It’s a difficult time for anyone in Academia. From teaching, to funding, to publishing, to translating research, to intellectual property, to collaboration, to reproducibility, to jobs, to cheating, to culture: the entire science stack today is a miserable process.
In the past, you could get away with avoiding this reality and still manage to be a productive scientist. It was simply a well-known secret that certain parts of a scientific career were expected to be inefficient. Today however, there is an entire generation of young scientists who are taught to believe that this is just how science works, and it’s doing incredible harm to us all.
The result is that academia is eating its young.
Over the past year, I’ve met countless brilliant inventors, passionate teachers, and genuinely curious people. But because of the politics, inefficiency, and in-bred hostility towards change, these incredible people have been driven out of academia.
Had I not left the path of grad school to pursue a startup, these people would have been the ones I would’ve looked up to. On so many occasions, I’ll meet some brilliant mind working at a startup or in administration, and will want to blurt out, “Of all the people in the world, you, YOU deserve to be a professor teaching and doing research. And it’s such a god damn shame that you can’t be.”
If those still within academia with enough foresight cannot recognize this problem, then the best and brightest of our generation will be forced to give up their potential unless an alternative route opens up.
Thankfully, Microryza is able to solve just one problem for scientists in this position. It’s providing value for a handful of our early adopters: independent scientists, students, and people who don’t give a shit about politics. But more importantly, it’s proving that there is a new batch of younger scientists who care deeply enough about fixing academia.
For example, I stumbled upon the website of 22 year-old bioengineering student who taught himself how to code. It’s a humble project that he has (link), aimed at improving communication among scientists. But it reaffirms what I’ve long wondered.
Science and academia are entirely broken today, but we can no longer afford to wait for the dinosaurs to die. There are too many important questions needing to be answered. The next generation of academics, scientists, and researchers are not going to be living in the same world we live in today. So who’s going to build it?
If it’s 22 year-olds building the next big tools and social networks for scientists (I was 22 when I started Microryza), then I don’t mind.