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The Pub Club (Mar 10): The Mug Club – Dr. Doug Schemske

March 10, 2017 @ 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm

Doug’s final seminar 2016

Please join The Pub Club with special Guest Speaker, Dr. Doug Schemske. When Doug delivered his final MSU seminar late last year, he had four main pieces of advice to junior researchers: (1) Question authority, (2) Be ambitious, (3) Follow your instincts and (4) Think broadly. Now Doug will join The Mug Club by leading a discussion on what he says is “the single most important obstacle to progress in science for young investigators.” So take advantage of this great opportunity to hear illuminating viewpoints on how we can stay on the edge of science and acquire the skills to do so.

Doug provided the following preview of his visit for your perusal:

The single most important obstacle to progress in science for young investigators is identifying the question. In the rush to publish and secure funding, we often do not spend enough time thinking about the big questions that underlie our interest in science. The first paragraph of your dissertation and the first five minutes of your job talk will reveal to all what kind of scientist you are and what contributions you might make to your discipline and to your colleagues. What questions does your work address and what motivated your interest in these questions?

To gain some appreciation for the lost art of “thinking” about big questions in biology, I will review the early career of Charles Darwin, who was arguably the most influential biologist of all time. I will also give a brief overview of a long-standing problem in evolutionary biology, the genetics of adaptation, to illustrate the theoretical and technical challenges to answering major questions in biology. Regardless of one’s disciplinary focus, I argue that we can all profit from thinking broadly about how to answer the large, conceptual questions that pose the greatest challenges in our field.

“Doug received his Ph.D. from the University of Illinois, was a postdoctoral fellow at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, and has held academic positions at Amherst College, The University of Chicago, and University of Washington. He is now Hannah Professor of Biology at Michigan State University, where he holds appointments at Kellogg Biological Station and the Departments of Plant Biology and Horticulture. His research investigates the ecological and genetic mechanisms of adaptation and speciation in plants from temperate and tropical environments.”

Diverse Skills targeted: research, communication, critical and creative thinking skills


MPS building, 4th floor living room

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