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Friday, January 7, 2011

Update on crazy
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2010 (45)
December (9)

In need of a break...
Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Finding the "Merry" in Christmas
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Down time
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The pump and science juggling act
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But I don't wanna go to work
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Thursday, December 16, 2010

In reverse
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Back in the lab, sort of...
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12 months of blogging...easy enough
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
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Open letter to committee head
Tuesday, November 30, 2010

By popular demand - The Arrival
Wednesday, November 24, 2010

How to do it all
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Cabin Fever
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Donation reward - new pics!
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Totally non-science news
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Why am I doing this?
Saturday, November 6, 2010
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Bribe time
Thursday, October 28, 2010

On the market - what to do with a priority score
Wednesday, October 27, 2010

DonorsChoose - more projects to support
Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Oh, the guilt...
Monday, October 25, 2010

Priority Score Confusion
Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Working from home sucks; aka "Preeclampsia for Dummies"
Monday, October 18, 2010

Editor's choice
Thursday, October 14, 2010

Let the obsessing begin
Tuesday, October 12, 2010

DonorChoose - start giving!
Monday, October 11, 2010

Careful what I say...
Friday, October 8, 2010

To dance or teach...
Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Sunday, October 3, 2010
September (6)

Challenges at the bench
Monday, September 27, 2010

What am I really?
Monday, September 20, 2010

A double standard
Friday, September 17, 2010

The Little Lab Bench That Could
Saturday, September 11, 2010

What I'm glad I didn't know before...
Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Round Up: 8/29 - 9/4
Sunday, September 5, 2010
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Procrastinators beware...
Friday, August 27, 2010

You don't need no stinkin' permission
Monday, August 23, 2010

I'm still alive, just buried
Saturday, August 21, 2010

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Dr. O's advice to new grad students
Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Open Letter
Monday, August 9, 2010

What you should know as a new TT faculty
Saturday, August 7, 2010

Friday, August 6, 2010

A little professionalism, please
Thursday, August 5, 2010

How picky is too picky?
Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Hello LabSpaces!
Tuesday, August 3, 2010
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Dr. O

After a frustrating year on the tenure-track job hunt, my eyes are still on the prize, and I've learned that sheer will might be the most important quality required for this career track.

My posts are presented as opinion and commentary and do not represent the views of LabSpaces Productions, LLC, my employer, or my educational institution.

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Thursday, August 5, 2010

I love my job as a scientist. I love that my job varies from day to day. I love that I get to discover things that nobody else knows on a [somewhat] regular basis. More than anything, I love the relaxed atmosphere found in many laboratories...the joking around, Nerf Ball and water-syringe fights, autoclave bag races, and other useful methods of stress relief can make an awful day at the bench more bearable. It's a far cry from the administrative assistant job in a stuffy office (yawn) I had as an undergrad, and I'm thankful for it every time our lab gets a bit goofy on a Friday afternoon.

However, there are times when I wonder if scientists have totally abolished the idea of professionalism. Over the last couple of months, I've heard disturbing stories of inappropriate questions on job interviews, overt sexist behavior from PI's toward their students, and afternoon shot contests in the lab. There's no doubt that the looseness of the lab environment is a welcome distraction, and dare I say necessary, in our high-stress careers. But a line that shouldn't be crossed still exists...or at least it should.

Even as scientists, there are some ground rules we should consider. 1) PIs, don't make a move on younger grad students or postdocs when out for some drinks after work. And if you don't know how to hold your alcohol, consider substituting tonic water for the next beer. 2) I'll admit to a late-night beer in an empty lab from time to time, but having a shot contest with your students at 4 in the afternoon in the lab is unacceptable...don't do it. 3) An interview in science is subject to the same legal constraints as one outside of science: you're not allowed to ask a potential employee about anything personal, about other jobs they're applying for, or ask them to hand over information they're being hired for before you've given them an offer.

As obvious as these rules seem, they were missed by at least some of our fellow scientists. And I'm sure there are more examples of crossing-the-line that my readers have heard about or experienced. Let's get the word out to some of our misguided colleagues and share what would qualify as inappropriate workplace behavior.

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biochem belle
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I have wondered if much of the inappropriate behavior in academia is linked to the fact that most put in such situations refuse to speak up because of fear of retaliation, of ruining one's career when it's just starting out. An unfortunate code of silence has been created.

Genomic Repairman
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Occasionally I tend to have a bottom drawer therapy session before starting an evening experiment when no one is around. I mean I'm stuck at work, no reason not to be groovin. But that is the extent of my inappropriate conduct other than threatening vendors and taking a post-hangover nap in the cold room. Sadly I have witnessed PI's do the unthinkable (hooking up with students in the dark room, smoking weed on the roof, and demand to know deeply personal information that is none of there business). I agree with BB, I think this largely goes unreported because people need a job and don't feel like looking like a snitch to everyone else or worse have their careers ruined by a vengeful PI.
Comrade PhysioProf

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about other jobs they're applying for

There is absolutely nothing illegal or morally wrong about asking people where else they are applying for jobs. I always ask people this question when I interview them: grad students seeking admission, post-doc candidates, and faculty candidates.

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I think that it's too lax in the lab sometimes, and I am willing to admit that I've done some stuff that I'm not necessarily proud of, but there are times when I feel like I learned from inappropriateness.

There was a faculty member at my Uni that hit on everything that walked, including me, a rotating student in his lab. Had he not hit on me, I probably joined his lab b/c the research was cool. However, it turns out that he sucked as a boss (and part of that was due to things like hitting on students and auxiliary things), and I would have never known that, had I not seen the blatant unprofessionalism on his part.

And I'm w/ CPP, I've ALWAYS been asked where else I was applying to.

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I agree - love the relaxed atmosphere but some take it too far. Some people I've met who cross the line haven't had a 'real' job and all they know is the relaxed world of science. I think they are clueless on some of these professionalism rules. But I'm not going to tell them for fear of retaliation :)
And this is only some - others seem to know the rules and either don't care or find joy in crossing those boundaries.

Dr. O
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I also think that fear of retribution is a huge problem.

CPP & Geeka: I wasn't really clear about the job interview situation, mainly because I'm trying to keep things vague to protect the person who dealt with this. I have no problem with asking what other jobs/schools someone is applying for. The story I heard involved a potential boss asking detailed questions about the interview, grant apps, and projects involved in another job that had been offered (on top of asking about marital status and kids). At least from what I've understood, getting that detailed about other job apps is not acceptable, but maybe I've understood wrong.

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Great post!
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