Thursday, February 03, 2005

Collaborations, etc.

Rejection letters: 5

I was actually having a pretty decent week- still am, really. My experiments seem to be moving in a detectable forward direction... and at this point, it's late enough in the year that I think the only letters I will be getting will be of the rejection type.

Went to a seminar today by a very successful woman scientist. She had some pretty sad stories- her PhD advisor died while she was halfway through grad school, she's been repeatedly turned down for promotion and always ended up having to go to another school to get to the next level. But now she's Chair of her Division, and a full professor. And she's 37.

Needless to say, she's not in my field.

Speaking of people in my field and jobs, I found out through a random encounter today that a friend of mine got offered one of the jobs I applied for. It's one of the ones where I got the rejection letter a week ago, so in a way I'm kind of glad because he's been a postdoc forever and works really hard. And he's a decent human being.

But I'm a little worried he's going to be too burned out by the time he gets there, assuming he even takes the offer. He's one of those people who gradually went completely gray-haired as a postdoc.

And it also makes me worry, because he was starting his postdoc when I was barely in my thesis lab. I really don't know if I want to keep doing this for 3-4 more years with no guarantee that it will increase my chances of getting a position!

Other than that, it seems like my collaborators are mostly asking me for more and more experiments. It's always supposed to be just one figure, quick and easy and an extra publication for the CV. Instead it ends up being several experiments, and then extra controls after the fact that nobody thought of sooner, and the papers still aren't accepted (and in one case, the paper hasn't even been submitted).

Sigh. No good deeds go unpunished.

Tonight I am going out to dinner with some friends, kind of a last-minute thing where we made reservations yesterday online, and now my experiments are running late and I'm going to have to come back here afterwards. All I can say is, I hope it's worth coming back for.

No rewards without suffering.


At 9:54 PM, Blogger labwench said...

How closely related is your work to biophysics or biomedical physics?
I am curious because biophysics is an up-and-coming field at my university.

At 11:13 PM, Blogger Ms.PhD said...

I'm not sure what you mean by 'up-and-coming.' Do you mean, heavily recruited at the faculty level, or the hottest new undergrad major-?

Or what.

My work could be considered biophysical in the sense that I use some pretty fancy microscopes and some computational techniques to analyze my data. I use flow-sorting, I use real-time PCR... which all requires that I understand fluorescence, quenching, etc. and how the machines work, but I'm not doing FRET in solution or NMR or anything like that. I don't even do mass spec if I can avoid it.

But most biophysicists would probably consider those things biology and not biophysics at all. My background is much stronger in chemistry and structural biology than in physics or engineering. I rely on chemistry and structural biology a lot in terms of the way I think about things, which might be kind of unusual since on paper I'm a "cell biologist"- but only because of the historical classification of my field. I don't even really understand what that means. My impression is that Cell Biology is one of those underappreciated fields- we use a lot of techiques, usually just as many or more, wildly different, techniques than any other biological science, and we're expected to master them all, but still we get looked down upon by the 'hard' sciences.


I'm one of those people, I'll use whatever means necessary to answer the question . I think it's really shortsighted to define oneself by a single technique. One-trick ponies, however talented, seem to go around trying to use their hammer to hit anything that looks remotely like a nail... I can think of some good examples that mostly involve geneticists. =D

I do as much biochemistry and molecular biology as I can get away with... I'm really just limited by only having two hands and a fellowship.

I could be pretty dangerous with an R-01 of my own and a couple of talented undergrads.

Someday, maybe...

That said, I always thought it would be interesting to migrate to something like MRI, but at this point it's not clear to me that switching fields would be any easier than staying put.

At 10:59 AM, Blogger labwench said...

By 'up and coming' I was referring to the heavy recruitment of new faculty. For many years the physics department at my university was split into two research groups, one in optics/lasers and the other in materials. In the last year, much of our research space has been alotted to the new biophysics faculty. I have an understanding of the physics behind optics and materials research but not in biophysics. I am currently working on my masters in materials physics, so my question to you was merely out of curiousity.

As a materials physicist, I am more of a chemist (who thinks in terms of physics) than anything else.


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