The life of the humble biomedical postdoctoral researcher was never easy: toiling in obscurity in a low-paying scientific apprenticeship that can stretch more than a decade. The long hours were worth it for the expected reward — the chance to launch an independent laboratory and do science that could expand human understanding of biology and disease.
A Harvard neurobiologist who regularly does surgery on fruit fly brains smaller than a poppy seed, and an MIT structural engineer who searches for modern design principles in Gothic churches, are among the 25 winners of the $500,000 MacArthur “genius” grants announced last week.
In a third-floor loft where programmers build Internet start-ups, Mackenzie Cowell is talking about the tools he and like-minded young colleagues are using to fuel what they hope will be the next big thing in biology. The list includes a cut-up Charlie Card, ingredients bought on eBay to make a kind of scientific Jell-O, and a refrigerator, just scored on Craigslist.com, that chills to 80 degrees below zero.
Barry J. Canton, a 28-year-old biological engineer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has posted raw scientific data, his thesis proposal, and original research ideas on an online Web site for all to see.
In the wake of the Virginia Tech attack, administrators at college campuses across the country have been calling on a handful of companies that offer what once seemed like a nonessential: the ability to blast text messages to thousands of people within minutes.