According to Odyssey at Pondering Blather, Darwin's theory of evolution applies to research labs. "Labs are, and always have been, under selective pressure. They evolve. Or go extinct," he says. But to overcome the pressures that threaten research labs — a lack of tenure-track positions and low funding levels — Odyssey says that investigators ought to focus on the traits that'll increase their fitness "in this rapidly changing landscape ... efficiency and flexibility." For the former, Odyssey says investigators ought to plan carefully and collaborate effectively. "Be a great collaborator and you'll attract great collaborations," he says, adding it's best to also "keep an eye on things outside of your sub-sub-sub-field," as it's possible to "come across an awesome approach being applied in a different sub-field that can push forward your own." As for flexibility, Odyssey says that in competitive environments, "the ability to change directions is necessary. … Learn new stuff. New techniques." Overall, he says, stagnation is the enemy; refusing to evolve at — or more quickly than — the pace of the ever-changing research environment could prove to be fatal.
Survival of the Fittest … Labs
Mar 17, 2011