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Post Archive
2020 (0)2011 (2)
January (2)

Friday, January 7, 2011

Update on crazy
Monday, January 3, 2011
2010 (45)
December (9)

In need of a break...
Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Finding the "Merry" in Christmas
Thursday, December 23, 2010

Down time
Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The pump and science juggling act
Monday, December 20, 2010

But I don't wanna go to work
Saturday, December 18, 2010

Thursday, December 16, 2010

In reverse
Monday, December 13, 2010

Back in the lab, sort of...
Wednesday, December 8, 2010

12 months of blogging...easy enough
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
November (7)

Open letter to committee head
Tuesday, November 30, 2010

By popular demand - The Arrival
Wednesday, November 24, 2010

How to do it all
Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Cabin Fever
Friday, November 19, 2010

Donation reward - new pics!
Friday, November 12, 2010

Totally non-science news
Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Why am I doing this?
Saturday, November 6, 2010
October (12)

Bribe time
Thursday, October 28, 2010

On the market - what to do with a priority score
Wednesday, October 27, 2010

DonorsChoose - more projects to support
Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Oh, the guilt...
Monday, October 25, 2010

Priority Score Confusion
Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Working from home sucks; aka "Preeclampsia for Dummies"
Monday, October 18, 2010

Editor's choice
Thursday, October 14, 2010

Let the obsessing begin
Tuesday, October 12, 2010

DonorChoose - start giving!
Monday, October 11, 2010

Careful what I say...
Friday, October 8, 2010

To dance or teach...
Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Sunday, October 3, 2010
September (6)

Challenges at the bench
Monday, September 27, 2010

What am I really?
Monday, September 20, 2010

A double standard
Friday, September 17, 2010

The Little Lab Bench That Could
Saturday, September 11, 2010

What I'm glad I didn't know before...
Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Round Up: 8/29 - 9/4
Sunday, September 5, 2010
August (11)

Procrastinators beware...
Friday, August 27, 2010

You don't need no stinkin' permission
Monday, August 23, 2010

I'm still alive, just buried
Saturday, August 21, 2010

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Dr. O's advice to new grad students
Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Open Letter
Monday, August 9, 2010

What you should know as a new TT faculty
Saturday, August 7, 2010

Friday, August 6, 2010

A little professionalism, please
Thursday, August 5, 2010

How picky is too picky?
Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Hello LabSpaces!
Tuesday, August 3, 2010
Blogger Profile

Dr. O

After a frustrating year on the tenure-track job hunt, my eyes are still on the prize, and I've learned that sheer will might be the most important quality required for this career track.

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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Recent Comments
Comment by Lab Mom in *sigh*

I'll miss you!  But I will definitely catch your other blog! . . .Read More
Jan 09, 2011, 1:53am
Comment by Dr Becca, Ph.D. in *sigh*

Updating my blogroll! See you (and Monkey!) back at blogspot! . . .Read More
Jan 07, 2011, 10:42pm
Comment by Suzy in *sigh*

I am looking forward to reading more about Monkey too. Take care! . . .Read More
Jan 07, 2011, 7:44pm
Awesome Stuff

Views: 1300 | Comments: 7
Last by Lab Mom on Jan 09, 2011, 1:53am
It's been a nice run, but I think the time has come for me to take my leave from LabSpaces. As much as I've enjoyed blogging over here, the new friends I've made, and the increased exposure, I'm just not sure that my blogging goals are the same as the network's. While I'll certainly continue to write about grants, job searches, and other career-related topics, I've found that most of my heart and writing energy are increasingly focused on my personal life, which just doesn't fit under this collective. I've tried splitting my time between my old blog and this one, but I really prefer to maintain one blog and keep all my posts in one spot. So I'll be moving back to my old blog home at The Tightope, if y'all don't mind updating your blogrolls and readers once again. :)

I wish Brian and the rest of the LabSpaces bloggers the best of luck as they move forward. It sounds like there are some great things soon to be taking place around here, and I can't wait to watch from the outside!

. . . More
Views: 861 | Comments: 13
Last by Lab Mom on Jan 04, 2011, 10:56pm
First - thanks to everyone for the well wishes and kind words in emails, tweets, and comments since my last post. I was at my rock bottom when I wrote it, and your messages have meant soooo much these past days.

As an update - I've been on Zoloft for several days now and am already feeling some positive effects. It seems a fog is starting to lift, and the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel is starting to shine. I even enjoyed some of my weekend with the Monkey, something I haven't been able to honestly say in a long time, if at all. I also started seeing a therapist this morning and really appreciated the chance to talk to someone about all the feelings that have been swirling around in my head. With the continuation of these two therapies, I think I'll start coping with motherhood quite a bit more effectively.

As for the blog - I'll be back to writing fairly soon, although I think I'll be doing most of my blogging on The Tightrope for a little while. Until I'm ready to write about career-related stuff again, I'm not sure I want to be clogging up the LabSpaces network with talk of motherhood and postpartum depre . . . More
Views: 817 | Comments: 17
Last by Cloud on Jan 02, 2011, 11:29pm
I thought lab work would help, and it did for a little while, but then I had to come back home. I thought Christmas would help, but it just caused a lot more stress and made me miss my family and old life even more. I thought getting the Monkey to sleep better would help, but it's obvious this will be a more long-term battle, which I just can't wait to win. I thought getting more sleep would help, but Hubby taking over night feedings so that I can get enough REM sleep hasn't made a dent.

I'm not in the mood to write these days, at least not about career-related stuff, and I don't really care to write about the Monkey much either. I'm not in the mood to do anything, except go back to work and hide from my new job as a mom. It's finally become obvious to me that I'm dealing with postpartum depression - the crying throughout the day, everyday; the inability to sleep without Benedryl; the anxiety about every move I make; the thought that Monkey would be better with any mother besides me; other things that I just can't/don't want to talk about here.

I'm about to start seeing a therapist, as soon as one that I've contacted comes back from their holiday vacation. And Hubby finally took it upon himself to make an appointment with my primary care physician to talk. This was . . . More
Views: 302 | Comments: 3
Last by JaySeeDub on Dec 23, 2010, 7:32pm
My first week back in the lab is officially over, and I'm off to enjoy the holidays with my family. This past week has served as a sort of vacation after several rough weeks at home with Monkey, and I even got some good data to show for it. :) But I'm really looking forward to my son's first Christmas, even if it ends up being a bit more stressful than previous years. There's nothing like spending this time of year with those you love most, and this year has provided more love and merriment than I've ever known before. I hope all my readers are able to find their "merry" this holiday season - no matter what form it happens to come in!

Merry Christmas, and I'll see y'all in 2011!!!

. . . More
Views: 366 | Comments: 4
Last by Dr. O on Dec 23, 2010, 2:01pm
Down time is not good. Down time is when your brain has time to think.

About the things you're not doing right. About the Monkey that is at home trying to figure out life while you're enjoying work. About the fact that Hubby has already taken two car rides today with the Monkey to get him to sleep. About the future car ride(s) and exhausting night that you have to look forward to.

I've avoided down time for two and a half days while at work, and now I'm waiting for an interminably long transfer to finish up. I'm about to start popping Tums to calm my stomach, which started churning the moment I sat down an hour ago.

I need something to do. My current state of mind doesn't do well with down time. Maybe I'll go sterilize something. Or wash dishes. Anything to make my brain stop meandering.

. . . More
Views: 582 | Comments: 14
Last by GMP on Dec 23, 2010, 12:57am
Today is a much better day in the lab than Friday. I cried as I left for work this morning, but started feeling really good once I got in the lab. I've had adult conversations, gotten some serious experiments started for the week, and felt, for the first time in a while, like I'm doing something I'm actually good at. Of course, there's a guilty weight at the pit of my stomach for feeling this way, but I've been able to stay busy enough to (mostly) ignore it.

It hasn't been all shits and giggles, though. I'm finding it incredibly difficult to pump the same volume that Monkey is taking by bottle at home. I've stayed tuned in with Hubby to make sure I match him bottle for bottle, but I just haven't been able to keep up. My milk supply has worked well for Monkey up until now, but pumping just isn't the same. Maybe if I pumped every hour I could do it, but when would I work? I already feel like I'm living on borrowed lab time in between pumping sessions every three hours. I wonder what people would say if I walked around the lab in one of these contraptions.
. . . More
Views: 652 | Comments: 6
Last by Cloud on Dec 20, 2010, 10:39am
Yesterday was my first day back at work, and the first time in almost 6 weeks - correction, 11 months - that I've been away from my little Monkey for more than 30 minutes. And it was almost unbearable leaving him yesterday morning. I've spent the past year wondering how I would balance a family with my hopeful tenure-track career path, but this was the furthest thing from my mind during my morning commute. I cried the entire drive into work, wondering how in the hell I was even going to make it through the day.

But guess what - I made it through just fine. It was a short day, and I had a hard time concentrating, partly because of sleep deprivation, partly because I was wondering how Hubby would manage daddy duty after 4 weeks at work. I did get some work done, though. I sent off two job applications, planned out an experiment I'm conducting next week, and reconnected with a collaborator. It will be a while before I'm back to my old efficiency, but I'm sure I'll eventually get there. In the mean time, I'm taking things one day at a time, ignoring the work-family balance concerns that I just don't have time for right now.

. . . More
Views: 706 | Comments: 7
Last by Comrade Physioprof on Dec 16, 2010, 4:27pm
I've always heard most TT search committees don't bother contacting applicants with rejections, but that wasn't my experience last year. I received formal rejection letters, by snail- or e-mail, for approximately 75% of the applications that I sent out last year, and all but two of the remaining jobs informed me of the rejection when I requested an update in August. A few of the committees even updated me on the status of my application as it moved through the screening process. So it seems that, at least in my field, search committees are pretty forthcoming about TT applicant status. Undoubtedly, this is good information to have as I move forward with this year's search, for better or worse.

Last week, right on time, I received the first rejection letters for my current TT job search. I've received three so far, out of about 20 jobs for which I've applied. While it's disheartening to receive these rejections, I know this means that the search committees are meeting and triaging, and there's a chance that at least some of the committees have moved my application forward through this first screening. Additionally, the current rejection letters seem to be distinct from last year's, which were mostly vague, only stating that they h . . . More
Views: 860 | Comments: 11
Last by Female Computer Scientist on Dec 20, 2010, 7:55pm
Evolutionarily speaking, human babies are very interesting. Because we have such large brains, we're born a lot earlier than most mammals, in terms of development. For instance, when a horse is born, it begins to walk almost immediately. In contrast, human babies need almost a year to reach this milestone. As a result of our early delivery, human babies find adjusting to life outside of the womb very difficult, especially with regards to sleep. All newborns require frequent feedings until their stomachs mature, especially when breast-fed, and wake every 3-4 hours for a meal. On top of which, many newborns experience what's sometimes referred to as the "Fourth Trimester", during which their immature nervous system leads them to cry for several hours at specific times of day (usually in the evening), a behavior referred to as colic. Calming colicky babies involves a variety of soothing techniques - including swaddling, white noise, and swinging - which are usually required for the newborn to find sleep.

Monkey started out doing the sleep thing really well. He quickly transitioned from his bassinet in our room to the crib in his nursery. This was very useful for mom and dad since half of Monkey's sleep time, like most newborns, was spent in noisy, grunting, whi . . . More
Views: 454 | Comments: 14
Last by Dr. O on Dec 13, 2010, 12:18pm
Well, I finally made it back into the lab this week. Not for bench work, but to visit the boss and labmates, talk to a few people about when I'll be back to doing lab work, and pick up some papers for writing a review I've been putting off for months now. The Monkey came with me, of course, and everyone cooed at him. (I know I should learn how to say thank you when people tell me how cute he is, but I can't help but say "I know". What can I say, I'm a proud mama!)

It was a short visit, and I couldn't spend more than a few seconds in the actual lab since I had the Monkey with me. I had also looked forward to some lab talk with my science peeps, but, maybe expectedly, it all ended up being baby talk. It was nice to have face-to-face conversations, even if they were dominated by diapers, feedings, naps, and other baby-related stuff. I'm slowly accepting that these are the center of my life, for now at least. I've tried working on science these past couple of weeks, but I can't seem to get much work done in the hour-long snippets that the Monkey and household chores allow. Maybe it's for the best, but I can't help but feel quite a bit of guilt about it all. Even this blog has been taken over by baby talk, and my post frequency has slowed down a bit. With the recent grumblings . . . More
Views: 231 | Comments: 4
Last by Lab Mom on Dec 14, 2010, 9:51pm
Well, with a blog meme as straightforward as this one from DrugMonkey, there's just no reason to delay writing a blog post any longer. The objective of this meme - post the first sentence from the first post each month of the past year. This exercise ended up being quite fun, and revealed how much of a roller coster ride the past year of my life has been. Beginning with recovering from a miscarriage, the year continued on with a revived blog, triaged grant, failed job search, a second and more successful pregnancy, a new blogging home, rejuvenated job search, resubmitted grant with a decent score, and, finally, a new baby! So, according to the newest and hottest blogosphere meme, here's the past 12 months of Dr. O's life from The Tightrope and here on LabSpaces - summarized in 12 sentences:

January: So I am determined to keep my resolution, even if I got a slow start: keep this blog up and running!!

February: So my head is officially about to explode.

. . . More
Views: 612 | Comments: 9
Last by becca on Dec 05, 2010, 12:03pm
Dear committee head,

I know I've already mentioned this, like, 10 gazillion times, but, in case you didn't catch it, I won't be at next week's meeting because I'M ON MATERNITY LEAVE!! I made it abundantly clear these past few months that I would not be doing any committee work from November to March - so I could focus on lab work the last month of my pregnancy, and make sure my head is on straight after coming back to work before adding on extra duties. We had this discussion at our first meeting this summer, and again at every subsequent meeting (since you couldn't remember then either). I again reiterated my plans when I took time off because of high blood pressure in October. To make sure this wouldn't be a problem, I passed on all the information, email correspondence, survey information, etc from my last event well before my due date, again impressing my coming absence. Maybe the fact that my belly was growing larger and my gait was turning to more of a waddle was lost on you. Or maybe I'm just that vital of a person to what you're trying to accomplish that you're hoping I'll suddenly be able to drop my child off at day care 5 weeks early. Otherwise, you certainly wouldn't be bugging me right now, wondering if I would be at next week's meeting and requesting emails th . . . More
Views: 526 | Comments: 14
Last by Dr. O on Dec 08, 2010, 4:03pm
This was originally posted on the Tightrope a little over a week ago, but I was asked by a few readers to post pictures over here on this blog. So here's the Monkey's arrival story, with his birth and coming-home pictures. Fair warning - there may be a little TMI for a few of you. ;-)

So many of you have probably already heard the news, either through Twitter or my LabSpaces blog, but our little Monkey has finally arrived!! The Monkey was born Monday afternoon, weighing in at just under 6 pounds and measuring almost 20 inches long - a skinny but very handsome boy:

I evidently went into labor on Saturday evening, but I didn't realize it due to the fact that the contractions were coming and going somewhat irregularly. I finally called my OB on Sunday morning due to the pain and inability to sleep - she informed me that I should rest up since I'd probably be heading to the hospital that evening. I totally didn't believe her, and instead went about my day doing laundry, cleaning up around the condo, and getting my last few job applications sent off (thank goodness on this last one). By 1am Monday morning, my contractions were 5-7 minutes apart, and it finally occurred to me that I might actuall . . . More
Views: 388 | Comments: 9
Last by Prabodh Kandala on Nov 24, 2010, 1:29am
Things are getting better. Partly because my hormonal roller coaster is leveling off a bit. Partly because the Monkey is allowing us to sleep more (a whopping 7 hours last night, piecemeal of course, but with a nice 3 hour block in the middle of the night). And partly because I'm taking back what I consider normal. Which brings me to the title of this post: "How to do it all". Notice it doesn't say "How to do it all well" - I'm not making strides to be a domestic, laboratory or blogging goddess (even Isis admits you can't whack all the moles). I'm just looking to return to my old familiar self, for at least an hour or so a day. While I can't do experiments (my northern will have to wait until the week before Christmas when Hubby takes more annual leave), there's plenty of work that can be done from home in between feedings and laundry loads. On the plate for this week:

1. Yesterday, I spent some time browsing the job search engines and identified two more positions for which I'm preparing applications, bringing my total number of TT job applications to 22.

2. Today, I'm going through the summary statement for my . . . More
Views: 422 | Comments: 5
Last by Arlenna on Nov 22, 2010, 8:57pm
Alright, it's official. I am not cut out to be a stay-at-home mom. Yeah, I already knew this, but you never really know it until you try it out for a while. I'm about to go absolutely bat-shit stir-crazy and am counting the days until I head back to work. Of course, I'm still in the midst of my physical recovery, which became strikingly obvious during my half-mile walk with Hubby and the Monkey this afternoon. Plus, we're still trying to get the hang of our new lack-of sleep schedule that Monkey is orchestrating. In spite of this exhaustion, I'm already planning out experiments for my return the lab. I'm also looking forward to a quick work trip after Thanksgiving to pick up my maternity leave work pile, which I put together the week before going into labor. ("Nesting" for a lab-workaholic evidently manifests itself as organizing lab notebooks, manuscripts, and data for the home office.)

More than anything, though, I'm looking forward to experiencing normalcy again. Not that I don't enjoy motherhood - I'm absolutely in love with the Monkey and couldn't be happier to have him here. But going from the intense intellectual stimulation of my previous life to the mundane chores of cooking, cleaning, and laundry (and OMG there's so much laundry), mixed in with diaper changes an . . . More
Views: 1076 | Comments: 22
Last by Brian Krueger, PhD on Nov 13, 2010, 9:29am
Yay!!! My bribe worked, and there were just enough donors to get all my baby belly pics up on this post! Here now, the complete series of baby belly pics from my pregnancy with the Little Monkey, starting at 11 weeks and ending at 37 weeks, just two days before the Monkey made his debut:

11 weeks - anonymous donor, $50

14 weeks - anonymous donor, $25

16 weeks - Nikkilina, $25

20 and 23 weeks - anonymous donor, $50

26 weeks - courtesy of Genomic Repairman, $50

29 weeks - anonymous donor, $50

31 weeks - Becca, $75

34 weeks - Disgruntled Julie, $75

37 weeks - JadeEd in honor of JanedeLartigue, $33

Thanks so much to all the donors who gave to these projects to make education a better experience for so many young students in this country; y'all are an inspiration . . . More
Views: 549 | Comments: 22
Last by Alyssa on Nov 14, 2010, 9:15pm
It's not related to science careers or anything else within the realm of this blog, but I wanted to make the announcement for my readers over here at LabSpaces anyways. (And it's my blog so go suck an egg if you don't like it ;) So, for all those who missed the news on Twitter earlier this week, our little Monkey was born Monday afternoon! He's three weeks early and a bit skinny, but he's still quite the looker! We just got home from the hospital this afternoon, and the Monkey seems to be adjusting to life at home pretty decently. Aside from a severe lack of sleep, Mom and Dad are doing well too. I'll be writing a more detailed post on The Tightrope later this week, when I find some energy and time in between sleep, feedings, and diapers. Until then, thanks to all of the well-wishes and congrats on Twitter this past week - they were very, very much appreciated!!!!!

. . . More
Views: 802 | Comments: 6
Last by NatC on Nov 09, 2010, 7:36pm
A new post by Ambivalent Academic caught my eye this morning, posing many of the familiar questions that I and other postdocs in the blogosphere often ask ourselves:

However, I am thinking about the what ifs…What if I don’t get this NRSA, and what if PI still doesn’t have an R01? Can he still support me? Will he still support me? What if he can’t/won’t? What if I end up unemployed? How long will it take me to find another position? Should I start looking now, just in case? Would that be a faux pas? Should I look outside of academia? What if I do and I get offered a position? Do I want to leave academia? Do I really want to stay? What if this is the only job I could ever be happy at? What if I choose to do something else for a while and find that I hate it and can’t break back into academic research? What if I don’t take that risk, and stay in academia, and end up living hand-to-mouth for the rest of my life? What if my life/job/whatever is meaningless?

As I near the end of my postdoc (and plan to head off to only God knows where - hopefully a TT position), I realize that a postdoc is, more than anything, a time and place for young scientists to come of age - kind of . . . More
Views: 727 | Comments: 4
Last by Dr Becca, Ph.D. on Oct 28, 2010, 10:03pm
Alright, my DonorsChoose page, which has been up for a while now, is looking a little sad. Not that I'm complaining - almost all the projects I've supported have been funded, after all. (We do still need to buy some poster boards for a science fair, and I just added iPads for Students with Autism to my giving page!) But this is a competition, I've only gotten one donation through my page, and I'm feeling a little inconsequential right now. :( I didn't think I'd have to resort to this, but it's for the children (and my pride), so I think a bribe is in order...

Hubby and I have been documenting my pregnancy with profile shots of my belly taken every few weeks. So, anytime I get a donation of at least $10 made to my DonorsChoose page, I will post one of these shots. With my pseudonym, you can probably imagine that the belly will not have a face attached. Also, the belly will be covered in all the pics; sorry, but no bare belly shots will be shown on this blog. :P I'll start off with my 11 week photo, and go all the way to this coming week's 36 week photo, a total of 10 belly shots - if there are enough donations to get us there.

So go . . . More
Views: 2200 | Comments: 22
Last by Odyssey on Oct 29, 2010, 1:05pm
So I thought I'd provide a quick update on my priority score dilemma, for any one who's interested. I got a lot of great advice, and several PIs out there shared their opinions and personal experience regarding their K grant scores. Thanks to all of you!

My solution (for better or worse, since the TT job apps have all made it out the internet door):

1. My cover letter has always briefly mentioned my application for a career development grant. While I didn't explicitly state the score in the letter, I did add in that it received a competitive score.

2. My CV, under "Grants and Awards", has "Pending NIAID Career Development Award, Received a Priority Score of 31" listed first, so it should be obvious to anyone thumbing through (unless they go straight to the back page to look at my publications).

3. My research statement, which has always broken up my future plans into current and potential grant applications, has the score listed as well. The K grant project now reads something like this: "Determine how to prevent the spread of infectious disease (included in an NIAID Career Development Award that received a priority score of 31)"

So the search committees have . . . More
Views: 273 | Comments: 2
Last by Dr. O on Oct 28, 2010, 10:24am
Wow, it seems that all of the projects I was supporting have been funded: Oh! Rats!, Math, Writing, and Art!, and Don't be a Twit all hit their goals this past week!!! So thanks to everyone who gave, through my site or someone else's, and enriched the education of these students!!

But, of course, there's always more that can be done, and I've added two new projects to my Donor Page. The first of these is Budding Scientists Need I really need to say more? I still remember the first time I got to look into a microscope at age 9. The schools I went to didn't have them, though, and my parents finally gave me my own after a few months of begging. This project originates from an elementary school in Killeen, Texas, where science education is not always given its fair due, and not all the p . . . More
Views: 456 | Comments: 9
Last by Will on Oct 28, 2010, 7:29pm
There's good news in my little world - I've been given the go-ahead by my docs to do some lab work!! I still have to take it easy and "listen to my body", but the BP, while still high, is back to acceptable levels, and every other test the docs have done is coming up normal. So, for now, I'm able to continue being a scientist, so long as I don't overdo it and the BP stays where it was this morning. Even better, all plans for a natural childbirth with no induction (ie, waiting for when the Monkey decides it's time to show up) are back on...which I really want more than anything.

This past week, however, got me thinking about the guilt many of us bloggers have written about from time to time, especially the women bloggers. Not that men don't experience guilt, but it seems that work/family-related guilt hits female scientists especially hard. Sitting at home last week was torturous. Not just because I wanted to be doing experiments (and there's always one more experiment that you really want to do), and certainly not because I wanted to ignore my body or baby. No, more than anything, the guilt came from feeling like I was somehow cheating on work. I've been killing myself for the past several months to try and "make up" for the inevitab . . . More
Views: 3346 | Comments: 10
Last by expat on Oct 27, 2010, 11:34am
So I finally have it - the much-anticipated score on my K grant - and I have no idea what to think. It's a 31 - not a great score, but certainly fundable some years at certain institutes. Unfortunately, last year's payline for this specific grant mechanism at my particular institute was a 26, so I'm not holding my breath. The council meeting, where decisions are made, doesn't take place until I'm left with the wait-and-see plan for now.

My current predicament - I have several job applications due before the council meeting, a couple of which require some sort of funding for consideration. Should I include this score in the cover letters for these job applications? I don't have a good feel for how impressive/pathetic this will look, but I don't want to pass up including a potential "positive" in my applications. It's a bitch to get noticed by search committees these days. I'm waiting to hear back from the boss man on his opinion, but I certainly would appreciate the thoughts of others out there as well...

. . . More
Views: 1667 | Comments: 29
Last by Dr. O on Oct 28, 2010, 11:09am
Okay, so I've never minded working from home before, especially when I can't get a damn thing done in the lab and need some peace and quiet. I also love the local downtown bookstore, which feels more like an old college library, for grant- and paper-writing. But there's a difference between hiding out to get some much-needed writing done, and being told, rather unexpectedly, that you have to work from home. Well, as of this afternoon, I am being "forced" to work from home, and I've decided that it sucks.

A few of you may know from my tweets on Friday that the docs are concerned about my blood pressure, which suddenly decided to skyrocket this past week (145/92 mm Hg on Friday). It's freaked me out quite a bit, since my blood pressure has always been relatively low (~105/60 mm Hg) and has been even lower throughout most of this pregnancy. So I spent the weekend laying on my side with my feet elevated, doing my best to relax, evidently to no avail - I was still up close to the danger levels this morning. The docs are now calling my "condition" gestational hypertension, since none of the other symptoms of preeclampsia (hemolysis, elevated liver enzymes, low platelets, and proteinuria) have shown up yet. Hubby and I are still trying to digest what all . . . More
Views: 595 | Comments: 30
Last by Namnezia on Oct 19, 2010, 4:23pm
I've spent the bulk of this past week editing different drafts for a couple of labmates, and it's got me thinking about the practice of editing. I actually enjoy editing quite a bit, especially when I'm not completely overwhelmed by benchwork or my own writing commitments. Editing after all is a kind of teaching, which I love. And, as with teaching, editing is an art. You have to know when to rework an awkward sentence yourself, and when it's best to show restraint. Knowing the difference requires you know your audience (the writer) and their audience (journal/committee/grant reviewer). More than anything, editing should be a learning experience for both the writer and the editor, no matter the level of either player. Even great writers can improve how they express themselves, and young editors can increase both their ability to read critically and communicate effectively throughout the editing process.

So how do you accomplish all of this when editing? Obviously, I don't have all the answers, but I do have some general guidelines I try to follow. The biggest one - remembering that each writer has their own style, and editing shouldn't be confused with making someone's writing style fit your own tastes. This is especially important when dealing with younger writers, who a . . . More
Views: 394 | Comments: 5
Last by Dr. O on Oct 13, 2010, 2:11pm
It's scary times for this researcher. My K grant resubmission gets reviewed tomorrow. The K grant that could move me into the short-list-for-an-interview pile by job search committees. The K grant that could strengthen my negotiations for a TT faculty position. The K grant that could give me money to start my lab. That K grant. And my obsession with eRA commons (where one goes to find out how their grant is reviewed) has already gone into overdrive.

Not that there's anything I can glean from the commons website right now - I mean, the grant hasn't even been reviewed yet. Yet I'm still able to find plenty of information over there on which to obsess. The list of reviewers on my study section, for instance - there are notable differences from the one that reviewed my first submission (obviously). What do these differences mean??? And then there's the googling of paylines for the K grant mechanism at my institute. What's a good impact score going to be? Not that anybody really knows, since the K grant paylines have yet to be determined. The council meeting date isn't even until January, 2011. Is that stopping me? Of course not. I can still look at last year's cutoff, as well as peruse the current blogosphere rumor mill.

This obsession will undoubtedly steal my mind's . . . More
Views: 267 | Comments: 0
Yesterday officially kicked off the Science Bloggers for Students Challenge at DonorsChoose. What is DonorsChoose, you ask? Simply put, it's an organization that allows school teachers to request funds for programs they'd like to implement in their classroom. With the economy in its most dire state since I can remember, budget cuts have led to more and more educational programs being cut. Who suffers? The kids of course!! DonorsChoose provides a way for us, the general public (and scientists!), to directly affect the ability of kids to learn in the classroom. As a huge proponent of education, I happen to think this is a pretty friggin' awesome idea.

So what's our role in all of this? Well, the science blogging community has gotten together to support this rather awesome idea (tainted with a friendly competitive edge, of course ;-). You, as a science blog reader/lurker/commenter, can visit our giving pages and choose from multiple projects we've selected as our "favorites". I personally have chosen three projects to support, all listed on my giving page, which can be accessed from my blog anytime via . . . More
Views: 483 | Comments: 8
Last by Dr. O on Oct 11, 2010, 1:15pm
I'm seriously planning to get back to my career-focused blogging before tooooo long; I even have an email from a (patient) reader that I've been meaning to address. But it's been a very overwhelming past couple of weeks, and I haven't had time to gather very meaningful thoughts into one post. In the meantime, I've experienced a bit of pregnancy-related hilarity that I thought I'd share. Let's just say I'm learning new ways to have quite a bit of fun at work, at the expense of others of course.

For one, it's evidently a bad idea for a preggo to yell "oh shit" or "ouch" in the lab. A year ago, these tantrums may have garnered a quick look-see, just in case the mishap required help cleaning up (or just some good ol' pointing and laughing). These days, a similar outburst leads to bunch of easily-excitable lab mates running to my bench to make sure I'm not on the floor having a baby.

Speaking of things you shouldn't say while pregnant... I work at a pretty huge medical campus, complete with two hospitals that both have yummy meal options in their cafeterias. It's not all that uncommon for one of us to run over there for lunch, or to pick up prescriptions (it's rather nice having a pharmacy at work). I learned this week, however, the phrase "I'm heading over to the ho . . . More
Views: 535 | Comments: 21
Last by JanedeLartigue on Oct 07, 2010, 12:49pm
This month's LabSpaces theme is "What would I be doing if I weren't doing this?", and boy, did I have some interesting alternatives.You see - in high school, I was involved in just about everything - International Baccalaureate program, Health Occupations Students of America, student council, Beta Club and NHS, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, women's choir, theatre, piano, and dance/drill team officer. Although completely overwhelming at times, this multi-dimensional involvement was wonderful, and it kept my interests peaked into way more than science. As you may have noticed from the list, I had a severe bent towards the performing arts, especially dancing. This passion started at a young age, and I still have a bit of the melodrama bug in me. So the first alternate career I'll introduce is...

(drumroll please)

Broadway Performer!** Yup, that's right. Dr. O once gave some serious thought to heading off in a completely different direction after high school. The likely path untaken - skip university, a microbiology degree, grad school, and instead try out for the world-famous . . . More
Views: 2011 | Comments: 13
Last by biochem belle on Oct 09, 2010, 2:34pm
Wow, where exactly did my time, energy, and sanity go? With everything going on in the lab and at home, I'm having a terribly difficult time keeping this blog going; I can only imagine how crazy things will get in the coming months. I'm a big fan of work-life balance, but I can't seem to focus on either one these days. When I'm working on job applications, I find myself thinking about the journal club I have to put together. So I switch to working on the journal club, then the upcoming interviews for the little Monkey's pediatrician take over. And this doesn't even begin to cover the time I spent analyzing data earlier in the week, or the follow-up studies I need to begin working on Monday morning. I start working on anything, and everything ends up spinning in my head until I feel like my brain has been thrown in a blender:

Figure 1. Seriously, this came right up when I Googled "blender brain"...gotta love the internets

In the midst of this vortex, I've found myself more dependent than ever on my organizational skillz; Hubby even joked this morning that I'm starting to make lists of my to-do lists. It's true - my organizational tendencies are in hyperdrive right now, and I don't know what I'd do w . . . More
Views: 831 | Comments: 16
Last by JanedeLartigue on Oct 06, 2010, 5:51pm
I recently published this post on the Tightrope, but I think it kind of fits over here too. Besides, a little bit of light-hearted self-deprecation in the midst of a nauseous job search is always welcome, IMHO.

It seems I have all the energy in the world these days, as well as loads of lab work to put this energy towards. However, there are some pregnancy-related changes that are making my work, stoichiometrically speaking, a bit challenging.

Take this huge belly that I'm sporting: as cute as it is (and it really is cute), it's also becoming quite the laboratory hazard. It seems that, because of my shorter stature, the Little Monkey is just growing straight forward. The result? A belly that is continually running into equipment and knocking things over. Don't even get me started on how long it takes to pick something up when I drop it, and I do a lot of dropping while working at the bench. Of course, if I don't need it, then it remains on the floor; the poor janitor must love cleaning up the mess of toothpicks, tips, tubes, gloves, and kimwipes from around my bench by the end of the day. I'm starting to think I need one of these:

Figure 1. The Long Arm Grabber, availa . . . More
Views: 489 | Comments: 9
Last by Thomas Joseph on Sep 21, 2010, 10:34am
A short while ago, Microbiologist XX lamented about how little she gets to use her favorite science tool - a microscope. As a fellow microbiologist, I sympathized with her. Until a few weeks ago, it had been years since I peeked at my bugs under one of these amazing little guys. Some recent data, however, prompted the need for a gram stain, which I haven't performed since I was an undergraduate (some 12 years ago). After scanning a protocol online, I thought "no problem". I had forgotten how much of an art this protocol was when I first learned it, though, and it took several hours and attempts to finally get an answer I could trust.

This experience got me wondering, am I really still a microbiologist? I spend most of these days doing molecular biology, lately even dabbling into some biochemistry (which is really quite fun, considering my fear of chemistry). When doing genetics, I feel a bit more like a microbiologist (streaking and patching bacteria out on plates day after day can do that), but genetics is more of a means to an end for me. This may seem like a stupid question, but it's brought up some issues for what seems to be the focu . . . More
Views: 910 | Comments: 17
Last by Dr. O on Sep 21, 2010, 2:33pm
So there's a new PI around these parts, and, at first glance, he seems to have a pretty sweet operation running. He's a young, strapping assistant professor with a brilliant project, and he started this position with a nice little chunk of NIH change in his pocket. The other thing going for him? He poached who had to be the best technician these folks have seen in a long time as soon as he started. To all who were watching, it appeared this n00bie prof had it made in the shade. Productivity from the technician has been phenomenal, and the NIH gravy train has allowed him to avoid dipping into the oh-so-precious start-up funds this past year.

But something seems to be going off the track these days. While his technician is working 14-hour days to complete experiments on which he has insisted, he seems to be working, well, not quite as much. IMHO, his less-than ideal work hours are completely understandable, for reasons that I won't go into here. But it seems that the graduate students in his lab aren't getting that much done fact, it appears his technician is being made to pick up their slack, ensuring the data machine continues to hum. The result? A very bitter technician with a lot of talent, potentially (and understandably) thinki . . . More
Views: 883 | Comments: 8
Last by microbiologist xx on Sep 26, 2010, 8:33am
I've been reading a ton of children's books lately to the Little Monkey and need to get some of this energy out of my system. So, if you'll allow me some literary freedom here, here's the children's book version of my new magical lab bench. Oh, and I'd love it if there's a brilliant artist out there that can illustrate my fabulous new children's book. :)

Once upon a time, there was a Little Lab Bench that loved science. Little Lab Bench was built for research, and he longed for the day that a young scientist would use him for experiments.

But Little Lab Bench was very sad. Since the day he had been built, he had been ignored. You see, the young grad student who was assigned to Little Lab Bench did not do very many experiments. As the years passed, Little Lab Bench remained neglected.

From time to time the young grad student would roam over to Little Lab Bench and start what appeared to be a fascinating experiment. Sometimes, the young grad student would even get some really interesting data. But the young grad student never understood how good the data was that Little Lab Bench was providing.

Little Lab Bench was just sure brilliant science could happen with his help. "I have so much good mojo to offer," said Little Lab Bench. "I just . . . More
Views: 725 | Comments: 9
Last by Dr. O on Sep 08, 2010, 2:19pm
We're all writing about "What I wish I knew before..." today at LabSpaces, or at least some of us are. I, on the other hand, am celebrating the naive ignorance of my former self. Why? 'Cuz sometimes in life, it's worth jumping in blind and full of optimism.

For all of those that don't know, I'm a bit of a planner...okay, so "controlling, Type A, organizing, OCD planner" might be a more apt description. I had my life planned out to a "T" in high school - go to college, get accepted into med school, become an amazing pediatric oncologist, achieve world domination, then, eventually, find a husband and have three kids.

After a couple of years in college and some clinical rotations at a local hospital, though, I realized I wasn't really into the whole physician thing. I liked science, especially biomedical stuff, and I liked my lab courses. I also really liked kids (hence the pediatric angle). But an afternoon job at a nursery school taught me that I hated their least some of them. I also started wondering if I really wanted to spend my days around kids who were, or had a good chance of, dying from cancer, and it all sounded so very depressing to me. So onto Plan B...

...which was graduate school. As hard as I . . . More
Views: 485 | Comments: 3
Last by biochem belle on Sep 05, 2010, 4:50pm
Wow...can you tell it's September? It's been a busy week for many of us here on LabSpaces, what with school starting back up and undergrad/new grad students pouring back onto campus. In the midst of this upheaval from our relatively relaxing summer lab lives, Genomic Repairman recounts his philosophy on mentoring n00bie grad students. GR also reminded new PIs to make sure they fully understand their tenure requirements, while Dr. Becca advised PIs to get a #$@&ing website!

Some of the LabSpace bloggers had more open-ended thoughts to share: GertyZ wondered how ambitious is too ambitious when grant writing (also check out the follow-up post by Comrade PhysioProf). And our dear Overlord (aka Brian Krueger) pondered the viability of . . . More
Views: 873 | Comments: 9
Last by Dr. O on Aug 29, 2010, 10:13am
A third-year grad student in our lab recently submitted her first grant proposal. Watching her struggle through this process in an impossibly short amount of time (one month) has got me thinking about how little students are taught about grant-writing, especially with regards to how long writing a good grant actually takes. So for any of you [soon-to-be] first-time grant-writers out there, let me fill you in: writing a grant is hard work, and it takes a lot of time. Just ask any of the profs in your department, or the tenured and TT writers out here in the blogosphere. I know of no senior professor that writes a big* grant in less than a month, and junior profs, postdocs, graduate students, and undergraduates need increasingly more time and help to construct a fund-able proposal. My latest K grant re-submission was actually begun almost three months prior to the due date, and I needed almost every minute of it. But why does it take so much time when you (supposedly) know your science so well? Here are just a few reasons:

1. Grant-writing is a process. I'm a fairly good writer; not as good as some (my mentor is amazing), but I've read enough blogs/grants/papers to know I'm pretty good. There's a difference, though, between being a good writer and a good grant writer. Grant- . . . More
Views: 1404 | Comments: 5
Last by Dr. O on Aug 24, 2010, 8:16am
It's been a crappy few weeks in my world, culminating in an absolutely terrible day at work, which then led to a doctor's appointment, and finally talking Hubby into letting me watch Grease with him on the couch tonight. (Like I said, it was a really bad day.) I refuse to get into that stuff here, since I see this as more of a science/career-focused blog. Plus, I really need to move on from the whole mess, and what better way to calm my nerves than writing about a topic as innocuous as, say, writing? Of course, there are those who might disagree with me, but I find writing very soothing. It refocuses me, gets me excited about that which I'm writing, and leads me into a very Zen-like state. I never worry about how things sound as I start writing - I just type. A sort of keyboard diarrhea inevitably ensues, but I clean it up later. And the whole process ends up being very therapeutic. So what better way to get past this horrid day than writing about writing?

Of course, I don't want to just write about writing per se; I have a bit of a bone to pick on the subject. Over the past year, I've heard a number of grad students talk about gettin . . . More
Views: 1034 | Comments: 2
Last by microbiologist xx on Aug 25, 2010, 7:27pm
It seemed as though everything came crashing down at once - ain't that just the way things always go - so I've taken a bit of an unplanned blogging hiatus for the past week and a half. There's been little time for reflection in the midst of it all - I just kept rolling, knowing at some point I'd find time to come up for air. And this morning has given me just the space I need to organize my thoughts on recent events. Perhaps the biggest of these was a long-overdue talk with my mentor about maternity leave/job search/long term career plans - the what the hell am I still doing here and when have I overstayed my welcome? talk. I was nervous as hell about this talk, and we've both been busy with meetings and grant-writing over the summer, so it kept getting pushed to the back-burner. But I'm almost in my third trimester now, job postings for the coming year are cropping up, and it was time to finally stop putting the damn thing off.

Long story short - it went very, very well. In case you haven't been following my dwindling lab saga over on th . . . More
Views: 1340 | Comments: 7
Last by Beth D. on Aug 17, 2010, 1:43pm
Okay, so I was all set to go with another string of gripes for my blog post today (yeah, it's getting old for me, too). But then I saw this post from Arlenna at Chemical BiLOLogy...and my mood was immediately lifted. It's her blog question for Nobel Prize winner Harry Kroto, "who originally discovered the strange but fascinating Buckyball structure of carbon (C60, aka fullerene)." I'll go no more into this aspect of her piece, because, well, I sucked at organic chemistry...I mean I really sucked at it. For this same reason, though, I am absolutely fascinated with the topic of her question - these guys, called NanoPutians, or NanoKids:

Defined by Wikipedia, NanoPutians "are a series of organic molecules whose structural formulae appear human". Evidently, this guy James Tour in 2003 got worried about his daughter's lack of interest in science, in particular chemistry. As an organic chemist specializing in nanotechnology, he decided to do something about it - and now we have these little guys. . . . More
Views: 798 | Comments: 5
Last by Evie on Aug 11, 2010, 8:09am
Samia at 49 percent is hosting a zomg grad skool carnival!!!1 this month to celebrate all the incoming graduate students starting their studies, and she's asked us "old-timers" to contribute submissions about our experience in graduate school. I must admit, my entry into graduate school some 10 years ago was under odd circumstances. I was working part time as an administrative assistant for an engineering firm (and hated my job) while I was finishing up my BS in microbiology, and I had no idea what to do with the degree I was about to be given. So I started applying to graduate schools on a whim. I never did research as an undergrad, just a couple of internships at the health department, and, as the rejections started pouring in, I began to think I was going to be stuck teaching high school (which may not have been all that bad, but I really wanted to know if there was something else out there...) And then it happened - one interview, which went well enough to get me in to one pretty good PhD program.

This isn't how most people get into graduate school these days - this year's fresh crop of PhD students has plenty of research experience and at least some . . . More
Views: 517 | Comments: 3
Last by microbiologist xx on Aug 25, 2010, 7:21pm
Dear Universe,

I understand that, since I got pregnant, my heart hasn't been 110% into my science, but I've still worked mighty hard to keep up my end of the deal. I've presented at meetings, even in the midst of bronchitis. I've spent 9-10 hour days in the lab, squeezing in calls to childcare facilities and pediatricians. I'm currently pushing forward on two different projects - one for a grant and one for an all-but-ready-to-go publication, and have more on the back burner in case these fall through. I'm keeping up with my commitments to the two committees I serve on. I'm trying my best here to figure out how to squeeze 30 hours of work and life responsibility into a 24-hour day. I plan ahead, make to-do lists, and refuse to over-commit. So why in the hell are you screwing with me?

Is it absolutely necessary for the $50K piece of equipment that our department owns to be broken down? And why have we not hired somebody to fix it yet? And why don't we have a service contract on something that is worth more than twice what my insured, warrantied new car is worth? Is it not enough that I've spent hours, days and sometimes weeks fixing this damn piece of equipment in the past? And now I have a shit ton of work to do on it, a . . . More
Views: 347 | Comments: 0
Hubby and I are heading off for a day trip, so not much time to post today. Instead, I offer up this link to a post that Professor in Training just put up on what to do as a new TT faculty member. Enjoy!

***Update: PLS is also writing on this topic...check out his post on what not to do! . . . More
Views: 388 | Comments: 1
Last by Alyssa on Aug 07, 2010, 8:56am
Jason Goldman of The Thoughtful Animal tagged me last night in the newest meme making its way around the blogosphere. What does this mean? Well, I have to fill the following two requests:

1. Sum up your blogging motivation, philosophy and experience in exactly 10 words.

2. Tag 10 other blogs to perpetuate the meme.

Sounds simple enough, right? Well, Hubby and I were hunting for childcare facilities all morning (blog post coming soon on my personal blog), and I've had a hard time focusing on science or blogging since. But I see others are already stepping up, and I don't want to get stuck with the bad-luck-for-7-years target if I'm the last to get to it. So here goes, and hopefully it lives up to the tag!

Motivation, philosophy and experience (I cheated a bit here and used links...oh well):
Ignorance got me in the game and hindsight is twenty-twenty.

Ten blogs tagged to perpetuate the meme (and I'm trying . . . More
Views: 790 | Comments: 7
Last by Evie on Aug 06, 2010, 7:08pm
I love my job as a scientist. I love that my job varies from day to day. I love that I get to discover things that nobody else knows on a [somewhat] regular basis. More than anything, I love the relaxed atmosphere found in many laboratories...the joking around, Nerf Ball and water-syringe fights, autoclave bag races, and other useful methods of stress relief can make an awful day at the bench more bearable. It's a far cry from the administrative assistant job in a stuffy office (yawn) I had as an undergrad, and I'm thankful for it every time our lab gets a bit goofy on a Friday afternoon.

However, there are times when I wonder if scientists have totally abolished the idea of professionalism. Over the last couple of months, I've heard disturbing stories of inappropriate questions on job interviews, overt sexist behavior from PI's toward their students, and afternoon shot contests in the lab. There's no doubt that the looseness of the lab environment is a welcome distraction, and dare I say necessary, in our high-stress careers. But a line that shouldn't be crossed still exists...or at least it should.

Even as scientists, there are some g . . . More
Views: 855 | Comments: 9
Last by styleygeek on Aug 12, 2010, 12:47am
"You can't turn down a job that hasn't been offered."

I've heard this statement a gazillion times during my tenure-track job search, and, for the most part, I agree with its sentiment. After a fruitless year on the market, it's clear that I can't be too picky about the jobs for which I apply right now. As a result, I've started applying for positions that aren't completely ideal, in that the institution 1) might not be able to provide the start-up package of my dreams, 2) won't have the kinds of collaborators I've imagined working with, and/or 3) doesn't carry the same prestige that other big Us would. These are all things that I can live without, to a certain degree, and my application portfolio has reflected this.

However, there are some things I just can't live without; with a baby on the way, one of these is a happily-employed husband. Hubby makes much more money than I doing a job he loves, yet he's willing to leave his home and jeopardize his career for me. As a compromise, I've granted him full veto power over any job I'm interested in. If he looks at the destination and finds that he will have a difficult time finding gainful employment, I don't apply...and that's that. We can't afford to have one of us out of work for a year or longer, especially with a ba . . . More
Views: 675 | Comments: 9
Last by Prof-like Substance on Aug 02, 2010, 11:42am
Wow, I actually did it - I've officially made the move from Blogger anonymity to a bona fide science blogging community! I'm so excited to join some of my favorite bloggers over here at LabSpaces, and I look forward to getting to know the rest of the LabSpaces family. For those who have been reading my Tightrope blog on Blogger, thanks for following me over here to my new home! For those of you who don't know me, an introduction:

I'm a 4th-year microbiology postdoc at a major research university, and I've been on the tenure-track job market for about a year now. This past year has been both thrilling and frustrating at times, provided plenty of emotional highs and lows, and tested my will to pursue this career track. My husband and I are also preparing for a new addition to our family, a baby boy due at Thanksgiving, and I'm nervously readying myself for the challenge of balancing parenting with an academic career.

For somebody who isn't too fond of change, I'm undergoing a decent-sized one with this new blog. But I've enjoyed following the bloggers that have recently moved over here and consider it an honor to join the LabSpaces family. To ease my transition, I . . . More