Well, I'm back from another super-awesome conference. This was not my normal crowd, so I made a lot of fantastic new contacts and got some ideas that could start up new research directions for my lab. And there was even some skiing!!! Not that much internet access, though.
Which leads to the downside... I had to do so much work while I was gone! This was the first meeting that I actually had to skip a session to work. Sure, there have been meetings where I needed to get some writing done or read something. But damn! This was crazy. EVERYONE knew that I was going to be gone--and would not have reliable access to email. However, this did not in any way reduce the number of emails I got that required--REQUIRED--my attention within the hour. Like when I got an email asking for something that apparently needed to be done by Friday. I had been working with the administrator on this for weeks--but for some reason s/he had not felt the need to tell me about this deadline. Most of the "emergencies" are concerning our current graduate student recruitment. Somehow (dammit!) I am "in charge" of putting together our recruitment weekend this year. This basically means that I have to get the faculty in my department to sit down and talk to prospective students. Imagine scheduling your dissertation exam...times 20.
sigh. I just got back into town after being gone a week. Right now, hanging out with my wife and Mini-G are top priority. This morning we had crepes and then the first ever sleep-over commenced. We have had so much fun! We went to the playground, made dinner, and watched a movie. There are two girls in Mini-G's bedroom desperately trying to be quiet right now (not very well).
I doubt that anyone at MRU is actually desperately waiting a response over the weekend, but if they are...well, I guess I don't care. This shit will still be happening next week.
Today Dr. O used her space on the Guest Blogge to make a record of how she spends her day. A commenter, Moss, was quick to point out how inefficient she was at using her time. I couldn't agree more.* Since I know that Dr. O is going to be starting her tenure-track position soon I thought I would show her the right way to use her time by sharing how I spend my day**:
4:30 am: Jump out of bed without an alarm because I'm just so damn excited to start working!
4:35 am: shower while listening to news on NPR [pro-tip: if you are only doing one thing at a time it is a total waste].
4:45 am: call labbies to make sure that they are on their way to lab while making coffee [now that I'm a PI it is my job to make sure the folks in lab are Doing Science].
4:50 am: drink coffee, scan through new papers on Pubmed or in TOC.
6:00 am: go for a run
7:00 am: get Mini-G ready for school
7:30 am: catch bus to take Mini-G to school, drink more coffee
8:00 am: get to lab. Check in on labbies, making sure to point out new papers they should have read as I saw them over 3 hours ago.
8:15 am: write grant
12:00: eat lunch at faculty seminar
1:30: back in lab. help rotation student set up experiments, make sure grad students have read the papers I mentioned before.
2:00: work on grant
5:00: work on grant some more
7:00: walk to bus stop. Miss bus. Get a sandwich and beer while waiting for next bus. Read ms sent to me for review.
8:00: get home, a little too late for bed time.
8:10: work on grant
11:00: grant not making sense. Start reading grad student applications.
1:00: go to bed.
Now clearly I'm still a n00b here. I'm sure that there are folks out there that can help me be even MOAR efficient. The most important thing to realize is that as scientists we have a very important job. There is simply NO EXCUSE for wasting your time with stupid things that are not Doing Science. I would ask how you all manage to be so efficient and such, but I'm sure that no one is wasting their time reading this blog.
*I also appreciate that s/he made a point about the waste of time that blogging is by...commenting on a blog. Just fantastic!
**I sure hope that Moss can help me find unimportant things to cut out of my day so I can be a better scientist, too!
edited to fix links (I hope)
As you all know, one of the things I struggle with A LOT is the fact that I'm not great at saying "no" (but I'm trying). Physioprof has an insightful perspective on how feeling like you can't say "no" is a load of crap. But when your department Chair is sitting in your office maybe you (like me) have a hard time executing the "no".
You are in luck! This webpage, "7 simple ways to say no", is like a cheat-sheet for us "yes-sayers"! Seriously, as soon as I found this I started imagining how things could have been different. I also realized that some of these strategies I had already implemented, naturally. For instance, number 6:
“I’m not the best person to help on this. Why don’t you try X?”
At first, I figured I was throwing X under the bus (it was turnabout, so I was OK w/ it). But maybe I have natural (awesome) tendencies for no-saying that I am not fully realizing?
I know that I, for one, will be practicing these phrases.
In case you are keeping score, I totally said "no" to 2 different requests this week. w00t!
As you may know, my department is in the middle of a junior faculty search. I went through the search process as a candidate last year, but this year I'm sitting in the room on the other side of the process. It is...illuminating. The process has certainly made me see some of my new colleagues from a very different perspective.
First, the statistics: we had almost 600 applicants for our position. 30-50 were very, very good. We picked less than 1/4 of these to interview.
I noticed that there were several women that disclosed in their application that they were married to male scientists that would also be looking for a job. Many of these women were REALLY good. In fact, I would say that all of the men were the trailing spouses. We did not interview ANY of these women (or men). I would like to know who gave these applicants the HORRIBLE advice to disclose this info in the initial job packet. Negotiating a two-body issue is something that happens after a job offer has been made. Please, women of the sciences that aspire to the tenure track: DO NOT MENTION YOUR MARITAL STATUS IN YOUR COVER LETTER.
And now, a thing that really pisses me off: the extra scrutiny. I have noticed that the white d00ds that I work with have a habit of looking at certain candidates a little more closely than normally. Not in a good way. For instance, when women did not mention a 2-body problem, there was generally some discussion about whether we could "guess" if there was a second body. This was NEVER brought up for male candidates, though I assume that the men were just as likely to be married to another scientist. But the real kicker was that EVERY single non-white sounding name would lead my colleagues to reveal that they are assholes. People would wonder whether their English was "understandable". Yes, we do some teaching in our department. BUT SERIOUSLY, these are folks that have had a very successful postdoc. They wrote papers and gave talks at conferences. Many have been in the US since they were undergraduates. WTF?!
And then, there were a few instances of bad behavior that made me so mad that I wanted to throw something. I am not going to go into details with these, because I would like to maintain some level of pseudonymity. These events often involved ridiculous statements made directly to candidates. And this is when everyone was supposed to be on their best behavior!! I tried to "nudge" my more senior colleagues when I witnessed these incidents. I tried to explain why their "innocent" statements were offensive (in the most respectful way possible). On one occasion I was so horrified that I even went to the Chair to make sure he knew what was going on.
So, here is a question for my esteemed reader(s): as a junior faculty, should I just shut my trap and keep my head down? Or should I keep pointing out when things are fucked up, in the hopes that I will be able to "nudge" the d00ds to behave better?
Holy crap. This week has been crazy busy. I am pretty sure that my brain is bruised. That can happen, right?
In addition to my normal schedule of managing my lab peeps and writing grants (have 2 foundation applications due at the end of the month), I have given 4 - not a typo - different talks this week. Two were for grad students, one was a low-key presentation for my dept., and the other was a Big Time talk for another program at my MRU (a big deal). The talks went well (I totally nailed the "big" one). Oh, and it is interview season. Prospective grad students, faculty candidates, more grad students. You name it, I'll interview it. Oh yeah, and I've got a stack of postdoc fellowship applications I am supposed to review. Damn.
It is safe to say that the work/life balance was tipped toward work this week. Hopefully tomorrow I can get enough done on my grants to justify taking a small break this weekend. I really need to go for a run-I have been too sleep deprived to get my normal workouts in.
My brain is just too tired to put together a coherent post (see above). But I do have a couple of points I would like to bring up for anyone that is out getting interviewed right now:
- under no circumstances should you answer (or send) a text message during an interview.
- seriously, just put away your iPhone. At least pretend to be interested in what I am talking about when I am interviewing you.
- for a TT job talk, please tell me why I care. Spend some time on the big picture, please.
That is all I have right now. I am fucking exhausted.
>First of all, thanks to everyone that un-lurked for the meme post. I read all the comments, and it is pretty fun knowing who is out there. One theme seemed to be that folks were interested in how the new TT job goes. I believe that you often learn more when something goes wrong than when all is smooth. If that is true, I must have learned a SHIT-TON the last couple of weeks.
Anywho, prepare to be learned:
The last two weeks have been crazy. I don't think that I have EVER been this wiped out. It all started happily enough, by getting folks into my lab wOOt!!!!!!11!1!11!! I got an hourly employee that was super helpful- orders were getting placed, boxes were getting unpacked, NLSU rebates were being processed. So, I hire a tech and pick up an undergrad. We had a lab-warming party! Now we're gonna start making some data! All is well in GZ Lab.
This is where I mess up. It turns out...drumroll, please...training people takes A LOT of time. And I have a grant due in 12 days! A grant that I was writing on something that isn't currently on the front burner. So it was a lot of work. Except that I have to spend all my days training my peeps. Except I really need to be writing. But my peeps...but the grant...this is where implosion occurs. I haven't been getting a lot of sleep.
I know that for my lab to be successful I will need to get different projects funded. I'm OK with that. Hell, I'm excited to be able to keep all my projects going full steam all of the time. Because up to now I have been the only hands doing the work. I have always been in small labs without a lot (or any) technical assistance-all but 1 of my pubs are 2-author deals. So I stepped in a steaming pile of crap because I underestimated how much time training people would take. In the end it all worked out. I met my grant deadline, and next week experiments will be up and running! This morning, I slept in. Then I played with kiddo all day. It was good. Tomorrow I'll go back to the lab and get the next couple of grants planned out so that I can avoid the pile next time. Because one of the crystal-clear lessons from the last two weeks is that I need to be more efficient with my writing.