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Author: JaniceF | Views: 1193 | Comments: 5
Last by JaniceF on Jul 29, 2011, 3:18pm
These past few days, I've had a chance to hang out with my sisters Fortune and Wisdom. Fortune recently got a new job and Wisdom had just returned from travels of her own in far far away lands. We had an amazing home-cooked Indian dinner, cooked by Wisdom, and then the three of us just sat around in her family room talking over tea, just being family. Our relationship has evolved over the years in ways that I could not have imagined. There were times when Fortune and I didn't talk for what seemed like years,now our relationship is like Summertime, a Mary Cassatt painting, the women don't always look directly at each other, but their shared experience brings a sweetness into the moment. Wisdom and I on the other hand, are very close. With her, there is an ease to the relationship. I feel like Wisdom is a warm blanket, a cup of cocoa, and an engaging book on a cold night. But its the combination of both of them that is calming and invigorating, like it reminds you of the things that are important. You know, priorities. On that note, here is a post from May 11 2010.

. . . More
Author: JaniceF | Views: 1359 | Comments: 5
Last by Alchemystress on Aug 01, 2011, 11:12am
While I'm traveling I've decided to repost a series of old blogposts on the academic trajectory. In part because I'm lazy (give me a break traveling is tiring) but also because lately my career choices have been on my mind.

I've had some interesting conversations with some sr faculty, which when things settle down I will write about. So for now, peeps, you will have to be content with some oldies but goodies. This first one is from April 2010.

. . . More
Author: Dangerous Experiments | Views: 10739 | Comments: 13
Last by Laura Maaske on Jan 08, 2013, 7:58pm
What comes to mind when you think of a medical and scientific illustrator? Is it a kind of art you admire? How do you respond to highly detailed drawings? Do the fleshy human interiors make you squeamish, which is a remark I have sometimes received from clients regarding medical images in general? Does the precision impress you? Does the stiffness offer you stillness or rigidity, something to explore? Do you love the great masters of the field: Leonardo DaVinci, Andreas Vesalius, Max Brödel, Frank H. Netter, John James Audubon?

As a student medical illustrator, I knew what I wanted to learn. I wanted to wrap my mind around the science and the drawing skills I would require in the future. I already had an undergraduate degree in zoology, and our courses in the Division of Biomedical Communications were to be shared with the medical students at the University of Toronto, so science was heavily on my mind. There were . . . More
Author: Angry Scientist | Views: 1887 | Comments: 1
Last by Alchemystress on Jul 17, 2011, 10:21am

With all of the budget discussions in congress this year, I wonder if we won't start seeing researchers get all NASCAR with biotech sponsorships.

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Author: Brian Krueger, PhD | Views: 568 | Comments: 5
Last by Brian Krueger, PhD on Jun 01, 2011, 12:44pm
In a recent episode of the new TV show, Happy Endings (Episode on HuLu), one of the characters, Dave, gets super excited when he runs into and reconnects with his favorite high school teacher. The only problem is that the teacher turns out to be an alcoholic douche, but Dave spends the entire episode fawning over the guy until he realizes that the teacher is just an underachieving loser who is trying to bed his friend Penny.

The nostalgic undertones of this show got me thinking about my favorite high school teachers. It should be no surprise that my favorite teachers are my science teachers. Many of them helped inspire me to pursue a career in science. I'm not sure if I should thank them or hate them for that.

Regardless, my senior year of high school was exciting because I was taking a bunch of really cool AP science classes. At the time, my favorite teacher award was a dead heat between my AP bio teacher and my AP physics teacher. The physics guy was new to the school. It was either his first or second year there. I really liked his teaching style. He forced us to think about the problems he gave us and always answered our questions with qu . . . More
Author: Dangerous Experiments | Views: 3745 | Comments: 7
Last by Suzy on May 17, 2011, 10:01am
Mary Canady is the founder Comprendia which provides marketing and social media consulting services to the life science and biotech industry. Additionally, she began the San Diego Biotechnology Network to help life science researchers and professionals connect online and at monthly networking events. Mary also serves as a liaison between life science companies and the science blogging community, and she can be found on Twitter at @comprendia.


There is an ongoing, fascinating discussion in the science blogosphere about women in science, covering such topics as being a mom as a scientist (including Jade’s post which prompted me to write this one), women scienceblogging, and the ever present salary inequality discussions. To contribute to these conversations constructively, I’d like to list the best advice I’ve received as a woman in biotech. Since getting my Ph.D. in biochemistry, and moving into ‘industry’ about ten years ago, I’ve gotten great advice and also learned a lot. These recommendations can also be used by those with a science background in general, as qualities such as self-denigration are common and may be perpetuated by the culture of higher education.

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Author: Suzy | Views: 41934 | 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: 114527 | 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: Suzy | Views: 14303 | Comments: 18
Last by Suzy on May 17, 2011, 7:04pm
After attending a conference a couple months ago and being forced to sit through some pretty bad presentations, I had in mind to discuss the importance of grad students learning how to put together and deliver a good presentation. This skill is critical and I can't believe how many scientists struggle with presentations. I know it's tough and I know when you're nervous it is easy to forget some things you wanted to say. But there are ways of making your presentation easier for your audience to understand, and make it so it triggers reminders for you, so when the nerves come in, you don't forget what you wanted to say.

My most recent experience really highlighted this problem because as soon as the speaker was done, a man behind me raised his hand to ask a question. He said, "I COULDN'T HEAR A WORD YOU SAID AND I CAN'T READ ANY OF YOUR SLIDES!" He was pissed off. I was too, but I wasn't going to stand up in a room of 100 people and yell at the speaker. But it was true. So many things were wrong in every talk presented.

Honestly, if I pay several hundred dollars to attend a conference and I get up at 7 am to make your 8 am talk (which is waking up at 4 am for me on west coast time), and I get to the room, and now I sit through . . . More
Author: Suzy | Views: 6537 | Comments: 25
Last by Suzy on May 12, 2011, 10:41am
I walked past the mini-conference room area that AACR set up in the middle of the exhibit hall and my eyes immediately zeroed in on the name of one of my science idols: Elizabeth Blackburn. She was going to be speaking about careers to young scientists and allow them to ask her questions.

I noted the day and time. It wouldn’t matter to me what she was talking about. I would be there.

The next day at 10 am, I watched her walk in to the roofless cubicled room and you could feel the excitement as she hurriedly walked to the front. I stood in the back by the entrance. All of the chairs were reserved for scientists who were post-docs and grad students but I was just grateful to be there early enough to have a spot to stand and listen.

How I wished I had this advice when I was young and ill-informed!

If you ever have the opportunity to listen to Dr. Blackburn speak, go out of your way to see her. Words can’t describe her magnetic presence and gentle, sincere smile. I could use some California new age terms here to describe her positive energy or radiant aura, but I’ll spare you.

Just a little introduction for people who don’t know . . . More
Author: Suzy | Views: 3195 | Comments: 12
Last by Suzy on May 28, 2011, 8:02pm
I began a series of posts that explained how products are born, that is, how they go from a concept or idea to a product on the shelf waiting to be bought. So far we've discussed what R&D does and what marketing does to make sure that a product has the greatest possibility for success. Well there is another person on this team who plays a critical role in the product development process and launch.

While the title of this person can vary, their department is in operations and their function is to control and organize all the tasks required to get the product manufactured. I want to talk about this leg of the product development lifecycle because I think it would be helpful to those of you looking at jobs in biotech and trying to figure out some of the job descriptions you might see advertised on websites. A position in manufacturing, QC, QA, or managing teams working in these areas are all viable job options for . . . More
Author: Dangerous Experiments | Views: 1805 | Comments: 9
Last by Ragamuffin on May 04, 2011, 12:57am
This week's guest blogger is Kristin Lammers. She has an MS in chemistry from Rutgers University and is currently a PhD student at Temple University in physical chemistry. Her thesis work is on environmental chemistry and CO2 sequestration.


I recently read Jade's post about what she would want to study if she wasn't working in the biotech industry. She indicated that she would love to research multiple sclerosis and this has motivated me to share with you my perspective on life as a graduate student. In actuality, we may all go through the thought process of questioning our current path in the sciences. This is usually catalyzed by some experiment gone wrong or when we are in the “negative region of the sine wave”, which is quite a common case in graduate school. However, my perspective really isn’t too far of a stretch from the life of a graduate student, just that there is one extra hurdle to deal with, and maybe an extra abundance of caffeinated drinks. I have been “blessed” with (a) MS. Yes, the degree in chemistry and the autoimmune disease, multiple sclerosis. Interestingly enough for me, I rec . . . More
Author: Suzy | Views: 22339 | 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: Alchemystress | Views: 998 | Comments: 5
Last by David Manly on Mar 09, 2011, 9:50am
So the question posed today is “What would I be doing if I weren’t in science?” For me this is a loaded question. I had no intentions of ever being a scientist, though maybe I should have read the signs. When in second grade I told my teacher I wanted to be a paleontologist or an archeologist, and I wasn’t sure which one, because I didn’t know whether I wanted to focus more on people or on dinosaurs. I had dinosaur books, historical paleontology books, etc. Oh, and did I mention – in 3rd or 4th grade I tried to write my own anatomy and physiology book. Tried to illustrate it, too, and discovered I cannot draw to save my life. I wanted to be an artist so badly…

I wanted to sing and dance and act when I was a kid. I took dance classes and drawing classes, joined the drama club, and tried joining the school choir. Let’s just say the only things I could even do at all were dance and act (better for my ego that way, listening to me sing is better done by the deaf). And the dancing is frankly questionable; flexible I am not, not even a little.

I wasn’t a bad actor. Not a good one either, but damn did I have (and I suppose I still do) a clear and precise speaking voice. I went to a Catholic school (yeah, I know), and would always be chosen to read for Mas . . . More
Author: Suzy | Views: 1713 | Comments: 9
Last by Suzy on Mar 06, 2011, 2:45am
Picking up our discussion on the new product development life cycle, we last talked about R&D and before that feasibility. The next department to work on the new product is marketing. The person who will announce to the world the arrival of this new kit is the Product Manager or Marketing Manager.

(If you do not recognize some terms used here, please ask or check the Marketing Dictionary.)

Today's article is a lesson on how to calculate the size of a market and how to estimate how much money one can make in that market.

During feasibility, marketing provided the committee a financial analysis of the product. This is called the "business case". The key concerns are always around the numbers. There are numerous tasks to keep track of in preparation for a product launch and most of the early tasks revolve around market and cost analysis. The later tasks revolve around the creative aspects of marketing the product (design of . . . More
Author: Suzy | Views: 1484 | Comments: 17
Last by Suzy on Feb 24, 2011, 9:05pm
My travel schedule is set for another year. Every year I tell myself I’m not going to commit to so much travel but whenever I am asked to cover some event, it’s an opportunity for me to talk to people in diverse and burgeoning fields and get new ideas for products, so I don’t say no.  And who doesn’t enjoy attending conferences? So I’ll be traveling to a conference every month from now until October with a break in September.   

Does it sound like fun? There are pros and cons to traveling for work. If you like visiting different cities and enjoy meeting people and talking science all day long, you would love it. If you would rather chain yourself to the lab bench than talk to a hundred people in an 8 hour day, then this part of a biotech job may not be for you. Fortunately, it’s not required for all jobs and you can always decline.

I came up with my list of what I like and dislike about traveling for work.  Maybe this will help some people considering careers in marketing or sales, because this is a big part of the selling life.


The Good: I love meeting scientists, hearing about their work, and getting compliments on our products by scientists

The Bad: Talking for 8 hours a day to strangers makes me want to go back to . . . More
Author: Suzy | Views: 10607 | Comments: 6
Last by Suzy on Feb 17, 2011, 10:19am
OK, let’s pick up our discussion where we left off last week, at feasibility. You did it. You successfully convinced a room full of vice presidents and directors, or maybe even the CEO that they should take your fabulous product idea to the next level. You’ve got marketing on board, excited to promote it and now it’s time for the work to begin.

You are the lead scientist so this will be your baby. You most likely are working on other projects too so you have to divide your time wisely. An R&D scientist always has multiple projects as various stages of the development process. You don’t get to spend full time on one thing. You know what your deadlines are and the target dates for giving updates to the committee and you make it a point to meet them.

I think to fully explain how a product is developed it would be helpful to have an example. Let’s use an example of something that no one has ever figured out how to do yet but almost everyone wishes they had a solution for. How about:

A novel method that allows for any protein of any size or sequence or species to fold correctly when recombinantly expressed in E.coli cells.

No inclusion bodies, no toxic . . . More
Author: Suzy | Views: 1836 | Comments: 5
Last by Alchemystress on Feb 10, 2011, 7:45pm
Think about all of the products you use every day, both at home and at work. Every single thing you use started out as an idea or concept from someone who thought, “If I had something like this, it would make life so much easier.” We all have those ideas. But how does a product go from concept to solid object sitting on a shelf waiting for you to buy it? The process is long and complex and involves many people. Even the simplest more inexpensive item requires the touch of dozens and sometimes hundreds of people.

Most of us never think about how that thing or kit came to existence and what was involved to make it happen.  But if you knew how much work went into every last detail down to the way it looks when you open it and how you heard about it, you would never look at a product the same way again.

Today I am going to tell you how this works.  Naturally this process varies greatly depending on the size of the company and the type of product (for example, software vs a DNA kit, vs a sequencing service are totally different). I am going to describe the process in more general terms. Because the truth is that even in a small company, this process must be followed. The system is in place to make sure mistakes are not made, that lemons are killed before too much t . . . More
Author: Dangerous Experiments | Views: 1251 | Comments: 17
Last by Alena on Jan 06, 2012, 12:34pm
Alchemystress is a graduate student working on her PhD in Chemistry. She works on instrumentation, biotech, microfab and nanotech. She is in her first year of a PhD program but second year of graduate school. Alchemystress started out as a biochemistry student and did a BS in biology and has worked in the proteomics field of cancer research for about 2.5 years before starting her work in chemistry.


I am super feminine, but not girly, I dress classic like Audrey Hepburn but have tattoos, and skulls on my keychain, working on a quarter sleeve in fact. I am a chemist that does engineering and biology. I drive a truck and wear high heels almost everyday. I model, I do runways, I build mass specs and nanodevices. I spin fire, and am an honorary part of a fire circus and I teach organic chemistry. I did Burning Man, I did research on a boat in Hawaii. I have a horrid curiosity to the point where I want to know everything even, when I am not interested. I hike and love the outdoors, camping and getting dirty but enjoy a good dance club as well. I drink whiskey and smoke cigars sometimes, and I also like to run long distances.

I think people forget that to be successful doesn’t m . . . More
Author: Alchemystress | Views: 289 | Comments: 0
I am super feminine, but not girly, I dress classic like Audrey Hepburn but have tattoos, and skulls on my keychain, working on a quarter sleeve in fact. I am a chemist that does engineering and biology. I drive a truck and wear high heels almost everyday. I model, I do runways, I build mass specs and nanodevices. I spin fire, and am an honorary part of a fire circus and I teach organic chemistry. I did Burning Man, I did research on a boat in Hawaii. I have a horrid curiosity to the point where I want to know everything even, when I am not interested. I hike and love the outdoors, camping and getting dirty but enjoy a good dance club as well. I drink whiskey and smoke cigars sometimes, and I also like to run long distances.

I think people forget that to be successful doesn’t mean you need one focus, or are one note; we are multi-faceted, all of us, and that one note really is a melody. I used to struggle with this dichotomy that is me. I have learned to embrace it and balance myself between all these things. It’s OK to be many things and yet still one. It took a long time for me to learn that and move forward in life. Science is about creativity and innovation; and I think people have this notion that it is this “stuffy subject” that old men in tweed suits sit ar . . . More