April 15, 2003
Here's an ethics question for you....
I went to a seminar today given by A_____ Fire. It was originally meant as a big-shot scientist honorarium talk, but there's a tenure-track job opening in the department, so it was co-opted into a job talk at the very last minute. The thing is, there are several other candidates for the position within the department. The people within the department are very good scientists and gave great job talks of their own. A_____ Fire's talk wasn't all that hot (but not the worst talk in the world). The thing is, Fire is something of a prodigy in the field because his lab almost single-handedly created a technique that has revolutionized the way biology is done (RNAi, for those who care about these things). There's talk of a Nobel Prize in the next decade or less, so basically if Fire wants the job, he's got it.
Now what I'm wondering is this: should the Cell and Developmental Biology department have suddenly turned this into a job offer? Like I said, there are great people already in the department that could do absolutely fantastic science if given the job, but they just aren't A_____ Fire. On one hand, it seems a little bit like getting your friends' hopes up and then bringing in a ringer at the last minute. On the other hand, there's a budget crisis, so if the department is going to hire anyone, shouldn't they get their money's worth? Because, while I think A_____ Fire might be sub-par as a lecturer, he'd be doing phenomenal work and be a huge feather in UC Berkeley's cap.
Update: Fire won the Nobel Prize in medicine on 10/1/06. Perhaps he just wasn't on top of his game when giving this talk.
Posted on April 15, 2003 08:18 PM
I'm sick of boring middle aged professors. I vote UCB hires a young, bedroom-eyed professor.
Goddamn it. Now even my own comments page is killing HTML. There's something fishy going on.
Anyway, this is the only potential hottie
Damn you MCB-Berkeley people. Like that place needs any more feathers in its cap. How many Nobel Prize winners do you need before you will be satisfied? I say hire someone from the department and let U of O have Mr. RNAi.
We must have them all. ALL!!! AAAAAALLLLLL!!!
I was talking to some of the prof's about the Fire talk. They pretty much agreed that it was a relatively crappy talk. And, surprisingly, they viewed that as a perfectly good reason to deny him a job, despite his l33t RNAi skillz.
At first I was confused. But then I realized I was thinking too much like a liberal arts college graduate. I was thinking, "Boy, who could say no to someone this big?" And of course, the answer is "Nick Cozzarelli, Mike Botchan, and Robert Tjian can damn well say 'No' to whoever the hell they want to".
Hey! Geez, when a Hopkins guy does something to win a Nobel, you guys are all over it!!!
Just rooting for my alma mater, that's all :)
Don't get me wrong. I think Andy Fire is one of the best scientists alive today. His experiments are inspired and his models are very exciting. But I think he needs to work a little on presenting his work. During the talk he summarized a lot of the work done on RNAi, but somehow managed to almost completely leave his own lab's research out of the picture. Which was odd, because I don't think any other researcher working in RNAi would be able to get 10 sentences into a talk without mentioning Andy at least twice.