Sunday, April 21, 2013

Two academic heroes under 30

I have two academic heroes this week.

The first is U Mass graduate student Thomas Herndon, who replicated Rogoff and Reinhart's austerity paper and discovered a mistake.  Many social scientists encourage replication, but people arguably don't do it enough.

The second is a public high school sophomore Ria Chhabra who began performing experiments on fruit flies during middle school, and discovered that organic food results in better outcomes for fruit flies. 

Their examples can inspire and encourage all of us.  Their achievements are an important reminder of how capable students can be, given opportunity and encouragement, and how it doesn't take elite schools to inspire achievement.  And how important it is to question assumptions, design good work, and work hard to execute it. 

1 comment:

Dan H said...

While the organic study is impressive research for a middle schooler, I'm underwhelmed as a demonstration of high level research that people should use for life decisions.

My biggest concern is that very little information is presented on the food source. It says both the organic & non-organic certified food were bought at Whole Foods. It doesn't say if they were the same variety. It doesn't say if the time from picking to eating varied. Were the non-organic certified more likely to be varieties bred for long-distance shipping rather than nutritional content?

My strong suspicion is that products in Whole Foods that are organic certified are more likely to have other factors that make there healthier. In that way, organic certification is a proxy for other things that make the food healthier, but publishing an article saying something like, "fresher food is healthier," wouldn't have gotten as much attention.