Archive for: May, 2011

do you want to work for me?

May 24 2011 Published by under academia, help, hiring, jr faculty

One thing that I have been thinking about a lot recently is how to attract good postdocs to my fledgling lab. This has only been intensified by the near-unanimous advice I have been getting both here and IRL that I need to focus on writing more grants and let the lab peeps collect the data. This raises the question: how do you recruit a good postdoc??

When I was looking for a postdoc, I wrote letters to people that I wanted to work for. They invited me for an interview, then offered me the job. I picked the one that I thought was the best fit and accepted the offer. Done! But, as a new lab I don't know if it works the same way. I feel like I should be more proactive, but I don't really know how. I usually have a couple people contact me after I give a talk, and I have put up some adverts on my website and subfield forums. But so far, there has been no one that I have been willing to recruit. There is one person that I have been in contact with that might come out for an interview, but they are almost a year away from defending.

I'm left sitting here wishing that a good (not even great) postdoc will call me up out of the blue. Surely there is a better way?

18 responses so far

Grants v. Papers

May 21 2011 Published by under grants, jr faculty, on the job training

Well, it is at least 5 h after the rapture should have made it to my time zone, and I'm still here. Not a surprise, really. I was never really that worried about whether I would be raptured. One of the benefits of being an atheist, I suppose.

One thing I have been thinking about a lot recently, though, is the writing of papers versus grants. Specifically, given that I have finite time resources, which should I be focused on right now?

Clearly, I need to have both grants and pubs to get tenure. I am approaching the first anniversary of my faculty position, and I have submitted many grants with mediocre success. I have one paper in review right now, and another that will go out soon, but these both still have my postdoc PI as an author, so even though i am the corresponding author they only kinda count.

I have decided that this summer I will get back to the bench and focus on getting some data, moving projects forward and getting at least 2 manuscripts out the door. I feel like right now I have to focus on publishing. But I really don't know if this is the best strategy. Sure, eventually we will need to show productivity, but it is conceivable that I could ride the momentum that I have now and get more cash.

I really don't know the correct answer here. But I'm s little burned out on grant writing. And I would like to see something actually happen. I also think that me being at the bench more this summer could be good to get my two grad students started off on the right foot.

Time will tell.

28 responses so far

Happy Friday!

May 13 2011 Published by under awesomeness, hiring, lab management

Jeebus I'm tired. Nothing even happened this week that should justify this level of exhaustion. But srsly, it was all I could do to stay awake at my desk today. But whatever.

Today was a happy day for me, even though my paper did get rejected (fuckers. But really, I'm over it). Because today I learned that another grad student will be joining my group!!!


So, for those keeping track I have now recruited TWO awesome students! I am not exaggerating when I say that these are two of the best students in our program this year. They work hard, read a lot, are enthusiastic and super motivated. They were recruited by some established, respected labs, but they chose me. So this summer I will go to the Big Meeting in my field with two students in tow. I'm so freaking excited!!

Of course now I feel even more pressure to bring in some more research money. Sigh.

6 responses so far

Did I just get dumped?

May 05 2011 Published by under academia, jr faculty, tenure-track OTJT

I got along well with my postdoc advisor. We worked well together, and he was very supportive of me as a trainee. When I started in the lab, we talked about my goal was to land a TT job. I started up a couple of new projects in the lab, and we agreed that I would take these with me when I left. Years passed, I wrote papers and fellowships, blah blah blah. I don't know if I would say my PD advisor was The Best Mentor, but I really think that I got what I needed out of the relationship. Then I went on the job market, and managed to wriggle into a position as an Assistant Professor. YAY!

And THIS is when my relationship with pd adviser started to get weird. All of the sudden, it became very difficult for me to have a normal conversation with PD advisor. When we chat, I keep getting the feeling that he is being very guarded. I asked him what was going on, and he basically said that he felt like I needed "some space". He seems to think that having too much interaction with my pd advisor will make it seem that I am not Independent.

To be clear: I am not trying to maintain collaborations with my old lab. But one thing that I have found is that being a new Asst. Prof can be a little...well...lonely. My colleagues are actually great, and I talk with them a lot. But no one has the same insight and background for talking about my specific research like my old pd advisor. And, though I am building my own group, right now there are times when I really miss the scientific interactions that I was used to as a postdoc. In short, I just don't understand how having a conversation with my pd advisor every 6-8 weeks is impeding my quest for Independence.

It has been exceedingly difficult for me to get him to sit down and submit the last couple of papers I have been working on. We finally got one submitted, but it was like pulling teeth. Even more than usual, I am NOT looking forward to dealing with the reviews. I have another manuscript in progress that I am also sort of dreading. This is a project that I started in PD lab, but most (60-75%) of the work was done in my own lab by my students. I will be senior and/or corresponding author, but since pd advisor will still be an author (I assume), there is the real possibility that he could make the whole thing a little more painful. Or at least slower.

And then, a few weeks ago I went to the same Conference as a new student in pd's lab. In the course of this meeting, it became clear that my pd advisor was continuing to work on one of the projects that we had agreed I would take with me for my own lab. I was floored. I am apparently now competing with my old pd advisor 🙁 I really did NOT see that coming. My colleague friends around here have advised me that I should pretty much quit talking to my old advisor, to reduce the likelihood that I get "scooped". AAAARGH!

So, WTF? I'm still trying to figure out exactly what is going on. Is this a normal "birth pang" of starting up a new lab?


EDIT: I had to add this, sent to me on the twitter by @kzelnio 🙂

36 responses so far