Category Archives: Op-eds

“Embedded” in Ottawa

I am getting to understand the risks (and rewards) of “embedded journalism.”  Less than 24 hours into my trip to Ottawa, I started to feel uncharacteristically mollified, dangerously neutralized, and ridiculously guilty. Ever since I met with Gary Goodyear, Minister … Continue reading

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Canada’s young scholars to contend with NSERC’s new dirigisme

NSERC has finally responded to the multiple articles, blogs and editorials criticizing the declining success rate in its postdoctoral fellowship program. It is unfortunate that they chose to do so through a media outlet that is sitting behind a pay … Continue reading

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“You hit the jackpot!”

That’s what I am told lately, over and over again. That the Banff International Research Station (BIRS) has hit the jackpot, because the man who has just accepted to chair its Board of Directors is no ordinary man. To have … Continue reading

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Quite unusual for an Ottawa Monday morning dump

As always, politicians were crowding the Monday morning issue of the Hill Times newspaper. But today’s was different from any other day. No less than four politicians were either making “major” statements about federal plans for funding R&D, or taking … Continue reading

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R&D front: Signs that government may be starting to get it

And no, I am not sending out a public bouquet to government à la Naylor-Toope. I am talking about a government that is starting to realize that it’s more important to tune into the dreams and aspirations of Canada’s research community than to … Continue reading

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Canada’s Mathematical “Dream Team”

Back on July 2nd, I received a report that four members of Canada’s International Math Olympiad team were stuck for more than an hour in the elevator, while training at the Banff International Research Station. Well, it doesn’t look like this time … Continue reading

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“His character is full of flaws, flittering from one obsessive behaviour to another, and he does this effortlessly.”  Mathematics is back with a vengeance, taking up all of my mental space. The same obsessive behaviour that got me to write … Continue reading

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“To promote a deeper understanding of our world”, Canada may need a Jim Simons

The news may come as a shock to the Dean of U. Toronto’s Rotman School of Management, Roger Martin, and all those who have been preaching to the Canadian government that “what makes a country prosperous is not investment in science and technology,” … Continue reading

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Elsevier: The beginning of the end?

I’ll admit, I got some satisfaction out of telling the editor of the “Journal of Functional Analysis” last week that I will not referee the paper he had sent me because I am boycotting everything Elsevier. I was less thrilled … Continue reading

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Anyone for a Canadian “Golden Goose Award”?

Are you old enough to remember the heyday of the late Senator William Proxmire “Golden Fleece awards” given to so called “wasteful” science in the US system? Well, luckily my science policy soulmate, Paul Dufour, claims that he is, and he … Continue reading

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Computer Science in the world of Gatorade and Disney

“Math and computer science are hard. Why bother?” read the caption, which appeared in the latest Forbes Magazine. The article entitled, “University of Florida Eliminates Computer Science Department, Increases Athletic Budgets. Hmm,” describes Dean Abernathy’s restructuring plan for the College of Engineering. “Any faculty … Continue reading

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2012 federal budget: “We in Canada have yet to learn, so it seems”

My friend had called from Ottawa right after the budget lock-up to “re-assure me” that the three research councils did OK. The AUCC president, Paul Davidson, had also issued a press release offering praise for “investments (that) will preserve current levels of … Continue reading

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Back to my almost asbestos-free alma mater

I had walked this route so many times over the years, first as a graduate student, then as a frequent visiting researcher. The little bookstore is still there, but I had to resist the urge to buy “Libération”, a daily … Continue reading

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With the women of the “Laplacian”, who needs diversity tsars?

“Wherever my travels may lead, paradise is where I am.” ~Voltaire In case you have been wondering why I haven’t been blogging lately, I am presently in Rome having too much fun working, lecturing, and enjoying life with my friends … Continue reading

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Are Canada’s best researchers failing the country’s innovation agenda?

Or is it that the system and current programs are failing to capture their talent and their expertise? Needless to say, both questions assume that “Innovation” is not really having a good ride in Canada, at least compared to other … Continue reading

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With Google’s new privacy policy, who needs Bill C-30?

You cannot say that you haven’t been warned. “We’re changing our privacy policy and terms. This stuff matters.” This is a message that you have been seeing lately on the Google search engine. You have been given a full month notice … Continue reading

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Elsevier’s first concessions to its “enablers”

In October 2001, more than 30,000 scientists signed an open letter in which they pledged to exclusively publish in, review for and serve as editors of journals that placed their contents in the –then newly launched– PubMed Central with no more … Continue reading

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A politician, a senior bureaucrat, and a blog

Bonjour Dr. Ghoussoub. I very much enjoy your blog… as a science policy junkie I find it a useful antidote to the meanderings of the so-called science and innovation policies in Ottawa and elsewhere … perhaps you already saw this … Continue reading

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Was NSERC there?

“Was NSERC listening?” That was a reaction from the Twitter world to yesterday’s plenary address by Mike Lazaridis to the Annual Meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Indeed, Lazaridis rocked the casbah yesterday with his speech on the “Power of … Continue reading

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When University Presidents send out “few public bouquets” to Government

“Even on the most exalted throne in the world we are only sitting on our own bottom”– Michel de Montaigne. “Sometimes Canada Gets it Right” is a recent joint op-ed by U. of Toronto President, David Naylor and UBC President, Stephen Toope. … Continue reading

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