0

I was reading about one of the prominent researcher in my field of study. Out of curiosity I read his PhD theses. It was supervised by yet another prominent scientist. I further went on to see his supervisor's PhD thesis and yes, it was a trend, it was supervised by yet another groundbreaking researcher. I stopped in a while, otherwise I think, I would have surely reached the pioneer of the field.

I went on for like 5-6 people down. I would like to know if this happens in your field of researchers also?

What can be the reason for this, are there any secrets passed on :P ?

0

This is commonly known and observed. See the discussion of academic "family trees".

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Academic_genealogy

But I do think what you did is a little more interesting to actually pull the thesis of each person and skim it. Not just note the big name. Very cool. Kudos.

I think the trend occurs because more famous individuals tend to have lots of graduate students (perhaps also being pulled to fancier institutions and having access to stronger grad students).

FYI, if you trace back almost all current "name" inorganic chemists in the US, you will find that they are "progeny" of Linus Pauling (multiple generations). Similar trends in physical chemistry or organic chemistry or nuclear physics.

I would imagine there would be some (but less) of the same effect in mathematics or literature or the like. This is because big names will still have a bit more funding and just attract the stronger individuals. But those are fields where there is less need for expensive equipment, large groups of students, etc. (IOW, more random individual geniuses.)

  • 1
    more famous individuals tend to have lots of graduate students — More accurately, stronger researchers tend to attract stronger graduate students. Quantity ≠ quality. – JeffE Jan 17 at 10:51
  • @JEff There is probably an impact of both, especially in experimental sciences where $$ are required for research and expensive facilities, instruments, etc. Prestigious profs can support bigger groups. And just mathematically having more (even if not better) makes probability of great one linking back to great higher. – guest Jan 21 at 1:38
  • mathematically having more (even if not better) makes probability of great one linking back to great higher — No, no, no. That argument only works if students are distributed uniformly, which they most definitely are not. Also, more money is also not the same as better research, even in the experimental sciences. There are lots of second-rate researchers with piles of money and big research groups. – JeffE Jan 21 at 4:13

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.