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Et tu Odysseyus?
Tuesday, January 11, 2011
2010 (37)
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First most influential paper
Tuesday, December 14, 2010

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Tuesday, December 7, 2010

I'll save Tideliar the trouble
Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Thinking differently
Friday, December 3, 2010

Music Warz! - The Maccabees
Thursday, December 2, 2010
November (6)

Standing out in a crowd: An addendum
Monday, November 8, 2010

Standing out in a crowd
Friday, November 5, 2010

Ripping your arms off
Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Tea Party explained
Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Words of wisdom for prospective graduate students
Monday, November 1, 2010

Grant advice
Monday, November 1, 2010
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Planet of the Apes
Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Too many postdocs?
Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Oh! Rats! [UPDATED]
Thursday, October 21, 2010

Rethinking Education
Monday, October 18, 2010

Elephant man, rabies and leprosy
Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Over-priced mochas and syphilis
Sunday, October 10, 2010

DonorsChoose - give early and give often. [UPDATED]
Friday, October 8, 2010

Question
Wednesday, October 6, 2010

What I would be doing if I weren't doing science
Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Time spent reviewing
Monday, October 4, 2010
September (6)

Dear PI's who wrote the NSF proposals I am now reviewing...
Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Funding Illusions
Tuesday, September 28, 2010

FIve years ago today
Wednesday, September 22, 2010

A (temporary) cure for vortices of suckitude
Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Things that make Odyssey grumpy
Tuesday, September 14, 2010

What I wish I knew before starting my faculty position
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
August (10)

Flying 101
Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Don't panic!
Monday, August 23, 2010

One to Rule Them All
Friday, August 20, 2010

The NSF review panel process
Thursday, August 19, 2010

Peer review, schmeer review
Friday, August 13, 2010

Hypotheses: The most disposable of lab supplies
Thursday, August 12, 2010

How much do you need to want it?
Monday, August 9, 2010

Bugger
Sunday, August 8, 2010

REPOST: How Many Papers for Tenure?
Thursday, August 5, 2010

Checking it out
Thursday, August 5, 2010
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Odyssey

I'm a molecular biophysicist in a biochemistry department. In a college of medicine. And I'm funded by the NSF. Not too sure my dean likes that... I'm here to blather on about things that interest me and to raise the average age of the bloggers here by at least 1.2567 years. And I'm Australian.

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 14, 2010


It's been one of those kind of days. A morning taken up by a dissertation oral defense and an afternoon reviewing an NSF grant proposal.

Not that either of those things are in and of themselves bad. I generally enjoy the thrust-and-parry nature of the scientific discourse at a defense. And reviewing a good proposal is a joy. However...

Some things just make for a grumpy Odyssey.

To whit:

1) Graduate students who reach the oral defense part of their dissertation journey and don't understand significant figures.

Really? You got a measurement of 1057.237 with an error of +/-3? You sure about that? You're upset I'm giving you a hard time about this? It's not like we hadn't talked about this at your last two committee meetings. And I don't give a rat's arse that the software you use spits out that many decimal places. The software can't improve the precision of the data you feed into it.


2) Mentors who can't keep their mouths shut during an oral defense.

Honestly, if you'd opened your mouth to answer a question directed at your student one more time I would have shoved my copy of the dissertation so far down your throat you'd be constipated for a year. You have your PhD. Shut up and let your student earn theirs.*


3) PI's who write an NSF proposal and completely ignore the Broader Impacts.

Did you read the instructions? At all? It's very, very clear that the BI's are considered a major part of the proposal.** Reviewers (and panels) are specifically instructed to not give proposals lacking decent BI's fundable scores. Why do I care about you leaving the BI's out? Because you're proposing some kick-arse science. Really, really kick-arse. All you needed was the barest minimum BI's and the check would be in the mail. But no, you're too lazy and/or up yourself to do that. Or you're an ignoramus. Take your pick.


I leave you with this, which doesn't make me grumpy.










* They both did.
** Whether you like it or not, BI's are an absolute requirement to get NSF funding.

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Blog Comments

Dr Becca, Ph.D.
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At my institution, advisors literally aren't allowed to speak during their students' defense, nor at the public presentation. It's hilarious to watch them squirm (at the public part, anyway) when they clearly want to answer a question. Perhaps something you want to implement in your department?

Brian Krueger, PhD
Columbia University Medical Center
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Most PIs are notorious question answerers. Especially the older ones. I think that at least at Iowa, it was really frowned upon. During my defense, the first time my boss opened his mouth he got yelled at and didn't say anything until the end. I don't think I did too terrible though!

Professor in Training
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I'm stuck in a vortex of suckitude right now. Can't go wrong with some Rolf.
Namnezia

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Well, this should make you less grumpy too:


Gerty-Z
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The software can't improve the precision of the data you feed into it.

I can only hope that someday those lazy software makers will decide to put together a magical package that WILL improve my data. ;-)

Gerty-Z
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But not in a "i cheat using photoshop" kind of way, of course

Nikkilina
Washington University School of Medicine
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My PI didn't like me, so rather than answer questions for me, he asked me the hardest things he could think of. Good thing I knew he was a jerk going in and was totally prepared.

Odyssey
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@Dr. Becca:
We have an institutional rule that the PI cannot ask (or answer) questions, but can jump in if they think the student is being treated unfairly. This particular defense wasn't in my department. If it had been, the mentor's behavior would not have been tolerated.

@PiT:
I have more anti-suckitude Rolf coming up just for you.

@Namnezia:
Thanks for the laugh! The guy with the drum must be on something. He scares me.

@G-Z:
I'd like software that legitimately improves my data too...
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