Posts Tagged United States National Academy of Sciences
University of Florida Eliminates Computer Science Department, Increases Athletic Budgets. Hmm. – Forbes
University of Florida Eliminates Computer Science Department, Increases Athletic Budgets. Hmm.
Wow, no one saw this coming. The University of Florida announced this past week that it was dropping its computer science department, which will allow it to save about $1.7 million. The school is eliminating all funding for teaching assistants in computer science, cutting the graduate and research programs entirely, and moving the tattered remnants into other departments.
Let’s get this straight: in the midst of a technology revolution, with a shortage of engineers and computer scientists, UF decides to cut computer science completely?
Math and computer science are hard. Why bother?
Students at UF have already organized protests, and have created a website dedicated to saving the CS department. Several distinguished computer scientists have written to the president of UF to express their concerns, in very blunt terms. Prof. Zvi Galil, Dean of Computing at Georgia Tech, is “amazed, shocked, and angered.” Prof. S.N. Maheshwari, former Dean of Engineering at IIT Delhi, calls this move “outrageously wrong.” Computer scientist Carl de Boor, a member of the National Academy of Sciences and winner of the 2003 National Medal of Science, asked the UF president “What were you thinking?”
(Note to the students, if you need more quotes for your site: I think this move is shockingly short-sighted. The University of Florida is moving backwards while the rest of the world moves ahead.)
Meanwhile, the athletic budget for the current year is $99 million, an increase of more than $2 million from last year. The increase alone would more than offset the savings supposedly gained by cutting computer science.
Now, I’m not saying that UF has chosen football over science. (Imagine the outcry, though, if UF cut a major sport instead of a major science department.) Actually, the real villains here are the Florida state legislators, who have cut the budget for their flagship university by 30% over the past 6 years.
Meanwhile, just two days ago, Florida governor Rick Scott approved the creation of a brand-new public university, Florida Polytechnic University, to be located near the city of Tampa. In an unintentionally ironic statement, Gov. Scott said
“At a time when the number of graduates of Florida’s universities in the STEM [science, technology, engineering, and mathematics] fields is not projected to meet workforce needs, the establishment of Florida Polytechnic University will help us move the needle in the right direction.”
Heads up, Gov. Scott: no one is going to believe that you’re supporting technical education when your flagship university is eliminating its Computer Science Department. Since cutting support for universities seems to be a major agenda item for you and the legislature, why stop at 30%? With just a bit more cutting, you could get rid of those annoying universities entirely. Let the rest of the country worry about higher education! Florida can focus on orange groves and golf courses. Oh, and football.
- University of Florida Eliminates Computer Science Department, Increases Athletic Budgets. Hmm. (forbes.com)
- University of Florida eliminates Computer Science Department. At least they still have football. (genome.fieldofscience.com)
- The Science of Solving Problems vs Football (computationallythinking.com)
- University of Florida to dismantle CISE department (computinged.wordpress.com)
- FL: Tuition hike means USF students paying for greater share of their education than state (tampabay.com)
- Majors: Computer Science (collegemindset.wordpress.com)
- Florida Council of 100 to Scott: veto Poly bill, sign tuition bill (tampabay.com)
- Scott boots UF Board of Trustees chair (tampabay.com)
- Gold medalist brings smiles to UF hospital (news4jax.com)
- Fuel Up Your Computer Science Knowledge with Coursera (mishidems.wordpress.com)
Has Modern Science Become Dysfunctional?
WASHINGTON, DC – March 27, 2012 – The recent explosion in the number of retractions in scientific journals is just the tip of the iceberg and a symptom of a greater dysfunction that has been evolving the world of biomedical research say the editors-in-chief of two prominent journals in a presentation before a committee of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) today.
“Incentives have evolved over the decades to encourage some behaviors that are detrimental to good science,” says Ferric Fang, editor-in-chief of the journal Infection and Immunity, a publication of the American Society for Microbiology (ASM), who is speaking today at the meeting of the Committee of Science, Technology, and Law of the NAS along with Arturo Casadevall, editor-in-chief of mBio®, the ASM’s online, open-access journal.
In the past decade the number of retraction notices for scientific journals has increased more than 10-fold while the number of journals articles published has only increased by 44%. While retractions still represent a very small percentage of the total, the increase is still disturbing because it undermines society’s confidence in scientific results and on public policy decisions that are based on those results, says Casadevall. Some of the retractions are due to simple error but many are a result of misconduct including falsification of data and plagiarism.
More concerning, say the editors, is that this trend may be a symptom of a growing dysfunction in the biomedical sciences, one that needs to be addressed soon. At the heart of the problem is an economic incentive system fueling a hypercompetitive environment that is fostering poor scientific practices, including frank misconduct.
The root of the problem is a lack of sufficient resources to sustain the current enterprise. Too many researchers are competing for too little funding, creating a survival-of-the-fittest, winner-take-all environment where researchers increasingly feel pressure to publish, especially in high-prestige journals.
“The surest ticket to getting a grant or job is getting published in a high profile journal,” says Fang. “This is an unhealthy belief that can lead a scientist to engage in sensationalism and sometimes even dishonest behavior to salvage their career.”
Funding is just one aspect of a very complex problem Casadevall and Fang see growing in the biomedical sciences. In a series of editorials in the journal Infection and Immunity they describe their views in detail, arguing that science is not as healthy as it could be or as it needs to be to effectively address the challenges facing humanity in the 21st century.
“Incentives in the current system place scientists under tremendous stress, discourage cooperation, encourage poor scientific practices and deter new talent from entering the field,” they write. “It is time for a discussion of how the scientific enterprise can be reformed to become more effective and robust.”
The answers, they write, must come not only from within the scientific community but from society as a whole that has helped create the current incentive structure that is fostering the dysfunction. In the editorials they outline a series of recommended reforms including methodological, cultural and structural changes.
“In the end, it is not the number of high-impact-factor papers, prizes or grant dollars that matters most, but the joys of discovery and the innumerable contributions both large and small that one makes through contact with other scientists,” they write. “Only science can provide solutions to many of the most urgent needs of contemporary society. A conversation on how to reform science should begin now.”
- Has modern science become dysfunctional? (eurekalert.org)
- Dysfunction In Modern Science? (science.slashdot.org)
- Science Determines Morality (etsop95.wordpress.com)
- NSABB and H5N1 redactions: Biosecurity runs up against scientific endeavor (medicalxpress.com)
- NSABB and H5N1 redactions: Biosecurity runs up against scientific endeavor (eurekalert.org)
- Biosecurity Runs Up Against Scientific Endeavor: NSABB And H5N1 Redactions (medicalnewstoday.com)
- Researchers develop Bookworm-Arxiv searchable scientific journal database (theverge.com)
- Modern science as a contemporary dogma? (ianuschristius.wordpress.com)
- Study linking virus and chronic fatigue retracted (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- Open Access Resources (scottcclibrary.wordpress.com)