Farewell and funding
Rob Knop is leaving academia, essentially because it's so hard to get grants to support his research.
I'm all for increasing research funding, because I think benefits to society exceed the costs, on average. But increased funding might not help individual assistant professors as much as you would think. One problem, at least in the US, is that those who already have grants will usually have more publications and more preliminary data, so they (we) will also tend to be more competitive for any new money. So some professors have multiple postdocs working for them (not me!), generating yet more publications and preliminary data, while others can't get a grant.
Also, universities (which take half of each grant) would (and do) respond to increased research funding by hiring more professors than they need for teaching. This increased hiring would make it easier for new PhDs to get a job, at least in the short run, but it would then increase competition for grants, until the "tenure misery index" comes back into equilibrium.
My impression is that the Canadian system is more egalitarian and maybe less stressful. Anyone know if this is true? If so, how does this affect overall scientific productivity and quality (citations per dollar, say)?
Yes, I will be discussing an evolution paper this week.