Archive for: March, 2012

weekend fun: #usethe19th

Mar 24 2012 Published by under gender

I few days ago, while ranting about discussing the hostile attitude toward women in the current political environment, I raised up the idea that we should consider a 19th amendment solution to this problem. I know this will come as a shock. Really. But other people had the same idea! And even better they followed up and started a whole twitter-hash-tag thing that is getting some attention!! The idea is that we don't have to just sit here when some idiot says something ridiculous. What we need to do is get out there and VOTE so that the idiots don't have a platform anymore. That's right...let's vote the misogynist fuck knuckles out of office. WOO HOO!

You can learn more about the #usethe19th campaign by checking out the twitter or facebook. And join in by adding the #usethe19th hashtag when you tweet (yet another) example of stupid legislation or idiot rhetoric. Good times!

11 responses so far

Welcome to the lab, Dr. Postdoc!

Mar 21 2012 Published by under academia, mentoring, on the job training

It wasn't that long ago that I was a new postdoc (shut up! It really wasn't that long ago). IME being a postdoc is awesome! You learned the basics of how to be a scientist as a graduate student. Now is you chance to develop your research skillz in a protected and supported environment. It is about as close to a CareBear Tea Party as you are gonna get in this business.

Being a postdoc is not always easy, and I know there are some disgruntled postdocs out there. There can be issues with your mentor, issues with the science. There are always going to be struggles as you work to find your own path and develop your career. It is hard work, and can be scary. You will most likely move to a new city. Maybe you moved to a new place for grad school, but this time you will not be entering with a bunch of classmates. You will be thrown into a fully-formed lab that may already have political baggage and/or a defined hierarchy. At some point you will start wondering what is expected of you. There is no universal answer, because every lab and every postdoc is different. But, here is a list of advice based on what I think helped me when I was a new postdoc and that I hope postdocs that join my lab will follow:

1. Don't assume that you know more than techs or graduate students because you have a PhD. Coming in as a n00b postdoc with a superiority complex will not help you. You will need help from your new colleagues, so don't act like a douche. Be a good lab citizen, and build a relationship with the lab folks.

2. Be ready to learn something new. Maybe you enter a whole new field and have to learn brand-new techniques and approaches. Perhaps you are in a lab that has some overlap with what you did as a grad student. Learn how folks in your new place do things. Realize that there is more than one way to do most things...and yours is not necessarily the "best".

3. Take the initiative. Don't expect for someone to "give" you a project. Find and read the important papers and come up with ideas of your own. Consider advice from your new PI, and people in the lab, but argue for your own ideas and approaches. Own your project. Find fellowships that you can apply for. Apply for them.

4. Get to know your colleagues. Find other new postdocs and get to know them. Actively build a network. You are going to need mentors, advice, and letter writers. You will have to talk to people that are not in your lab (or your institution) to do this. Don't wait to approach people until you need something. Build a relationship from the beginning. This includes other postdocs and grad students as well as faculty.

5. Think about what you want to do with your career. It is great if you want to stay in academia, but try to imagine a Plan B. If you don't want to stay in academia, figure out what you want to do. Then find out what skills you need to develop and find opportunities to do that. This can be teaching, writing, working with policy, interacting with tech transfer, etc.

6. Be realistic. It takes time to get a new project up and running. Science (and career development) takes time.

7. Don't play it safe. Your postdoc is a great time to try a high-risk/high-reward project. Be creative. You can have a back-up, "safe" project, but don't shy away from trying something "hard". Try to avoid the temptation of taking on the easy, obvious, "can't fail" project.

8. Ask questions. Lots of questions. At lab meetings, in seminars, walking through the hallways.

9. Make sure you know what is expected of you. Many of the poor postdoc-mentor relationships that I have seen stem from miscommunications. You need to make sure that you know if there are expectations about how many hours you are in lab. If you want to stay in academia, make sure you know whether you will get to take your project with you (have this conversation early in your postdoc, before it is clear how awesome your project is. Even if it is non-binding and is not a guarantee that the lab will not compete with you).

10. I honestly think that most PI want to be good mentors. Help us out! Be a good mentee.

Please add to this list in the comments! I have no doubt that there are other nuggets of advice out there for the newly-minted postdocs.

16 responses so far

Not That Kind of Doctor

Mar 12 2012 Published by under Uncategorized

I have planned, now for months, to write about what I expect from a new postdoc. But life has intervened, as it will. Someone that I care about has asked me "what's this medical thingy my doctor said? ... but what does it mean???" You may know the pain of trying to explain to someone that actually "I am Not That Kind of Doctor". This can be amusing/irritating, when you meet folks that you don't know very well and they want to know what the random thing on their elbow is, or are curious about why they ankle hurt only after they walk up stairs. But there is nothing more shitty when the person that is asking this question is someone in your family. Who has visited a doctor and got a scary-sounding diagnosis. And then you get called to explain "what does it mean?". Which, of course, you don't know. Because you are Not that Kind of a Doctor. I'm sorry, but I can't help here.

You need help looking at a Western blot? I'm your girl. I can help with your genetics or biology homework. But this shit is too much. I can't read between the lines and tell you "how bad it is". I wish I knew. I want to be in the room to ask all the questions that are flooding in my mind. But at this moment, my graduate training is worthless. I can tell you what the words mean (kinda). But there is no way I can tell you what they mean. I just can't.

9 responses so far

falling back

Mar 11 2012 Published by under gender

There are a lot of folks complaining right now about the "lost hour" from daylight savings time. And tomorrow morning when my alarm goes off I will have the same thoughts.

But really there is something much worse going on. There is a group of d00ds out there that would like to turn the clock back more than just one hour. Way more. These fellows believe that women aren't smart enough to make good choices. State after state has been passing laws that dictate what information must be provided a woman before she gets an abortion. Even if she (and her doctor) don't think it is necessary. Even if the information requires an invasive exam, like a transvaginal ultrasound. It is no surprise that the GOP wants to make abortion illegal. But recently things have been getting really nasty. Not only are women not to be trusted to gather all the important information. But sometimes, us ladeez will make the wrong choice if do have the info. As Dr. Jen Gunter points out, there are already NINE states that have made it legal for doctors to lie to women.

What. The. Fuck.

Even though these d00ds - and they are almost ALL d00ds - are not only convinced that we can't make good choices after we get pregnant. They are also pretty sure that we shouldn't really get to choose whether or not we get pregnant. For reasons that I can't comprehend, the GOP has decided that birth control shouldn't be a thing. OH, and they also are not a fan of sex ed. Basically, they seem to think that everything would be OK if the wimmin would just quit bein so damn slutty. And they would probably like it if we would kindly retreat back into the kitchen to make them a sammich.

It is a little hard for me to believe that we are going to argue about whether or not women should be treated equally in society during the 2012 presidential election. I always thought that the heavy lifting (for this) was done by the women in my mom and grandmother's generations. Like many, I have called my congressional representatives to make sure that they know where I stand on this issue. And I've given some cash to planned parenthood and such.

Last week, after I re-tweeted a link to another news story about the latest way to make sure the ladeez were doin the right thing, Cackle of Rad wanted to know how she could join in to fight against this bullshit. I wish I knew the right answer. I feel like we are lacking a cohesive and powerful response to the fuck-knuckles that are pushing these stupid policies. We need to look back on how our mother's generation organized themselves, and learn from their success. But in the short term, we need a nineteenth amendment solution. Everyone that believes women should be treated as full and equal American citizens needs to get out this year and make sure that folks with these horrible viewpoints are not elected.

7 responses so far

Week 22 #vwxpool Hockey Update

Mar 04 2012 Published by under Uncategorized

This was not a good week for me, hockey pool-wise. It turns out I forgot to actually make my picks this week, because I was too busy finishing up things so I could head off to my island vacation. That explains why I got so few points this week*:

at least I was on a beach!

Cath, on the other hand really kicked ass this week! So much, in fact, that she has taken over first place in total points:

blah blah blah

Here, you can see it better by just looking at the last few weeks:

Scientist Mother had a great week, otherwise I might still be floating between the groups.

There are clearly a "top-3" and a group of the rest of us. FWIW, I'm totally still beating all the other not-winners. w00t! So there you go. This week I actually did make some new picks we'll see how that all works out. Sadly I won't be on a beach this time.


*that's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

2 responses so far

Vacation FTMFW!!!

Mar 01 2012 Published by under awesomeness

Hi again! I've been a little busy, what with traveling to a conference and then organizing a graduate student recruitment event. And then, I took a little break for an island vacation! OMG, you guys it was awesome. Sunny and warm and lots of time to play in the ocean with Mini-G.

Unusual for me, I did an OK job of laying off the email and just ignoring work for a bit. Of course, now I am piled with a lot of crap that needs to be wrangled. But it was totally worth it. I also have a few blog posts kicking around in my brain. But, before I get to any of those there is something much more important that needs to be dealt with. Namely, the Sazerac. The most-awesome Dr. Becca posted a "classic" recipe for Mardi Gras. Now, I know I am not the cocktail maven that Dr. Becca is. Really, I'm more of a beer girl. But why should that stop me? So, here I offer you my own special recipe:

The Gerty-zerac*
First, I don't use an "old-fashioned" glass. Whatcha got against progress? I say, find the most modern looking glass you can. Or whatever is closest.

Rinse out your fancy glass to make sure it is clean. Fill the glass with crushed ice. Add a splash of simple syrup. Let the glass get cold. Then dump out the ice and sugar water.

Fill glass most of the way with whiskey. Right now I am enjoying a Bulleit Rye, myself. Dr. Becca uses like 3 oz., which is OK. But I say just fill the damn glass. 🙂

Add lemon twist.

You may notice that this beverage has neither absinthe (I am not speaking to the absinthe right now) or bitters (I never seem to have those around). I tend toward very simple cocktails. But I tell ya, this is Good Stuff.

Enjoy! I know that I will probably need one (or two) after I spend the day catching up on my emails.


*Caveat drinkor, YMMV, etc.

No responses yet