Where's My Jetpack?

In 2013, the graduate student group ProSPER - graduate students promoting science policy, education, and research - launched the "Where's My Jetpack?" seminar series to explore questions about why scientific innovation can sometimes seem so painfully slow. Inspired by these lectures, ProSPER teamed up with Hold That Thought to interview Washington University faculty about barriers to innovation. Below you can find candid conversations about the challenges behind research and innovation.

Past seminars from ProSPER's ongoing series "Where's My Jetpack?" can be found on YouTube.

Image Flickr: Dork Boy Comics, tekf

May 13, 2015

Horses and Jockeys: The Practical Side of Innovation

Where's My Jetpack?: Episode #5

As managing director of the Skandalaris Center for Interdisciplinary Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Emre Toker has encountered many innovative ideas for products and businesses - some of which succeed, most of which do not. Toker, who has founded or co-founded five companies, discusses his own experiences as an investor and entrepreneur and explains some of the common pitfalls that keep innovators from bringing their ideas to life.


May 6, 2015

Beyond the Medical Breakthrough: How Partnerships Improve Global Health

Where's My Jetpack?: Episode #4

As director of the Institute for Public Health at Washington University, William Powderly believes that in order to be innovative and find useful solutions to global health challenges, effective partnerships are key. But how do these partnerships form, and what types of partnerships are most effective? To continue our collaboration with the graduate student group ProSPER, graduate student Kuan-lin Huang interviews Powderly about the importance of working with teams both around the world and across academic disciplines.


April 30, 2015

Stress and Competition: Does the Research "Lifestyle" Inhibit Innovation?

Where's my Jetpack?: Episode #3

Barak Cohen has some words of wisdom for the future biologists of the world: "If you’re doing this to get rich, you’re going to be disappointed.  If you’re doing this to get famous, you’re going to be doubly disappointed. The reason to do a PhD in biology is because you’re fascinated by biology." As Cohen and graduate students like Shelina Ramnarine know, being a professional scientist is typically not glamorous. It involves hard work and stress - often over funding. To continue our Where's My Jetpack? series, Ramnarine questions whether an increasingly competitive lifestyle is a barrier to innovation. In this week's episode, she and Cohen discuss how the internet, changes in governmental funding, and a lack of diversity among scientists all affect scientific progress.


April 23, 2015

How to Rethink Innovation and Bridge Divides

Where's My Jetpack?: Episode #2
Psychology graduate student Lameese Eldesouky has noticed a trend in research. In some cases, scientists in fields like genetics or biology have an easier time getting funding than researchers who study topics that are less easy to put into numbers, like relationships. In this episode, Eldesouky interviews professor Sarah Gehlert about her thoughts and experiences bridging the divide between the social sciences and the life or physical sciences. Gehlert, who has led cross-disciplinary research efforts into topics like racial disparities in health, discusses how in order to to make true progress, we need to start thinking about innovation in new ways.


April 16, 2015

Graduate Students Ask: Why Does Innovation Take So Long?

Where's My Jetpack?: Episode #1

Ever wonder why innovations in areas like health care and energy always seem just over the horizon, instead of already here? You're not alone. At Washington University in St. Louis, graduate students wrestling with this question created the "Where's My Jetpack?" speaker series to shed light on barriers to innovation. Rebecca Lowdon, cofounder of the graduate student group ProSPER, and Kimberly Curtis, assistant dean for graduate student affairs, discuss the creation of ProSPER, the "Where's My Jetpack?" series, and the importance of graduate student leadership.