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.
May 3, 2011
The Office of Extramural Research at the NIH has launched a working group tasked with the examinationof the current and future state of the extramural research force.
That would be you, DearReader, at least those of you working in one way or another on scientific projects funded by the NIH.
Princeton University (sorry about that) President Shirley Tilghman is quoted in a Science Insider note from J. Kaiser as saying the following in an upcoming HHMI bulletin interview
“changes could be made to the structure of the typical biomedical research laboratory.” Specifically, she suggests reducing the number of trainees, who currently outnumber technicians 10 to 1, and increasing the number of “permanent employees…. We need to explore such options.”
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.
September 21, 2010
As might suspect, Dear Reader, I am one who is entirely unable to hold back from drenching trainees in career-relevant advice whenever there is the slightest opportunity. As you also know, I am not in a job category that require regular instruction of general populations of undergraduate students so most of my interactions with them come under the general heading of “lab experience”. One of the things that I tend to blurt out very early in my discussions with a student who wants to work in my group is “You know being a graduate student is a job that pays, right?”.
It turns out that many of them are unaware of this fact.
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 23, 2010
I would like to see submissions crafted with n00bs such as myself in mind. ..
Fellow n00bs: I invite you write about your feelings, thoughts, insecurities, challenges you anticipate, etc. How do you feel about moving to a new school, joining a new lab, selecting an advisor/committee, making friends in a new place, hunkering down in one area of the world for the next few years, fitting in? How does it feel to look back on the application process? How have your attitudes and expectations changed between the times of application and acceptance?
Submission/contact info is as follows:
If you’re interested in contributing, please send submissions to 49percentblog[at]gmail[dot]com. I’m setting a tentative deadline for August 15, but that could be pushed back if necessary. Please feel free to e-mail me anything, for any reason, at any time, always and forever.