Every first-year graduate student in the physical sciences should be required to read Stephen Benka’s great article. I have observed that a key difference between research scientists and engineers who have truly remarkable careers and those who get stuck in a technical box is their verbal communication skills.

When I started as a graduate student in chemistry at the University of California, Berkeley, in 1972, the department chairman David Shirley told the entering students that they should attend seminars regularly because they needed to develop the ability to learn by listening to other people talk. He should have added that students also need to develop the ability to speak in such a way that their audience learns something.