Young Female Scientist has an interesting post up today in which she manifests a very common post-doc delusion:

And there is this other aspect that most PIs don’t want to admit: a senior postdoc is basically the same as a junior PI. Admittedly, junior PIs don’t get to give talks as often as senior PIs, but they give talks more often than postdocs.
The point of this comparison is that in at least some (!) cases the senior postdoc proposed the project, did the project, and has lots of ideas for where her project will go next, since it is presumably the subject of her future grants and lab studies.

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Young Female Scientist has an interesting post up today in which she manifests a very common post-doc delusion:

And there is this other aspect that most PIs don’t want to admit: a senior postdoc is basically the same as a junior PI. Admittedly, junior PIs don’t get to give talks as often as senior PIs, but they give talks more often than postdocs.
The point of this comparison is that in at least some (!) cases the senior postdoc proposed the project, did the project, and has lots of ideas for where her project will go next, since it is presumably the subject of her future grants and lab studies.

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Attending scientific meetings is not a cheap enterprise. Neither in grant dollars (that might be better spent on supplies) nor in time (that might be better spent doing an experiment or writing up a paper). So why do it? Well, the overt reasons are pretty simple. First, to find out what other people in your field are working on and thinking about. Second, to tell the other people in your field what you are working on and thinking about.
This is the selfless and team-oriented aspect of science, the goal being to save everyone a little time and effort. Time that might be wasted between collecting the data and publishing the paper (conference presentations are often works-in-progress) during which the field would otherwise be ignorant of the results. Time that might be wasted going off in the wrong direction (your conference presentations solicit ideas and advice from your peers) or failing to pursue the most promising new avenues.
I’ve been pondering a slightly more….motivational aspect.

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PhysioProf will be guest-blogging at Feministe for a two-week stint July 13 through July 26. I am one of a lineup of totally awesome bloggers who will all be guest-blogging at Feministe this summer, starting June 22 and going through September 13.
So check it the fuck out! And don’t worry. I’ll remind you when it’s my turn! And if anyone’s got ideas for me to blog about, consider this an open thread for brainstorming!

CPDD 2008: Science Bits

June 17, 2008

Amongst all the obtaining of Programmatic scoop from the NIDA Director and assorted Program Officers, schmoozing with the senior scientists, rallying the junior scientist troops, reconnecting with old pals, taking care of committee business and whatnot…
There is occasionally time for some actual science…

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The NIH Un-Doubling

June 16, 2008

As I mentioned in a prior post, a presentation from the CPDD lobbyist, Ed Long (of Capitol Associates) put me on to a most interesting analysis of the NIH budget. One that I hadn’t seen before and one that makes a frightening point.
The doubling of the NIH budget has been completely reversed. Read on to find out how.

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A reader asked: “There are many, many academic bloggers out there feverishly blogging about their areas of interest. Still, there are many, many more academics who don’t. So, why do you blog and how does blogging help with your research?”
Good question, simple answer: “Much like other bloggers of any orientation, background and intention I have deep seated need for attention.”
There are some other reasons, of course.

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A reader asked: “There are many, many academic bloggers out there feverishly blogging about their areas of interest. Still, there are many, many more academics who don’t. So, why do you blog and how does blogging help with your research?”

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CPDD 2008

June 15, 2008

As previously mentioned, I’m attending a meeting of an academic society focused on drug abuse science, The College on Problems of Drug Dependence. I’m not planning to blog live or anything like that but I may have a comment or three.

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You know how you are just going along, minding your own business, doing your thing and then all of a sudden you Notice Something? Something that might be called a meme in the blogosphere and a trend or fad in real life? Well I noticed one in NIH grant land recently and it is utterly annoying.

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ERV has a really nice post up today explaining why she is going to give it her best shot at eventually becoming a PI, but that she will also be very happy with some other scientific career if the PI thing doesn’t work out.

What do I wanna do?
Um, be a PI. Get to play in a lab forever. Contribute to my field. Be respected. Be loved by my students. hehehe My dream is to do research until I die, thus to have the opportunity to totally traumatize my grad students by letting them discover my cold, dead body slumped over the tissue culture hood one morning (ah, if I could only be there to laugh at them!!!)
But do I plan on being a PI? Do I hang my hopes and dreams on it? Will I be crushed if I cant be a PI?
Nope!

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A comment from dreiken on a recent post asks:

Can anyone provide some context (eg, what’s a study section that’s not in the library?) for us not-yet-researchers?

This reminds me of an email I received some time ago asking for an overview of the NIH system. Which I haven’t done yet. (Although really people, the NIH has a very nice site on the whole process of seeking their funding for your science!)
I thought I’d start with one of my older “Your Grant in Review” posts.


As we are in the middle of study section meetings for NIH grants submitted for the June-July dates and heading toward yet another revised-application due date, I’m thinking about the way amended applications are reviewed. The amount of information available to a given reviewer on the previous history of a particular amended application is variable, leading to much dissatisfaction on the part of the applicants. The system could stand to be improved.

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A comment from dreiken on a recent post asks:

Can anyone provide some context (eg, what’s a study section that’s not in the library?) for us not-yet-researchers?

This reminds me of an email I received some time ago asking for an overview of the NIH system. Which I haven’t done yet. (Although really people, the NIH has a very nice site on the whole process of seeking their funding for your science!)
I thought I’d start with one of my older “Your Grant in Review” posts.


As we are in the middle of study section meetings for NIH grants submitted for the June-July dates and heading toward yet another revised-application due date, I’m thinking about the way amended applications are reviewed. The amount of information available to a given reviewer on the previous history of a particular amended application is variable, leading to much dissatisfaction on the part of the applicants. The system could stand to be improved.

Read the rest of this entry »

Study Section: Act I

June 11, 2008

Time: February, June or October
Setting: The Washington Triangle National Hotel, Washington DC

    Dramatis Personæ:

  • Assistant Professor Yun Gun (ad hoc)
  • Associate Professor Rap I.D. Squirrel (standing member)
  • Professor H. Ed Badger (standing member, second term)
  • Dr. Cat Herder (Scientific Review Officer)
  • The Chorus (assorted members of the Panel)
  • Lurkers (various Program Officers, off in the shadows)

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The NIH Director Elias Zerhouni issued a recent press release on the implementation of new “enhancements” of peer review. No kidding this time.

“As we contemplated possible changes, we were guided by several fundamental principles. First, while improving the system, do no harm. That is, ensure that any changes to the peer review system bring significant value and outweigh costs,” said Zerhouni. “Second, continue to maximize the freedom of scientists to pursue high-risk, high-impact research. Moreover, we want to cultivate a sense that we continuously re-evaluate the peer review system to ensure that it is the best that it can be.”

Oh boy.

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