Survey about different interesting topics on research on multiple scales.

ScaleUp is a new student organization at Virginia Tech formed by graduate and advanced undergraduate students interested in scientific research that transcends multiple scales. More specifically, we focus on a broad range of research topics with a common and increasingly popular theme: understanding how information gleaned from a small scale can be used to understand behavior of a system at a larger scale. For instance, nanoscale material properties have a substantial bearing on bulk material behavior, and correlating the two is a heavily pursued research topic. Similarly, a pair of chromosomes determines the size, shape and form of an organism throughout its development. Most of our members are actively involved in research projects that feature this emerging theme, making the organization a vibrant platform for both technical and philosophical exchanges.

Currently, the group has four specific interests:
1. Organize a seminar series to host speakers from both academia and the industry. The planned sessions will cover both cutting edge academic research as well as its transformative influence on the industry.

2. Organize short technical workshops covering the latest technical skills which are often unavailable in conventional coursework.

3. Expand our membership rolls to participants beyond the Virginia Tech campus.

4. Set up and maintain a public online discussion forum.


A survey has been set up to gather opinion on different important topics in  scaling issues related to different disciplines  which can be focused and explored more in the group in form of seminar series and workshops.

Please participate in the survey and express your opinion.

PHD and academics: a degree to create another degree?

Recently I read an article on the whining PHD students. The central issue was whether the universities are producing PHDs at rate higher than the demand. Today, if we look at the current trend, a major chunk of PHDs actually get jobs in R&D sectors in industry or other research labs. Another not so insignificant portion joins academia and pursue teaching career. Only a small percent shows entrepreneurial skills and setup their own companies.

The demand in the industry fluctuates based on the global economic situation. However, in academia the situation is different. According to an article in Nature, the number of science doctorate students grew by 40% each year from 1998 to 2008. The not so increasing demand in the industry for positions in research labs makes it a convenient option for graduating doctorates to join academia and teach. They in turn produces more doctorates. This has a nature of exponential growth of PHD students. More PHD students does not necessarily imply higher  quality research and has its adverse effect on limited scintific grants and funds. So this becomes an open question whether the number of PHD students graduating the PHD intake each year should be regulated by the schools keeping in mind the industry scenario.