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Author: Dangerous Experiments | Views: 266563 | Comments: 12
Last by JaniceF on Jul 11, 2011, 8:34pm
Recently, a fellow graduate student defended his master’s thesis. He set the record for the shortest time to degree in our College with a nice job lined up afterwards. But that also meant he never presented his work at a conference, or a department/college seminar. This was his first- and most important “big talk”. What follows are the top 10 tips I gave him at one point or another as he was preparing that should be a help to anyone getting ready for a “big talk”.

Planning Your Talk

1) Know Your Audience
Everyone will tell you to know your audience, which couldn’t be truer when you’re planning the introduction to your talk. Sure, there is a big difference between talking to high school students and presenting at a conference, but try to think: who is coming to my talk? If they are all cellular biologists like you, then skip the central dogma slide. But if you have a mix of disciplines you need to be able to explain your work to a biologist, as well as an electrical engineer. Imagine you’re giving the talk to one person with each potential background. Would each person be able to follow it? Sometimes you need to sacrifice some specific details in order to explain the important stuff to everybody. (But you should be able to talk extempora . . . More
Author: Evie | Views: 172734 | Comments: 137
Last by Neuron on Jan 11, 2014, 12:19am
Earlier this week I was fortunate enough to speak with Chiren Boumaaza, aka Athene, who you may know as the extravagant internet celebrity, and professional gamer.

If you haven't heard of him, he's a record holder in World of Warcraft and online poker, and plays the main character in a series of videos on a popular youtube channel with well over 340,000 subscribers.

'Athene' is known for crashing gaming servers, with the aid of his massive army of followers, who just love to be part of the controversy and trouble Athene is so well known for.

Over the past year, we haven't heard much from him, and it seemed as though he had fallen off the grid. Recently Chiren broke his silence, and announced that his disappearance was due to being very busy, conducting new research in the fields of quantum mechanics, general and special relativity, and neuroscience. He continued to say that this research is culminating in significant new discoveries that will be presented in a documentary named 'Athene's Theory of Everything'. This was definitely an unexpected turn, and caused quite a stir, and some confusion within his fan . . . More
Author: Suzy | Views: 103244 | Comments: 19
Last by Jenil on Jul 22, 2013, 8:40pm
This week I will answer questions sent to me by a LabSpaces reader. I welcome additional input from readers who have their own experiences with industry job hunting and using recruiters. Please do feel free to share your knowledge.


I have really been enjoying your posts on your experience with working in industry. I am coming to decide that I want to jump off the academia boat and try something else. The main problem with doing that is that I have no idea where to start. Would you mind discussing the "hows" of finding a job in industry? How is an industry type resume compare to an academic CV? Where should I look for PhD level positions? Are there recruiters or head hunters that help people find positions? Answers to any of these questions would be extremely helpful and appreciated.

How to find a job in industry and where should I look for PhD level positions?

There are a couple of approaches one can take for biotech job hunting. I would recommend using the typical search engines to start. is one and . . . More
Author: Lady Scientist | Views: 94971 | Comments: 12
Last by americanbiotech on Jan 06, 2011, 9:29am
It’s a new year and a fine new time for me to resume blogging here at LabSpaces. 2010 was a good year for me in more ways than one. I finished my Ph.D. and graduated (I plan on blogging here about my defense). But 2011 promises to be even better.  I started my brand new postdoc yesterday in an entirely different field than my graduate work and that promises to be very cool. 

However, for some reason, it struck me and my PI as a fantastic idea for me to write a fellowship application right as I’m starting the postdoc. As I’m settling in to start writing, I realize how silly of an idea this was.  I’m not kidding when I say that my postdoc is in an entirely different area of research.  The only connection between my graduate work and this is that they both can be defined as in the biochemistry and molecular biology field.

I think switching fields like this is good for me for a couple of reasons.  There’s the not inconsequential reason that I find this area more interesting than my graduate work.  It’s also wide open area to study as there has been very little done to study the molecular biology of this area. So there are a ton of interesting questions that can be asked and investigated.  Also, from what I understand, learning new skills is a . . . More
Author: JaniceF | Views: 74865 | Comments: 13
Last by GUEST COMMENT on Feb 27, 2012, 9:55pm
This bit of genius is brought to you by Matushiq Sotak.

. . . More
Author: Psycasm | Views: 56194 | Comments: 24
Last by Dustin L on Jul 05, 2012, 9:55am

It's generally accepted It has been demonstrated that as a nation's mean IQ increases their irreligiousity increases too (Lynn, Harvey & Nyborg, 2009). That is, there's a negative correlation between Intelligence (as measured by IQ tests) and religious beliefs (be that belief in (a) God(s), an after-life, or super-beings). The Lynn, Harvey and Nyborg (2009) paper claims the relationship between g and 'Disbelief in God' is .60. America, for whatever reason, is an outlier in this data.

Now there's likely to be 101 explanations as to why this is the case, and arguments and counter-arguments can be put forth to explain it. That particular debate is not what I'm interested in (at this very moment). What I am interested in is if the above statement is true, what else might be true? It's a controversial area of research, and so the information I could find was limited, but interesting.

Could there be some cognitive difference between non-believers and believers? Specifically, could religion influence cognitive style between the two groups. Alternatively, people could be born with a particular cognitive style which influences their religiousity, and this, I think, is an e . . . More
Author: Psycasm | Views: 49790 | Comments: 16
Last by Sydney Talbot on Jun 11, 2013, 1:38am


Here's where I heard about this paper first... and a pretty weak treatment at that.


In a previous post I dared suggest* that women watched porn. Several people warned me of the imminent troll-storm, and true to their predictions, I was inundated with claims that I was a misogynist, supporting 'shoddy' science, and endorsing the male status-quo. All of which was rubbish, and based on the fact that 'women' and 'porn' appeared in the same sentence. Oh no, women are sexual beings? Think of the children!**. The lead author of the paper I cited showed up and made a few comments. The trolls fled. ...Then I won an award for the post.

And so here I am to make another inflammatory statement. Well, two, in fact. First, I think Evolutionary Psychology offers a valid paradigm to explore human behaviour and cognition. And so I am steeled for the exclamations of 'just so stories' and the accusations of 'quackery'. Second, apparently women have sex, some even enjoy it, so much so that they . . . More
Author: Psycasm | Views: 50284 | Comments: 4
Last by Alchemystress on Jul 12, 2011, 1:42pm
So a friend, and Psychobabble regular, Matt, has recently co-authored a serendipitous little finding.

When two faces are presented side-by-side and flipped through in a series at high-speed they suddenly appear grotesque and disfigured.

Check it:

The tagline so frequently associated with this is 'pretty girls turn ugly'; it dominates the first page of google and has nearly 1.2 millions hits on youtube (an increase of 400,000 in 12 hours. That's fracking insane. [12/7/11]). See Matt's UQPsychblog post here, where he discusses the finding first-hand.

The effect was discovered when a member of their lab programming faces into a series and aligning the eyes. In spot-checking they flipped through the series at high speed to check that the faces were aligned as intended. Viola - ugliness.

Given the way the effect was discovered it's no surprise they have no sure clue as to the mechanism. They suggest, however:

"Relative encoding seem . . . More
Author: Brian Krueger, PhD | Views: 40781 | Comments: 12
Last by Brian Krueger, PhD on Jun 24, 2013, 8:39am
I’m totally late to this party. I spent the morning writing my rebuttal to DrugMonkey and Co, doing the news, and cranking out a few pesky experiments. Ah, to live the life, right? Anyway, I’ve noticed that all of the good topics are now taken so I have to scrub the bottom of the bucket. I think one of the most important decisions I made in my scientific career was when I decided where I wanted to go to graduate school. The factors that play ball in this game are numerous and obviously not the same for everyone, but here’s my rundown of all of the things I wish I knew before heading off to graduate school.

Not to be too bitter about my undergraduate experience or anything, but the graduate school preparation was horrendous. No one told me from the beginning, “If you want to go to graduate school, here’s the X, the Y and the Z.” This may all sound like common sense, but some of it is not and having someone tell me all about X, Y, and Z my freshman year would have been helpful.

Do grades matter?

YES. They matter as much as they do for your annoying pre-med classmates, especially if you want to go to a . . . More
Author: Suzy | Views: 36581 | Comments: 22
Last by DNAGuy on Apr 22, 2013, 1:59pm
This question is about the hiring process and the discussion around salary. The answer is quite involved so it would be easiest to post it separately so we can discuss the topic and also, as always, I welcome others to share their experiences.

Just wondering if you might be able to comment on the hiring process.

Specifically in my case, I'm just wondering how salary negotations occurs in a company.  Who at the company has the power to say "you will be paid x" or "we agree to your proposal of making x".

Or do you (the person hiring) get a salary range that you're "allowed" to offer/accept?   I'm almost wondering if it's like buying a car where the dealer needs to talk to managment... :)

Nervously awaiting to have the negotiating talk... :)

In the case when I was hiring (and I am at a small privately owned company), I had a range that I could offer but I fully expected to pay at the top end of the range. Having worked at the large biotechs, I know what a scientist with a PhD should be making and I firmly believe that you get what you pay for so I wasn't going to low ball the right candidate.

So for those of you wondering what that range is, on the west coast, for a Ph.D. with no prior job experience (so fresh from a postdoc . . . More
Author: Suzy | Views: 32657 | Comments: 18
Last by Suzy on Jan 27, 2011, 11:25am
I would like to thank AGreenMonster for these great questions for discussion. I am going to answer these from my perspective, which is from a life science company. I welcome anyone to give their feedback as well. In fact, if any of the readers out there feels like they have a lot to share, I would be happy to host your article on my blog so that you may provide more details. Just drop me a line.

Hi Jade!

The question from me would be, what would you say is the biggest difference between academic research and industrial research?   You say you don't have the same independence- how does that translate day by day?  Does that mean that you're given a project and are told what procedure to do at every step?  Or do you mean, that you told you need to work on x and get y in whichever manner you can?

To answer this question, let's first list some of the pros about working in an academic setting. You get to ask your own questions, questions that are interesting to you personally. No one is telling you what to do, how to do it, or for that matter keeping track of your time in any way. As long as you are productive and moving forward, you are doing well.

In contrast, in a company, you may have to work on a project that doesn’t interest you much. You ma . . . More
Author: Lab Mom | Views: 29101 | Comments: 9
Last by Shawn Russell on May 23, 2013, 3:58am
I was trying to think back to my biggest lab mistake and although I have had quite a few minor mishaps (mis-loading lanes for a Western blot, not adding the right controls for a Q-RT-PCR) that lead to disastrous scientific outcomes (i.e. repeating weeks worth of sample acquisition), those mistakes aren't as entertaining as the one I have decided to feature.

Let me set the scene. I was working as a technician straight out of my undergrad. I had been with the lab for a few years and one of duties was autoclaving glassware, pipette tips etc. Simple grunt work.

Or so you would think.

During my tenure with this lab we actually relocated our lab space to a brand new building and a few weeks after moving in they installed brand new autoclaves for our department. Ooohh Ahhh. They were state of the art, brand new and shiny (no gross brown stains, nothing oozing out of the seams, no strange odors at start up) and they came pre-programmed with standard dry and wet runs. Pretty dummy proof.

Or so you would think.

I was actually excited to throw in my load of glassware and break in the virgin autoclave. I loaded the beakers and flasks into the . . . More
Author: Jordan Gaines | Views: 29153 | Comments: 4
Last by Doctor Zen on Aug 19, 2012, 10:16am
In 1982, Angela Cavallo of Lawrenceville, Georgia received the Mom of the Year Award. (Not a real award, but if it existed, she would probably win, hands down). Her son Tony was working on the suspension of his 1964 Chevy Impala when the car suddenly slipped off the jack and pinned him in the wheel well.

Angela dashed outside to see her unconscious son trapped under the car. She yelled for a neighbor to get help but it was taking too long, so she took matters into her own hands. Literally. She proceeded to lift the car—high enough to replace the jacks—and pull Tony out from beneath.

Yep, you read that correctly. She lifted a 3,500-pound car from the ground.

There's not much more information to be found about Mrs. Cavallo aside from this incredible story, but I'll safely assume she wasn't a body builder. In fact, I'll bet the same for the other individuals who have also demonstrated this sort of "hysterical strength." But that's beside the point—if you were placed in a similar situation, you could probably lift a car, too!

It's all thanks to the handy little hormone called adrenaline.

Activating the stress response

The kicker abou . . . More
Author: Alchemystress | Views: 25609 | Comments: 4
Last by Alchemystress on Mar 03, 2011, 8:33pm
I thought I would do a few blog posts here and there about aspects of my research. So I warn you now, it is very possible I may geek out…a lot. There are quite a few things I cover in my work, so piece by piece, quick and dirty explanations will follow. Please feel free to ask questions, and if there are areas you would like me elaborate on and maybe make another blog post about, I will be more than happy to oblige.

The first one that I think is important to understand in my work is mass spectrometry. So what the hell is it, and why is it useful? In this post I will take a stab at introducing you to this powerful instrument, and then I shall write another post in which I will introduce you to the one I use and some things I do on it. First, I think a good base understanding of mass spec. is important.

Mass spectrometry is a powerful analytical technique that is used to characterize, identify, and quantify unknown compounds (here I point out that many people interchange spectrometry with spectroscopy, and that is incorrect: for spectroscopy, think light, and spectrometry, think electromagnetics).It is used in research, medicine, forensics, pharmaceuticals, archeology, geochemistry etc. The applications are endless. This is a very common instrument and tool used in . . . More
Author: Jeffrey Martz | Views: 25548 | Comments: 5
Last by SS on Sep 27, 2012, 7:17am
Sorry about the delay. The last couple months have involved some major changes and frenetic activity, and this post also expanded considerably in scope from what I originally had in mind, evolving (if you will) from a straightforward explanation of Linnaean taxonomy to an extremely detailed answer to the question "how do we know that we are descended from apes?" Since the post was so gigantic, I've split it in half. Here is part one. Read it, get some sleep, the next will be up in a couple days. I have one or two posts on taxonomy I want to do after this one, and then we should move right into evolutionary theory.


The first scientist to call human beings animals and primates was a Christian creationist.

Carl Linnaeus (1707-1778) was a Swedish biologist, and like most Western natural scientists of his time, he was a Christian who believed all life was divinely created by God, more or less in its present form (he suggested that there might be little changes due to hybridization). He was also the inventor of what is usually called "Linnaean taxonomy" (remember that " . . . More
Author: JaySeeDub | Views: 24050 | Comments: 6
Last by JaySeeDub on Jan 09, 2012, 8:44pm
Food labeling is complicated. And confusing. For one thing, there is a lot of information on there, from calorie count to ingredients to calories per gram of fat. You almost need a science degree to start to understand it. Serving size, for example, isn’t helpful. On a bag of Doritos you’ll see that the serving size is 1oz (28g), and that there are about 9 servings in a bag. Now I have a kitchen scale. I advocate the use of a kitchen scale in cooking. But I, for one, am not going to pull out the scale when I want some chips to watch the Niners in week 2 of the NFL Playoffs. I don’t sit at home on a Saturday after the Costco run measuring out individual servings of pistachios and chips and peanuts and pretzels. I have other things to do. And yes, the new labels do approximate how many Doritos make up a serving, about 12, but I’m still not going to sit there and count out 12 chips per person per serving. Friends and family will think I finally fell off the deep end and have me committed.

But one of the big puzzles about the nutritional information is how it is calculated. Calories can be done quickly. Throw the items into a bomb calorimeter and burn them. Measure the increase in temperature and calculate the kJ of energy. Then convert those kJ to kcal. 4.184kJ = . . . More
Author: Suzy | Views: 21053 | Comments: 13
Last by Priyanka Choudhury on Apr 02, 2013, 11:45am
I get asked this question a lot. There are two questions, actually, that students ask me all the time. One is: how did I get my job? The other: do I really need a PhD?

Today I will attempt to answer the second question.

So I was going to start out by saying that whether or not a PhD is the right choice for you depends on what you want to do with your life. Essentially- where do you see yourself in 5-10 years? And then I read the article by Image Goddess about how annoying this question is (and I laughed). So let's not go there.

I understand that not everyone has a clear vision of what they want in life. They aren't sure what makes them happy at age 21, or even 25, so how can you choose whether or not to devote 6 years of your life to working slave hours for barely living wages? This certainly complicates things.

The decision as to whether or not to get a PhD really does depend on having some idea of what you want to do in the future. If you don't really want it, I think you'll be miserable and chances are you won't make it through. According to this article, only 57% of st . . . More
Author: David Manly | Views: 18644 | Comments: 9
Last by Sex Chat on Feb 25, 2011, 3:15am
Happy Valentine's Day!

In celebration for this day where people give candy and Hallmark cards to the ones they love, I decided to share a few of the weirdest and wildest animal mating strategies I have ever come across. It almost make you feel lucky to be a Homonid!

Animals have been around much, much longer than us, and will most likely persist long after we are gone. So, animals are the true senseis of sex. They’ve been doing it longer, and are far better at it than we could ever be (yes, even better than the fabled Wilt Chamberlain).

And now, on to the main event!

I have combed through everything I have ever learnt about animals, and I have come up with a list of the five most bizarre, yet still interesting, animal mating strategies. Now, this is by no means a complete list, just the weirdest and most interesting. Believe me, there is a LOT more. If you like it, I’m sure I could be persuaded to write more.

5) Well, it IS stuck

Banana slugs look exactly as their name suggests, are about eight inch slugs the colour of a banana. The interesting thing about these animals is that since they are hermaphrodites, when mating time arises, they both possess female and male sex organs.

. . . More
Author: Brian Krueger, PhD | Views: 18422 | Comments: 2
Last by Brian Krueger, PhD on Mar 17, 2011, 3:25pm
The NYTimes has recently implemented a paywall system where users will be charged for access after a certain number of page views. Whatever your opinions of this system are, there is an easy way around it. I heard rumors on twitter that following a link from twitter or facebook to an article would not count against your "free" pageview limit. Someone has started a twitter feed that links to every new NYTimes article. This seemed a little excessive to me so I tried changing the web referrer in firefox instead. Essentially, whenever you visit a website, your web browser tells the webserver where you last visited. It's really easy to lie about where you've been using the FireFox plugin RefControl. All you need to do is:

1. Install the plugin.

2. Go to -> Tools -> Add-ons

3. Scroll down to RefControl and click on it

4. An Options button will appear. Click it.

5. In the new window click Add Site.

Fill out . . . More
Author: Brian Krueger, PhD | Views: 16842 | Comments: 0
I recently posted a picture of the congressional vote count for the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act showing the absolutely disgusting bi-partisan divide over this vote in 2009. Republicans should be ashamed.

However, someone added a link to an Examiner article posted a few days ago that said the Obama White House paid women 15% less in 2011. The article essentially says that Obama is a massive hypocrite and Democrats are truly the ones waging the war against women. If you read not very far into this story, they say the numbers are based on median salary, not the mean, and it's not classified by job title OR GS class (which would really get at equal pay for equal work - the whole point of the Ledbetter act!). Unfortunately, when I went to grab the data from the White House page, it didn't list GS class or gender. It'd be a lot more accurate to use GS class for this type of analysis because that takes into account the amount of experience a person has in each position, but doing the averages by job titles is still MUCH better than taking the median of the salaries. In a profession such as US politics whic . . . More