Archive for: April, 2010

>settling in

Apr 20 2010 Published by under Uncategorized

>We made it-the family is officially established in the new house. The park across the street has been deemed acceptable (there are swings and a merry-go-round), and at least some of the boxes are unpacked. Whew! Now if only I could find something to wear other than a sweater, things would be golden.

          Here we are in the park across the street from the new digs!

As for settling in here in the blogosphere, I've decided to start going by GertyZ (maybe GZ for extra-short). This name is an unnatural mishmash tribute to two of my favorite women scientists (historically, I have many contemporary faves but it felt weird to use any parts of those names): Gery Cori and Barbary McClintock (Zea Mays, get it? sigh. No fears, I won't quit my day job). Anywho, I am too lazy busy to write out Balanced Instability every time I comment on a blot. I assume I haven't been around long enough for this change to really confuse anyone. Sorry for the inconsistency.

On a totally unrelated note: this is one of my favorite quotes from Werner Heisenberg:
"Natural science does not simply describe and explain nature; it is part of the interplay between nature and ourselves; it describes nature as exposed to our method of questioning."

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>nom de blog

Apr 13 2010 Published by under Uncategorized

>I have decided I need one. I like the name of this blog, but I need my own identifier that is not so long to type when I'm commenting. Since I've started doing that now. I could have probably thought this through more before I started, but that really isn't my style. Anywho, now I'm on it. So we shall see what I come up with.

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>On the importance of getting help

Apr 13 2010 Published by under Uncategorized

>I'm not generally a fan of titles that begin with prepositions, but whatever. They are certainly better than titles that end with question marks. I digress.

I have been noticing recently that I get a LOT of help from folks around me. I changed fields of research completely for my postdoc, so there I had a lot of things to learn before I could be an "expert". Luckily for me, the folks in my new lab were generous with their time and information. I also joined another lab's weekly meetings to learn about broader aspects of my new fields. The other PI didn't have to let me come to their meetings, or waste time letting me present, but he did. Many of the people from this other lab helped me learn new techniques, guide me through the early literature (and the unpublished background stories that help it make sense) and even share reagents. Folks around here read my papers and grant applications, wrote me letters (LOTS of letters) and sat through various practice talks over the years. When I went on the job market, some of the faculty here offered to sit through practice chalk talks and job talks and even gave me tips about things that job searches are looking at. I even got advice on what to wear! When I started getting offers, I ran them by the newer faculty here and got advice on negotiating. People shared the spreadsheets from their own start-up and shared aspects that they would do differently. This has all been HUGELY helpful for me. Even though the transition to a PI is still a little daunting, without this help I'm sure that it would be completely overwhelming.

I am sure that I am lucky to be in such a collegial and collaborative environment. In fact, that was one aspect of what attracted me to Fancy Research Institute for my postdoc. But, I don't think everyone here at FRI feels the same way. I go out of my way to get help. I ask for advice, drop by people's desks/offices and actively seek out criticism. Because really, if everyone tells you that you are always doing a good job they are blowing smoke up your ass, or just trying to get rid of you. If folks don't want to help, fine. I won't bother them anymore. But most people will help (at least here at FRI). And as far as I'm concerned, the more critical (as long as its constructive), the better. Even the best talk you ever gave could be better, and if it hurts your feelings when someone tells you that, then GET OVER IT. Some fellow postdocs at my practice job talk were horrified because it was a bloodbath. But that is because I asked the most critical people I could find to sit in. Sure, it kinda sucked at the time. But no one was attacking me personally, just helping make my talk better. And now I have a job.

Anywho, the moral of the story is: ask for advice. From anyone that will listen. The more the better. Then sift through it and filter out the good stuff. Being as Asst Prof can seem pretty lonely (so far), but already I have started wandering into my colleagues' offices to "chat". Because that is how this business works, IMO. It seems that official "mentor" panels for Asst Profs seem to be very common now. But I bet that if you wait for your committee meeting it will be too late. There isn't enough time on the tenure clock. I'm sure that this whole little entry is pretty obvious to anyone that is cruising around the blogosphere, since there is so much good advice stockpiled up. But still, talk to the people around you. Get coffee with everyone before seminar. Talk to people in the hallways. Bounce ideas off others around you. Better to get an idea shot down in-house (among friends, hopefully) than out in public.

Final thought: Asking for help (and getting it) is great. But so is giving help. It's a two-way road in my opinion. I guess this is sort of like being a reviewer/editor (FSP has a great series on this topic). Everyone has to play a part.

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>another transition

Apr 11 2010 Published by under Uncategorized

>So, I bought a house. Actually, I am in the process of buying a house-we close this week. It is great to know that you are planning on living in the same city for more than 5 years AND that you can actually afford a mortgage. What a change from grad school and postdoc times! On the other hand, my current residence is full of boxes and I can't find anything. I'm not sure who is more distressed: me or my three-year old. I have a feeling this will be a crazy week.

On a happy note, I got my last 20 miler of marathon training in yesterday and it was GREAT! I'm feeling a little more optimistic about the upcoming 26.2 event.

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>how was my day?

Apr 07 2010 Published by under Uncategorized

>

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>a one-body problem

Apr 06 2010 Published by under Uncategorized

>I am suffering from an unfortunate fact: I can exist in only one place at a given time. This is truly hampering my ability to get the shit on my list done. I am finding that it is actually NOT possible to be in my old post-doc lab doing experiments at the same time I am sitting in new Assistant Prof. office. At first, I thought it was SA-WEET that I could take off from post-doc institute and go up the street to Big U. My post-doc mentor is very supportive and I was sure that this would help me get my lab up and running far more efficiently than the normal situation (pack up postdoc life, move to new city for tt job, start lab from scratch). And I am really excited to have my own lab, and it seemed like it would be fun to start thinking about which PCR machines and microscopes I am going to buy. At first, this was super fun. But now I'm fully engaged in meetings, negotiating with sales reps, and overseeing the day-to-day interactions with the folks remodeling the lab. And I'm thinking WAIT A SECOND! I was going to be getting all those experiments done, but I can't do anything at the bench while I'm sitting in this office. What has happened to my last happy months of postdoc productivity?

The real question that I have to deal with now is: should I just accept that I have moved over to BigU (although my appointment isn't official for another 2 months) and buy the shit I need to do all my experiments here (mostly possible, but will take some time to get going) OR should I dissociate from BigU as much as possible and retreat back to post-doc institute to try to suck some productivity out of the next two months?

screw it. I'm going for a run.

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