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A Crisis for Science: The Big Data Brain Drain

Will big projects like the LSST be able to attract talent in the Age of Big Data?

Will big projects like the LSST be able to attract talent in the Age of Big Data?

Over at Pythonic Perambulations, Jake Vanderplas writes that the rise of Big Data in industry is causing a brain drain in science. It’s an environment where the most promising upcoming researchers are finding no place for themselves in the academic community, while the for-profit world of industry stands by with deep pockets and open arms.

I particularly worry about this in my own field of astronomy and astrophysics. The LSST project is ramping up for first-light toward the end of this decade. Its goal of real-time processing of 30TB of data per night over the course of a decade is incredibly ambitious. To handle this volume of data, the project will likely be looking to hire several dozen data-focused astronomical researchers over the coming years. Given the required skill set, along with the current compensation level and career outlook of engineering-oriented positions in academia, I have some serious doubts about whether the project will be able to attract a sufficient pool of applicants for these positions.

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A Tip of the Hat goes out to Ian Foster for pointing us to this story.

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