JeFranko Potemkin† and Günther Schlonk†*
Abstract: We report the development of a dedicated networking platform to facilitate professional and romantic matchmaking for scientists.
Two of the most important decisions a scientist can make are choosing a supervisor and choosing a life partner. In both cases, the consequences of picking badly are severe. It is a serious commitment to shackle one’s hopes, dreams and aspirations to a single person, and life partners are important as well. We have devised an app that lets one find both in the same place, though hopefully not at the same time.
There is widespread ferment among academics that there are too many potential PhD candidates, with too many papers to their names. Sifting through 70 CV’s from highly competitive individuals further strains the schedules of very busy people (Fig. 1).1 Conversely, a prospective PhD candidate is confronted by literally thousands of potential supervisors from all over the world. Both of these scenarios cry out for a high-throughput screening system to streamline the process.
Finding love as a scientist can also be challenging. A landmark study in the Journal of Spurious Statistics noted that scientists have a pronounced tendency to partner with other scientists.2 The authors of this study posit three potential explanations. First, muggles (non-scientists) have a limited capacity to comprehend the vagaries and vexations unique to research. Second, scientists have a limited capacity to meet muggles, because they’re trapped in a lab 60 hours a week and exhausted for the other 108. Finally, scientists can’t help talking incessantly about their research, either because they love it or because they hate it. These factors combine to create a kind of institutionalised Stockholm syndrome and the gloriously incestuous enclave of nerds and weirdos that is academia.
In collaboration with the Australian Rejection Council (ARC), we have developed a matchmaking application targeted specifically at scientists, to address the deficiencies described above.
EluciDATE is a freely available app for Windows, IOS and Linux, with a user interface broadly similar to contemporary matchmaking platforms. The app has three modes:
- Students looking for supervisors
- Supervisors looking for students
- Scientists looking for love
Selecting a mode will determine the demographic of profiles displayed, but the information within the profiles is the same across all three catagories. To use the app, the user views a perspective’s profile and takes one of three actions (Fig. 2).
- <ACCEPT> Sends an anonymous “citation” to the other party. If both parties mutually “cite” each other, a match is declared and a chat window appears.
- <REVISE> This option permits a user to send a custom message, detailing the changes that would be required before they deemed the applicant acceptable. Such a message might be “publish in Nature” or “drop 20 pounds and lose the moustache”.
- <REJECT> Moves to the next candidate. If this person “cited” you, the app sends a generic message of consolation, thanking them for their interest and suggesting they try your less-attractive sister.
This simple swipe-system permits the high-throughput screening of academic and romantic prospectives in a fraction of the time required by traditional methods.
The first panel of a user’s profile contains basic information such as their name, age and institution. Their position in the academic hierarchy is also indicated. The “ID” button on the right provides a direct link the user’s ORCID ID page, permitting the rapid verification of their personal data.3 A colour-coded statis icon gives a sense of the user’s habits, and an indication of their mood at that moment:
Messaging somebody in the midst of thesis-writing may provoke anger, or prompt a lengthy procrastisation. Users with a smartwatch or similar device may choose to have their status updated automatically, as determined by heartrate, breathing pattern and frequency of uttered profanity.
Users may list up to five areas in which their interests lie. Shared fields will be highlighted in pink (Fig. 3). If an “EluciDATE Open Access” plan is purchased, users may filter prospectives by specialisation. The selection of profile pictures should be made with care. Users may be judged not just on their appearance, but on the cleanliness of their workspace and regard for lab safety. For example, Bertha’s profile (Fig. 3) indicates that she scorns PPE and has stolen someone else’s lab coat.
Scientists are competitive people, at least in part because academia has forced them to be. It’s important to know if a potential supervisor is well cited, and if a potential partner is better than you (Fig 4).
The final panel gives users space to write a short personal statement. This may be a solo writing sample, a set of selection criteria or a rhyme about a man from Nantucket.
An application has been developed to enable the high-throughput screening of scientists by other scientists, for academic and romantic purposes. We foresee absolutely no difficulties arising from the crossing of the aforementioned purposes, and instead anticipate that universities will purchase EluciDATE Open Access for general use, alongside the standard journal subscriptions and software licences. Work is currently underway to adapt this software to streamline the peer-review process for scientific papers. The new application (provisionally entitled “Reviewr”) will be released later this year.
Notes and references
2 “Academically consanguinous relationships in a laboratory context” , 2022, J. Spur. Stat. n, 5–95.
3 For example: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-1396-125X
Note: Figures 2–4 were prepared using stock photos sourced from https://pixabay.com/