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Post Archive
2014 (0)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)

Spooky!
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

Hello!
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
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Gerty-Z

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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Tuesday, September 7, 2010

I have been thinking about this month's theme over here on LabSpaces "What I wish I knew before..." and I haven't come up with a single topic that screams at me to be written. I think that this is because I am at a beginning right now (as I start on the TT). In this realm, I have no idea what I wish I knew. I'm trapped in a Rumsfeldian world of known-knowns, known-unknowns and unknown-unknowns. As a n00b, I often feel like everything is an unknown-unknown.

But, of course, I have made it through grad school and a postdoc, so there must be some known-knowns that were at one point unknowns. So what do I remember learning from my own experience and others in those times?

1. Don't choose a grad advisor based solely on how you get along with other people in the lab. They will move on before you. The project is not enough, either. You really need to have an advisor that you can work with and that will be an advocate for you.

2. Realize that, especially if you want to stay in academia, who you choose as Grad Advisor matters. How you perform in grad school will determine whether you get a postdoc fellowship, which is almost required if you want to go on after that. The big-name fellowships require some sort of pedigree and big pubs. If you join a new lab (which I am NOT discouraging!!), it may be harder to get those big-name pubs. This is because publishing in the glamor mags is large part political and n00bs don't necessarily have as much weight to throw around. Or the time that may be required to make it happen. And you will be working to make the pedigree. This can be a harder route than joining an established lab that has a pedigree already established and the pull to get work into high-profile places.

3. Work hard, but don't brag about it. This may be specific for where I was a grad student, but the people that we scoffed at the most were the ones always talking about how much they were working. Saying things like "I'm so tired, I was in lab until 4 last night!" doesn't make you look cool. Everyone is working a lot. Don't be a jackass and piss off the others in your program by implying that you are working the hardest. You need allies in your classmates.

4. I wish I had known how to choose a postdoc. I was extremely lucky with where I ended up, but I can't take credit for that. My postdoc search was somewhat random, and I ended up meeting Postdoc Advisor randomly when we were introduced at a meeting.

5. Never have just one mentor. Everybody has their own prejudices and baggage. Multiple viewpoints and advice is essential.

6. (the biggie) I wish I had learned to write better. I am not a naturally gifted writer. My training in writing has been unfortunate, to say the least. I would NOT call writing one of Grad Advisor's strengths. And Postdoc Advisor actively DESPISED writing. So, I struggle through. But I have seen others that get much better help and I think they are probably having an easier time than me right now.

OK, so I don't know how coherent this list is. But ask me again in a few years when I have some tenure-track experience under my belt!



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Tideliar
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Nice post! Good perspective

Dr. O
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Never have just one mentor. Everybody has their own prejudices and baggage. Multiple viewpoints and advice is essential.

Amen, sister! ;)
Dr. Girlfriend

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"You need allies in your classmates." Excellent point. This is especially true if no one in your own lab knows how to perform a particular technique and you have to find help from another lab! Also these are potentially your future collaborators and informal referees.

Already I have people coming up to me and saying "Fred has applied for a job, you must have overlapped with him in grad school - what is he like?" I am aware of at least two people who were turned down for a postdoc position, not because their formal references were not good, but because the PI's asked around!

biochem belle
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I echo what Dr. Girlfriend said, even at this early stage of my career. Science is often a shockingly small world. I started off grad school with a student who spent a couple of years in industry before starting hir PhD. Within 2 yrs of starting grad school, two of her former industry colleagues were working in a core facility down the hall. (The industry and grad school locales were separated by several hundred miles.) Personalities make just as much an impression as intelligence, talent, and work ethic. At an early stage, most (if any) are not so shockingly brilliant for their ridiculous personality traits (conceit, temper, whatever) to be overlooked.
februa

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1. Don't choose a grad advisor based solely on how you get along with other people in the lab. They will move on before you.

Also, dont avoid a lab simply because there is someone there you dont like - I know someone who picked a different lab because of a horrible senior grad student - but he was in his 5th year then and left 6 months after she started.
great list - I really agree with #5, Ive progressed much farther since seeking out additional mentorship.
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