January 5, 2012
The Professor guy in Congo really didn’t seem too broken up about his postdoc getting ripped apart by beasts. People complain about maniacal slave driver bosses like MooMing Poo and Scott Kern but c’mon…could be worse.
July 22, 2011
This is fantastic.
…CSR is piloting a new program that we call the early career reviewer, where we will take complete novice reviewers, people who have not reviewed for NIH before, very early in their career, probably new investigators.
May 11, 2011
GMP is raging.
I am in a physical science field where journal publications are the most important, and many (many!) faculty have the criterion of 3 journal publications, preferably from the dissertation work, as necessary for graduation. I was quite peeved when I realized that this student would graduate with zero papers
ok. peeved. Why?
I asked the student if there was a reason that he was graduating without a single journal paper; if there was a reason that he must be graduating now and not in, say, a year?…He said it’s because his wife and he had been living apart for some months and he also happened to find a job there. I almost blew my top off
Look. We’re already in a bad place here, GMP.
April 20, 2011
The notion that 30 minutes of sustained writing is “madwriting” as if it is some sort of miracle of concentration and productivity is fascinating.
If you had asked me before a day or two ago what I considered highly focused and concentrated writing, I would have said something around about 3-4 hour blocks. If I can get those in, I see some serious progress made on manuscripts or grant applications. Or animal use protocols, or biohazards protocols, or chemical hazards protocols.
And when I’m trying to hit a grant deadline, I’m going to need to put in several of these, anywhere from 5 to 10….and that’s when the writing is going well. Plus, I’ve been doing this for awhile so it isn’t exactly novel behavior…
Writing my dissertation? I was putting in 3-4 hour blocks of time one to two times per day for weeks. That was #madwriting*.
30 minute writing sprints?
Well, I suppose it is very good practice for 4pm on a grant deadline day when the admin says “Where’s the Abstract, Statement of Public Health Relevance and did you update the personal statement on your Biosketch?”
*there were circumstances. there usually are…
The Twitter Phenomenon of #madwriting
GMP has a hilarious LOL/sob post up over at Academic Jungle in which she laments becoming PI Pushover.
Although I promised myself I would never do that to myself — let the student graduate before all his/her obligations to the group have been fulfilled (the papers we have agreed on are written up and submitted), it turns out I am as much of a pushover as the next faculty, if not more.
I let the temp postdoc graduate at the end of 2010 because we figured a couple of months would not mean much, and graduating in 2010 (sooner) looks better on his CV than 2011 (later)…. in the 3 months he’s been here after the PhD…only just gave me a pathetic draft — unworthy of a second-year grad student, let alone someone experienced in writing papers — of what’s supposed to be the crown jewel paper from his thesis, which clearly demonstrates he doesn’t give a rat’s ass about it any more.
Of course, the academic blogsphere is entirely made up of hardworking trainees with distant, out of touch PIs (on the one hand) and PIs who are highly engaged mentors cursed with lazy-ass trainees (on t’ other).
So the comments are lining up accordingly, just like they will do with this post after I publish it.
But here’s the thing Dear Hardworking Trainee….GMP is right.
December 8, 2010
Graduate school does have formal coursework, as most new to the process assume. It just doesn’t last very long, not much beyond the first year or two in most cases that I am familiar with. It can be excellent or dismal, depending on the degree to which the faculty as a whole think it is a waste of time better spent on running experiments. For both students and instructors.
Compromises are struck in the professoriat’s unending quest to shed teaching responsibility so that they can focus on the only thing that makes or breaks their careers- scientific output.
One such compromise is the team-taught course in which a number of profs are rounded up to do a lecture or three. This leads to the following scenario, hilarious distilled by Samia of 49 percent blog:
Each unit of every course is taught by multiple instructors from various departments, so each exam is really a bundle of mini-tests that are graded separately and using entirely different (and sometimes mysterious) criteria. Since every professor is lecturing on their Favouritest and Most Special Part of Science THAT NO ONE ELSE RESPECTS *rips shirt off*, we get about 100000000x more information than most of us will probably need.
Guilty as charged, Your Honor.
November 22, 2010
Genomic Repairman relates the not-uncommon tale of a lab head who negotiates for a new job and then springs his decision on his trainees and technicians with ~ 2 months notice.
The PI was then wondering why his staff was not jumping for joy at the opportunity to join him in his move to a new city and new University.
November 1, 2010
Yes, my friends, mentoring goes up as well as down when you are a mid career scientist. Sometimes even the extremely well established named-chair University Professor of blah-de-blah needs a little reality check.
Fortunately, the good Comrade PhysioProf is here to help.
Gerty-z of Balanced Instability blog posed an age-old problem in post-graduate education.
I was talking to a graduate student the other day. It was a hallway interaction, she had not searched me out for advice. I have known this grad student for several years, and she is one of the superstars in a highly-ranked graduate program. By every metric, she should be graduating. Now. Turns out, her advisor has been suggesting that she stick around for another year or two.
ruh roh! Conflict of Interest raises its ugly head.
I bring this up because this is not the first time I’ve heard a similar story. In fact I’ve heard of what appears to be at least one entire department that is riddled with this tendency to prolong the graduate school interval as long as possible, seemingly only to extract more value out of productive trainees.
June 28, 2010
Another internet resource for those newish to the grant game has appeared (some time ago, I seem to have forgotten about it until now). The discussion forum was originally focused on K99/R00 issues but there are many good things here for a more general audience of n00bs.
It all began with a blog entry by Arlenna at Chemical BioLOLogy.
Our longtime commenter bsci recently asked:
DM, This brings up a suggestion for a potential future posts. What DO you do to train your mentees for academia? Do they get to read your grants? Comment? Write parts of an R01? I assume you have them submit NRSAs, but merely submitting isn’t a training experience. Have you found ways to improve the educational utility of the process?
Let me answer this last question first. I have no idea if I am improving or impairing the “educational utility” of the training I provide. I just don’t have the numbers. There are many differences in the motivations and desires of trainees, these motivations shift significantly from the beginning to the end of a typical training stint and if a job is the outcome measure, then we are all at the mercy of a varying job market.
The grant part, however, I can answer.
You will probably have noticed by now, DearReader, that the NIH grant game is not exactly a distasteful part of my job. Don’t get me wrong. I’d be much happier if I had landed in some hard-salary situation with exceptional institutional support, local funding sources procured by the philanthropy side of the institution and just generally had fewer concerns about actually funding my laboratory.
That didn’t happen, however. I landed in a job which requires me to be at least minimally competent at acquiring major research funding. I was not particularly prepared for this.
June 21, 2010
I have a good one for you, DearReader, in the event you haven’t seen it yet. Actually, Academic Jungle, penned by GeekMommyProf has been on the blogroll since about the third or fourth post. Still, I’ve been burned once before when a blogger disappeared after a strong start. so I was waiting for a little more of a track record. Anyway, Academic Jungle has just passed a month and looks to be continuing on strongly.
The author describes herself as:
Tenured female prof at a large public research university, in one of the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields. Blogs on navigating the early years as an independent academic.
A taster after the jump:
June 2, 2010
Fairly frequently in the blogosphere one runs across blog posts that one really likes. Or even that one wishes to have written oneself. And perhaps a post or two that one has been planning to write oneself.
I’ve recently run across a post on The “three-paper” rule by Massimo at Exponential Book blog that draws together a series of observations on the purpose of graduate school training. I doubt that I could improve much on this discussion but I did have one or two small jumping off points that Massimo overlooked.
Getting back to the main point at hand, another way to put the question in the title is to ask quite simply, “What does it take to earn a Doctorate in Philosophy?”
June 1, 2010
A very simple question was posted over at the NatureJobs forum recently and to my eye the responses are quite disappointing so far. It deals with the not-uncommon scenario whereby a doctoral student successfully defends his or her dissertation and then spends additional time in the same laboratory as a postdoc.
The reasons are many and varied. Perhaps there is a paper in the process which requires additional work, either at the bench or simply in revising. Maybe the person simply hasn’t landed precisely the right “real” postdoc and wants to take a little more time to find a position. It would not be unusual that the person is in a relationship with another professional who cannot leave town immediately.
The question, however, deals with perceptions.
Do employers look favourably or unfavourably on Ph.D students who stay on for some time (6 months to a year) as a postdoc in the same group?
What do you think DearReader? Is this rare? Common? Tolerated? Does it put a permanent black mark on your CV? Does it matter only minimally compared to the upside of getting the paper from graduate work published?
What think you?