Archive for: June, 2011

F#%& you and your red tape

Jun 30 2011 Published by under Uncategorized

I get that when starting up a new lab that there will be inevitable speed bumps. Sure, this didn't stop me from swearing when the freezer I ordered came with plugs that didn't fit into the receptacles available. But I figured out a way to persevere, and in the end everything worked out. But now. Now I am approaching the end of my rope. So, I would like to offer this letter to the Purchasing Dept. at my MRU:

Dear Purchasing Official:

Fuck you. You have been fucking with me for almost 6 months. I do not understand WHY FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS GOOD IN THIS WORLD you seem unwilling to place my order. Do you not realize that if I can't get this inexpensive little Slicer that my super-important Slicer/Dicer/Julienner equipment WILL NOT EVER BE FUNCTIONAL??!!!!??!?! Or do you just not care? Just, by chance, did someone give you a giant roll of red tape for your birthday and you decided to unload the whole fuck-wad of it on me?




sincerely yours,


12 responses so far

lab dynamics at the conference

Jun 29 2011 Published by under colleagues

I wanted to let you all know that I will be out of town for a conference...last week. ooops! Better late than never, right? Since you asked...the conference was a huge success!! This was a relatively large meeting for my field, but I have been around long enough that I feel like I know *almost* everyone. It was great to catch up with everyone, I laid down the foundation for a couple of collaborations, and I think that I may have a couple of nibbles for some postdocs (fingers are crossed!).

The most exciting thing about this meeting is that it was the first meeting that I took all my students to! They did great. More precisely, I assume they did great. I saw them at lots of sessions but they didn't spend a lot of time with me. I introduced them to as many folks as I could and they are all RAMPED now that they are back in lab! They are reading more papers and I have overheard several conversations about talks and posters they saw at the meeting. More importantly, they all seem genuinely excited about their own research projects and how they fit in with the rest of the field. Hopefully this will translate into some research results over the summer πŸ™‚

The lab dynamic at meetings is interesting to me. For all my training I have been going to these meetings pretty much solo. I don't know why, but the folks that I have worked with before were never really "travellers". I guess after a point you don't have to be. And I was in pretty small labs, with only a couple of other students/postdocs. This meant that when I was at a meeting I didn't even have the option of hanging out with my fellow lab mates. But I know this is not really the norm, because a lot of the folks that I talk to at meetings hang out with other people from their home lab. A LOT! This confuses me a little, because I like meeting new people (and talking to folks that I can't see everyday) when I'm at meetings. So, I was actually pretty happy that my lab peeps were independent enough to navigate this meeting without my help. I guess now I know that next time I should plan ahead if we are going to arrange a lab-bonding experience at the next conference!

What do you think? Do you hang in a group with your lab mates at conferences, or are you more of a solo traveller?

16 responses so far

Women in Academia, v2

Jun 20 2011 Published by under Uncategorized

You all know that women face some "special" obstacles when trying to make it in academics. Some of these even have nothing to do with lady parts or uterus squatters! Unfortunately, it can seem that many career advice panels for women get all distracted by the chaos caused by the rugrats. Never fear!! Our own most-awesome Hermitage is going to fill this gap! AGAIN! Yes, once is not enough for The Hermitage, so she has launched Part 2 of her Wimminz in Academia, now with 100% less baby. Stop by over there and submit your (baby-free) question that you would like to have answered by a kick-ass female scientist.

You should also check out Part 1, as it is chock-full of baby-free super awesomeness (including some from me!). Enjoy πŸ™‚

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the attention span of a 4 year old

Jun 17 2011 Published by under Uncategorized

There are times that I can be a little...distractable. I used to describe myself as "having the attention span of a 4 year old". Let me just say that, now I am living with a 4 year old, I was WAY OFF. Holy crap, sometimes the speed with which Mini-G changes topics can induce whip-lash. I love her to death, and she is cute as all get-out. But seriously, I get confused just watching her go down the hall to her bedroom. Between the two of us, our attention spans can lead to some pretty awesome conversations during our morning commute. I mean, really, what are we even talking about anymore?

BTW, a big THANKS to everyone that stepped out of the bloggy shadows to say hi! I really appreciate learning more about you all-so if you haven't participated in my de-lurk meme please do so now.

Thus, it is with great pride that I dedicate this list of random thoughts to Mini-G:

1. WTF is up with the ridiculously ineffective toilet paper, MRU? I know times are tight, but I didn't even know that one could purchase half-ply tp. gah!

2. there is a giant spider family that has made a home under the ledge outside my window. It is sort of mesmerizing.

3. who are all the people riding their bikes down the trail in the middle of the day?

4. should I combine aims 2 and 3? or split aim 1 into 2?

5. cumulus clouds are my favorite (if there have to be clouds)

6. how did I get "I think we're alone now" stuck in my head? I haven't heard that song in years

7. who knew beets+goldfish crackers+kidney beans+blue cheese would be so awesome?

8. I'm a little freaked out by pine-nuts now. Thanks a lot, Scicurious!

9. how soon after a colleague announces they are leaving is is OK to start claiming equipment for the cultch pile?

10. If you go to a conference and 100% of the invited speakers are male and white, is it every OK (as a jr female) to bring this to the attention of the organizer?

11. how are my legs so wrecked after only 6 mi this morning?

12. how long will I stare at this grant before I can think of what I should write next?

13. fuck it, i'm gonna get some more coffee


13 responses so far

Bandwagon-jumping: Who are you, why are you here, and what do you want from me?

Jun 16 2011 Published by under meme

This morning DrugMonkey posted his annual get-to-know-your-readers meme. Odyssey has already jumped on board, and I am happy to follow. Because I really do want to know more about my audience here (both of you!). The meme originates with Ed Yong at Not Exactly Rocket Science. This year, Ed asked the following of his readers:

"Tell me who you are, what your background is and what you do. What’s your interest in science and your involvement with it? How did you come to this blog, how long have you been reading, what do you think about it, and how could it be improved?"

So take a minute to tell me about yourself and how you got here. Use these questions to get started, or go your own way. But please de-lurk and say something, even if it your very first comment. I am excited to learn about why you started to read this blog, and what keeps you coming back. Cheers!


40 responses so far

What a great Tuesday!!

Jun 14 2011 Published by under awesomeness, grants

I have just got news that one of my pending grants will be funded. It is not the holy grail of the R01, but it is a big deal for me. YAY!!

This news was greatly appreciated, especially after the last few days that i have spent in a "workshop" for my subfield. There have been some good interactions, but for some reason there seems to be a trend of senior folks being rather condescending. It is a little exhausting.

One thing that I have noticed over the course of this workshop, however, is the difference in the way that young women and men present their research. Each of the trainees (senior postdocs and new junior faculty) at this workshop presents a potential grant outline in order to get pre-submission feedback. Many of the data are preliminary, as they should be. What i have noticed is that most of the females are timid, almost apologetic, during these talks and the question and answer session. The men don't seem to have this problem, and do a much better job of defending their proposals. I don't understand this at all. The women here are successful and have good data and ideas. So why are they so less confident? I really don't understand this phenomenon at all.

Ladies, we have to do better!! I get that it can be intimidating to stand up in front of a small group of the big names in the field...but that is no excuse. Do whatever you have to in order to appear more confident. FAKE it if you have to. Try to emulate the behavior of good (confident) speakers, male and female. Practice more so that you are more comfortable. But we have got to stop standing up and seeming so timid. If you don't (seem) to believe in your data, there is no way your audience will.

12 responses so far

I gay wrote this post

Jun 10 2011 Published by under academia, queer

As you all know, I am a lesbian-I've written before about it here and here. Perhaps you didn't know that June isΒ  LGBT pride month, by Presidential proclamation. Jeremy Yoder at Denim and Tweed is putting together a Pride Carnival, which is a great idea. I will (try to remember to) link to when it is up. In the mean time, I thought I would write a little about being out.

Recent polls suggest that the majority of Americans support same-sex marriage, and support is especially strong in younger folks. This is great news, but there is still work to do. The upcoming Republic primary has brought a lot of anti-gay rhetoric back to the forefront. I do not know why the Republican field feels like gay-bashing is the way to win elections. There is not much that I can do to counteract this behavior, other than make sure my Congress Critters know where I stand on the issue. But I digress.


What I wanted to write about today is what it is like to be out as a new TT academic in the bio-sciences. EcoPhysioMichelle over at C6-H12-O6 has a post up about feeling invisible as a non-heterosexual academic. As she points out, it can be relatively easy to not mention the fact that you are LGBT. I have made it a point in my life to NOT be invisible. In other words, I am fully out. Everyone in my department knows that I am gay: colleagues, administrators, the janitor. All of the students know. My wife comes with me to departmental events and we have the lab peeps over for the occasional BBQ. If you are straight, you may be thinking "well, everyone knows that I am straight". No big deal, right. Wrong.

It is actually pretty exhausting to be out. I have to come out OVER AND OVER again. Pretty much every time that I meet someone new. You may not realize how often people make assumptions about heterosexuality. It would be easy for me not to correct people when they assume that I had a husband, and be invisible. But instead I instigate a short moment of awkwardness and correct the record. I will also inevitably have to answer questions about Mini-G. People are very interested in the details about how two women have a child. I suspect that straight couples are not asked so many questions about how their children are conceived.

For your enjoyment, here is a representative conversation:
person: So, what does your husband do?
me: there is no husband. But, my wife is a [redacted]
person: ...
person: OH. *looks awkward*
person: how did you get married? it's not legal, right?
me: actually, we had a private ceremony. You are right, same-sex marriage is not legal in this state.
person: OH. *looks awkward*
me: so...[restarts conversation, generally going back to what we talking about before]

generally at this point, the other person gets past the awkwardness and we can go back to just talking like normal humans. Not always, but that is OK. It can be even more painful if they notice a photo of Mini-G. Here is an example (an aggregate from my real life):

person: is that your daughter?
me: yep
person: she's adorable!
me: that is true
person: she looks just like you
me: that is a coincidence. We share no genetic material.
person: ??
me: my wife carried her
person: how does that work?
me: I assume you aren't asking about human embryonic development?
person: just...
me: It basically works the same as it would for straight couples, except for the sperm delivery method.

These conversations can happen any time, any day. At scientific meetings, in the hall, in my lab. I'm used to it now, but it is still exhausting. But still I do it. Every time. I hope that by being so open that I can be an example/mentor for others that may not feel so safe that they can be out. I also believe that the more people that know someone who is gay (and KNOW that they know someone who is gay), the faster that some of the ass-backward laws out there will get changed. Since I can be out, I am I just hope that by being visible, I am making it better for others that still must be invisible.


If you would like some information about coming out, the HRC has a resource page here.

40 responses so far

Random thoughts on the airplane

Jun 03 2011 Published by under hilarity, on the job training, venting

As I am sitting on the airplane, I have had a fair amount of time to get some thinking done without any of the common interruptions. This has been mostly very productive. I got my two talks for this trip put together, outlined a grant I am starting to write (see below), read some papers that have been piling up, and drafted some adverts for postdocs to send to select mailing lists. It is amazing how productive I can be when there is no Internet access! But,I have not been a laser-beam of focus, and to prove it I will share some random thoughts.

1. Thereof nothing that you can do to make a 4:30 am cab ride to the airport fun.
2. Why the hell are there so many people at the airport Wed at 5:00 am?
3. My resolve to take all summer off from writing grants has failed. I have decided to write up something I have been percolating for a while. I was thinking of waiting until next fall, but changed my mind after consulting some colleagues. Plans, schmans.
4. I walk faster than 90% of the people in the Atlanta airport, and I'm not even rushing to catch my next flight.
5. I don't know how to embed links using wordpress on the iPad.
6. There are a lot of folks that have already picked over Coburn's "report" about waste at NSF (see #5). So I won't even try to go through why it is so fucking ridiculous right now. But, I have made sure my representatives in the house and senate know how I feel about it. And you should, too. Be sure to tell them that is we let half-wit "reports" like this pass as truth that the terrorists win.

That's enough for now, surely. I'm off to give a seminar and then head up the coast a little to a conference. Hopefully there will be wifi!

Update: it is 3 days (or so) since I started this post. Wi-fi FAIL πŸ™ I really hope that the next destination is better equipped. In happier news, I had a fantastic visit with my colleague at East coast Fancy Institute. My seminar went really well and I think that the foundation of some new collaborations have been set. Yay!

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