Monday, April 05, 2004

Nano in Draco

From blogger Bill Tozier comes this fascinating reflection on nanotech in academia:

    Perhaps it is my dismay at the situation of my friend Thom LaBean, a junior faculty member doing amazing work in nanotechnology with biomaterials (for example, the ingenious work reported in this paper on self-assembling DNA barcodes). A young genius should be well-rewarded by the time he enters middle age, not burning out. But the snobbish culture of academe sorely undervalues cunning research in favor of its own self-referential social standards of paper-publishing and sitting in meetings. Peer-review is, alas, performed by people who are at best your peers. The life of a professor wanting to make useful things that could change the world now is instead filled the social necessities of university life — which both delay gratification and mask the academic’s work from the people in the real world who would most benefit from hearing about it. Like a dozen other “young” professors I know, Thom should have thirty patents granted by now, but the overweening and draconian demands on his time just to remain a professor block him from that reward.


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