Saturday, September 09, 2006

Blogging Rocks

I gotta say, thanks to everybody who stops by just to say hi and that they like this blog.

The blogosphere is really the only place in my life where I can usually count on just as much positive as negative feedback- and sometimes even a majority of positive (!).


This week I actually managed to do an experiment from which I could draw a conclusion (out of the 6 total, only 1 told me anything useful). It's sad because when things are going well, I can do ~ 3 experiments a day, but lately I haven't been able to manage that many.

Among the distractions from doing my own experiments is both the best and worst part of my current position, though it's not officially in my job description at all:

Helping People.

Usually I try to pump people for information on what they're doing. You know, networking . So in that sense, it's not like I don't get anything out of it. But sometimes it feels that way.

The voices in my head say various things while I'm training someone/giving advice. Here's a sampling, in no particular order:

This is fun! I like helping people!

This is easy! I can totally do this. I can't wait to be a PI.

Too bad I'm not actually this person's PI.

Thank god I'm not actually this person's PI. I would never have hired them.

I wonder if they'll even acknowledge me in the paper.

I wonder if they'll stay in science.

I wonder if they should stay in science.

How on earth did this person get a PhD.

How is this person a PI and I'm not?

Wow, hard to believe this person is a PI and they still manage to find time to actually do experiments. Very impressive.

Maybe my time would be better spent on my own stuff.

I really wish the search committees could see this.

I wonder if the search committees realize this is what they should be looking for, instead of Cell/Science/Nature papers.

This person will probably get a Cell/Science/Nature paper, and not even acknowledge me.

Boy, I hope my suggestions turn out to be right.

Boy, I hope this person actually takes my advice.

I wonder if this person would write me a recommendation letter or tell anyone that I'm good and pass the word along through the grapevine?

This may be the biggest impact I have on science, through forwarding other people's science, more than my own projects.

This is my good deed for the day, I shouldn't expect anyone to say thank you.

They said thank you! At least they're polite.

Thank god we're done, next time this person asks for something I'm definitely going to say no.

So many people helped me along the way, and I never did anything for most of them. I'm just paying it forward, so I shouldn't mind doing this.

I wonder if the people who helped me thought I was ungrateful. I don't think I appreciated how much they did for me until now.

Sadly, lately I've noticed that only a tiny percentage of the people I've helped over the years have stayed in academic research. Of my friends from grad school, several went to industry, a few went to science writing, a few went to policy, several are still postdocs, and only a minority- mostly much older than me- are now faculty.

So it seems like the amount of energy I put into helping people doesn't really come back to me personally in any tangible - or efficient- way. In the past I've collaborated on papers that never got published. I've collaborated on papers and then been left off the author list (and not even acknowledged). So I'm not really expecting much to come out of helping anyone, but I still find it hard to leave them floundering.

So it's nice, like here, just to get the occasional "Hello!" from someone. Some evidence that people do notice.

Hello to you, too!

At least in the blogosphere.

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At 12:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

thanks so much for this blog. it's a relief to know that i'm not the only one going through ups and downs.

At 6:06 PM, Blogger Johnny Virgil said...

Half the time, I don't even know what you're talking about. But I still read it.

At 5:34 AM, Anonymous Abel Pharmboy said...

Hello friend,

So I'm a bit behind on my reading of YFS but wanted to chime in under this post because of the influence your musings have had on me.

I am one of the lowest trafficked folks at yet was the only one asked by Bloggasm to provide my views on diversity in the blogosphere from my vantage point.

The following paragraph comes almost entirely from your inspiration over the last year or so:

The blogosphere clearly reflects this trend toward women helping women, even if it is not always present in academic science and medicine. I also see many mid-career men like me who blog are learning more about the real problems facing women in science and medicine that we may not necessarily hear in our daily academic lives. My hope is that the community that has developed in the blogosphere will come back and renew the sense of community and mentoring that seems to have been lost in the highly competitive real-world academic environment.

Just because I try to do the right thing in my own lab and dept doesn't mean that's how the rest of the world operates. Thanks for bringing to my attention that we must continue to fight for equality and opportunity in the biomedical research community.


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