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2011 (1)
January (1)

A new start in 2011.
Tuesday, January 4, 2011
2010 (32)
December (6)

Happy Festivus!!
Thursday, December 23, 2010

Wimminz in Academia Answers!!
Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The chalk talk
Saturday, December 11, 2010

cute? or THE CUTEST?
Friday, December 10, 2010

10 mo in the life of Gerty-Z (The one-year meme)
Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Today I had to fire someone
Thursday, December 2, 2010
November (6)

The joy of the interview
Monday, November 29, 2010

Are you writing an tenure-track job application?
Monday, November 22, 2010

Women in Academia Q&A
Wednesday, November 17, 2010

muddling in mentoring
Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Lost in translation?
Saturday, November 6, 2010

If you were an incoming graduate student, how would you choose where to rotate?
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
October (6)

Sunday, October 31, 2010

How NOT to work in my lab
Monday, October 25, 2010

Out on the job market
Friday, October 15, 2010

Make it rain!
Sunday, October 10, 2010

If I wasn't doing this...
Tuesday, October 5, 2010

I *heart* conferences!
Monday, October 4, 2010
September (6)

Should you pay undergrads that work in your lab?
Sunday, September 26, 2010

The scientist-in-training
Sunday, September 19, 2010

It's not a pissing contest
Monday, September 13, 2010

What I wish I knew...
Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Beery Bladder-not necessarily from a Beery Friday
Friday, September 3, 2010

Ambition, in the world of grant-writing
Wednesday, September 1, 2010
August (8)

A quick note.
Thursday, August 26, 2010

Moving on up...
Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Sunday afternoon panic attack
Sunday, August 22, 2010

Advice for the new grad student
Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The purpose of the K99/R00
Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Am I ruining your marriage?
Friday, August 13, 2010

All about ME!
Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Wednesday, August 11, 2010
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I am starting my lab as an Assistant Professor at a Big Research University (summer 2010). I have a super partner and an adorable kiddo, Mini-G. I tend to rush into things and then figure them out as I muddle along. I'm sure that will be true here, too. I hope to use this space to maintain my sanity and share my perspectives on science and academia. These perspectives may sometimes qualify as rants. There will undoubtedly be some crazy times on the tenure track. Gmail me [at] primaryinvestigator

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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Comment by microbiologist xx in Wimminz in Academia Answers!!

I've been busy and am just now getting around to reading all of these entries. Very nice. . . .Read More
Jan 11, 2011, 9:58am
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Updating RSS feed, and while I'm at it, I'll slap you on the ole blogroll and you can get 2 hits per day from me or something... . . .Read More
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Good luck, GZ.  As you know, I'm always around for a helping hand if you need it. . . .Read More
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PHOTO CREDIT: The image in my banner is from the 1989 World Veterans Women's Steeple Chase. The photo was taken originally by James Field, and I found it at AWESOME WEBSITE: Uri Alon's Materials for nurturing scientists:
Wednesday, August 11, 2010

I'm pretty new to blogging, and still finding my way around the LabSpaces world. So, I thought that for my first "real" post I would follow the lead of others and introduce myself. Be warned, this got a little long. But now when I say something you know where I'm coming from.

I am smack in the middle of starting my own lab. As in, my faculty appointment is just barely 1 month old. This is an exciting time for me, but also pretty stressful. Walking into a big empty lab is a little intimidating and there are inevitable bumps along the way. I'm in a super department at a fantastic public university, so my support system here is pretty good. But, we are sorely lacking in junior faculty and any faculty that are not white+male. But I'm getting ahead of myself here. My goal with this blog is to keep myself sane while also (hopefully) providing some insight into how the tenure track works from the perspective of a new Assistant Professor. I also want to use this space to highlight science that I think is especially entertaining.

I grew up in a rural part of one of the big square (flyover) states in the middle of the US. As a little girl, I ran around outside playing with the various critters that I could catch. I took apart everything I could to "see how it worked". I was NOT good at putting things back together. I knew what I wanted to do when I grew up as soon as I learned that you could be a "scientist" (age 12) on a visit to DC when we stopped by NIH (a distant relative was a postdoc at the time). I went to a small liberal arts school because I was able to start working in a lab doing research my first year. I started out doing organic chemistry. In my third year, a Biology Prof convinced me to work with him after I took a class with him. All this lab work only convinced me more that I had picked the right career path. So, off to grad school! I went to a Big Name University. At BNU I had a great time-grad school ROCKED! There were smart people all around and lots of fun science. Back then, I did structural biology and biophysics. I went into a WAY different field for my postdoc, mostly because I had gotten interested in more "biological" problems. I worked for a super guy, and had an EXCELLENT postdoc time. Yes, such a thing exists. My postdoc mentor gave me support and free reign to do what I found interesting. Sure, Dr. Mentor had some flaws (don't we all?) but it was a fantastic environment and I learned a lot. So, a couple of years ago I wrote a K99. I didn't really think I was going to be a super candidate. I spent my postdoc time developing new projects and hadn't published as much (or in as fancy places) as some folks I knew. But hey, it totally worked!!

In the middle of my postdoc, my partner and I decided to have a kiddo. Mini-G is AWESOME-super cute, smart and hilarious. I say this as a totally biased observer, of course. So yeah, I've done the baby in the middle of career thing. It is really hard but SO WORTH IT, as far as I'm concerned. The arrival of Mini-G didn't alter my career aspirations at all, but certainly changed some of my behavior patterns. For the better, I think. But I'll save my musings on this for another time.

The New Job
With K99 money rolling in, I started up a job search. I applied *almost* everywhere. I think I sent out ~100 applications. I got my first two interviews really early in the season, both at places I was really excited about. The first interview was AWESOME at a place that I REALLY wanted to go. So, when I got the offer (before I had done any other interviews-they were on fast-track!) it was all I could do not to yell YES YES YES !!!. I was warned this is bad negotiating. I did, however, run around Postdoc Inst. like a crazy person. I held off accepting the offer until after my 3rd interview, when it was obvious that I really did like the first place and wasn't just feeling desperate. The offer I got was good. I got them to add a couple of minor things and then I signed on the line. I was sitting in my new office long before most other folks on the market had finished second interviews. So now, I'm in the throws of starting up a research group. I have the lab stocked and a small group up and walking, if not running. I've started to learn on-the-job accounting, politics, management and mentoring. No matter how much you think that you trained for this as a post-doc, actually being the PI is totally different. So far, things seem to be going well, but really what I need now is to have some grant-writing success.

What I'm doing here
Who the fuck knows. I guess that I hope that writing this blog will help keep me sane as I launch into my tenure-track world. In a more selfish sense, I will benefit from outside perspective (it is damn easy to get caught staring at the end of your nose in this business) and, hopefully, become a better writer. I do hope that sharing what I'm going through will be useful for others who are following this same path. I would also like to start talking more about science, especially the value of model organisms and basic science. And also shit that is just cool. Because why else would I be doing science if it weren't so much fun?

In conclusion: I *heart* science. WOO HOO!

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Blog Comments

Genomic Repairman
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Awesome and congrats on the position.

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There's something more interesting than structural biology and biophysics?!?!?!?!? I don't think so. :-)

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Hi G! Great post. I too love when there are smart people all around. :)

Dr. O
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Welcome again - I love hearing all the tenure track with kids success stories these days! :)

And I think "biological problems" are way more cool than structural biology and biophysics anyday. ;)

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Alright you two, don't make me turn this blog around! I'm not disrespectin' the biophysics, it just wasn't my thing.

@Dr. O: I hope that our success rate is getting higher. I feel like there are anecdotes of success held up as examples, but I don't know how pervasive it is.

Dr Becca, Ph.D.
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You are a goddess. That is all. I'll be hanging on every word!
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No matter how much you think that you trained for this as a post-doc, actually being the PI is totally different.

Every junior prof I know says this same thing and every postdoc I know says they are totally pretty much doing the PI thing already :)

Good luck getting the lab started. It's scary at first, but once it starts to roll it is a lot of fun. And burn that start up money fast on data. I learned this the hard way.

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Thanks, PLS. I am trying not to get too freaked out by how much money I'm spending. Running a lab is a small business. You got to spend money to make money. I got some wise advice as I was going out: start up funds may not expire but you don't get to keep it if you don't make tenure.

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No matter how much you think that you trained for this as a post-doc, actually being the PI is totally different.

Haha, I see PlS beat me to it. It doesn't matter how much i try and tell postdocs to get the experience they'll need to be a PI, everyone is convinced they already know...
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