Author Archives: Isis the Scientist

A Poll for the People…

I’m working on a little something for the ole blog and am curious about some experiences beyond the sphere of people around me.

Did you contribute to your retirement as a postdoc and graduate student? Click here to respond!

On what makes a life in science…

I’ve been invited to give three talks at three different places in the next 30 days about my life in science and woman stuff and career stuff, etc. While this may shock readers of this humble little blog, it’s making my butthole clench to be quite so navel gaze-y. What does one say when asked to talk about themselves for an hour?

But then I opened Powerpoint and was greeted with the new presentation screen and I found a template called Vapor Trail and it is hilarious. If a student ever tried to give a talk using the Vapor Trail template, I would smite them. But, I am going to use Vapor Trail and comic sans and I am titling my talk “Untitled – A life in science”, because I can.

This will all be awesome.

Also, realizing that it’s been a while since I have written here, there have been several recent developments in La Vida de Isis. When last I wrote, I was in the process of buckling down to be debt free by paying off the student loans I have been carrying since before the towers fell. I had taken my own advice and deferred my loans for as long as humanly possible. In retrospect, I’m not sure how I feel about this advice. They didn’t accrue interest while they were deferred, I didn’t create any  more debt, and the deferment freed up some money to have a little nicer lifestyle, but the amount of time I carried them was kind of soul crushing and they certainly limited me when I moved to new MRU town.  Still, the past is in the past and in June….

Now that Dr. S. and I are debt free and have met our one true guru Dave Ramsey, I’m focused on using my spreadsheet skills to project building wealth and buying our next house in cash. Free and clear. I think that would be hilarious.

Maybe I’ll talk about that in my talk.

Get It Together June…

When you spend two and a half hours looking at data with a collaborator, trying to figure out why they’re so whacky and coming up with convoluted hypotheses to explain things and designing all the experiments…

…only to get back to your office to realize that those data they showed you were not the data from your experiment. This explains why they called you the wrong name…

britney crying

 

On Why The Long Postdoc is (probably) the Kiss of Death..

Earlier today I tweeted about this article about the fight to raise the starting postdoc salary in the Boston area to $63,000. Having not had a real raise myself in several years, I feel their pain. But, the person they put forth as the centerpiece of the article is a guy in his 7th year of his postdoc complaining that he works long hours. I feel this guy, but I want to make sure that I am being clear…

If you are in the 7th year of your postdoc, you have a bigger problem than your salary.

You should come in to your postdoc planning to conquer the universe in 3 years. 4 years is fine, but if you find yourself still postdocing after that, you need to seriously consider “What happened??”

Now, I have heard all the feedback on Twitter. Life happens. People get sick, have babies, change fields, etc, etc ,etc.  Great. Extend your time a smidge for that. Have a very compelling reason. But, as someone else mentioned, some institutions are limiting the amount of time people can postdoc specifically to discourage people from postdocing so long it damages their career and keeping PIs from exploiting cheap labor. BECAUSE THIS IS BECOMING ROUTINE!

Someone on Twitter accused me of having “postdoc contempt“. That is the farthest thing from the truth. Why am I standing on my soapbox, beating my chest that this is a problem?  It’s very simple…

If it took you 7 years (or longer) to complete a postdoc, how are you going to convince a search committee that you are going to be able to get a lab up and running in a year and secure independent funding by the time your start up runs out (usually 2-3 years). Grant productivity happens in 4 year blocks. Not meeting these benchmarks can be devastating to your career.

As the esteemed Drugmonkey put it, your primary goal as a postdoc should be to get a permanent job and get the fuck out! If your primary goal is academia, then you have to work on academic timelines..

Thoughts for a Sunday Night…

If ever I am blue, I go watch this. It makes me feel some kind of way…