quirky quantities developed by specialized disciplines, this course will explore how units have shaped not only the science we do, but how we view nature.
Morgan Evan Rehnberg
Boulder, CO 80303, USA.
E-mail: morgan.rehnberg{at}

Practical employment in the sciences
This course will explore each of the sciences from an employment perspective. Learn about what jobs are actually available in each of the science disciplines and what those professionals actually do day-to-day. A final report will be required in which you will pick a real professional position in which you are interested and detail the possible pathways to achieving that position during your career. An analysis of educational costs versus potential salary achievements for numerous positions will also be covered.
Liz Smith
Seattle, WA 98101, USA.
E-mail: liz{at}

Warming up your cold call
Career advancement in science is inherently tied to the ability to make new professional contacts. Whether we are seeking an undergrad research experience, a graduate mentor, a job, or simply a new collaborator, successful development of new professional connections often depends on effective communication with personally unfamiliar contacts. In this course, you will learn the proper etiquette of how to approach new potential colleagues and mentors via email, social media, cold calls, and in person. You will develop practical communication strategies that foster positive first impressions and build a foundation for future productive working relationships in science.
Rachel S. Smith
Odum School of Ecology, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602, USA.
E-mail: Rssmith218{at}

Lab reports for dummies
As high school science curriculum is revamped, students are increasingly conducting hands-on experiments. The good news? Lack of experience with lab work is becoming less of an issue. The bad news? Students don't know how to tackle the next step: documenting their work. Fortunately, this course offers focused instruction for proficiency in this skill. You will become familiar with relevant information regarding organizational and semantic trends in professional scientific publication. You will draft, edit, and critique each other's lab reports from science classes. Successful students will acquire the foundations for writing effective scientific papers in their future careers.
Saurabh Sudesh
Vagelos Scholars Program in Molecular Life Sciences, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.
E-mail: sudeshs{at}

Keeping Zen in a world of anti-GMO and animal activists: Bioethics for the researcher
As you immerse yourself deeper in biomedical research, it is inevitable to one day be stuck next to an animal activist at a social gathering questioning the ethics of your field of work. This course will help you navigate those awkward conversations and, most important, give you the peace of mind to continue in the career of translational biomedical research. This course will introduce you to philosophers such as Aristotle, Plato, Kant, and Socrates. Our main focus of this course will be on bioethics, and exploring the breadth of topics from past and current high-profile case studies such as BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene patent debate; lawsuits against 23andMe; doctor-assisted suicide, and much more.
Yuka Takemon
Mount Desert, ME 04660, USA.
E-mail: ytakemon{at}

Alternative careers 510
Do you enjoy critical thinking and discovery, but don't love working at the bench? Have a look at the "other side" of science! Topics may include: Designing Databases, Procurement and Operations, Patent Law, Scientific Start-ups for Fun and Profit, Grants Administration, Regulatory, Consulting 101, Reporting Science, Crowdfunding, and the Exciting World of Venture Capital.
Michael A. Tarselli
NIBR Informatics, Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA.
E-mail: mike.tarselli{at}

Dealing with the death 444
Sometimes, death arrives at someone else's front door. For those in the medical field, death has always been a tragic occurrence. Death can come unexpectedly or it could linger. It is best to be mentally prepared. In the biological sciences, there is an emphasis on living organisms and their processes. This course will help you cope with the uncertainty in dealing with things that are no longer living.
Michael Le Vu
University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.
E-mail: michael.vu007{at}

How to kill the rumor 101
This course provides a systemic analysis of the Internet rumor. How does a rumor begin? Who created it? What’s the purpose of the rumor? You will then be acquainted with the theories that underlie both communication studies and sociology. You will read a popular science article and discern whether it’s real or just a rumor. The goals of the course are to provide students an opportunity to build critical thinking and writing skills, which are crucially important for science workers to develop creative analysis skills.
Cuirong Wang
University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, Beijing, 100049, China.
E-mail: wongcuirong{at}

Manuscript figures and model slides: An Illustrator lab practical
The experiments are done, and now it's time to lay out figures for your manuscript. Or perhaps you want to have a slide in your big talk that illustrates the mechanistic details of your discoveries. Given that this work has taken years to complete, you should probably take more than 15 minutes in PowerPoint to put it all together. This class will teach you the ins and outs of using Illustrator to make figures and models with high image resolution, clean layouts, and graphics with shading and depth. Bring an eye for design and leave your Comic Sans at home.
Dan E. Webster
National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA.
E-mail: daniel.webster{at}

Public communication of science 118
This course is designed to liberate science from sophisticated formula derivation, and let students’ natural curiosity take over. Before class, you are encouraged to watch one Minute-Physics episode and share an energetic and entertaining view of this simple physics question with the whole class. Examples may include dark-matter or the many-worlds theory. Your presentation should be understandable and brief with humorous hand drawings, PowerPoint slides, or creative self-made videos. Grades are according to peer assessment. It doesn't matter what your background is when enrolled. The goal of this course is to encourage you to go beyond boxed curriculum and become a voracious reader.
Yi Weng
Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Louisiana at Lafayette, Lafayette, LA 70504, USA.
E-mail: wengyi.201{at}

Careers in science: An overview of what your degree can do
Learn what an entry-level job with a bachelor’s degree looks like: how much it pays, what part of the country it's most likely in, what tasks you'll be expected to do, what advancement potential you'll have, and how you hear about positions like this. For this course, you will need to identify at least two positions for which you would like to apply and prepare a cover letter and tailored resume/CV for one. Your final exam will be a mock interview with industry HR representatives who will offer you feedback on your submitted materials and interview skills.
Donnelly Ann West
Department of Plant Biology, University of California, Davis, Davis, CA 95616, USA.
E-mail: donwest{at}

Thinking like a scientist: Case studies from current scientific breakthroughs
Early scientific education is dominated by survey courses that emphasis memorization and regurgitation of material on standardized tests. This approach, however, is not the way scientists approach their fields. The two goals of this course will be to convey the excitement of discovery and to develop scientific thinking through analyzing the current literature. We will apply the scientific method to breakthroughs in current science, stressing how a problem is identified and by what means the authors solve the problem. Through use of case studies and rigorous analysis, you will learn to identify tractable problems, develop hypotheses, and craft experiments.
Anne Radovick Wondisford
Vagelos Scholars Program in the Molecular Life Sciences, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.
E-mail: wondanne{at}

COMM/PUBPOL 505: Science and the outside world
Science does not happen in a vacuum. In this multidisciplinary course, graduate students will examine the interactions between scientists and the outside world: scientists from other disciplines, policy-makers, the media, and the general public. Lectures will primarily be presented by professors from the Department of Communications and the School of Public Policy. In addition, guest lectures from experienced scientists will provide excellent case studies. You will leave the course with a deeper understanding of how to make your work more interesting and appealing to non-scientists, as well as knowledge of best practices when interacting with the outside world.
Charles Zhou
Environmental Health Sciences, University of Michigan School of Public Health, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, USA.
E-mail: chzhou{at}

Quantity and quality 101
Serious consequences can result if quantity and quality are not well balanced, whether in real life or in the science career. This principle applies to a person, an organization, and even a nation. The rapid development of China’s economy in the past few decades has led to many serious resources and environment problems. In the scientific field, the total amount of scientific papers of Chinese authors has surged, but China's innovation capacity is still obviously inadequate. This course will help you pay more attention to "quality" while you are pursuing "quantity" in your science career.
Kaile Zhou
School of Management, Hefei University of Technology, Hefei, Anhui, 230009, China.
E-mail: kailezhou{at}