Questions for ‘Science on a shoestring’


Researchers in Brazil partnered with American scientists to study the Amazon rainforest. Here, Sabina Ribeiro (top right) and three community members measure the circumference of a tree.

Fernando Schimidt

To accompany feature “Science on a shoestring”


Before Reading:

1.  What kinds of resources are needed to be a scientist? Come up with a list of five or more.

2.  What does it take to become a scientist? What kind of education is needed? Where can you get such an education?

During Reading

1.  Why was it difficult for Kathleen Wang to obtain bisacrylamide after she moved to Ghana?

2.  Why is it a problem if scientists cannot obtain access to scientific journals?

3.  What percentage of the world’s population can be found in developing nations? What percentage of the world’s funding for science is spent in these countries?

4.  Why is it a problem if PhD students cannot quit their jobs to pursue their studies?

5.  How does Seeding Labs help scientists in poorer countries obtain equipment for their research?

6.  What was Vetjaera Haakuria searching termite mounds for?

7.  What is “brain drain”?

8.  Why does Darren Ong say that math is an area where poorer countries could catch up to rich ones?

9.  Why does Faisal Hossain say that it is important for researchers to partner with scientists in poorer countries?

10.  How might having African scientists trained in bioinformatics help other African researchers?

After Reading

1.  Imagine that you come from a lower-income country. You won an opportunity to go to college at no cost to you in Europe. After receiving a PhD, would you go home or stay in Europe? Use evidence from the story to help explain (or inform) your decision.

2.  You have $1 million that you can spend to help scientists in poor nations. How would you spend that money? Use examples from the story, or come up with your own ideas.


1.    There are 7.6 billion people on Earth, as of April 2018. Using data from the story, calculate how many of those people can be found in the richest countries and how many can be found in low-income countries. Show your work.