It’s been rather quiet here lately, mostly caused by a quick trip to Manchester. I met with Karl Bates and Peter Falkingham to discuss research, and partook of a number of beverages in a local establishment with Peter, Jonathan Codd and some of John’s students. A long time ago, John was a PhD student in Bonn and member of FOR 533, and he, a student from Bonn and from Tübingen (where I was employed back when) and I spent a week at the Museum für Naturkunde in Berlin. The Tübingen student and I were looking at you know what, whereas John and his student were looking at various dinosaurs’ uncinate processes (or lack thereof) and rib morphology in general. Here’s John manipulating a Berlin specimen of Plateosaurus for me, so that I could get photos of the maximum extension of the toe for comparison to GPIT/RE/7288.
unrelated rant to follow below the fold.
Manchester presented itself from its rainy side – does anyone know if it has any others? I didn’t get to see more than Oxford Road station and the university area, but found this to be a nice area with lots of small shops, pubs and food places sprinkled between the many university buildings. It is a nice intermediate between a campus and a city, much like Tübingen once must have been. On the way to the pub John pointed out a lot of building that were either new or being renovated, and explained what research institutions were being given these new spaces. It is quite interesting to see how focused on commercial and/or medical application the UK universities seem to become.
Chatting research with Peter and Karl was great fun (photogrammetry, SIMM modeling), but we also spent some time lamenting the state of research funding and, especially, sorry university bureau-crap-cy. Peter can tell you a horror story that will have you yelling in rage at administrators all across the English speaking world. It is reminiscent of, but even worse than, what I suffered through to get my current position. It is high time that admin people are made to understand that young researchers are working very hard for much less money than they could make elsewhere, that they are not millionaires who can afford to advance thousands of Euros or Pounds, and that procrastinating the work on getting their already granted monies to them (especially their wages) may result in damaging the research projects, harming their families, and in extreme cases may even make the intended research impossible.
That’s nonsense, you say? Then pray tell me how someone who earns about a thousand Euros a month for two years, then is unemployed for half a year because the bureaucraps can’t get their jobs done right, can then advance 4,000 Euros for a move to the US? Extreme example, but not that rare.
What we need are two things: changes to the accounting of research monies so that expenses can be reimburses immediately for low-wage employees, and changes to the oversight of administrators, so that lazy bastards get their fingers slapped very hard very quickly. Otherwise, we will continue to drive smart, successful people away from important research.