20 April 2009

"Training the Next Generation of Astronomers"

An interesting article on how future astronomers are being trained, this article makes a few key points on the current process. (Full text available for free via the download links.)

For example, the current generation of grad students are being trained to perform research, when in reality most astronomers do not spend the majority of their time actually performing research. Most researchers instead are managers, grant writers, and are in charge of budgets, none of which are skills we learn as grad students.

In addition 11% of PhD earning astronomers go into EPO (Education and Public Outreach) careers, and many researchers also perform some component of EPO as well. Without EPO, the public would not have such a love for astronomy, congress wouldn't fund NASA nearly as much, and even the HST would have been retired a decade ago.

A large portion of the paper is also dedicated to the family unfriendliness of academia, making the point that this doesn't hurt only women, but also those men who wish to play a larger role in their families.

Give the article a read!