Perhaps this explains why so many California grads are working in restaurants and retail.

Iqbal Pittalwala of UCR Today reports.

California’s Graduate Students in Environmental Sciences Lag Behind in Technology, Computation

RIVERSIDE, Calif. — Researchers at the University of California, Riverside have conducted a study showing that many skills and practices that could help scientists make use of technological and computational opportunities are only marginally being taught in California’s formal graduate programs in the environmental sciences.

The researchers found, too, that graduate students in the state were, in general, not engaged in data management practices. Of the students surveyed who had already completed their graduate degree, only 29.3 percent had made their research data products available online. Further, one-third of the surveyed students whose research was in progress were unfamiliar with creating metadata for their data sets.

“These findings raised a red flag for us,” said Rebecca R. Hernandez, the lead author of the study published in the December 2012 issue of BioScience. “We conducted the study because we were concerned that early career and aspiring scientists were not being trained with the skills and tools they will need to handle large, complex data sets that have become ‘normal’ in scientific labs and institutions across the globe.”

Hernandez explained that the findings suggest that scientists are not being trained as well as they could be in keeping up with the pace of technology and computation.

“At a time when jobs have become internationally competitive, scientists also need employable skills,” she said. “Knowing basic programming or how to infer meaningful and accurate information from large data sets could be the difference between unemployment and a job offer. Moreover, data sets are useful beyond their initial application making them a valuable and powerful commodity. If graduate students are not trained in data archival methods, they may be less likely to archive data sets in future research endeavors, resulting in a huge loss of knowledge and opportunity to the academic community.”