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  "Are there some traits of successful scientists?  Sure - the ones with the greatest imagination do best, but that               imagination has to be channeled, it has to be based on solid knowledge."     - Retired Professor of Physics
                    
"Being successful is having my graduate students enjoy, have a passion for science, and find rewards in it,      
  helping
them to learn to think and analyze and become scientists of their own.  That’s a success, teaching the     next generation."     - Professor of Chemistry
        

The number of doctoral degrees awarded to U.S. citizens and permanent residents in the physical sciences is currently at a 40-year low.  With 2.5 million job openings in science-related fields expected in the United States by 2014 (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2005) and stagnant levels of physical science doctorates being awarded (National Center for Education Statistics, 2006), understanding the issues faced by graduate students in the sciences is of national interest.

Project Crossover: A Study of the Transition from Student to Scientist is aimed at uncovering the mechanisms by which physics and chemistry graduate students transition from being consumers of knowledge to producers of knowledge (i.e., scientists).  This is a mixed-methods study, involving over 120 30- to 120-minute interviews with chemistry and physics faculty, graduate students, post-docs, and other researchers; and two surveys mailed to over 17,000 individuals of the same populations.  The results of Project Crossover will address many topics regarding graduate science education, including:

  • the influences of experiences prior to graduate school on degree completion and student satisfaction,
  • the impacts of the advisor-advisee relationship on student attrition, satisfaction, and success,
  • how research group dynamics influence graduate student experiences,
  • the impacts of race, gender, and family issues on graduate student success in the physical sciences, and
  • the relationship between of success (and how success in science is defined) and satisfaction.
Research progress on these topics and many others can be followed on the Project Crossover Research page.


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