I'm going up for tenure!

(by gerty-z) Aug 15 2016

Hello, friends. I hope you are enjoying your summer break (or enjoyed, if you have already started classes again). This is a special year for me. See, I'm up for tenure, at a MRI that has an "up or out" policy. That means I either get promoted (with tenure), or I get fired because my contract will not be renewed.

I've turned in my tenure dossier - research statement, CV, teaching evaluations, list of folks that I think should write letters for me - and now, I wait. This sucks so much. I know that I did the best I could, considering*. But still, this is a Big Fucking Deal. And all I can do is wait. UGH!!!!

Well, that's not entirely true. Because there is other stuff to do. I have a few papers that need to get out. They should have been out already, in a perfect world, but it turns out that being a single mom*, teaching, running a lab, and all the other stuff took up some time so I'm a little behind on the paper submissions. But we have some good stuff, that is ready to go. It's gotten good responses at conferences. I think they will be good papers.

Now I'm stuck in this weird place between being tenured and being fired. Part of me is looking forward to what I might want to do if I get the Tenure. Another part of me is planning for when I don't. Reaching out to folks to see if they have job openings (your tenure packet is very similar to a job application, conveniently). I don't really want to leave my MRU - I have some amazing colleagues and incredible collaborators. But I have to be prepared. So, here I am, on the job market again. UGH.

I thought starting up the lab was hard (it was). This is another hard part. But I have such an awesome group, and a fantastic support network now. Even though I am scared and nervous and scared ... it's nice to know I have folks here on my side.


*details will probably follow. I miss writing here - it is good for me, and I want to pick it up again.

18 responses so far

grieving with my queer family

(by gerty-z) Jun 13 2016

This weekend, an asshole walked into Pulse, a gay bar in Orlando. It was Latinx night. It's Pride. The club was packed with dancing queers. Pulse was a safe place, maybe the only safe place for some of them. Until this asshole decided to start shooting. He shot over 100 people, and 49 have died.

My heart is broken. I can't stop thinking of all the folks whose lives have been shattered. The folks who lost loved ones. Those that were injured and will carry this with them for the rest of their lives. For all the queer folks in Orlando that had their safe place turned to carnage, and won't feel safe again for a while. For the folks that were outed by because they were at the club that night and now have to worried that they could get fired or lose their homes - because it is 100%  legal to fire and discriminate against someone for being gay in Florida.

I'm grieving for all my queer friends and my chosen family.

I'm so lucky that I can live openly. I am honored that I can be a role model, mentor, and safe place for others. One of the most gratifying parts of my jobs is cheering on the young queer scientists that are totally rocking it. But I'm scared. I know how it feels to have to consider where you are before you hold your girlfriend's hand. I have a habit of always scanning faces as I walk down the street so I know if I've caught someone's attention. I have had men (always men) leer at me if they saw me kiss my girlfriend. I have felt the anxiety of walking at night and coming across a group of guys and hoping they weren't a bunch of homophobes that might want to "convert" me to heterosexuality (aka rape). I've had strangers yell at me on the sidewalk and tell me that I'm going to burn in hell.  I've walked down a street with a gay friend and been concerned that he was going to get beat up. These things have all happened in what would be considered "safe" places. And I'm one of the lucky ones. I've not been beaten up for being gay, or fired, or evicted, or had my daughter taken away from me.

There is homophobia all around us. People that can't bake a fucking cake if gay people will eat it. Politicians that argue that same-sex marriage should be outlawed, and that pass "religious freedom" laws that make it legal to discriminate against LGBTQI* people (and the people that vote for them). Every news organization that didn't mention that the shooter targeted queers, and erased the victims of this horrible crime. Religions that teach it is sinful to be gay. People concerned about the gay agenda. Mix in easy access to fucking assault rifles and people die.

The LGBTQI* community is a target of violence. In the first 5 months of 2016 at least 10 transgender people have been murdered. Sexual orientation was a factor in 20% of hate crimes in 2013.

I am grieving. I am angry. And I am scared. So I'm going go grab a beer at my local gay bar. I will take comfort in my queer community, and we will start to heal together.

Because in the end, love WILL win.


A gathering of queers and allies outside Stonewall, in support of our friends in Orlando. source

4 responses so far

Mentoring Junior Faculty

(by gerty-z) Apr 29 2016

I'm nearing the end of my run as a assistant prof - which means that I am on the brink of either getting tenure or getting fired.* When I started my faculty appointment, there was a lot of discussion about how to mentor the jr faculty (me). Now I'm looking back on how things unfolded, and I have to say ... I'm not really convinced that the mentoring attempts helped me all that much. Which has started me thinking about how (if) the process could be changed so it was more effective.

First, how it went for me: in my department, each new faculty member puts together a "mentoring committee" of senior faculty that they choose. I picked several folks that I really respected (though I didn't really know them that well). We met once a year to discuss my progress, and then a letter was written (by them) and forwarded to the Chair for my file. The folks on my mentoring committee are awesome, and I know that they genuinely wanted to help me. But, TBH, most every one of our meetings could be boiled down to "Get grants and publish papers, and you will be fine". This is not exactly breaking news. I also had "unofficial" mentors - people who I got to know and who I would visit when I needed advice/sounding board for dealing with the everyday trials of running a research group (this group included many of my formal mentors but also other jr faculty and colleagues from other departments). These conversations were hugely helpful, as they helped me deal with situations in real time.

When I started, I thought that a formal mentoring committee would be super helpful. Now I'm not so sure. I'm wondering if there is a better way to mentor junior faculty. We don't need to hear (again) about how we just need to get papers and grants. We know that. There has to be a better way - but what is it?

Seriously. Is there something you do that is awesome for mentoring junior faculty? Does it ever work, or is this just a useless exercise to make the administrators feel like they are doing something?


*Knocks on wood, crosses fingers, makes sacrifice to gods of academia

16 responses so far

If it doesn't kill you...

(by gerty-z) Apr 18 2016

Lab safety is important. Really fucking important. We sometimes use some pretty crazy compounds in our work, and I expect the folks that work for me are trained and astutely follow the rules so that they (and their lab mates) are safe.

But labeling is out of fucking control and does more harm than good. Every fucking thing in our chemical room has some sort of "hazard" label - but it is not all hazardous. I get the "err on the side of caution" argument. But if every-fucking-thing is dangerous it is not always clear what you should actually be careful with.

And then there is the companies that try to profit off of a false sense of security. For example, ethidium bromide, a DNA stain commonly used to see your bands on a gel. Everyone is always told how horrible and terrible EtBr is. Turns out that is a load of horse pucky. The ridiculous hoops you jump through to "detox" EtBr are more dangerous than the actual chemical! But those "safe" alternatives to EtBr?? The ones that cost about 10x more and don't work quite as well?? Actually not safer (based on mutagenicity/toxicology).

Lab safety should be a real, thoughtful discussion. Not a knee-jerk-cover-the-university's-ass stupid exercise in pointlessness.

2 responses so far


(by gerty-z) Apr 13 2016

Subtweets are real. Sometime, I tweet about people and don't identify them. It amuses me. But here's the thing. I'm prolly not talking at you. Or about you. So I made a new hashtag to remind folks of this - #DINETAY (Dude, I'm not even talking at you). I get snarky about all sorts of things. Most of them are not you. Get over yourself.

You know who you are.

2 responses so far


(by gerty-z) Mar 15 2016

It's that time again. Lucky for me, a blog patron (I assume? I got an email) has picked up the mantle and totally organized a brackets-for-a-good-cause event (Yes, I'm totally cheating here...*).

Here are the deets (that's short for details):

We are trying to fund a student-lead engineering STEM program in a high poverty neighborhood, so invite your buddies to play as well! Players who are PIs are asked to donate $10 per bracket and students players are asked to donate $5 per bracket by Thursday, March 17th at 10 am EST. Pool manager bethann the great welcomes you back and is looking forward to another great tournament filled with epic upsets and buzzer beaters. This is an honor system, so be honorable 🙂 http://www.donorschoose.org/project/stem-summer-camp-in-the-community/1921370/ The winner of this year's bracket gets....BOOKS! You'll get three amazing and inspiring books on time and management that were featured on TheEdgeforScholars.org Good luck and tweet at us via @edgeforscholars or @mclneuro !


You can also find a bracket here



*The edge for scholars looks AWESOME - you should absolutely check it out!!

*OMG A REAL PRIZE!!! So Fucking Amazing

UPDATE: The project is FUNDED!! Here are some new projects that could also use some help:

Frog Pond FUNDED!
Metamorphosis FUNDED!
Microscopes! FUNDED!
Science kits for special needs classroom
Owl pellets

9 responses so far

My rescuers

(by gerty-z) Mar 10 2016

So, DrugMonkey has tagged me a blog meme. And I've been meaning to come back over here more now that things are settling down* So, here goes. Who are the five characters from movies/TV that i want to come in and rescue me from a "bad situation"

hmmm. i don't watch that much tv, but ...

  2. Rachel Maddow
  3. Michonne
  4. Arya Stark
  5. BanditoKat

I'm not sure any of my picks are "stable" ...


*hahahahaahhhaaa No they aren't, but whatev

One response so far

What the hell? some #sobtember motivation

(by gerty-z) Sep 03 2015

So this happened to me today via text message:

from unknown #: hey, this is [name of someone I don't know]

u#: [not my name] call me back. or [other person] or [another name]. another name said to

u#: call me back. or [other person] or [another name]. another name said to (yep, that one got sent twice)

me: you seem to have the wrong number. this is not [not my name]

u#: is this [also not my name]

me: Nope

u# and I'll text you my number
[not my name]

me: Pls don't. You have the wrong number.

u#: who is this then

me: Go away

u#: sorry I got the wrong number

u#: [not my name]

-End scene

What the hell is wrong with this idiot?

In happier news, today is the second day of #sobtember (not #sobtober - that wouldn't be until next month. also, it sounds a lot like "sober"). In case you need a little motivation, here is an excellent video that the magical @scitrigrrl has found for us:

One response so far

#Sobtober (edit - I mean #Sobtember) - let's do this!

(by gerty-z) Sep 01 2015

While I was prepping for teaching today (*barf*), a couple of the twitts came up with the fantastic idea of an September workout challenge. It's been named #Sobtember. Here are all the details, from the most-awesome @SciTriGrrl:

#SOBTEMBER  - A new workout challenge.

We haven’t done this for a while, and with a new semester starting, we figured it was time to set up a workout challenge as threat of public shaming and punishment inspiration, motivation, to work out stress at the beginning of the semester.

The goal is 30 workouts in 30 days. Or 7 workouts per week throughout September.

30 concurrent days is really incredibly hard because life happens, so this doesn’t need to do one workout per day. You can double up on some days and take a rest day others (see FAQ #8).

CARDIO workouts are at least 30 minutes of getting your heart rate up.

STRENGTH workouts are at least 10 minutes of strength work. Doesn’t have to be weights - it can be planks or pushups or yoga or pilates. Or the NYTimes 7minute workout. Physical Therapy. Whatever you need to work on / want to do.

Let me (@scitrigrrl) know if you’re in, then tweet your workouts with the hashtag #Sobtember, subscribe to the #Sobtember twitter list.

For those up for a challenge, do at least three (3) cardio and two (2) strength training sessions per week*.

*For those of us (like me and @TheSpenceLab) who get confused with counting and days-in-the-month, 3+2 does not add up to 7 workouts per week, so you’re gonna need to add 2 more workouts per week.

If you can’t do that, do whatever you can/ whatever you need to work on. All workouts are good.


Question 1: Can I have rest/sick/lazy/binge-TV-watching days
Answer: Yes. Catch up by doing 2 workouts on the same day to catch up.

Question 2: What if I lie?
Answer: Cheating is bad. It’s a woodchipperable offense. But I’m FAR too lazy to check up on you, so you’re only lying to yourself. Also see the answer to #3.

Question 3: What happens if I DON’T do the workouts?
Answer: @namaste_ish is in charge of all punishments for workout failure. Twitter shaming is the least of your worries. Be very, very afraid.

Previous punishments have included… photos. [shudder -gz]

Question 4: What do I get if I DO the workouts?
Answer: Twitter-love. motivation for the next workout, and the satisfaction of working out.

What? you wanted cookies too?

Question 5: How do I know who else is doing it?

Answer: subscribe to #Sobtember twitter list, and watch your twitter stream. We already have a star-filled lineup including @GertyZ, @Namaste_ish and @CackleofRad.

Question 6: I did a 60minute spin class. Does that count as 2 workouts?
Answer: No.
Question: But…?
Answer: No.
Question: b…?
Answer: STILL NO. But if you do a 30minute cardio and 30 mins strength, that is 2. Or Spin class followed by a 30minute run = 2. Or 30min run in the morning and 30min walk in the evening = 2.

Question 7: Does eating icecream count as a workout.
Answer: not unless you’re actually working out WHILE eating icecream. [...and you don't throw up. -gz]

Question 8 : Who do I contact for questions?
Answer: Just tweet with the #Sobtember hashtag. [Or, you know, leave a comment -gz].

Question 9: https://twitter.com/tollkuhn/status/638463223142985728
Answer: Nope! But please post pics of leg warmers. [PLEASE! -gz]


* High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) workouts with weights can count as either strength OR cardio, but do not double count one HIIT workout as both. That’s cheating. And cheating is a woodchipperable offense.

Now if you do two in one day, you can do whatever you like, eat whatever you like, and basically own the world.


Links for HIIT workout http://dailyburn.com/life/fitness/hiit-workouts-for-beginners/

Also: http://dailyburn.com/life/fitness/hiit-workouts-for-beginners/ inspiration, motivation, to work out stress at the beginning of the semester.


#Sobtember starts TOMORROW!!

6 responses so far

Asking for a friend...

(by gerty-z) Aug 21 2015

What is your favorite way to get out of meetings? I had some ideas on twitter, but some folks thought that the blogosphere might be better for this query.

Screen Shot 2015-08-20 at 5.06.32 PM

Any ideas?


15 responses so far

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