- finish experiment without more samples committing suicide
- make sure minion's stuff is organized in such a way that I can find it later (as he will be leaving in a week)
- complete arts-and-crafts portion of notebook keeping
- work to overcome entropy of the desk
- write paragraph for training grant
- figure out what the hell needs to get done and set deadlines
- decide which experiments are most urgent to complete prior to shutting down cell culture for the lab move
- organize my downloads folder
- backup data from computers
Friday, July 31, 2009
Friday, July 24, 2009
- It's in the city I live so I don't have to travel.
- I'm not presenting and my boss isn't paying so this is for the pure pleasure of science.
- I will not know a single other soul there-unless I happen to see someone from PSU and even then it won't be someone I know well-making this a fantastic opportunity to workout those 'networking' skillz.
- It's completely unrelated to what my postdoc lab studies (although some of the talks are peripherally related to what I specifically am doing).
Thursday, July 23, 2009
- it might come off a little preachy, for lack of a better word
- some of my intentions may not have been very clear
- and I just have more to say on the matter
- Balance is about fulfillment and renewal in four areas: physical, spiritual, mental, social/emotional
- Many scientists (and people, in general) lack balance in their lives
- Working longer hours does not necessarily mean you're achieving more
- You can find ways to make time for what's truly important to you
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
It had been quite some time since I wrote a formal mission statement. This may seem absurd or hokey or whatever to many people, but I am much more focused and productive when I have some clear idea of what, where, and who I want to be, even if it’s not entirely clear how I’m going to get there. Having experienced some significant events and reached some major goals (i.e. completing Ph.D. and starting a postdoc at a highly reputable institute) I realized it was past time to reevaluate my mission. During the process of writing my mission statement early yesterday morning, I realized some important things about myself and my goals-things that I probably knew all along but had never really expressed and that reaffirmed my choices thus far.
I used this mission statement builder to focus and guide the process. One of the modules addresses balance, which they define as "a state of fulfillment and renewal in each of the four dimensions: physical, spiritual, mental, and social/emotional." I've been thinking this morning about balance-and the lack thereof-in the lives of grad students and postdocs.
I've attended these 'women in science' panel discussions (by choice) a couple of times-you know, the ones where four or five female PIs at the university are put in a room with a bunch of female grad students, postdoc, and junior faculty to discuss the challenges of being successful as a woman in science (I have more to say on this topic, but I'll save it for another post). Inevitably the discussions digress into the family-work life balance issue: When should I have kids? How do you balance your family and career? And so on.
Here's the thing: Life is a balancing act, with or without kids. I'm not saying that children don't change/complicate the mix. But life is about balance. And balance is something that many folks in science seem to lack, and I would wager this is the major-if not sole-cause of burnout in science. I harken back to my conversation with Ronald. On occasion in our conversations, I will mention heading to the gym or going for a run during the work week, and Ronald will comment as to how he would love to do that but work takes up too much time.
LISTEN UP, EVERYONE. YOU MAKE TIME FOR WHAT'S IMPORTANT. WORKING LONGER DOES NOT MEAN WORKING HARDER. WORK SMARTER AND HARDER AND YOU WON'T HAVE TO WORK LONGER. IT'S ABOUT PRIORITIES.
I love science. I think about it a lot. I enjoy being in the lab. BUT I need other things too. I need to keep myself in good physical condition. I make time for it because when I feel good, I can work longer hours (as necessary), and I am more productive during the hours I work because I'm not run down and thinking about how terrible I feel. My husband and I reinitiated a regimented schedule this week. It means being up before the chickens, but it's working. I've already put in 20 productive hours in 2 days, well on my way to 50+ for the week. And I've still gotten out of work early enough to have time for a quick dinner, a workout, and some quiet meditation time before heading to bed early to get enough sleep to start again the next day.
Not everyone would like my schedule. Different people have different temperaments. I get that. But if you want to be happy and successful, you damn well better figure out how to make time for things other than science while still being productive in the lab.
I'll step down off my soapbox now.
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Saturday, July 18, 2009
Thursday, July 16, 2009
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Saturday, July 11, 2009
The weather has been entirely too beautiful to be cooped up in a lab all day. That’s not to say I’ve been scientifically unproductive. I’ve spent quite some time in a quiet, tree-laden area of little park writing specific aims for a fellowship proposal and thinking about what experiments to do in the next few months to gather necessary preliminary data. I rather enjoyed it. There must be something wrong with me.
This causes me to reflect upon a conversation with a couple of postdocs earlier this week. The question arose as to whether one of them, who I will call Ronald, wanted his own lab. I had assumed that Ronald did indeed want to run his own lab. This is not due to a perception that every postdoc at BRI intends to start his or her own lab. Nor do I feel that not starting your own lab means you’re a failure (as some scientists I’ve known do feel). Rather from my previous conversations with Ronald, I had the impression that he intended to return to his homeland and set up his own lab there.
I was wrong. In this conversation, he indicated the opposite. It seems that he’s not opposed to the idea in principle, but he gave two reasons why he would not be a PI.
His first reason was—his words, not mine—he doesn’t write well enough. This one I get right off the bat. I think one of the fundamental rules of science is: Interesting results (and by association the hard work it took to get them) are meaningless unless you can communicate them. Perhaps, in principle, results should speak for themselves. But you’re dealing with people, and people need to hear more. The success of a lab is hinges upon the ability of the PI to explain, in writing, the work his or lab is doing and why people should be excited about it. Perhaps it is possible to learn this skill, but I get the feeling that some people don’t see the need or simply don’t want to.
His second reason was he wants a life outside of the lab, and as a PI, he couldn’t have that. This I didn’t understand at first, and even as I’ve thought about it, I still don’t get it. My first thought was: That’s not true. My second: Maybe I have a skewed idea of what life outside the lab should be. My next: What the does that even mean? Which is where I’m at now.
Friday, July 10, 2009
Thursday, July 9, 2009
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
Sunday, July 5, 2009
Saturday, July 4, 2009
Friday, July 3, 2009
It is in the best interests of advisers and graduate students that students graduate in a timely way and move on to another scientific (or other) adventure, but in some cases a 'timely way' means that a student leaves before completing all the things that need completing (i.e., papers).She goes on to describe the scenarios she has encountered with regard to how her students have dealt with publications post-graduation. From her comments, the majority of these students either have little time or little interest to complete and submit the manuscripts, which has to be extraordinarily frustrating. She points out that, as adviser, she can finish writing the paper in some circumstances. To some extent, she potentially still has some leverage with former students--if they want to maintain a good relationship with their Ph.D. adviser or use her as a reference for future jobs.
- there is insufficient data
- data is not reproducible
- there are not appropriate controls
- another experiment or two could boost the work to a higher tier journal
- the adviser is "extremely busy" and doesn't make time to review a manuscript, so it sits on his desk for months, untouched
- the adviser has lost interest in the project
- the adviser is convinced that there's "just one more" experiment that needs to be done to unveil the mechanism behind the phenomenon--he just doesn't know what it is... or it's not feasible given the available technology
Thursday, July 2, 2009
Wednesday, July 1, 2009
- Individuals who contributed experimentally (i.e. conducted experiments or analyzed data)
- Individuals who made significant intellectual contributions to the project (i.e. conceived the project or conducted critical preliminary studies)
- And, of course, PIs of the labs involved