As you know, a lot of what I do is outline the details of how scientific systems and research institutes of the past worked.
Tomorrow, I’ll be taking my first step in doing this kind of profile with one of the present, well-known, new science orgs! I’ll be spending a week on the ground (as well as more time in the coming months) at the lab interviewing, observing, etc.
I already have a list of things I plan on looking into. But I’d love to know what sorts of stuff you all think would be fascinating to learn!
Looking forward to your responses!
Is there anything about the traditional way of organizing/doing science that you thought was really dysfunctional, but that you’ve come to appreciate as having merits you overlooked?
For these science organizations and communities to operate they need the support of funding organizations and foundations. What are these science organizations doing to build and grow the support of funding organizations? How do they effectively build their credibility that they are the right groups to keep funding?
How does the lab balance directed research versus curiosity driven tinkering?
To the extent these labs are funded by government grants, what types of innovations could Congress bring to the process to help make the labs more innovative or improve productivity?
What's the breakdown of individual vs. group leadership and research autonomy? Are people mostly working towards focused goals like a startup, or is it more decentralized / exploratory work? Do people mainly work alone, in small teams, or in large teams?
What's the mindset on outsourcing/using CROs versus doing things in-house? And are things super lean, cost-wise (like academia) or is spending pretty permissive (like pharma)?
How do people communicate their results with each other internally? Are there group meetings?
Do the four walls of the lab limit innovation (by four walls I mean rigidity of rules/politics/funding of the organisation)? What's the balance between risk/experimentation and 'safety' (by safety I mean choosing topics that have a high chance of success/ or are trendy)
What are the vibes inside the actual organization? Is it like a tech company, pharma lab, or perhaps an academic research institute?
How well-dressed are the scientists/employees? I've spent time in both cushy industry labs and underfunded academic labs and the average cost of clothes was an accurate indicator of which of the two environment housed the killers.
What's a representative career path for the scientists? Did most come from academia"
You should coin a term for these orgs, like neo-institute or something.