“Science, my lad, is made up of mistakes, but they are mistakes which it is useful to make, because they lead little by little to the truth.”
Spotlight Posts From TheCOM
By Bethany Huot (originally posted July 12, 2016)
If you’re anything like me – and I think most of you are – graduate school is a lot of struggle and frustration sprinkled with those rare moments of excitement and elation. You dread the question, “So, what’s next?” because you really have no idea! What exactly are you going to do next, and how do you even begin to know what your options are? With so much to do to publish and graduate, how are you supposed to find the time to consider and prepare for what’s next?
That is why I decided I needed a Community of Minds. I realized I didn’t have to “go it alone.” I could tap into those around me as a resource to help me through and hopefully help them in return. You can learn more about the motivation behind The Pub Club here. But in this post, I want to focus on you and how you can build, draw from and contribute to your own Community of Minds as a means for managing your career. (READ MORE)
NEW Posts From TheCOM
Reflections on the Academic Job Market
Like many others, I went on the job market for two years before landing in my current position. The first year on the job market I thought I was ready, but wow – I was completely unprepared. One major problem (of several) was that my future research plan lacked a clear vision, and I was not doing a great job of distinguishing myself from others in the field. Another mistake that I made was trying to make my research plan fit into the job ad – this led to me proposing research that I had very little interest in doing and was unexcited about. I strongly advise against this approach! How miserable would it be to do research that you are unexcited about just to get a tenure-track job??? So, I chalk year 1 up to a learning experience.
After this, I got a puppy (seriously), I reassessed, I got feedback from senior faculty at other institutions, and I asked myself what I wanted to do. This soul-searching led to a new and different research plan that I was excited to talk about. I wrote up the new plan and I asked anyone and everyone that was willing to read it and provide feedback. I asked the lab, my advisor, newly hired assistant professors, my friends who do not work in science, my family, etc. I wanted this research statement to communicate my plan to a wide audience and convey a clear message. Here is my first bit of advice: Use your community to get feedback on your research plan! Second, do not get upset if they provide critical feedback; they are working to help you become a better scientist and a better communicator. One resource that was extremely helpful for me is a repository of successful research statements curated by Jeff Ross-Ibarra at UC Davis https://github.com/RILAB/statements. After reading through these statements, I realized … (READ MORE)
Do It Anyway!
By Tiffany Lucas (Guest Contributor to TheCOM)
Your path isn’t going to be a straight one and you’re not going to be handed a map. I had a highly varied path in my research exposing me to many areas of biology, and I’m comfortable taking a deep dive into the primary literature. I enjoy identifying patterns and connections in science and between people, I am a strong scientific writer, and like presenting ideas to both experts and non-experts. It’s engaging for me to talk with talented scientists, business people, lawyers and patent agents, large industry, academia, and small biotech. Into my postdoc, I worked on developing my grant writing, presenting, and interdisciplinary science skills. I made connections in the biotech community and helped others who needed my expertise in grant writing and due diligence projects. I was very fortunate to be selected for a 6-month full-time position as a Technology Transfer Trainee at Washington University Office of Technology. This was an amazing program developed by Nichole Mercier, PhD, as she recognized the need to transition PhDs out of the lab and into exciting careers. That was a huge turning point for me; I discovered the early-stage biotech community and the passion that the scientists had here. My position as an Investment Analyst with a not-for-profit company, which is focused on supporting and developing early-stage biotech, is perfect for my interests and I’ll continue to grow in skills and abilities.
After leaving my 3.5-year postdoc lab for the technology transfer training program, my former PhD adviser asked skeptically, “Are you ok?” My response was… (READ MORE)
Science is Communication – A Time to R.O.A.R.
By Bethany Huot
This year at The Pub Club we have been focusing on one of the most important aspects of doing science – Communication! While we may view conducting experiments as the “doing” of science, without convincing others to fund our research, no experiments are possible; no science will get “done.” That experiment may be what enables us to move science forward with a breakthrough finding, but how can science be advanced without sharing our findings? Looking through this lens for a second, let’s make a list. We first must come up with an idea, which always involves seeking out and reading literature to guide us in defining important research questions. We often reach out to others in the field for their insights on our ideas. Reading work others have published is receiving communication, and talking to peers is active, two-way communication. We’ve already clarified that once you have a research question you must communicate it well in order to get funded to do the research. Now that you are funded, does the communication stop? Can you get or maintain collaborators without both verbal and written communication? Can you report your progress or brainstorm a problem in lab meeting without communicating? Can you recruit others to your lab if you don’t communicate to them the value of joining? Finally, as we have already said, can your findings advance anything if they are not clearly communicated to those who would use them? Viewed this way we realize that, in fact, Science Is Communication! (READ MORE)
By Bethany Huot
While at ICAR 2017, Adam Seroka and I were talking with Jacqueline Monaghan, who is an Assistant Professor at Queen’s University. She shared that, as a new professor, one of her favorite things to do when visiting other labs is looking for ideas to better organize her lab or new lab tricks she can adopt.
Tip #1: Use foil rather than twist ties or twine to tie Arabidopsis inflorescence for bulking seed. It is much faster and a bit gentler on the inflorescence stems.
The Pub Club
If you are interested in more information on The Pub Club or the possibility of “Meeting on The Edge of Science” by gathering with those in your lab community please contact Bethany by clicking here & filling out the form.