Friday, February 01, 2008

On a positive note.

Things I still like about my job:

1. A little positive feedback goes a long way.

2. Not having to sit at a desk all day, every day.

3. Working with young people who haven't yet had all the personality beaten out of them.

4. Working mostly with liberal people who believe in reproductive rights and letting women wear pants to work.

5. The occasional good feeling when experiments work.

6. Every once in a while, still getting to learn something new.

7. Just because I'm a girl, they never would have let me do this a hundred years ago.

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5 Comments:

At 12:41 PM, Blogger Gosh said...

Hello, I've read your entries labeled 'good attitude' and found out that you had written in this post that you have feeling that you're realizing before everyone else in which direction you should go in you research. You made this analogy to starting to ride when a green light is coming. I was wandering if your prediction/conviction is based on mighty superstition what is important or rather on deep knowledge of your field and awareness of holes in it. Maybe this question seems strange to you but I've started studying molecular biology this year and I have feeling that I need to read millions of text books more to be able to ask important questions. I'm feeling that I just do not know enough to invent reasonable subject of experiment because we already know so much and it is so hard to catch up with all of this! So is there any recipe for making yourself aware of right way in science?

Yours sincerely
Gosh

 
At 11:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

#1, yes! be a full of yourself know-it-all asshole who wonders why no one wants to hire her like our favorite blogger here! then you'll be certain that your experiments will solve all the problems of our time. actually you will even know the results before you do the said experiments, which of course will in no way prejudice your interpretation of the results. unfortunately you will not be able to do these experiments because the evil powers that be will not want to bestow on you the resources to do them, because they are jealous of your possible success. instead, you will be reduced to writing a blog much like this one. taking all this into account, being a confused beginner who is overwhelmed by all she doesn't yet know may not be such a bad alternative.

 
At 12:51 PM, Anonymous CC said...

Maybe this question seems strange to you but I've started studying molecular biology this year and I have feeling that I need to read millions of text books more to be able to ask important questions. I'm feeling that I just do not know enough to invent reasonable subject of experiment because we already know so much and it is so hard to catch up with all of this!

Gosh, every new grad student thinks that! Here's what you do:

1) Develop your lab skills on the project they give you. Meanwhile, read papers.

2) You'll start noticing that they fall into patterns. Molecular biology has a "toolkit" of techniques, and once you learn about them and where they're used, it becomes straightforward to look at a new finding and realize the obvious way to extend it one more step.

3) Just that will get you through your PhD. Most grad students and postdocs never get past that stage (or even to it). A lot of PIs manage to have sustainable careers without ever getting past it.

4) However,if you're better than that, you'll become conscious of what your strengths and enthusiasms are, and how to use them for really novel work. This could mean improving experimental methods, combining fields, arranging collaborations, bringing in entirely new methods of attacking a problem or just wondering about things no one had thought to wonder about before. YFS told you what works for *her*; what works for me is different and what will work for you is different.

But, again, don't sweat it -- *every* new grad student has the same reaction.

 
At 2:18 PM, Anonymous JR said...

I'm a little disappointed in your list. I mean, those are nice to haves, but they wouldn't keep me around in a happy lab situation and certainly not the misery that you describe.

Maybe your readers should post a few of the things they like about their jobs. Here's mine:

1. I get to analyze mountains of data that I personally didn't have to generate.

2. I am personally involved with biological products that effect millions of people's lives every year, even though they are taken for granted.

3. I work with some of the smartest, hardest working people I ever met, most of whom don't have PhDs. Closely associated...I don't have to work with many other PhDs.

4. Three weeks vacation plus however many other holidays all encouraged to be used completely guilt free.

5. Projects that turn over quickly, have clearly defined goals with a high degree of success.

6. Real reward and recognition for successes and efforts.

6. The Money.

Cheers!

 
At 8:01 PM, Blogger Ms.PhD said...

Anon 11:54,

I resent that. I don't presume to know the results before I do the experiments.

CC,

Good point about the toolkit, and about how there are different ways to contribute novelty.

JR,

#1 is great. But you could argue that lots of PIs get to do that.

#2, I'm skeptical that I could live with the possible bad effects of some biological products.

#3 is awesome. I would love that aspect.

Clearly defined goals are awesome.

I'm skeptical that all the projects have a 'high degree of success' but I'll take your word for it that they do for you in your situation. That sounds great.

Real reward and recognition would be awesome.

Money would be nice some days.

 

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