A little discussion has been going on at MWE&G over the topic of materials sharing. To be very general about it [since, it turns out we write at the high school level around here; h/t], once a scientist has published a paper using a particular set of methods, they are expected to help others to conduct experiments in the same area because this is how science best advances. Through replication and extension of a given finding to move on toward new discoveries. In some areas of science this may simply be a professional expectation to “help”, i.e. to provide advice and feedback on experimental minutia and other things which are not obvious from the paper’s Materials and Methods section. In addition, there is an expectation that when unique tangible resources are required, the laboratory which has published the paper will go to a reasonable effort to provide resources upon request. This is where things get tricky. Read the rest of this entry »

….cause, you know, if they were any good, why are there so few of them in the faculty ranks?

Fly, Be Free

November 6, 2007

Female Science Professor has an interesting post up concerning how mentors deal with their departing trainees in terms of continuing research projects. Since she is a physical scientist, and thus her comments are most relevant to that discipline, here are some thoughts on this topic from the standpoint of the biomedical sciences.

Read the rest of this entry »

SfN07: The schmoozery

November 5, 2007

Can’t let BM have all the SfN fun, now can we? I discussed scientific meeting schmoozing before. By the middle of the SfN meeting I see that I’ve had substantive chats with four relevant program officers and brief exchanges with two more. Two of the former got down to some nitty gritty over science in one case and science funding (yes, beyond “waaah, there’s no money”) in another. This is basically without trying although I did swing through the NIH booths at one point. Read the rest of this entry »

Job Talk Juju

November 4, 2007

Since this is faculty job search season, and we have been discussing some of the things that affect applicants’ ability to secure job offers, let’s talk about one of the most important. You have been a successful post-doc, your CV looks great, and your research plan is masterful. You start to get invitations to visit departments to interview for faculty positions. What is the single most crucial factor in translating interviews into offers? Read the rest of this entry »

Imposter Syndrome

November 1, 2007

A little bait for the DM and the PP. I ran across an interesting three parter (one, two, three) from mrswhatsit on imposter syndrome in science.

Impostor syndrome, for those who don’t know, is characterized by the belief that you have somehow fooled everyone into thinking that you are smart and competent, that in fact you are neither, and one day people are going to figure out that you are a fraud. It seems to be fairly common among women academics. I first heard the term a few years ago and it described exactly how I felt on a daily basis.

I don’t know that this is all that unique to women…

As a mentor though, it poses interesting questions. We all know we’re supposed to be supportive and encouraging and all that. “Good” mentors are great at these “atta-postdoc” skills.  All true. But are we supposed to diagnose “imposter syndrome”? How is one to set up an imposter-syndrome-friendly environment?

A related question is what degree of confidence do you project as a PI and mentor? The “troops” want to be encouraged, excited and motivated by someone surging forward with great confidence, no? So we shouldn’t burden them with our own problems, like, say grant funding, right? But what about the appearance of “super-prof-ness” and the effect this has on the outside (or inside) observer? Read comments over on FSP for an illustration of “You’re so cool it makes me feel unworthy, how do you DO that?”. So in some senses the highly confident PI is not good for the imposter syndrome trainee.

PZ Myers in San Diego 11/2

November 1, 2007

The infamous PZ Myers of Pharyngula will be in San Diego tomorrow:

While I’m here in San Diego, I’ll also be giving a talk/hosting a discussion at the Scripps Institute [of Oceanography, aka SIO…Ed] on Friday at 3:00. The title is:

Sharing science: education, activism, and advocacy