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Post Archive
2020 (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)

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
Blogger Profile


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
Comment by Candid Engineer in A new start in 2011.

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
Jan 05, 2011, 8:52pm
Comment by Lab Mom in A new start in 2011.

I look forward to reading over on wordpress! Best of luck! . . .Read More
Jan 04, 2011, 10:50pm
Comment by Dr. O in A new start in 2011.

Happy New Year, and bookmarks are updated!! :) . . .Read More
Jan 04, 2011, 11:57am
Comment by Brian Krueger, PhD in A new start in 2011.

Good luck, GZ.  As you know, I'm always around for a helping hand if you need it. . . .Read More
Jan 04, 2011, 9:05am
Awesome Stuff
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:
Views: 13954 | Comments: 6
Last by Candid Engineer on Jan 05, 2011, 8:52pm
I know that I promised some administrative "cleaning up" around here. But I've been thinking about it over the past couple of weeks, and I have decided instead to move my blog. I hope that you will all follow me over to my new space on WordPress and update your feeds and blogrolls. I hope to see you over there!

There is no one reason that I am leaving. When I joined LabSpaces, I didn’t really know what I was getting into. At first everything was great. The people were fantastic, I made some new friends, and I felt like there were a lot of interesting commentators that I hadn’t been able to talk with before. But, like others I have been feeling to feel a little unsettled recently. I just feel like there are some things that aren’t working out as I had thought they would. In any event, I’ve decided to try flying solo. I would like to thank Brian for giving me a shot in his group, and I wish him and everyone at LabSpaces the best. I will, of course, still stop by to say hello.

Have a great new year!

. . . More
Views: 15439 | Comments: 7
Last by unbalanced reaction on Dec 26, 2010, 1:39pm
I'm not really a religious-holiday-celebrating kinda girl. But I hope that everyone has a super holiday, however you choose to celebrate!!

I will start with a nice, stiff drink. After all, my in-laws are in town Wink

I have some general clean-up and admin to do around here (holy crap is my blogroll out of date!), so expect some minor changes when I next see you (probably in 2011!!)


. . . More
Views: 28763 | Comments: 12
Last by microbiologist xx on Jan 11, 2011, 9:58am
A while ago Hermitage organized a baby-free Q&A about being a woman in academia. That technically describes me (female, academic), and I have agreed to answer the 4 questions that she gathered from her "muffins" (her words, not mine Dr. Isis!). The only rule: I will not talk about babies AT ALL! So here goes:

1. How do you command the attention, and respect, of men in academic settings (e.g. classroom, conferences, faculty meetings)?
I don't know that I have ever thought about "commanding" attention. I just do my thing and let things go as they will. I am not a shy person, which certainly helps. It is really important, I think, to speak up. You need to ask questions, give talks, etc. That way, people have a chance to appreciate your smarts. I ask hard questions (respectfully). I know that my colleagues respect me. I earned that respect, just like everyone must, IMO. I guess the short answer is: I ignore people that don't want to pay attention to me and get shit done. Eventually folks realize that I am smart and effective and they ignore me, well, I'm not the one th . . . More
Views: 42187 | Comments: 14
Last by Prodigal Academic on Dec 14, 2010, 8:57pm
In a recent post, I threw out a few tips regarding the academic job search. In the comments, Odyssey raised a super point:

I'd like to emphasize the importance of the chalk talk. If you don't nail it, you're screwed. It's really, really important to show you've thought about what you're going to do and how you're going to try to fund things.

This was followed by requests for me to write a post about what goes into a chalk talk. I love it when I get input on topics, so of course I'm going to oblige!! But first you have to go read PhysioProf's excellent post on this exact topic. While you are at it, you should read his other posts on the job search. And also go visit drdrA at Blue Lab Coats. There are a whole host of fantastic posts on the job search, interviews, negotiating, etc. Read them all!

Go ahead, I'll wait.

Alright then. So, after your reading you will underst . . . More
Views: 2616 | Comments: 6
Last by Gerty-Z on Dec 11, 2010, 12:28am
This morning, I got back from my morning run to take Mini-G into preschool.

Mini-G always picks her own clothes, and this outfit was picked with a purpose, I was told.
1. Hockey shirt, because Mommy likes to watch hockey on TV
--it's true!!
2. red skirt, because Mommy's favorite color is red
--OK, I have no idea where she came up with this. It is now!
3. stripey tights. just because.
4. sparkly shoes. because sparkly is her favorite color
--can't argue with that.

. . . More
Views: 316 | Comments: 1
Last by Dr Becca, Ph.D. on Dec 08, 2010, 10:01am
This was my first year of blogging. I discovered the 'sphere in Jan/Feb., and started my own thing in March. But that won't stop me, I'll still play along with Drug Monkey's "12 mo of..." meme. I have had quite a bit of fun getting to know everyone as I start my adventure on the tenure track. So thanks to everyone that stopped by and made me feel welcome both here at LabSpaces and in my original Blogspot home. I appreciate all of the advice, insight and camraderie. I hope that next year is even more fantastic!! So here goes with the first year of Balanced Instability:

Mar: Hi.

Apr: I am suffering from an unfortunate fact: I can exist in only one place at a given time.

May: So, I finished my second marathon yesterday!!

Jun: Well, I'm sure that this is to be . . . More
Views: 1065 | Comments: 19
Last by Gerty-Z on Dec 10, 2010, 12:27pm
Today I had to fire someone. Well, actually I had to tell one of my lab peeps (let's call him Al) that they would only have a job for a few more months. This is not because Al sucks. Al helped me get my lab up and running and, though not a rock-star, has been solid. No, Al did not do anything wrong.

But I had to let Al go. Because the grant that was paying for Al is running out of money. And I was faced with a choice. Between keeping Al around or taking on another grad student. I thought hard about this, and I really think this is the right decision of my lab. Al was helpful in starting out, but the grad students I am considering are smart and motivated. And they can get on training grants.

So there you have it. I told Al because I wanted him to have as much time as possible to find another gig. But it sucked. It is the first time I have had someone in my office fighting to hold back tears.

I need a beer

. . . More
Views: 1770 | Comments: 20
Last by Dr Becca, Ph.D. on Dec 01, 2010, 9:42pm
We are entering the season of the job interviews for folks that are looking for a tenure-track job this year. Just 1 year ago -almost exactly!- I was myself on my very first interview. So, as a service to folks going through the interview process this year, including our very own LabSpaces Aces, Dr. Becca (WOO HOO, Dr. Becca!!), I decided to share some survival tips*.

The TT job interview is usually 2-day ordeal. Over the course of the interview you will give a seminar to the dept., talk to many faculty members and perhaps give a chalk talk. You should get an itenerary before you visit so that you know what to expect. The first day will usually start between 8 and 9 am (depending on if someone takes you to breakfast). TIP #1: Every interaction is part of the interview. From the first moment that you start interacting with the department arranging travel, in fact. So don't be a douche! Don't be rude to the secretarial staff, don't blow off random student interactions in the hallways, etc.

In all the interviews I went on, your first meeting will be with the Dept. Chair, who will talk to you about the dept. and university environment and perhaps show you some lab spac . . . More
Views: 2606 | Comments: 20
Last by Aloha on Dec 05, 2010, 12:01pm
I've been pretty busy this last week, mostly because I have spent a LOT of time reading job applications for the TT postion in my dept. I'm probably getting more sleep than Dr. O, but still. This has kept me from having time to come up with anything reasonable to post*. So, for your enjoyment, and because I can't help myself, I have compiled a list of some things that have stuck in my head from all this application-reading. Consider it an extra addendum to Odyssey's excellent advice on how to stand out in a pile of applicants (with a slightly more rant-y tone). My brain is a little too bruised and exhausted from the workout this past week to write coherent paragraphs. So, I am going to do this bullet-list syle.


Research statements less than 3 pages long. Trust me, your work is not so complicated that it requires 8 pg of single-space type to get the point across. All the best applications I have seen are ~2 pages.white spaceLinks to pubmed abstracts of publications in the CV pdf. So handy! Summary paragraph at the front of the statement. reverse chronological orderjudicious and logical use of bol . . . More
Views: 477 | Comments: 3
Last by Genomic Repairman on Nov 17, 2010, 10:36pm
In my trainee days, I was known to show up to random events for the free cookie/donut (product show, anyone?). But I was never a big attendee of the various workshops/panel discussions/etc. handing out career advice. Mostly because they always ended up spiraling into a place of either a) things I don't care about or b) things that seem like common sense. And it just seemed like too much of an investment for a mediocre cookie.

OK, I admit it: I was the one that came in, took a cookie, and then just left. Whatcha gonna do about it?

ANYWHOOOO, A while ago, Hermitage wondered why it was that all "women in academia" workshops/panels/etc always ended up focusing on how to balance your work with having babies. Now, I love babies. I have one of the most cutest and most awesomest of all time, speaking objectively. But there are a lot of things about being a woman in academia to worry about that have nothing to do with babies. And, there are a lot of women that don't want to have kids. So, Hermitage has organized a panel of female academics (including me!) to have a baby-free Q&A session online. The basic idea, as I understand it, is that you will all submit questions at . . . More
Views: 594 | Comments: 3
Last by Bori on Nov 17, 2010, 4:24pm
I have been thinking a lot about what makes a good mentor recently. Being in my new position, I am in the process of developing a whole new set of mentors. But more importantly, now that I have my own lab peeps I want to be a good mentor. It turns out, much like parenthood, you are not required to show any aptitude for mentoring before you can have mentees.

I can't claim to have a "mentoring style", anymore than I have any other kind of style.

favorite non-running shoe

Instead, I am trying to make my lab the kind of place I would have wanted to be as a student or postdoc:
-I give students room to fail, but not so much space they feel abandoned.
-I encourage my students to be curious and excited, but focused.
-I expect folks in my lab to both give and receive constructive criticism.

These are based loosely on experiences that I have had as a mentee (both good and bad). More accurately, they are based on what I remember from those times. It has become pretty apparent to me recently that I do not actually remember what it is like to be a first-year grad student.

In the end, I think the best advice that I give my mentees is not to rely on me too much. I have never had one good mentor-because I always had more folks . . . More
Views: 852 | Comments: 14
Last by Gerty-Z on Nov 08, 2010, 10:30pm
A few days ago I learned the number of applications we have received for our TT job in my department. It was A LOT, which led me to write a little post about how, from what I can tell, we are going to sort through this giant pile to come up with a short-list. This post was written from a very one-sided perspective (mine, right after a faculty meeting). Odyssey jumped in with a more thoughtful and excellent post about how to make your application stand out. If you are going out on the job market go read it! Then Prof-Like Substance raised up something unexpected, to me at least, first in a comment at Odyssey's and then a whole post. PLS asserted that the fact that we wrote a fairly general job advertisement that it suggested the department was dysfunctional. I started to comment over at PLS's place, but it turns out I have a lot to say about this so I moved it over here.

First, I think my current departm . . . More
Views: 4806 | Comments: 41
Last by Gerty-Z on Nov 05, 2010, 8:45pm
I'm looking for some insight from folks out there that are (or interact with) new graduate students. You see, I would really, really like to get 1 or 2 good students this year to get my lab kick-started. Where I'm at there are several sources of students: the department, a MD/PhD program, and 3 different multidisciplinary "umbrella programs". In order to get any of these students to join my lab, I first need to convince them to rotate. I've done pretty well getting attention from the students in my home department. But it is really difficult to find a way to interact with these umbrella programs as a n00b faculty. But the other day I got my "in". One of these programs, that has really good students, is having a poster session*.

Now, I know how to make good posters, IMHO. And I'm familiar with Dr. Zen's excellent advice. The thing that sort of trips me up is the whole "new grad student" part. What are they thinking? How can I get them excited about my lab? It has been a while since I was a new grad student, and I never had PIs standing next to a poster to woo me. It has also been a while since I spent a lot of time with new grad students. There weren't all that many students at Bi . . . More
Views: 1487 | Comments: 35
Last by Gerty-Z on Nov 07, 2010, 10:33pm
In honor of Hallowe'en, I'm going to talk about the TT job search. If you are a postdoc that wants to stay in academia, thinking about a job search may be a scary proposition. I remember being a little freaked out by the whole process. After you spend several years trying to do kick-ass science (6 for me), you spend a summer writing up your work and thinking about your future plans. In 5 pages you try to capture why you are awesome, what you think is cool and how you are going to be a RockStar within 5 years. Then you send this out...and wait. Spooky, right?

I remember. Last year at this time, I was in the process of sending out job applications. LOTS of job applications. Now, the tables have turned. My department is hiring again this year, and I'm on the search committee. And I am finding this even more spooky.

We had a faculty meeting last week (kinda freaky, but not the really scary part). At the end, we had a discussion about our search this year. Turns out that we have almost 600 applications. And we haven't made it to the deadline yet!

I'm sorry, what? how many!?!
(It's more spooky with a black cat, yes?)

The large number of applications stems from the fact that I am in a pretty basic dept. that is . . . More
Views: 1177 | Comments: 59
Last by Tideliar on Oct 31, 2010, 1:30am

So, some of you may have been confused when earlier today this post went live without any content*. D'OH!

I totally fucked up and didn't even know it until I powered up my trusty iPhone early in the morning while I had some coffee before I went out for my run. At that point I coudn't make the empty post disappear, so I headed out on the trails for my super-awesome, super-soggy run (WOO HOO!). When I got done I had just enough time to scrub the mud off my legs before the crazy day of toddler fun with Mini-G. I managed to take down the blank, but couldn't put anything in its place. Sorry!

Of course, I had some great shit to put here, too! Fucking nuggets of wisdom, I tell ya! And I can't withold the good shit any longer. So, without further ado:

Gerty-Z's surefire plan to NOT work in my any lab
1. If you are an undergrad, please PLEASE make sure to contact me for the first time the day before the add-drop deadline. Make it clear that if you can't do research for credit that you won't get student aid this semester. Mention that I am YOUR LAST HOPE and YOU HAVE A FAMILY TO SUPPORT.

2. If I don't immediately (< 3 h) answer your email, a great idea is to . . . More
Views: 1458 | Comments: 26
Last by Marcus on Oct 23, 2010, 12:25pm
Fair warning: this feels like a kind of rambling post. I have not written about this before, and I'm afraid it is a little awkward. Consider yourself warned, if this sort of thing bothers you.

A while ago, when I was wondering exactly how I was able to so efficiently ruin so many families, I mentioned that I would write about what it was like to be a lesbian on the academic job market. Since National Coming Out Day was last week, I figured that now was a reasonable time to tell my story.

Before I start, I would like to stress that I have had it really, really easy. I do not worry about my safety, or that I will be assaulted because of my sexual orientation. I was not ostracized by my family or friends. I was not prevented from having a job that I love. I have a super partner, and we are raising an incredible child together. I have put off writing this post for a while, because I do not really feel qualified to be a token lesbian assistant professor. I am not convinced that my experience is "normal". But I really believe that it is important for me to be out. Maybe I can be a role model for other folks coming u . . . More
Views: 494 | Comments: 0
OK folks, the time has come for us all to step up and bring some science to the youngsters in our communities. That's right-it is time to give some cash to Donors Choose. This is a great organization that helps teachers get the resources they need to be able to teach science and math.Without these resources, we are depriving all of these students the opportunity to become interested in science. And, I think we can all agree that science is one of the coolest things there is. We can't deprive the young ones of this kind of fun*!

Now, it may be hard for many of us to understand what these young folks are up against. Like many of you, I grew up in a comfortable, not-at-all impovershed household, where we valued education. Unlike many of you, this household was in the middle-of-fucking-nowhere farmville. I can objectively state that the science taught in the schools that I attended as a child was pitiful. If not for a super-awesome aunt that routinely gave me science gifts** at every opportunity I would probably be a very bitter accountant or some such nonsense.

So, I was lucky that I had some folks looking out for me. But just think, we can all be as super awesome as Wonder Aunt and help a WHOLE CLASS of students foster a love for science! All it takes is . . . More
Views: 548 | Comments: 7
Last by JanedeLartigue on Oct 06, 2010, 12:36pm
I'm sitting here in my office contemplating this month's LabSpaces theme, about what I would "be" if I wasn't a scientist. In many ways I find myself in the same boat as Odyssey (though without the super awesome animation). I can't really imagine doing anything else. I wanted to be a scientist (a biologist, even) since I was about 8 years old and I discovered that this was an actual profession.

In any event, I started to consider what it is that I actually do as a new PI, which has made it clear there are some jobs that I will NOT be using as a fallback position. For instance, I would not want to be an electrician, plumber, accountant, secretary, teacher or sales person. Even though I do some of all this as a PI. Somehow it would all be different if not for the science part of the job.

I can also imagine some jobs that seem great but that I would probably hate after about two weeks. Most of these jobs would require me to interact with customers. For instance, I could imagine being a veterinarian. But after the 200th ridiculous request from a pet owner, I would lose . . . More
Views: 535 | Comments: 12
Last by AmoebaMike on Oct 08, 2010, 1:35pm
I really do! I have so much fun hearing and talking about new* research, and catching up with old friends. But, I haven't been around much this last week. I was not even able to pick my NFL games! At least my Broncos pulled off a win.

In any event, here are some random comments about what I have been up to:

-My brain is a little mushy right now. There were over 80 talks, each 10 minutes long, over the course of 3 days! I used to hate these talks because you can't ever actually hear a whole story. But now I realize that these are just little advertisements, so you know who to track down in the bar that evening. Still, it was intense.

-After I gave my talk, I was hunted down at the bar by a lot of folks. Hooray! Everyone was pretty excited. I even spoke to some grad students trying to find out if I have postdoc positions (YES!).

-My liver is a little mushy right now. I was at a small conference, at a location where there was NOTHING to do except the meeting. It was fantastic. Everyone ate all the meals together, there was only ever 1 talk at a time. And there were cocktails in the bar every evening. Many cocktails. The bar is the best part of these meetings. You can walk up to anyone, even the most "famous" scientist in the room and . . . More
Views: 9745 | Comments: 21
Last by Evie on Sep 30, 2010, 5:40pm
A situation with the undergraduate in my lab has me thinking a lot about how access to science, as a profession, is controlled. And whether I'm contributing to the problem.

I have worked with Undergrad for over 2 years (I first hired her at postdoc inst). Right now, she is arguably the most productive member of my newbie group. I hired her to help unpack boxes, organize the lab, make media and solutions, etc. She also started helping me with experiments. It has all been going really well. This fall, Undergrad wants to do research for credit, in addition to her job as a paid "lab assistant". She is organized and responsible, so I have no doubt that she will be able to make this work. Also, she wants to go to graduate school so having some more intensive research experience would be great for her. Especially if we can publish her work.

The problem, for me, arose when I was talking with my new colleagues about Undergrad's situation. I wanted to make sure that there were no hidden pitfalls that may come back to haunt me or Undergrad. Every single one of my colleagues seemed confused that I would ever pay an undergrad to work in the lab. They all assured me that there were dozens, maybe hundreds, of undergrads more than willing to work in the lab for free. . . . More
Views: 1538 | Comments: 18
Last by Ecogeofemme on Nov 09, 2010, 10:46pm
FSP had an interesting post last week about dodging a postdoctoral bullet. Dr. Becca noticed this post in relation to her search for a new postdoc, but what caught my attention was how the comments spun away from what seemed to be the main point of FSP's post and into a discussion about how postdocs are compensated. The reason this I was struck by this is that IRL I have had this same conversation at least 3 times in the past two weeks. Weird!

Fully obvious disclosure: I was once a graduate student and also spent the last several years as a postdoc.

I have never understood folks that complain about how graduate students and/or postdocs have it so bad. Now, before anyone starts hyperventilating, I recognize that there are situations in which people are truly taken advantage of-but these are not the norm, IME. I also recognize that there are times when doing science SUCKS and there are scientists that are douche-bags. I am not talking about any of these situations.

Instead, I'm referring to the folks that complain about the whole . . . More
Views: 879 | Comments: 10
Last by Tideliar on Sep 17, 2010, 6:25pm
I have been a little busy the last couple of weeks, but I have decided to take a break and share some strange observations I have made recently. Also, the f@&#ing website that I have to use for ordering is not functional right now so I can't even get that shit done. *sigh*. Anywho, I am a little too tired to put together well-thought-out paragraphs, so I'm going bullet list on this one.

-So, I have finally managed to meet some other new Asst. Prof. from other dept. w00t! Having colleagues in the same/similar position as a n00b on the TT is great. We shared the few tips that we had managd to figure out and commiserated. One of my new-found holmies, however, has puzzled me. He is constantly acting like we are in some strange contest. I figured that since we are both new faculty, in different departments and different fields, that things would be pretty laid back. Instead, I sometimes feel that he wants to "compare" how we are set up and doing. It is very odd. Right now, my strategy is to pretend I don't notice. Because really, other than this one little tic he seems to be a good guy. We shall see, I guess.

-I have started getting invitations to give seminars in other departments! This is great because it will increase my visibility and also get me introduced to new g . . . More
Views: 858 | Comments: 5
Last by februa on Sep 16, 2010, 10:09am
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. Th . . . More
Views: 848 | Comments: 7
Last by Gerty-Z on Sep 03, 2010, 5:47pm
Scicurious, over at Scientopia, has posted a very interesting Friday Weird Science edition: Beery Bladder!

I love beer, though I hope to avoid culturing yeast in my bladder. Seriously, go over and read! It is super, and perfect for a Friday. Happy weekend!

. . . More
Views: 1993 | Comments: 16
Last by qaz on Sep 01, 2010, 8:56pm
When I was writing my first postdoc fellowship, Dr. Advisor told me that there were 2 rules of grant-writing*:
1. use a lot of if-then statements
2. don't be too ambitious.

I took this to mean that I should not propose to do more in the grant than could happen in the 3 years of the award. So I made sure that my proposed experiments were totally reasonable**. But then I get my summary statements and I see the phrase "overly ambitious". Dr. Advisor immediately translated this to "you are fucked". But my score was pretty good and I was funded. Whew! Fast forward to my K99, I also saw the scary "overly ambitious" phrase in my summary statements. In fact, this is held up as the major flaw of my application. Again, I was told that I was screwed***. But, my score was really good and I got funded. Yippeeee!

This is the problem: In both of those applications I thought I was being conservative. I actively tried to avoid being plainly "ambitious" feeling sure that this would prevent me from the "overly" in that phrase. I was actually a little concerned that I was not ambitious enough. My final K99 application ended up being only 1 Aim from the original outline, fer crissake. In both cases, FAIL!

I clearly do not understand what makes an ambitious projec . . . More
Views: 568 | Comments: 7
Last by Gerty-Z on Sep 02, 2010, 1:09pm
So, I did not anticipate my freak-out last weekend to have such an effect. I put together that post without too much forethought in a moment when I was feeling a little insecure and a lot overwhelmed. I was venting. I was hoping to get some advice from folks that had been through similar events, and I did! I really appreciate all the folks that took time to drop a comment and say something reassuring. I needed people like Odyssey to deconstruct my little attack with some perspective and a pat on the back. DrugMonkey and Dr. Isis offered up helpful, pragmatic advice. It was nice to hear I wasn't alone from Prodigal Academic. And all the other really thoughtful comments and tips from everyone here and at Odyssey's was fantastic. I also needed The Tideliar and Pinus to tell me to chill the fuck out.

So I was caught a little off-guard when GMP's comment got the attention that it did (see, for example, PLS). When I read what GMP wrote, I took it as an encouraging pat-on-the-back of the "you are not abnormal" variety. I think that she is probably correct th . . . More
Views: 954 | Comments: 8
Last by Gerty-Z on Aug 31, 2010, 9:16pm
Let me start by saying that I don't fall victim to panic attacks frequently. At least, I haven't in the past. But, seriously, thank you to everyone for the encouraging words. I am no zen master, but I am closer to the state suggested by The Tideliar (CHILL THE FUCK OUT). OK, now. Moving on.

I have been thinking recently about the academic job search. 'Tis the season, after all. And also I have been asked to sit on a panel to discuss "getting a TT job" with a group of postdocs. I have NO IDEA what I am going to say to these pour souls. I sat in a similar workshop last year (it was part of my career development plan for the K99). The air stinks of desperation. I want to be positive, but I don't want to give any false hopes. In any event, I have been thinking a lot about what to tell folks going out on the market this year.

My credentials for giving this type of advice are pretty weak. Sure, I went through it. The past two years I have been pretty attentive to the job market. First as a spectator, then as a full-fledged participant. And, hell, it worked for me (I have a job, after all). But I don't think that there is a formula that will work for everyone. My experience is n=1. Nevertheless, I'm going to share some of the things that . . . More
Views: 2524 | Comments: 28
Last by Gerty-Z on Aug 31, 2010, 9:18pm
OK, I'm freaking out about tenure. I've convinced myself I will never get it. I have no idea what I am doing. Yes, I realize that only last week I was full of advice for grad students. But this tenure thing is a whole new beast (for me). I'm TWO MONTHS in to my TT job, and I feel like I'm already behind the tenure clock. I guess this is sort of like a "reverse advice" post. In other words, I am going to list some of the major anxiety-producing thoughts that I have going on right now. Any advice is welcome.

The Gerty-Z list of tenure clueless-ness-es*
1. I am sitting here, writing a grant and paper. It is not going well. If I can't even do this, how am I not screwed? I feel like I'm not a very good writer in the best of times. These are NOT the best of times.

2. In a desperate fit of procrastination, I have been reading drdrA's most excellent advice about the tenure track and Odyssey's repost about how many papers you need to get tenu . . . More
Views: 978 | Comments: 12
Last by Dr. O on Aug 24, 2010, 8:30am
Samia over at 49 percent had an awesome idea: the zomg grad school!!!1 carnival. I think that anyone getting ready to start grad school (or is considering applying) should read it.

I totally meant to write something. I was relieved when the deadline was pushed back. Still, I did not get my shit together. *sigh*

In my defense, it is hard work starting up a new lab.

Anyhoo, I have cracked open a beer and now I will put together my contribution. Background: I would love to take at least 1 and maybe 2 students this year. But only if they are good. :-)

1. Act like you are a graduate student. You are not an undergrad anymore. The point of graduate school is NOT to learn answers (or earn "good" grades), but to learn how to ask questions. Realize that you DO NOT already know all the answers, and that you can learn a lot from the people around you. But also, sometimes there are no (known) answers. Under NO CIRCUMSTANCES must you argue over points/grades in your classes.

2. ASK QUESTIONS!!! There are no stupid questions. OK, maybe there are. But trust me, the only way you get better is by practicing. So . . . More
Views: 4015 | Comments: 6
Last by Arlenna on Aug 19, 2010, 9:39am
Arlenna of Chemical Bilology, over at Scientopia, has a post up today about the focus of the K99/R00 Pathway to Independence Award. I am having technical difficulty commenting over there, so I figured that I would just make my own post about the topic, from my point of view*

My understanding has always been that the K99/R00 Award is first a training award. The point of the K99 phase is to allow continued mentored support for up to 2 years, acting as a "bridge" from the end of a typical 2-3 yr new postdoc fellowship (NRSA-like) until you are ready for your own independent position. The assumption, as far as I can tell, is that you will stay in your postdoc during this time. A BIG part of the K99 application (at least it was when I was writing) is the plan for mentoring and career development. The point of this phase is to enable you to land (and be prepared for) a tenure-track job so that you can write a successful R01.

When the K99/R00 program started, some new awardees were starting in a TT job almost immediately. This seemed to indicate that these folks actually didn't NEED any more mentored training. So, some inst . . . More
Views: 8671 | Comments: 23
Last by becca on Oct 15, 2010, 9:11pm
Hooray for the demise of Prop 8!! It is about fucking time! Here's hoping that the decision sticks.

OK, so I am biased, being a lesbian* and all.

But I really wish that someone could explain to me how, exactly, my family is ruining America. Dr. Isis posits that the folks making this argument (conservatives) are hate-filled shitbags. My first reaction is to agree, because from my perspective that is what it looks like. But then I just get sad and confused. First of all, it is not like liberals and/or Democrats are standing up and doing the right thing here. So it is not just a conservative problem. Second, though I live in a nice blue haven now, I grew up in a big red state. My family still lives there. They are all pretty conservative, and not quite where I would like when it comes to gay rights (among other things). But in general I think they are good people, and we are working on it. Finally, Ted Olson, one of the lawyer that argued the ca . . . More
Views: 684 | Comments: 9
Last by Tideliar on Aug 12, 2010, 11:41am
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 "se . . . More
Views: 530 | Comments: 14
Last by Lab Mom on Aug 10, 2010, 9:51pm
Wow! I'm super excited to join up with folks over here at LabSpaces. Thanks for having me.

This is freakishly similar to the first day I stepped into my empty lab space IRL. Big. Empty.

Now what?

That's it, I'm going to wander around and see if Tiddles has some beer in the fridge*. Tomorrow I'll get some actually work done.

*based on a true story

. . . More