Monday, December 12, 2005

Just procrastinating, no deep thoughts

Just got out of lab meeting and have some time to kill before the gym, or whatever is going to distract me tonight besides Medium . Hope it's not a rerun, but too lazy to check.

Had a frustrating, crappy morning, but the afternoon was better. Lunching in sunshine and coffee helped tremendously.

Lab meeting was also pretty interesting. But my advisor's in an unnaturally good mood, which is kind of freaking me out.

Saw somebody had posted a clipped-out article from the NY Times on the wall in our lab, saying that the major stem cell research progress from North Korea might be completely fake. Or maybe just partially. Or maybe all of science is crap and the only reason anybody noticed this time is because this paper got so much attention from the press and the world in general. Basically that was gist of the article.

Oh, and someone sent me something funny today, a 'definition' of a postdoc (beware, this is going to make you fall off your chair laughing):

After earning your PhD, you will probably want to spend a few years in another laboratory to expand your range before accepting a permanent position. Postdoctoral work provides an opportunity to pursue research with the wisdom gained from graduate school and without the administrative responsibilities of more senior scientists. Some postdoctoral fellows are supported from research grants to the host laboratory. Others are awarded fellowships from the National Institutes of Health or private foundations.

here are my snide comments:

want to spend a few years --> have to spend several long painful years

opportunity to pursue research --> you'll be working for some schmuck who will exploit or hate you (or both)

without the administratrive responsibilities --> you'll have no power whatsoever

some postdoctoral fellows are supported from research grants --> the vast majority of people who won't get faculty jobs later are supported from research grants

others are awarded fellowships --> the ones who work for famous people and/or are much smarter than you will get fellowships while you wonder why anyone gave you a PhD if you're so stupid you can't get any funding

Or, my version of this statement:

After escaping from grad school, PhD firmly clutched in your desperate, bloody hands, if you are good enough to get a faculty job someday you'll still have to waste some time in a postdoc. If you are not, this is your last chance to publish the coveted High Profile Paper(s). Postdoctoral work is slightly better than grad school in some ways, and slightly more stressful. Likewise it is slightly better than being a faculty member, but slightly worse (degrees will vary depending on the System). Some postdoctoral fellows will be happier because they'll figure out how to get their own funding, even if it means begging for a phony recommendation letter from someone famous who has never met you. But only slightly happier than the ones who get paid off their PI's R-01. No one will warn you about all the pitfalls of being a postdoc, the crappy health insurance, you don't have the safety net of a committee like you did in grad school, etc. One last piece of advice: don't do one if you can figure out a way to avoid it. If you must do one, make it quick, make it famous, and get out as fast as humanly possible.


At 9:58 PM, Blogger BotanicalGirl said...

Thanks for all your comments today. I was going to email you but didn't see an address listed. I'm going to reply to them there.

And yes, post-docs are a rather terrifying prospect, especially in a lab like the one I left. In my current lab they seem pretty well off, but I honestly haven't asked them.

At 8:53 AM, Anonymous Kevin said...

I don't know who to feel worse for - postdocs or the idiots (like myself) who are trying to get a postdoc.

At 5:49 PM, Blogger post-doc said...

This made me smile, and gave me something of my own to write about. I wanted to let you know that I really enjoy reading your work, and to wish you all the best in your job search. I can't say I envy you the application process (I'm so not looking forward to doing that again), and I hope you find what you're looking for sooner rather than later.

At 11:41 AM, Blogger Robin Herlands said...

This was a really fantastic, and funny, entry - I'm finishing up graduate school and have decided to try to get a faculty job at a small liberal arts college WITHOUT doing a potdoc first. I've applied to 4 schools- I'll try to let you know how it goes! I've also started discussing postdocs with a few PIs, but only at places with teaching postdoctoral opportunities. I've heard really varying reports on these and how they're viewed, but at this point I'm going after the experience I want. What's interesting is that most WOMEN faculty have been incredibly encouraging, supportive, and helpful with my pursuit of a faculty postion. 99% of men (all but my advisor) have discouraged me, told me I need to do at least one postdoc first, and claim that I will never even make a short list. I'm glad to say I've proven them wrong on that front already...

At 8:22 PM, Blogger Matthew said...

I enjoy your writing.


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