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(Science Magazine)   Science grad schools: "We don't want your kind around here, Mr. I-have-hobbies-and-a-life"   (sciencecareers.sciencemag.org) divider line 139
    More: Sad, graduate schools, ecology and evolutionary biology, molecular biology, mendelian, Changing the Game, Case Western Reserve University, postdocs, beakers  
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6817 clicks; posted to Geek » on 26 Dec 2012 at 4:34 PM (1 year ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2012-12-26 01:02:22 PM
There's a certain myth of a "pure" scientist out there: someone for whom the pursuit of scientific knowledge, not necessarily to do anything with it but simply to know, is life's highest and ultimate calling, to be pursued with quasi-monastic zeal. This myth is what institutions like the ones mentioned in TFA are pursuing.
 
2012-12-26 01:13:58 PM

Millennium: There's a certain myth of a "pure" scientist out there: someone for whom the pursuit of scientific knowledge, not necessarily to do anything with it but simply to know, is life's highest and ultimate calling, to be pursued with quasi-monastic zeal. This myth is what institutions like the ones mentioned in TFA are pursuing.


What do these institutions know about "pure" science? They though my methods weren't "pure" for their know-nothing, close-minded attitudes. Backwards fools, they are! But I'll show them pure....I'll show them all!!!
 
2012-12-26 01:20:41 PM
'zebrafish nematodes xenopus" - Spreading yourself a little thin there, in the opinion of The Committee.
 
2012-12-26 01:38:33 PM
WTF is cribbage?
 
2012-12-26 01:38:41 PM
I knew this person couldn't have spent a day in grad school before I started reading.
 
2012-12-26 01:51:22 PM
Adam Ruben, Ph.D., is a practicing scientist and the author of Surviving Your Stupid, Stupid Decision to Go to Grad School.

The decision obviously wasn't so stupid, since he has a job as a scientist.

Anyway, Most people in grad school, like people everywhere, have outside interests. Maybe this guy's department was embarrassed of him because his stand-up comedy was bad.
 
2012-12-26 02:06:55 PM

Millennium: There's a certain myth of a "pure" scientist out there: someone for whom the pursuit of scientific knowledge, not necessarily to do anything with it but simply to know, is life's highest and ultimate calling, to be pursued with quasi-monastic zeal. This myth is what institutions like the ones mentioned in TFA are pursuing.


I know people like that, but they are rare.  They also have lots of grant money, but I don't know why anyone would live that way by their own choosing.
 
2012-12-26 02:09:20 PM
This is where Chinese students make great grad students - they're machines.  They simply toil, hour after hour and day after day.  Most I knew would work 7 days/week, 12-18 hours/day, for years.  Fark that.

/PhD biochemist
//Likes beer and sports more than the lab
 
2012-12-26 02:12:55 PM

sweetmelissa31: Adam Ruben, Ph.D., is a practicing scientist and the author of Surviving Your Stupid, Stupid Decision to Go to Grad School.

The decision obviously wasn't so stupid, since he has a job as a scientist.

Anyway, Most people in grad school, like people everywhere, have outside interests. Maybe this guy's department was embarrassed of him because his stand-up comedy was bad.


I've actually seen him at a couple of storytelling events in D.C. I was so impressed that I made it a point to see his show at the Capital Fringe Festival this year.

He's pretty funny. This was pretty funny too, although maybe a little long.
 
2012-12-26 02:19:34 PM

FishyFred: He's pretty funny. This was pretty funny too, although maybe a little long.


Maybe- I have never seen him perform before. I associate the book with a girl I knew from grad school (she was a fan) who would always complain about grad school. Meanwhile, she worked for a great advisor and her parents bought her a condo and a car, so I didn't know what she was complaining about.
 
2012-12-26 02:35:59 PM
"I was curious about the alcohol content of my mouthwash, but the label on the bottle didn't say anything about it. I guess the proof was beyond the text of this Scope!"
upload.wikimedia.org
 
2012-12-26 02:48:47 PM
As someone with widely varied interests contemplating grad school for Physics while trying to knock my wife up, I am not getting a kick out of these replies.
 
2012-12-26 03:13:52 PM

Millennium: There's a certain myth of a "pure" scientist out there: someone for whom the pursuit of scientific knowledge, not necessarily to do anything with it but simply to know, is life's highest and ultimate calling, to be pursued with quasi-monastic zeal. This myth is what institutions like the ones mentioned in TFA are pursuing.


And yet if you trouble to examine our actual history, most works of true breakthrough genius have come from  well-rounded individuals who see connections for disparate areas of their education and combine them in new and brilliant ways, not semi-autisitc  science monks who by and large become , as Heinlein aptly put it "bottle washers and button sorters".

Einstein was a straight up Pimp with  the ladies, and so, inexplicably, is Hawkings.  Richard Feynman seemed like a hell of a guy to party with by all accounts and Oppenheimer was so well-read he could quote the <i> Baghavad ghita</i> from memory when the occasion demanded.
 
2012-12-26 03:15:24 PM

Z-clipped: As someone with widely varied interests contemplating grad school for Physics while trying to knock my wife up, I am not getting a kick out of these replies.


Don't fret, man.  We're all trying to help you with the wife.
 
2012-12-26 03:23:24 PM

Relatively Obscure: Z-clipped: As someone with widely varied interests contemplating grad school for Physics while trying to knock my wife up, I am not getting a kick out of these replies.

Don't fret, man.  We're all trying to help you with the wife.


hellogiggles.com
 
2012-12-26 03:41:08 PM

jehovahs witness protection: WTF is cribbage?


It's a card game usually played between two people, although you can play with three or four. The score system uses a special board and pegs.

Part of the game is you're dealt 6 cards and you have to put 2 cards into the other person's "crib".

Scoring is done by pairs, runs (3 or more in a row of any suit) and using combination of cards to get to 15.
 
2012-12-26 03:55:49 PM
I have a friend who is a marine biology PhD candidate whose hobby is apparently taking risque pictures of herself.
 
2012-12-26 04:16:55 PM

RexTalionis: I have a friend who is a marine biology PhD candidate whose hobby is apparently taking risque pictures of herself.


pictures or it didn't happen.
 
2012-12-26 04:27:00 PM

cannotsuggestaname: RexTalionis: I have a friend who is a marine biology PhD candidate whose hobby is apparently taking risque pictures of herself.

pictures or it didn't happen.


I don't think she'll appreciate that, so no.
 
2012-12-26 04:27:00 PM
Yeah, my friend was in the natural sciences doing a PhD at MIT and they basically made it clear that he would have to quit his side hobby of playing the trumpet or leave. So he transferred to another uni.My grad department has such high expectations that it gets to the point where it completely takes over your life, but I'm in the social sciences, so our whole process of getting funding for dissertation research is different. You're on your own, no working in teams.
 
2012-12-26 04:28:16 PM

RexTalionis: cannotsuggestaname: RexTalionis: I have a friend who is a marine biology PhD candidate whose hobby is apparently taking risque pictures of herself.

pictures or it didn't happen.

I don't think she'll appreciate that, so no.


let me guess, she is from Canada and we wouldn't know her?
 
2012-12-26 04:31:36 PM

cannotsuggestaname: RexTalionis: cannotsuggestaname: RexTalionis: I have a friend who is a marine biology PhD candidate whose hobby is apparently taking risque pictures of herself.

pictures or it didn't happen.

I don't think she'll appreciate that, so no.

let me guess, she is from Canada and we wouldn't know her?


No, she's from New Jersey and you wouldn't know her anyway.
 
2012-12-26 04:36:18 PM

Because People in power are Stupid: "I was curious about the alcohol content of my mouthwash, but the label on the bottle didn't say anything about it. I guess the proof was beyond the text of this Scope!"
[upload.wikimedia.org image 300x200]


Oh come on, that was pretty funny.
 
2012-12-26 04:42:34 PM
Doesn't just apply to the classical sciences, either. Despite all their gum-flapping to the contrary, it's amazing how software developers are encouraged to monomaniacal focus.

If you want to be a software developer, ensure that you are unmarried, male, and without children - no need for those pesky distractions. You will be hired over married, female, or child-burdened developers, all other things being equal.
 
2012-12-26 04:45:54 PM

SnakeLee: Millennium: There's a certain myth of a "pure" scientist out there: someone for whom the pursuit of scientific knowledge, not necessarily to do anything with it but simply to know, is life's highest and ultimate calling, to be pursued with quasi-monastic zeal. This myth is what institutions like the ones mentioned in TFA are pursuing.

I know people like that, but they are rare.  They also have lots of grant money, but I don't know why anyone would live that way by their own choosing.


.. and they're frequently raging, raging ASSHOLES, because things like "I can't do that experiment tomorrow, my mother is dying" are not considered valid excuses from their students. Oddly enough they're usually smart enough to be nice to people with more power than them. Their labs have all the esprit de corps of a North Koreean gulag, but they do tend to publish regularly in high-impact journals.
 
2012-12-26 04:48:18 PM
"Hi, I was wondering if it would be better if I listed outside activities on my CV or not?"

"We don't really take outside interests into account."

"OMG GRAD SCHOOLS ACTIVELY DISCOURAGE OUTSIDE ACTIVITIES!!!!~"
 
2012-12-26 04:49:36 PM
Dear Mr. Feynmann,

We received your application and we are impressed with your history of accomplishment. However, your interest in "drumming" makes us conclude that you are not properly focused on science, and we have decided to give the scholarship to a geek drone who won't come up with any creative solutions.
 
2012-12-26 04:52:43 PM

FormlessOne: Doesn't just apply to the classical sciences, either. Despite all their gum-flapping to the contrary, it's amazing how software developers are encouraged to monomaniacal focus.

If you want to be a software developer, ensure that you are unmarried, male, and without children - no need for those pesky distractions. You will be hired over married, female, or child-burdened developers, all other things being equal.



Are you kidding? Most places are dying to hire women to even out the absurd gender gap at their workplace. Certainly in the public sector IT jobs, if you're a woman, you're in.
 
2012-12-26 05:04:55 PM
I remember graduating from Grad school and getting my first real job. They were apologetic about having to have us work 43 hour weeks to get the rate down for the contract.

Since I had just finished doing 2 years of 80+ hour weeks the three extra hours didn't bother me a bit...
 
2012-12-26 05:07:55 PM
Sometimes you have Left Brain breakthroughs when doing Right Brain activities, and vice-versa. Frowning on your staff doing their own thing in their own time is not only wrong, it's counter-productive. It's nobody's business what I do in my own time...
 
2012-12-26 05:10:01 PM

aerojockey: "Hi, I was wondering if it would be better if I listed outside activities on my CV or not?"

"We don't really take outside interests into account."

"OMG GRAD SCHOOLS ACTIVELY DISCOURAGE OUTSIDE ACTIVITIES!!!!~"


So , in other words, you didn't read TFA?
 
2012-12-26 05:10:48 PM
Scientists with outside interests are often regarded with suspicion in the lab

What kind of psycho, paranoid lab do these people work for?
 
2012-12-26 05:11:18 PM

Christian Bale: FormlessOne: Doesn't just apply to the classical sciences, either. Despite all their gum-flapping to the contrary, it's amazing how software developers are encouraged to monomaniacal focus.

If you want to be a software developer, ensure that you are unmarried, male, and without children - no need for those pesky distractions. You will be hired over married, female, or child-burdened developers, all other things being equal.


Are you kidding? Most places are dying to hire women to even out the absurd gender gap at their workplace. Certainly in the public sector IT jobs, if you're a woman, you're in.


My thunder, it's all gone.

I won't turn this into a white privilege whine fest, but this is a general rule applied to any job market.

1) be unique
2) acquire job

So, a male nurse, a female programmer ect, is a plus to your job looking skills. You won't get hired or fired over it, but instead of getting 1-2 call back for 10 job searches, if you are an outlier, you get 9 callbacks.
 
2012-12-26 05:13:56 PM

FormlessOne: If you want to be a software developer, ensure that you are unmarried, male, and without children - no need for those pesky distractions. You will be hired over married, female, or child-burdened developers, all other things being equal.


Not my experience (at least in the west - US, UK and FR anyway - the team I managed in Vietnam had a different culture), neither as hirer nor hiree.    Outside interests (and not just hobby projects on github...) are encouraged.
 
2012-12-26 05:20:17 PM

aerojockey: "Hi, I was wondering if it would be better if I listed outside activities on my CV or not?"

"We don't really take outside interests into account."

"OMG GRAD SCHOOLS ACTIVELY DISCOURAGE OUTSIDE ACTIVITIES!!!!~"


---

This.

To pursue a doctorate, especially in the sciences, you better have weapons-grade (sometimes literally) aptitude and dedication to your field. At that level you're supposed to be the best of the best. Presumably you were accepted to a good college with certain requirements and did well there, so you're probably well-rounded enough based on that anyway.

If you're dwelling on your extra-curriculars, you're probably not good enough at the actual field. There's a good chance those who are good at it have interesting hobbies too, but their main work speaks for itself.
 
2012-12-26 05:20:21 PM

Mikey1969: Sometimes you have Left Brain breakthroughs when doing Right Brain activities, and vice-versa. Frowning on your staff doing their own thing in their own time is not only wrong, it's counter-productive. It's nobody's business what I do in my own time...


I would see it as downright dangerous considering our economy wants the mentality of an autistic yet the flexibility of a well-rounded individual. Sure, you can create people who work like machines at only one thing in life, but I wouldn't want to see them when that one thing stops being profitable and they have to do something else.

A human being is not supposed to be that focused on one single pursuit. There's a ton of life out there to live, and sitting in a lab trying to obtain funding is really a poor way to life if you don't choose that way of life. Honestly, it's quite horrifying to see that happening in universities. The purpose of life is to live, and what is this shiat about only doing this thing for hours on end, every single waking moment? Get a farking grip.

FormlessOne: Doesn't just apply to the classical sciences, either. Despite all their gum-flapping to the contrary, it's amazing how software developers are encouraged to monomaniacal focus.

If you want to be a software developer, ensure that you are unmarried, male, and without children - no need for those pesky distractions. You will be hired over married, female, or child-burdened developers, all other things being equal.


i bet you can fool them if you don't bathe and have outrageous B.O. At least that worked for the guys in a programming class I took. Everybody who didn't smell failed out pretty quickly...which was probably for the best.
 
2012-12-26 05:20:34 PM

Mister Peejay: Because People in power are Stupid: "I was curious about the alcohol content of my mouthwash, but the label on the bottle didn't say anything about it. I guess the proof was beyond the text of this Scope!"
[upload.wikimedia.org image 300x200]

Oh come on, that was pretty funny.


It was pretty good. At first I was like, "Oh, a Scope pun, that's sort of lame, why all the additional setu-" and then I caught the "proof" pun and smiled.
 
2012-12-26 05:22:48 PM
Also, a Masters is so different from a PhD. I have a couple of Masters degrees and am now doing a PhD, and they're nowhere near the same level of work and dedication.
 
2012-12-26 05:24:33 PM

SnakeLee: Millennium: There's a certain myth of a "pure" scientist out there: someone for whom the pursuit of scientific knowledge, not necessarily to do anything with it but simply to know, is life's highest and ultimate calling, to be pursued with quasi-monastic zeal. This myth is what institutions like the ones mentioned in TFA are pursuing.

I know people like that, but they are rare.  They also have lots of grant money, but I don't know why anyone would live that way by their own choosing.


I never knew anyone who had the dream of becoming that ideal, but I do know plenty who try to hold their students and even fellow colleagues to that standard anyway. I remember well getting into an argument with my PhD advisor after a couple of comments from him (in fairly short succession) that women in my field who took any time off for family reasons weren't serious about their science. FFS, one of the women he criticized was a grad school classmate of *his* who was taking family leave, at the age of 50, to welcome a second adopted child into her family (apparently she married too late to have her own children). I knew another professor in the same department who was vocally not in favor of the department establishing a day care facility for employees and students, because students especially shouldn't be thinking it was okay to have such distractions. Both of them conveniently forgot that their wives took breaks from their own careers to raise their children. Unfortunately, there are still plenty like those two who hold senior faculty positions and don't plan on retiring for at least another 15 years.
 
2012-12-26 05:28:13 PM
I just quit physics grad school because of the time commitment. Luckily, it only took one semester for me to realize that I hated it, so I didn't waste 5 years.

I was putting in ~60 hours a week between classes and my TA duties, and I was falling behind. For example, on Mondays and Wednesdays, my first class started at 9am, and the last class didn't end until 7:30pm. In between, I was working continuously. When I got home, I was pretty burnt out, and didn't do any additional studying or homework those nights. My classmates were going back to the office to continue studying until 10pm or later. I found out they were also going in on Saturdays and Sundays to work on homework and study pretty much all day. (Meanwhile, I did a little homework and grading on the weekends, but not more than a few hours a day). I simply had no interest in bumping my time commitment up to the ~70-80 hours I would have needed to stay competitive.

On the bright side, I did love my duties as a TA, and am now working on being a high school physics teacher. So, grad school did give me a bit of teaching experience.
 
2012-12-26 05:28:59 PM

No Such Agency: SnakeLee: Millennium: There's a certain myth of a "pure" scientist out there: someone for whom the pursuit of scientific knowledge, not necessarily to do anything with it but simply to know, is life's highest and ultimate calling, to be pursued with quasi-monastic zeal. This myth is what institutions like the ones mentioned in TFA are pursuing.

I know people like that, but they are rare.  They also have lots of grant money, but I don't know why anyone would live that way by their own choosing.

.. and they're frequently raging, raging ASSHOLES, because things like "I can't do that experiment tomorrow, my mother is dying" are not considered valid excuses from their students. Oddly enough they're usually smart enough to be nice to people with more power than them. Their labs have all the esprit de corps of a North Koreean gulag, but they do tend to publish regularly in high-impact journals.


My problem with academia is that they pretend they're not a business like any other. They pretend they're still some "ivory tower of intellectualism" and discovery, while they ignore the realities of their business model, and shirk their responsibilities to properly train their students.

I have no problems with the rules of science as a business--publish often, publish well, and publish first. There are no prizes for second place. That is how the world works. But universities have been very reluctant--almost embarrassed--to openly address the reality that the pipeline of tenure-track careers is an utterly broken system. I think this results in a pool of graduate students, soon to be postdocs, that are woefully ill-equipped and poorly trained for the skill sets they need to be successful in the job market. For them to act as if the system works in any way like it did 20-30 years ago is totally irresponsible.

Scientists today need a great deal more practice writing grants--entire courses devoted to it--if they intend to make it at the bench. And since less than 50% of life science graduates actually remain at the bench, universities need to take a much more proactive role in preparing their graduates for applying their "translatable skills", and encouraging them, rather than ridicule them, for looking for jobs away from the bench.
 
2012-12-26 05:29:50 PM

SnakeLee: Millennium: There's a certain myth of a "pure" scientist out there: someone for whom the pursuit of scientific knowledge, not necessarily to do anything with it but simply to know, is life's highest and ultimate calling, to be pursued with quasi-monastic zeal. This myth is what institutions like the ones mentioned in TFA are pursuing.

I know people like that, but they are rare.  They also have lots of grant money, but I don't know why anyone would live that way by their own choosing.


Typically because they have few other skills outside of intelligentsia, which is fine, but they are very insecure and feel that everyone else should be like them. I knew some of these in grad school, professors, and they were pretty much anti-social bugnut crazy loonies, brilliant though they were.
 
2012-12-26 05:30:34 PM

Mikey1969: So , in other words, you didn't read TFA?


I did.  I think he's (mostly) full of shiat.
 
2012-12-26 05:32:32 PM

Mikey1969: Sometimes you have Left Brain breakthroughs when doing Right Brain activities, and vice-versa. Frowning on your staff doing their own thing in their own time is not only wrong, it's counter-productive. It's nobody's business what I do in my own time...


Silly cog, the protein reclamation androids are on the way, please wait quietly.
 
2012-12-26 05:32:45 PM
A real scientit's hobby is SCIENCE! And, thus, his life is entirely scientific. I don't see the problem here...
 
2012-12-26 05:34:29 PM

No Such Agency: SnakeLee: Millennium: There's a certain myth of a "pure" scientist out there: someone for whom the pursuit of scientific knowledge, not necessarily to do anything with it but simply to know, is life's highest and ultimate calling, to be pursued with quasi-monastic zeal. This myth is what institutions like the ones mentioned in TFA are pursuing.

I know people like that, but they are rare.  They also have lots of grant money, but I don't know why anyone would live that way by their own choosing.

.. and they're frequently raging, raging ASSHOLES, because things like "I can't do that experiment tomorrow, my mother is dying" are not considered valid excuses from their students. Oddly enough they're usually smart enough to be nice to people with more power than them. Their labs have all the esprit de corps of a North Koreean gulag, but they do tend to publish regularly in high-impact journals.


Or, as we in chemistry call it, the Corey Lab.
 
2012-12-26 05:37:19 PM
I should mention that engineering grad school doesn't have any of these silly restrictions.  I was allowed to take Ancient Greek two semesters as a side class while working on my Ph.D. in Aeronautical Engineering (which I didn't finish, but never mind that).
 
2012-12-26 05:40:00 PM

RexTalionis: I have a friend who is a marine biology PhD candidate whose hobby is apparently taking risque pictures of herself.


Cool bra story.
 
2012-12-26 05:41:08 PM
I sort of get this at work. My hobby is going to concerts, live music. Often, this is nowhere near where I live. Pack up Friday after work, head to the airport, catch a show in LA or NY or Vancouver or Atlanta or Toronto Saturday night, back home Sunday and at my desk Monday morning. I've learned I get strange looks from this. Everyone at my current job knows what I do. Next job, I intend to keep this all to myself. If it's off work time, I won't say anything at all. If I'm taking vacation, I'll say I'm visiting friends.

Frustratingly, if I was going to see a sports team, it would be ok.

/I'm somewhere past 50 different cities (including many local) and 25 US states with one band alone
 
2012-12-26 05:42:56 PM

iaazathot: Mikey1969: Sometimes you have Left Brain breakthroughs when doing Right Brain activities, and vice-versa. Frowning on your staff doing their own thing in their own time is not only wrong, it's counter-productive. It's nobody's business what I do in my own time...

Silly cog, the protein reclamation androids are on the way, please wait quietly.


LOL, with that, I am out o
 
2012-12-26 05:45:50 PM

aerojockey: Mikey1969: So , in other words, you didn't read TFA?

I did.  I think he's (mostly) full of shiat.


Well, you obviously missed the part where his outside life was specifically frowned upon by the Grad School:
One day, my adviser called me into his office. The campus newspaper had just published a little profile of the stand-up-comedy-performing grad student, and my adviser happened to read it. Over the next 10 minutes, I learned that my hobby was an embarrassment to the department, that there was no way I could properly focus on biology, and that every negative lab result I ever produced was a direct result of telling jokes at night.

Maybe you're right though, he just jumped to conclusions based on some questions , and the part related above was just due to him hallucinating when sitting in the advisor's office.
 
2012-12-26 05:51:48 PM
Universities want people suffering from Asperger's Syndrome to be their graduate students so they get more grant money? That is a shocker!
 
2012-12-26 06:06:25 PM
It's not just science grad schools. Just let slip to your adviser on your Medieval History doctorate that your hobby is cloning around with recombinant DNA in homogeneous white mouse testes and see what kind of look that gets you.
 
2012-12-26 06:09:01 PM

Z-clipped: As someone with widely varied interests contemplating grad school for Physics while trying to knock my wife up, I am not getting a kick out of these replies.


Physics grad school, while caring for a newborn/toddler? Good luck and godspeed.
 
2012-12-26 06:11:33 PM
I get this. I think the best approach is to get your well-rounded business taken care of as a liberal arts undergrad (in the sciences), then put them on hold for ~6 years of grad school, maybe 2 years of post-doc, then 6 years until you get tenure. Then you can pick them up again. My family and my circle of friends are mostly filled with people who had to go that route.

For more information, see David Wong's "Six Harsh Truths That Will Make You a Better Person."

http://www.cracked.com/blog/6-harsh-truths-that-will-make-you-better- p erson/
 
2012-12-26 06:13:47 PM
Grad school sucks. I quit a phd program after 3 years because I saw what everyone who got a phd became. I call it "Ph.D Syndrome" -- the incessant need to be right, the inability or unwillingness to accept others' ideas, the intellectual arrogance. I am related to several PhDs and work with more, and it's pretty much consistent across the board.
 
2012-12-26 06:24:37 PM

chopit: Grad school sucks. I quit a phd program after 3 years because I saw what everyone who got a phd became. I call it "Ph.D Syndrome" -- the incessant need to be right, the inability or unwillingness to accept others' ideas, the intellectual arrogance. I am related to several PhDs and work with more, and it's pretty much consistent across the board.


The most honest PIs I knew were usually the poorest. The most well-funded PI I've worked for was a literal egomaniacal sociopath. He lied whenever possible (including about the project I would be working on if I went to work for him). The runner up was a PI who was allowed to retire because he had fabricated data for grants (allowed to retire so the university wouldn't be on the hook for the overhead costs, I assume). He ended up getting a tenure-track position at another university a couple months later.
 
2012-12-26 06:26:30 PM

Guntram Shatterhand: Sure, you can create people who work like machines at only one thing in life, but I wouldn't want to see them when that one thing stops being profitable and they have to do something else.


Quasi-recent thread where a FARKer described ex-coworkers who trained in one obscure programming language, spent their entire career doing nothing but working within that narrow specialty, ignored their company's announcements that they were moving on and that there was free training available for other, more contemporary skills...

..and then biatched that "the company had it in for them" when they were inevitably let go because they had no skills that were useful to the company.
 
2012-12-26 06:31:40 PM
I see the feynam quota has been filled.

I'll return to being a real estate appraiser with a 6 figure income and a ruff 20+ hour work week.

While reading books on physics in my spare time.


My one claim to fame might be the way I did the allocation and income method on a large condo.

No one in my area had ever done it that way and all the appraisal institute big Whigs loved it.

/can't remember what I did
//not educated well enough to explain in technical terms
///don't care & just happy with the golden ruler I was presented with
 
2012-12-26 06:35:47 PM
like time academics are a joke.
 
2012-12-26 06:38:24 PM

Christian Bale: FormlessOne: Doesn't just apply to the classical sciences, either. Despite all their gum-flapping to the contrary, it's amazing how software developers are encouraged to monomaniacal focus.

If you want to be a software developer, ensure that you are unmarried, male, and without children - no need for those pesky distractions. You will be hired over married, female, or child-burdened developers, all other things being equal.


Are you kidding? Most places are dying to hire women to even out the absurd gender gap at their workplace. Certainly in the public sector IT jobs, if you're a woman, you're in.


Sure, in IT. Development is not IT. Quota hiring is lovely - we get lots of female project managers, directors, and so on - but unfortunately, software development is still very much a sausage fest, regardless of lip service to the contrary. At best, you might see the occasional single, childless, female developer (we have one on my team), but by and large, it's still an area heavily biased towards males - and, make no mistake, a single, childless, female developer is still a better catch than a married male developer with children, horribly enough, because you can still depend on her to work overtime for free, just like the other unmarried, childless guys on the team.
 
2012-12-26 06:38:46 PM

Gough: I get this. I think the best approach is to get your well-rounded business taken care of as a liberal arts undergrad (in the sciences), then put them on hold for ~6 years of grad school, maybe 2 years of post-doc, then 6 years until you get tenure. Then you can pick them up again. My family and my circle of friends are mostly filled with people who had to go that route.

For more information, see David Wong's "Six Harsh Truths That Will Make You a Better Person."

http://www.cracked.com/blog/6-assumptions-by-sociopathic-doucehbags-w h ich-make-life-h ell-for-people-who-work-for-them


Fixed your link.
 
2012-12-26 06:44:21 PM
The evolutionary biology professor who is also the singer of a punk band has to be Greg Graffin (the founder and lead of Bad Religion). Left out of the story is that it actually did him about ten years to get his PhD due to touring.

/I dropped out of grad school after a year
//Soooo glad I did.
 
2012-12-26 06:45:18 PM

sariq: FormlessOne: If you want to be a software developer, ensure that you are unmarried, male, and without children - no need for those pesky distractions. You will be hired over married, female, or child-burdened developers, all other things being equal.

Not my experience (at least in the west - US, UK and FR anyway - the team I managed in Vietnam had a different culture), neither as hirer nor hiree.    Outside interests (and not just hobby projects on github...) are encouraged.


Sure, and I've emails in my Inbox to that effect. However, when the death march kicks in, it's the guy who can't work overtime because he has other commitments that gets hosed on his performance review. it's the guy who skirts the limits of flex time because he has kids and a working wife that gets "a chat" from his manager or, worse yet, gets flex time canceled for his entire team because "it's being abused."

You can be "encouraged" all day, but it's the rare employer that provides time and allowances for such things any more. You're to do those things on "your time," except "your time" grows smaller and smaller as your employer demands more of it as "their time." Eventually, you don't have "your time."

Here's a case in point - my manager was forced to take three weeks off, just two months before we close down for RTM, all at once. Why? Because, for the last two years, he wasn't allowed to take a single vacation day - he manages teams in four different geographic locations - and his vacation days are the "use them or lose them" type. His manager didn't want to look bad by denying vacation for a second year in a row, so my manager was forced to schedule all of this time off in one big block, at the end of the year, during the busiest time in our product lifecycle. The worst part? He was grateful he was allowed to take all three weeks. He was expecting to lose it again this year.
 
2012-12-26 06:50:32 PM
Sigh. Generalizing from a few anecdotes.

Look, Ph.D. advisors in the biosciences want to make sure that you are WORKING YOUR ASS OFF because they want results. Some may actually care about your educational process and experience as well. Mine did, luckily, although I'm no longer a lab scientist.

The issues are
(a) How much time they think any old grad student should be devoting to their personal life, and
(b) How much time they think you, the applicant, are devoting to your personal life.

There are preconceptions regarding both. Different people reading your application may think either
- "Well, he can probably still put in a 60+ hour work week, I'm sure he'll confine his interests to a reasonable chunk of time."
- "Uh-oh, demonstrating a demanding outside interest, no way he can put in a 60+ hour work week."

Probably all a function of the advisor's preconceptions, whether she or he believes that number should be more than 60+ hours, and whether the application or interview conveys a sense that the hobby will remain just that, a hobby.

BTW, good lab science does equal a 60+ hour work week. Assuming mentoring and lab equipment are not limiting reagents, you need hard work + intelligence + luck.

Creativity helps, but is tough to separate from the intelligence.

And the harder you work the luckier you get.
 
2012-12-26 06:56:00 PM

FormlessOne: sariq: FormlessOne: If you want to be a software developer, ensure that you are unmarried, male, and without children - no need for those pesky distractions. You will be hired over married, female, or child-burdened developers, all other things being equal.

Not my experience (at least in the west - US, UK and FR anyway - the team I managed in Vietnam had a different culture), neither as hirer nor hiree.    Outside interests (and not just hobby projects on github...) are encouraged.

Sure, and I've emails in my Inbox to that effect. However, when the death march kicks in, it's the guy who can't work overtime because he has other commitments that gets hosed on his performance review. it's the guy who skirts the limits of flex time because he has kids and a working wife that gets "a chat" from his manager or, worse yet, gets flex time canceled for his entire team because "it's being abused.


I have to disagree with you. My husband is a software engineer, and in addition to using all his vacation every year, he's even taken sick time to take me or our kid to the doctor in the past in accordance with his company's sick time policies. Nobody cares, and his reviews are great because he gets done what he's supposed to get done. His unmarried coworkers take fun vacations to exotic locales every year that I get to hear about third hand. Everybody's "slacking" equally, but the company really is dedicated to not having workers burn out.
 
2012-12-26 06:56:04 PM
As someone applying to jobs and grad school for molecular bio simultaneously, this article makes me happier about my decision to also apply for jobs and consider saying fark grad school.
 
2012-12-26 06:59:26 PM

FormlessOne: Sure, in IT. Development is not IT. Quota hiring is lovely - we get lots of female project managers, directors, and so on - but unfortunately, software development is still very much a sausage fest, regardless of lip service to the contrary. At best, you might see the occasional single, childless, female developer (we have one on my team), but by and large, it's still an area heavily biased towards males - and, make no mistake, a single, childless, female developer is still a better catch than a married male developer with children, horribly enough, because you can still depend on her to work overtime for free, just like the other unmarried, childless guys on the team.


I work in a development department with a husband and wife.
 
2012-12-26 07:01:31 PM

FormlessOne: sariq: FormlessOne: If you want to be a software developer, ensure that you are unmarried, male, and without children - no need for those pesky distractions. You will be hired over married, female, or child-burdened developers, all other things being equal.

Not my experience (at least in the west - US, UK and FR anyway - the team I managed in Vietnam had a different culture), neither as hirer nor hiree.    Outside interests (and not just hobby projects on github...) are encouraged.

Sure, and I've emails in my Inbox to that effect. However, when the death march kicks in, it's the guy who can't work overtime because he has other commitments that gets hosed on his performance review. it's the guy who skirts the limits of flex time because he has kids and a working wife that gets "a chat" from his manager or, worse yet, gets flex time canceled for his entire team because "it's being abused."

You can be "encouraged" all day, but it's the rare employer that provides time and allowances for such things any more. You're to do those things on "your time," except "your time" grows smaller and smaller as your employer demands more of it as "their time." Eventually, you don't have "your time."

Here's a case in point - my manager was forced to take three weeks off, just two months before we close down for RTM, all at once. Why? Because, for the last two years, he wasn't allowed to take a single vacation day - he manages teams in four different geographic locations - and his vacation days are the "use them or lose them" type. His manager didn't want to look bad by denying vacation for a second year in a row, so my manager was forced to schedule all of this time off in one big block, at the end of the year, during the busiest time in our product lifecycle. The worst part? He was grateful he was allowed to take all three weeks. He was expecting to lose it again this year.


I hope you're looking for new opportunities.  Any sane software development shop has realized this type of insanity is detrimental to boh productivity and quality.  Unless you're in game development - that shiat sucks ass.
 
2012-12-26 07:02:10 PM

born_yesterday: No Such Agency: SnakeLee: Millennium: There's a certain myth of a "pure" scientist out there: someone for whom the pursuit of scientific knowledge, not necessarily to do anything with it but simply to know, is life's highest and ultimate calling, to be pursued with quasi-monastic zeal. This myth is what institutions like the ones mentioned in TFA are pursuing.

I know people like that, but they are rare.  They also have lots of grant money, but I don't know why anyone would live that way by their own choosing.

.. and they're frequently raging, raging ASSHOLES, because things like "I can't do that experiment tomorrow, my mother is dying" are not considered valid excuses from their students. Oddly enough they're usually smart enough to be nice to people with more power than them. Their labs have all the esprit de corps of a North Koreean gulag, but they do tend to publish regularly in high-impact journals.

My problem with academia is that they pretend they're not a business like any other. They pretend they're still some "ivory tower of intellectualism" and discovery, while they ignore the realities of their business model, and shirk their responsibilities to properly train their students.

I have no problems with the rules of science as a business--publish often, publish well, and publish first. There are no prizes for second place. That is how the world works. But universities have been very reluctant--almost embarrassed--to openly address the reality that the pipeline of tenure-track careers is an utterly broken system. I think this results in a pool of graduate students, soon to be postdocs, that are woefully ill-equipped and poorly trained for the skill sets they need to be successful in the job market. For them to act as if the system works in any way like it did 20-30 years ago is totally irresponsible.

Scientists today need a great deal more practice writing grants--entire courses devoted to it--if they intend to make it at the bench. And since les ...


Gods, you are so right. Let me add to this: go to the wrong school, have the wrong advisor, get a job at the wrong place... you're fried. Done. Third tier, grade Z. It's absolutely pathetic. I've known a few people who know their shiat but are shafted because of pedigree. Yes, myself included. It's extraordinarily depressing (yes, actual, real depression) to know that no matter what you do, no matter how good your stuff is, you will never get a job anywhere decent because you went to the wrong grad school and your first job was at the wrong location.

fark this profession. It's a joke.
 
2012-12-26 07:02:18 PM
By the way, since this thread seems to be filled with scientists, grad school or try to go straight into industry? I ultimately want to work in biotech.
 
2012-12-26 07:08:33 PM
I didn't realize that this was meant to be a documentary:

images1.wikia.nocookie.net
 
2012-12-26 07:09:36 PM
It's been said here already, but it used to be that to be considered a "Man of Science" you HAD to be well rounded. This usually took the form of fooling around ("experimenting") with whatever the latest fad was, but regardless, those folks got results.

For example: In the years immediately preceding the 19th century, all respectable scientific minds were "experimenting" with unmanned hot air balloons. One young man, a medical doctor who had gained entrance to the Royal Society for a treatise on the common cuckoo, managed to land his balloon and start a small fire in a garden belonging to the father of the hottest girl in town, and in retrieving his balloon, finagled an introduction to the girl, eventually marrying her. As a doctor he greatly advanced medical understanding of angina pectoris, and also brought vaccination against smallpox into widespread use. This was, of course, Edward Jenner, and his work in vaccination has been opposed and vilified by Jenny McCarthy types ever since.
 
2012-12-26 07:10:48 PM

nekulor: By the way, since this thread seems to be filled with scientists, grad school or try to go straight into industry? I ultimately want to work in biotech.


Unless you are going to do research you don't need a Ph.D. to make decent money. Get your undergrad in Biology and then get an MBA. You can end up running biotech companies.
 
2012-12-26 07:20:26 PM

nekulor: By the way, since this thread seems to be filled with scientists, grad school or try to go straight into industry? I ultimately want to work in biotech.


As someone who is still looking for my first job since getting my PhD in physics a year ago, I say go into industry. I'm pretty sure I'd be much better off right now with six years of real work experience instead of a degree in a ridiculously narrow topic.

If you do go into grad school, have a plan. Find a project/advisor worth working with that actually has a future beyond your degree. And do your research on the advisor's history with grad students.

During my grad school time, my lab had four or five students give up and leave, and only one graduate during my entire time there. I didn't finish with the help of my advisor. I finished in spite of her.
 
2012-12-26 07:23:10 PM

nekulor: By the way, since this thread seems to be filled with scientists, grad school or try to go straight into industry? I ultimately want to work in biotech.


It really depends on what you are looking for. A B.S. can definitely get you a job in industry, but you will most likely be working under and taking orders from someone with a Ph.D. and spend each day doing stuff a monkey could do with two weeks training. In other words, you will be punching WAY below your weight intellectually, especially if you did any sort of undergrad research.

That said, a lot of companies, at least in the chem industry, will look for people intending to go to grad school at some future point, and will often have subsidization programs to help you succeed in that path, providing you continue to work for them afterwards.

So look around. Real world experience can be nice.
 
2012-12-26 07:24:28 PM

nekulor: By the way, since this thread seems to be filled with scientists, grad school or try to go straight into industry? I ultimately want to work in biotech.


If you want to work in Biotech and want to be at peak employability in terms of the number of positions you will neither be under- or overqualified for, get a Master's degree and stop there. With a bachelors you won't be qualified for most jobs that have progression potential. With a PhD there will be fewer jobs available at that level.
 
2012-12-26 07:26:43 PM

SN1987a goes boom: Scientists with outside interests are often regarded with suspicion in the lab

What kind of psycho, paranoid lab do these people work for?


profile.ak.fbcdn.net
 
2012-12-26 07:29:19 PM

scumbucket: It's been said here already, but it used to be that to be considered a "Man of Science" you HAD to be well rounded. This usually took the form of fooling around ("experimenting") with whatever the latest fad was, but regardless, those folks got results.

For example: In the years immediately preceding the 19th century, all respectable scientific minds were "experimenting" with unmanned hot air balloons. One young man, a medical doctor who had gained entrance to the Royal Society for a treatise on the common cuckoo, managed to land his balloon and start a small fire in a garden belonging to the father of the hottest girl in town, and in retrieving his balloon, finagled an introduction to the girl, eventually marrying her. As a doctor he greatly advanced medical understanding of angina pectoris, and also brought vaccination against smallpox into widespread use. This was, of course, Edward Jenner, and his work in vaccination has been opposed and vilified by Jenny McCarthy types ever since.


I think scientists should still be reasonably well-rounded, and most I know are. My supervisor loved to travel, loves music, good food, good wine, good booze, etc. He had plenty of interests outside of work and would be worried about trainees who spent too much time at the lab. His supervisor has a huge interest in art, photography, and philosophy of science and talked regularly with us about all three if you cared to. Many profs who were on my committee, in my department, or worked in the same group of labs had plenty of outside interests that they did. SCA, woodworking, sports, hiking, camping, etc.

Of course on the intellectual pursuit side it is far more difficult to be THAT knowledgeable today on a broad array of subjects. We know so much more, in so much more detail, it is very difficult to be a polymath to any sort of depth. There are a rare few but overall I think we should be encouraged to be as well-read and learned as possible. I consider my scientific interests and pursuits fairly broad.
 
2012-12-26 07:32:08 PM

GAT_00: I knew this person couldn't have spent a day in grad school before I started reading.


I guess you don't have to go to grad school for a PhD anymore
 
2012-12-26 07:49:52 PM

nekulor: By the way, since this thread seems to be filled with scientists, grad school or try to go straight into industry? I ultimately want to work in biotech.


Some things to consider:

1. How much control do you need to have over projects to be happy? Going into industry with a BS will likely mean having to work your way up over several years. If you're doing bench work, you're likely to spend months doing repetitive, maybe boring tasks. In this case, my advice would be to be patient, and show initiative, and learn as many things you can put on your resume as you can. This could help you at that employer, and give you more control over your next position.

2. Johns Hopkins offers a Masters in Biotechnology. Maybe not the best example, because it's expensive as hell, but they seem to have gotten some things right. Namely, that some people want a degree focused towards industry. You may want to see what's available in your area. Even better, if you find a job at a solid company with your BS, you might want to look into whether they'll pay for a degree like this.

3. In biotech, I think a doctorate will price you out of the market. Had I realized this, I just might have quit my program early for a Masters. Once you get your PhD, the assumption is that you will want to run your own lab, so you'll have a very tough time applying for technician positions. There is a glut of postdocs right now, and very very few positions for them to advance into. I realize it's only an anecdote, but I have a friend from grad school that applied for a technician position, and was competing with people ranging from BS degrees to former principle investigators. That's ridiculous. (And he studies MRSA for God's sake--and he can't find work?). If the job market looked like it would get better, I might recommend the PhD and working through a postdoc or two...but that was my plan, and things haven't turned around yet.

4. If there are specific companies you are interested in, do research into them, and find out as much as you can about what they're looking for. If you are lucky, they may have someone you can contact for advice. If your school has career services, use them as much as you can to find receptive contacts, information about prospective employers, etc.

5. Take whatever opportunities you can to get lab experience while you are an undergrad. This cannot be underestimated, especially if you want to enter the workforce right after school. You'll be able to show an employer you can do something they expect you to do, and you can probably get a great recommendation from someone that knows you personally from the work you do.

Just my 2 cents. Good luck.
 
2012-12-26 07:54:18 PM
 
2012-12-26 07:55:11 PM
JolobinSmokin: "big Whigs"

What about the Tories?
 
2012-12-26 08:00:48 PM

NeoCortex42: Z-clipped: As someone with widely varied interests contemplating grad school for Physics while trying to knock my wife up, I am not getting a kick out of these replies.

Physics grad school, while caring for a newborn/toddler? Good luck and godspeed.


I know someone who did it. She was much of the striving, anal, overachieving type that you might expect. Smart, but not a lot of fun to be around.
 
2012-12-26 08:13:57 PM

born_yesterday: nekulor: By the way, since this thread seems to be filled with scientists, grad school or try to go straight into industry? I ultimately want to work in biotech.

Some things to consider:

1. How much control do you need to have over projects to be happy? Going into industry with a BS will likely mean having to work your way up over several years. If you're doing bench work, you're likely to spend months doing repetitive, maybe boring tasks. In this case, my advice would be to be patient, and show initiative, and learn as many things you can put on your resume as you can. This could help you at that employer, and give you more control over your next position.

2. Johns Hopkins offers a Masters in Biotechnology. Maybe not the best example, because it's expensive as hell, but they seem to have gotten some things right. Namely, that some people want a degree focused towards industry. You may want to see what's available in your area. Even better, if you find a job at a solid company with your BS, you might want to look into whether they'll pay for a degree like this.

3. In biotech, I think a doctorate will price you out of the market. Had I realized this, I just might have quit my program early for a Masters. Once you get your PhD, the assumption is that you will want to run your own lab, so you'll have a very tough time applying for technician positions. There is a glut of postdocs right now, and very very few positions for them to advance into. I realize it's only an anecdote, but I have a friend from grad school that applied for a technician position, and was competing with people ranging from BS degrees to former principle investigators. That's ridiculous. (And he studies MRSA for God's sake--and he can't find work?). If the job market looked like it would get better, I might recommend the PhD and working through a postdoc or two...but that was my plan, and things haven't turned around yet.

4. If there are specific companies you are interested ...


Thanks. This is the advice I'd heard from several grad students I know, but I was curious what the feeling was out in the general internet community. I don't want bench work forever. Ultimately, I want to be running a successful biotech company, working on advanced prosthetic tech and limb/organ regeneration. Crazy futurist stuff, I know, but I think I can make it happen.
 
2012-12-26 08:16:24 PM

nekulor: born_yesterday: nekulor: By the way, since this thread seems to be filled with scientists, grad school or try to go straight into industry? I ultimately want to work in biotech.

Some things to consider:

1. How much control do you need to have over projects to be happy? Going into industry with a BS will likely mean having to work your way up over several years. If you're doing bench work, you're likely to spend months doing repetitive, maybe boring tasks. In this case, my advice would be to be patient, and show initiative, and learn as many things you can put on your resume as you can. This could help you at that employer, and give you more control over your next position.

2. Johns Hopkins offers a Masters in Biotechnology. Maybe not the best example, because it's expensive as hell, but they seem to have gotten some things right. Namely, that some people want a degree focused towards industry. You may want to see what's available in your area. Even better, if you find a job at a solid company with your BS, you might want to look into whether they'll pay for a degree like this.

3. In biotech, I think a doctorate will price you out of the market. Had I realized this, I just might have quit my program early for a Masters. Once you get your PhD, the assumption is that you will want to run your own lab, so you'll have a very tough time applying for technician positions. There is a glut of postdocs right now, and very very few positions for them to advance into. I realize it's only an anecdote, but I have a friend from grad school that applied for a technician position, and was competing with people ranging from BS degrees to former principle investigators. That's ridiculous. (And he studies MRSA for God's sake--and he can't find work?). If the job market looked like it would get better, I might recommend the PhD and working through a postdoc or two...but that was my plan, and things haven't turned around yet.

4. If there are specific companies yo ...


Someone's got to do it. Best of luck to you.
 
2012-12-26 08:20:15 PM
I thought it was just my field (mathematics) that was like this. I was accepted to an undergraduate summer program that rejected another girl I knew solely because she had a second major in physics, showing that she couldn't really be "serious" about math according to her rejection letter.
 
2012-12-26 08:20:49 PM

uknowzit: nekulor: By the way, since this thread seems to be filled with scientists, grad school or try to go straight into industry? I ultimately want to work in biotech.

Unless you are going to do research you don't need a Ph.D. to make decent money. Get your undergrad in Biology and then get an MBA. You can end up running biotech companies.



Yeah. A PhD isn't strictly necessary unless you want to do research. That said, I'd recommend getting more than just a bachelor's. I got a job as a lab tech straight out of my undergraduate degree and it was mind-numbingly boring. For me. I quit after 5 months to go do a PhD. Great experience though.


trotsky: Let me add to this: go to the wrong school, have the wrong advisor, get a job at the wrong place... you're fried. Done. Third tier, grade Z. It's absolutely pathetic. I've known a few people who know their shiat but are shafted because of pedigree. Yes, myself included. It's extraordinarily depressing (yes, actual, real depression) to know that no matter what you do, no matter how good your stuff is, you will never get a job anywhere decent because you went to the wrong grad school and your first job was at the wrong location.



nekulor, you should also probably pay some attention to this. Depending on what exactly you want to do, going to the right school and working for the right supervisor is critical. Not quite so important if you go into industry, but it can matter a lot if you decide to stay in academia.


CSB:
I went to a state school for my undergraduate degree and got a B.S. in chemistry. For my PhD I went to England, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but I went to a mid-level school and worked for a low-level supervisor. I only got one paper out of my PhD--in a mid-level journal--and when it came to applying for postdocs I was flat-out rejected for many and didn't even bother applying for many more.

I ended up doing a postdoc in China. The money was shiat and I was the only non-Chinese person in the entire place, but it was the top biological institute in China, and in a little over a year I got 2 papers and 2 book chapters. Now I'm on my second postdoc at a mid-level university in Australia and I'm on track to publish 4-6 papers a year, and one or two of those may even end up in Nature or a Nature-associate journal, like Nature materials. I've been here for a year, and plan to stay another 2. By 2015 my resume should be good enough to get me an associate professor job at a mid-level university in America.
end CSB


The reason I'm sharing my story is just to point out that it is very important that you choose your schools and professors wisely--depending on what you want to do. If you want to be the top guy in your field and get a Nobel Prize, you do have to go to the right schools and work for the right people. But if you just want a decent job and an unmemorable career, it's not so important. I think is is possible to claw your way back up to a respectable level if you get off to a bad start like I did, but if you take the path I took you will never be at the top of your field.

On the other hand, I played sports and rock climbed all over the world throughout my studies, and I wouldn't have been able to do that, I don't think, if I'd worked for the top guys. And I have no regrets.

Those are my thoughts, anyway. You can take them for what they're worth. Which isn't much, really.
 
2012-12-26 08:21:30 PM

CPT Ethanolic: This is where Chinese students make great grad students - they're machines.  They simply toil, hour after hour and day after day.  Most I knew would work 7 days/week, 12-18 hours/day, for years.  Fark that.

/PhD biochemist
//Likes beer and sports more than the lab


I can second what Dr. Biochemist says here, not all of us can be Chinese lab machines. I frequented the lab on the weekends to get extra work done (and to blast shiatty 80's music while no one was around so I wouldn't get yelled at), and the only other people there were the Asian grad students. They graduate quickly and get lots of publications, but they have absolutely no life outside the lab. I'll take my one first-author publication and my PhD and be happy with it.

/Dr. Neuroscientist
//Gainfully employed
///Slashies
 
2012-12-26 08:30:09 PM

andino: uknowzit: nekulor: By the way, since this thread seems to be filled with scientists, grad school or try to go straight into industry? I ultimately want to work in biotech.

Unless you are going to do research you don't need a Ph.D. to make decent money. Get your undergrad in Biology and then get an MBA. You can end up running biotech companies.


Yeah. A PhD isn't strictly necessary unless you want to do research. That said, I'd recommend getting more than just a bachelor's. I got a job as a lab tech straight out of my undergraduate degree and it was mind-numbingly boring. For me. I quit after 5 months to go do a PhD. Great experience though.


trotsky: Let me add to this: go to the wrong school, have the wrong advisor, get a job at the wrong place... you're fried. Done. Third tier, grade Z. It's absolutely pathetic. I've known a few people who know their shiat but are shafted because of pedigree. Yes, myself included. It's extraordinarily depressing (yes, actual, real depression) to know that no matter what you do, no matter how good your stuff is, you will never get a job anywhere decent because you went to the wrong grad school and your first job was at the wrong location.


nekulor, you should also probably pay some attention to this. Depending on what exactly you want to do, going to the right school and working for the right supervisor is critical. Not quite so important if you go into industry, but it can matter a lot if you decide to stay in academia.


CSB:
I went to a state school for my undergraduate degree and got a B.S. in chemistry. For my PhD I went to England, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but I went to a mid-level school and worked for a low-level supervisor. I only got one paper out of my PhD--in a mid-level journal--and when it came to applying for postdocs I was flat-out rejected for many and didn't even bother applying for many more.

I ended up doing a postdoc in China. The money was shiat and I was the only non-Chinese person in the ...


I also will have a BA in German in the spring when I graduate. I'm considering, at some point, going abroad to Germany looking for employment. I speak it fluently, and I hear biotech is really getting big over there.
 
2012-12-26 08:38:41 PM

nekulor: I also will have a BA in German in the spring when I graduate. I'm considering, at some point, going abroad to Germany looking for employment. I speak it fluently, and I hear biotech is really getting big over there.



I would strongly recommend doing that. Germans work hard AND play hard.

Would you consider getting a master's in Germany? That might not be a bad way to go either.
 
2012-12-26 08:40:48 PM

nekulor: andino: uknowzit: nekulor: By the way, since this thread seems to be filled with scientists, grad school or try to go straight into industry? I ultimately want to work in biotech.

Unless you are going to do research you don't need a Ph.D. to make decent money. Get your undergrad in Biology and then get an MBA. You can end up running biotech companies.


Yeah. A PhD isn't strictly necessary unless you want to do research. That said, I'd recommend getting more than just a bachelor's. I got a job as a lab tech straight out of my undergraduate degree and it was mind-numbingly boring. For me. I quit after 5 months to go do a PhD. Great experience though.


trotsky: Let me add to this: go to the wrong school, have the wrong advisor, get a job at the wrong place... you're fried. Done. Third tier, grade Z. It's absolutely pathetic. I've known a few people who know their shiat but are shafted because of pedigree. Yes, myself included. It's extraordinarily depressing (yes, actual, real depression) to know that no matter what you do, no matter how good your stuff is, you will never get a job anywhere decent because you went to the wrong grad school and your first job was at the wrong location.


nekulor, you should also probably pay some attention to this. Depending on what exactly you want to do, going to the right school and working for the right supervisor is critical. Not quite so important if you go into industry, but it can matter a lot if you decide to stay in academia.


CSB:
I went to a state school for my undergraduate degree and got a B.S. in chemistry. For my PhD I went to England, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but I went to a mid-level school and worked for a low-level supervisor. I only got one paper out of my PhD--in a mid-level journal--and when it came to applying for postdocs I was flat-out rejected for many and didn't even bother applying for many more.

I ended up doing a postdoc in China. The money was shiat and I was the only non-Chinese person ...


Good luck. You'll be competing with native speakers with the same background and you have to find a company willing to sponsor you for a work visa (unless you just go there to study). The company will have to explain why it cannot find any suitable candidates to even send your application in.
 
2012-12-26 08:40:49 PM

nekulor: Thanks. This is the advice I'd heard from several grad students I know, but I was curious what the feeling was out in the general internet community. I don't want bench work forever. Ultimately, I want to be running a successful biotech company, working on advanced prosthetic tech and limb/organ regeneration. Crazy futurist stuff, I know, but I think I can make it happen.


If you want to work on Prosthetics you might want to look into Biomedical Engineering, those are the people usually designing new ones. And all sorts of other crazy shiat. I know a few and those guys also get lots of encouragement in developing patents and working on the business end of things as well.

Skanque: I can second what Dr. Biochemist says here, not all of us can be Chinese lab machines. I frequented the lab on the weekends to get extra work done (and to blast shiatty 80's music while no one was around so I wouldn't get yelled at), and the only other people there were the Asian grad students. They graduate quickly and get lots of publications, but they have absolutely no life outside the lab. I'll take my one first-author publication and my PhD and be happy with it.


They aren't all great publishers. There are many who have "great grades" and are utterly useless. My PhD department had a hit or miss track record. The trick is actually knowing their schools and those schools reputations in order to winnow out the chaff.
 
2012-12-26 08:51:30 PM

andino: nekulor: I also will have a BA in German in the spring when I graduate. I'm considering, at some point, going abroad to Germany looking for employment. I speak it fluently, and I hear biotech is really getting big over there.


I would strongly recommend doing that. Germans work hard AND play hard.

Would you consider getting a master's in Germany? That might not be a bad way to go either.


German studies usually are a combined Bachelors/Master's equivalent done in 5 years. Not sure you can get in to a grad program there for what we consider a Master's, they just don't have the direct equivalent in many European countries.
 
2012-12-26 08:58:48 PM
Lot of truth to that article.

That's why I bolted for biotech as soon as possible after getting my PhD. I like being in a place where "weekend" and "vacation time" and "reasonable salary and benefits" aren't dirty words.

The mindset I mostly observed in academia as a grad student and postdoc was: "if you are a serious scientist, you should be spending every possible waking moment toiling in the lab for meager pay, at minimum 10 hours per day, 6-7 days per week. Everything else (relationships, family, hobbies, interests, being able to afford a decent living) is secondary and being overly concerned with them is a sign that you aren't a serious scientist."

Wasn't for me.
 
2012-12-26 09:04:53 PM

RexTalionis: cannotsuggestaname: RexTalionis: I have a friend who is a marine biology PhD candidate whose hobby is apparently taking risque pictures of herself.

pictures or it didn't happen.

I don't think she'll appreciate that, so no.


"I don't think"

So you don't know for sure?

WHY DON'T YOU ASK?!?!?!?!
 
2012-12-26 09:09:39 PM

Doc Daneeka: Lot of truth to that article.

That's why I bolted for biotech as soon as possible after getting my PhD. I like being in a place where "weekend" and "vacation time" and "reasonable salary and benefits" aren't dirty words.

The mindset I mostly observed in academia as a grad student and postdoc was: "if you are a serious scientist, you should be spending every possible waking moment toiling in the lab for meager pay, at minimum 10 hours per day, 6-7 days per week. Everything else (relationships, family, hobbies, interests, being able to afford a decent living) is secondary and being overly concerned with them is a sign that you aren't a serious scientist."

Wasn't for me.


I worked in a lab starting at age 12 with a professor who I got to know on a random chance meeting while out at UMD with my dad. He got me published before I was out of high school, and I've had about 10 years experience there. Great experience, but I got burnt out and ended up leaving, not under the greatest terms. Jon and I are back on good terms, but I learned a lot from the mistakes I made. Anyway, I have a ton of experience in the lab. You could literally say I grew up there. I just don't want to spend my life in a lab. I want to be overseeing the operations of a large organization.

I'm a scientist, but I'm not that kind of scientist. It's taken 4 years of undergrad for me to wrestle with what I want out of science.
 
2012-12-26 09:13:52 PM

Doc Daneeka: Lot of truth to that article.

That's why I bolted for biotech as soon as possible after getting my PhD. I like being in a place where "weekend" and "vacation time" and "reasonable salary and benefits" aren't dirty words.

The mindset I mostly observed in academia as a grad student and postdoc was: "if you are a serious scientist, you should be spending every possible waking moment toiling in the lab for meager pay, at minimum 10 hours per day, 6-7 days per week. Everything else (relationships, family, hobbies, interests, being able to afford a decent living) is secondary and being overly concerned with them is a sign that you aren't a serious scientist."

Wasn't for me.



It's not like that everywhere though. My boss comes in from 10 AM to 4 PM four days a week, and she still brings in millions of dollars in grant money every year, has collaborations around the world with top scientists, and publishes 10-20 papers a year. In fact, we're required by the university to take 20 days of vacation per year.

But then again, this is Australia.
 
2012-12-26 09:16:50 PM
My research advisor told us up front that she didn't care what we did in our spare time, as long as we spent every waking moment in lab. I put that on a T-shirt and wore it to work about once a week, along with a couple of other choice phrases from my time in the lab. She at least pretended to be amused.
 
2012-12-26 09:19:09 PM

Doc Daneeka: Lot of truth to that article.

That's why I bolted for biotech as soon as possible after getting my PhD. I like being in a place where "weekend" and "vacation time" and "reasonable salary and benefits" aren't dirty words.

The mindset I mostly observed in academia as a grad student and postdoc was: "if you are a serious scientist, you should be spending every possible waking moment toiling in the lab for meager pay, at minimum 10 hours per day, 6-7 days per week. Everything else (relationships, family, hobbies, interests, being able to afford a decent living) is secondary and being overly concerned with them is a sign that you aren't a serious scientist."

Wasn't for me.


If it means anything, most of the bench donkeys have no place to go when they're done. The money just isn't there, not everyone can get funded, and LOTS of people have multiple good publications. Less than half will remain in science. If they reach the end of their training period without a set of translatable skills, networking contacts, leadership experience or volunteer work...I kinda feel sorry for them, regardless of their publishing success. [In full disclosure, I have a solid publication record, but am finding myself scrambling to work on other areas of my resume late in my training in order to get away from the bench].

To make it in science today, a lot of places are beginning to realize that universities need to start helping train for what were once called "alternative" (read: failure) careers away from the bench. I don't have it handy, but NSF just published a fantastic study that really got to the heart of the problems with academic culture. NIH is also taking steps to address the "postdoc problem", and they're usually the determiners (deciderers?) that force the rest of academia to follow suit.
 
2012-12-26 09:38:39 PM

ChubbyTiger: No Such Agency: SnakeLee: Millennium: There's a certain myth of a "pure" scientist out there: someone for whom the pursuit of scientific knowledge, not necessarily to do anything with it but simply to know, is life's highest and ultimate calling, to be pursued with quasi-monastic zeal. This myth is what institutions like the ones mentioned in TFA are pursuing.

I know people like that, but they are rare.  They also have lots of grant money, but I don't know why anyone would live that way by their own choosing.

.. and they're frequently raging, raging ASSHOLES, because things like "I can't do that experiment tomorrow, my mother is dying" are not considered valid excuses from their students. Oddly enough they're usually smart enough to be nice to people with more power than them. Their labs have all the esprit de corps of a North Koreean gulag, but they do tend to publish regularly in high-impact journals.

Or, as we in chemistry call it, the Corey Lab.


A class mate whose fiancee died got 2 days off.

My boss (department chair) stated in our lab meeting that sunday morning (8am, so we could sleep in) that he'd have booted her from the lab for that.
 
2012-12-26 09:38:53 PM

born_yesterday: Doc Daneeka: Lot of truth to that article.

That's why I bolted for biotech as soon as possible after getting my PhD. I like being in a place where "weekend" and "vacation time" and "reasonable salary and benefits" aren't dirty words.

The mindset I mostly observed in academia as a grad student and postdoc was: "if you are a serious scientist, you should be spending every possible waking moment toiling in the lab for meager pay, at minimum 10 hours per day, 6-7 days per week. Everything else (relationships, family, hobbies, interests, being able to afford a decent living) is secondary and being overly concerned with them is a sign that you aren't a serious scientist."

Wasn't for me.

If it means anything, most of the bench donkeys have no place to go when they're done. The money just isn't there, not everyone can get funded, and LOTS of people have multiple good publications. Less than half will remain in science. If they reach the end of their training period without a set of translatable skills, networking contacts, leadership experience or volunteer work...I kinda feel sorry for them, regardless of their publishing success. [In full disclosure, I have a solid publication record, but am finding myself scrambling to work on other areas of my resume late in my training in order to get away from the bench].

To make it in science today, a lot of places are beginning to realize that universities need to start helping train for what were once called "alternative" (read: failure) careers away from the bench. I don't have it handy, but NSF just published a fantastic study that really got to the heart of the problems with academic culture. NIH is also taking steps to address the "postdoc problem", and they're usually the determiners (deciderers?) that force the rest of academia to follow suit.


Oh, I knew full-well what the future would have held had I stayed in academia. Postdoc after postdoc after postdoc, working like a dog for slave wages in pursuit of the small percentage chance of landing a tenure-track position somewhere, and then if that lucky, spending every waking hour for several years fighting to publish enough and win enough grants (a ridiculous chunk of which the university skims of the top) to gain tenure. And do all that while fulfilling the onerous teaching obligations universities like to drop on junior faculty. A life of solitude, sleep-deprivation, tunnel-vision, and paranoia. I've seen it, and it isn't a pretty picture.

I think most other grad students see it too. When I look up PhDs who went through my program, an astounding number have left research science and went into business, or consulting, or medical writing, or teaching, or something else. And I went to grad school at an excellent research university. I think people are realizing that the "traditional academic career" path is a sadistic lie. Those jobs simply aren't there in significant numbers, available to any but a vanishingly small percentage.

Not that I think that industry is a utopia either, but I like my job and my company and my work, and it certainly fits my priorities in life better.
 
2012-12-26 09:40:34 PM

born_yesterday: To make it in science today, a lot of places are beginning to realize that universities need to start helping train for what were once called "alternative" (read: failure) careers away from the bench. I don't have it handy, but NSF just published a fantastic study that really got to the heart of the problems with academic culture. NIH is also taking steps to address the "postdoc problem", and they're usually the determiners (deciderers?) that force the rest of academia to follow suit.


I know you just said you didn't have it handy, but I'd love to read that NSF study if you could find it. I did a quick Google search but couldn't find it.

My publication record is pretty weak at the moment, and I'm worried about making the jump from postdoc to professor. I'm afraid I'm going to be one of the ones who ends up in an "alternative" career.
 
2012-12-26 10:03:24 PM

Doc Daneeka: Oh, I knew full-well what the future would have held had I stayed in academia. Postdoc after postdoc after postdoc, working like a dog for slave wages in pursuit of the small percentage chance of landing a tenure-track position somewhere, and then if that lucky, spending every waking hour for several years fighting to publish enough and win enough grants (a ridiculous chunk of which the university skims of the top) to gain tenure. And do all that while fulfilling the onerous teaching obligations universities like to drop on junior faculty. A life of solitude, sleep-deprivation, tunnel-vision, and paranoia. I've seen it, and it isn't a pretty picture.


But it doesn't have to be that way.

I'm a postdoc and I make $80,000 a year. My full-coverage insurance with no deductible is $100 a month. I get 20 days of paid vacation per year and I'm REQUIRED to take them. My boss doesn't even care if I come in to work (I do computational chemistry so I can do 90% of it from home) so long as I'm getting results.

I'm not saying this to brag or anything. I didn't do anything special to get this job, and I didn't know it was going to be this good before I came here. I'm just saying that America could probably learn a thing or two from the rest of the world about how to do research. I can't help but wonder if more and more Americans are going to leave America for other countries where they can still do good science, but not have to work themselves to death to do it.

It's not worth it.
 
2012-12-26 10:08:02 PM

andino: Doc Daneeka: Oh, I knew full-well what the future would have held had I stayed in academia. Postdoc after postdoc after postdoc, working like a dog for slave wages in pursuit of the small percentage chance of landing a tenure-track position somewhere, and then if that lucky, spending every waking hour for several years fighting to publish enough and win enough grants (a ridiculous chunk of which the university skims of the top) to gain tenure. And do all that while fulfilling the onerous teaching obligations universities like to drop on junior faculty. A life of solitude, sleep-deprivation, tunnel-vision, and paranoia. I've seen it, and it isn't a pretty picture.

But it doesn't have to be that way.

I'm a postdoc and I make $80,000 a year. My full-coverage insurance with no deductible is $100 a month. I get 20 days of paid vacation per year and I'm REQUIRED to take them. My boss doesn't even care if I come in to work (I do computational chemistry so I can do 90% of it from home) so long as I'm getting results.

I'm not saying this to brag or anything. I didn't do anything special to get this job, and I didn't know it was going to be this good before I came here. I'm just saying that America could probably learn a thing or two from the rest of the world about how to do research. I can't help but wonder if more and more Americans are going to leave America for other countries where they can still do good science, but not have to work themselves to death to do it.

It's not worth it.


I can't speak for Australia, but my sense is that the situation in Europe is generally even worse than America. Research funding is even more sparse, faculty positions even harder to come by. All of the European postdocs I know have resigned themselves to seeking a green card and pursuing a career in America because, as tough as it is, their job prospects are even worse back in Europe.
 
2012-12-26 10:08:23 PM

verbaltoxin: Millennium: There's a certain myth of a "pure" scientist out there: someone for whom the pursuit of scientific knowledge, not necessarily to do anything with it but simply to know, is life's highest and ultimate calling, to be pursued with quasi-monastic zeal. This myth is what institutions like the ones mentioned in TFA are pursuing.

What do these institutions know about "pure" science? They though my methods weren't "pure" for their know-nothing, close-minded attitudes. Backwards fools, they are! But I'll show them pure....I'll show them all!!!


I'm sad you didn't detail your love of LSD or attempts to create a universe in your own image in that post.
/Dr. Walter Bishop, PhD ftw
 
2012-12-26 10:22:18 PM

sweetmelissa31: Adam Ruben, Ph.D., is a practicing scientist and the author of Surviving Your Stupid, Stupid Decision to Go to Grad School.

The decision obviously wasn't so stupid, since he has a job as a scientist.

Anyway, Most people in grad school, like people everywhere, have outside interests. Maybe this guy's department was embarrassed of him because his stand-up comedy was bad.


Bear in mind industries change over time and we're reading his work as a writer, not any papers he's published as... a scientist (at least for this thread)
 
2012-12-26 10:29:07 PM

andino: born_yesterday: To make it in science today, a lot of places are beginning to realize that universities need to start helping train for what were once called "alternative" (read: failure) careers away from the bench. I don't have it handy, but NSF just published a fantastic study that really got to the heart of the problems with academic culture. NIH is also taking steps to address the "postdoc problem", and they're usually the determiners (deciderers?) that force the rest of academia to follow suit.

I know you just said you didn't have it handy, but I'd love to read that NSF study if you could find it. I did a quick Google search but couldn't find it.

My publication record is pretty weak at the moment, and I'm worried about making the jump from postdoc to professor. I'm afraid I'm going to be one of the ones who ends up in an "alternative" career.


I just googled the title and it should link to the report (at pathwaysreport.org):

Pathways Through Graduate School and Into Careers

It's largely a statistically-driven report with recommendations for educators/administrators of universities, but it's a light read (compared to scientific papers). I was impressed with it largely because it holds academia accountable for their role in preparing trainees for careers in science, not just as a source of cheap labor, which I think has been a long time in coming. So it may not be quite the resource for the decision you're trying to make, but it's interesting for what it is.
 
2012-12-26 10:47:48 PM

Mikey1969: aerojockey: Mikey1969: So , in other words, you didn't read TFA?

I did. I think he's (mostly) full of shiat.

Well, you obviously missed the part where his outside life was specifically frowned upon by the Grad School:


No I didn't.  That is what's called anecdotal evidence.  One advisor did this.  This is why I added mostly in parentheses.
 
2012-12-26 10:47:59 PM
I can kind of see what the author is trying to say, but doesn't, modern science lacks to embrace creativity. Creative thinking is one of the most efficient means of generating new ideas and inventions both time and money wise but it's quite difficult to explain the process... the mechanism of bridging hemispheres connecting 2 existing thoughts to create one new unique idea is quite complicated on paper but simple in practice.
 
2012-12-26 10:52:03 PM

pxlboy: NeoCortex42: Z-clipped: As someone with widely varied interests contemplating grad school for Physics while trying to knock my wife up, I am not getting a kick out of these replies.

Physics grad school, while caring for a newborn/toddler? Good luck and godspeed.

I know someone who did it. She was much of the striving, anal, overachieving type that you might expect. Smart, but not a lot of fun to be around.


Yeah I'm totally not that... but my wife is world-class awesome, so I've got that going for me.

Anyway, thanks for the insight, both of you.
 
2012-12-26 11:10:17 PM

Doc Daneeka: I can't speak for Australia, but my sense is that the situation in Europe is generally even worse than America. Research funding is even more sparse, faculty positions even harder to come by. All of the European postdocs I know have resigned themselves to seeking a green card and pursuing a career in America because, as tough as it is, their job prospects are even worse back in Europe.


Hmmmm. I got my PhD in 2009 in England and almost all of my friends in the department were Europeans. Most of the ones I've kept in touch with have managed to find postdoc positions in Europe, but at the moment none have even applied for faculty positions. Probably too early. Still, I had no idea their outlook was that grim. That really sucks.

born_yesterday: I just googled the title and it should link to the report (at pathwaysreport.org):

Pathways Through Graduate School and Into Careers

It's largely a statistically-driven report with recommendations for educators/administrators of universities, but it's a light read (compared to scientific papers). I was impressed with it largely because it holds academia accountable for their role in preparing trainees for careers in science, not just as a source of cheap labor, which I think has been a long time in coming. So it may not be quite the resource for the decision you're trying to make, but it's interesting for what it is.


Thanks! I'll definitely have a read of it when I get the chance.
 
2012-12-26 11:12:15 PM

Z-clipped: As someone with widely varied interests contemplating grad school for Physics while trying to knock my wife up, I am not getting a kick out of these replies.


I can understand why you chose physics, because clearly you've figured out how to be in two places at the same time.

//If you haven't, may whatever deity you believe in have mercy on your soul.
 
2012-12-26 11:19:51 PM

Magorn:

Einstein was a straight up Pimp with  the ladies



img69.imageshack.us

Level_Of_Pimp = -(Necessary_Hottness_Threshold)
 
2012-12-26 11:40:05 PM

italie: Z-clipped: As someone with widely varied interests contemplating grad school for Physics while trying to knock my wife up, I am not getting a kick out of these replies.

I can understand why you chose physics, because clearly you've figured out how to be in two places at the same time.

//If you haven't, may whatever deity you believe in have mercy on your soul.


That's why I reference my wife as integral. It's all about group velocity. ;)
 
2012-12-27 12:00:08 AM
Talk I heard in 2005 from an academic who held large competitive grants for 40 yrs consecutively, first day of his PhD his supervisor told him that he would do 40hrs a week in the lab and 40hrs a week in the library. Want a career in science?

Joe Wiskich
 
2012-12-27 12:49:23 AM
Here's a joke I heard soon after starting (mechanical engineering) grad school:

A professor, a postdoc and a grad student are walking back to their lab from the Student Union one day, when they come across an old, beat-up brass lamp. The grad student picks up the lamp, and slightly polishes it. Out pops a genie, who says "For releasing me from my prison, I will grant each of you one wish of your heart's greatest desire."

The grad student thinks for a moment, then says "I wish I was on a sailboat in the Caribbean with the world's most desirable supermodel." POOF! The grad student disappears.

The postdoc says, "I wish I were sunbathing on a beach in Tahiti with my wife." POOF! The postdoc disappears.

The genie then turns to the professor, who says "My wish is that those two are back to work in my lab in 2 minutes."
 
2012-12-27 01:12:48 AM
CSB time:

(Full disclosure: I'm a PhD student, but not in the sciences.)

I got into a row with a teacher last year who became short with me because of a schedule conflict--his fault--that was difficult to resolve, and he attacked me because he assumed it was because of my schedule beyond the scope of my class schedule (it wasn't).

Eventually the graduate advisor was involved, because conversations with him effectively ended, and she told me in an email that she was concerned that my extra-curricular interests were impeding my education. I asked her if she had received any other complaints from my professors, or if she could point to any insufficient work in my studies or my grades. She conceded that she hadn't and couldn't.

I politely told her to fark off and until my other interests actually interfered with my studies to an observable or measurable degree, she needed to mind her own goddamned business and go DIAF.

In perhaps not so many words.

/she also got mad at me once for going to the TA's union with a problem instead of coming to her first.
//fark her.
///you don't own the time you don't pay me for, because you don't pay me enough.
 
2012-12-27 01:56:25 AM
A lot of this depends on the quality if the scientist (e.g. the better you are as a scientist, the more impressed people will be that you can carry on extensive hobbies in addition to your work) and the type of work (e.g. some grad work requires endless hours of labor and no thought and some requires a few hours of focused problem solving each day).
 
2012-12-27 01:59:05 AM

italie: Magorn:

Einstein was a straight up Pimp with  the ladies


[img69.imageshack.us image 681x800]

Level_Of_Pimp = -(Necessary_Hottness_Threshold)


Dear lord, you can see her nipples.
 
2012-12-27 02:20:39 AM
Understandable - you represent the program when you leave. They want you to publish and be prolific about it as you extend their brand by doing so. If you don't want to sacrifice everything at the altar of professional success, there are ten guys behind you that are willing to lay it all down, so you pretty much have to if you want to have any success in the field. Just the way things are, and I would suggest to those that want a life, choose a different profession - lab tech, high school science teacher, or go in a completely different direction (i.e. oil field worker). Something that allows you freedom outside of work. This is the only life any of us get, don't waste a substantial chunk of it away it by doing something you consider a chore just for the sake of a slightly better job title.
 
2012-12-27 02:26:04 AM

austerity101: and she told me in an email that she was concerned that my extra-curricular interests were impeding my education. I asked her if she had received any other complaints from my professors, or if she could point to any insufficient work in my studies or my grades. She conceded that she hadn't and couldn't.

I politely told her to fark off


And there you have the difference between science and politics.

Science demands that you have evidence before you come up with a conclusion.

Balls out method: demand that the graduate advisor prove her hypothesis, using the required number of references and appropriate logical notation.

/never a grad student
//dealt with many asshole managers who felt that their accusation was as good as a conviction, their suspicion a proof
 
2012-12-27 05:38:33 AM

FormlessOne: Doesn't just apply to the classical sciences, either. Despite all their gum-flapping to the contrary, it's amazing how software developers are encouraged to monomaniacal focus.

If you want to be a software developer, ensure that you are unmarried, male, and without children - no need for those pesky distractions. You will be hired over married, female, or child-burdened developers, all other things being equal.


If you don't have family, it's easier to get you in for crunch times. (For those not in the know, "crunch" is six or seven day workweeks with at least 12hrs/day, more likely between 16-20 hrs per day).
 
2012-12-27 05:42:25 AM

phlatulence: Talk I heard in 2005 from an academic who held large competitive grants for 40 yrs consecutively, first day of his PhD his supervisor told him that he would do 40hrs a week in the lab and 40hrs a week in the library. Want a career in science?

Joe Wiskich


That's why I left science. I figured I liked friends more.
 
2012-12-27 07:18:54 AM

phlatulence: Talk I heard in 2005 from an academic who held large competitive grants for 40 yrs consecutively, first day of his PhD his supervisor told him that he would do 40hrs a week in the lab and 40hrs a week in the library. Want a career in science?

Joe Wiskich


Thanks for this, and all the other posts. I used to think a career in science was more like this.
 
2012-12-27 07:49:01 AM
Once a group gets dominated by a particular type they can then start thinking that being of that type is necessary or really helps in learning and doing the work the group does - not being of that type is a disadvantage and can hurt the "energy" of the whole group unless maybe confined to lower positions. The type in part helps to define what it means to be a "team player" which in some part means promoting the type.

The article just focuses on the "grind" personality - one who is so dedicated he will work 80 hour weeks in part because he doesn't have any other life to interfere with it.

In academia and business groups I've been in or come across I've seen all sorts of typed groups who think their type is naturally the best. Some examples include:

Male Pigs - Women really don't have the innate ability to work in this field except in helping positions. Some Lesbians might be partially qualified but their lack of femininity and deference disqualify them as team players. Assertive men are strong while assertive women are just biatchy.

Jews - who think non-Jews are less smart or not as easy to get along with as Jews.

Mormons - who think that only Mormons truly know what purpose and dedication means. While it may make sense to employ some smart Jews in lower positions they should not be trusted with leadership. Otherwise everybody in the group should at least be Christian.

Pot Smokers - (not people who smoke while they work but those who after a long week of hard work have a weekend party). It's pretty hard to form team social bonds if you won't socialize with degenerates.

Hackers - (by this term I mean people who design computer programs by rapidly programming up successive approximations of what the final program should do) Heaven help those programmers who want a worked out specification before they start to write code.

Heavy Drinkers - see Pot Smokers.

I've witnessed the social dynamics of being included or excluded from these groups though I will generally, if asked, refrain from making specific identifications such as the Art History Department at UCLA around 1982 being heavy drinking male pigs.

The whole problem with groups assuming a type identity is that while that type may dominate the group it really is not what makes the group "good" if it is. The type identity is more about retaining members and exploiting the lesser members who don't "measure up" to advance toward leadership. If a bio-medicine lab is known as a "grind" group then it is assumed that lowest level has to put in 80 hour weeks as underpaid tab technician monkeys just to prove their dedication in the hope they can advance. It really is too bad (other than financially for the group) when they quit and can't convert their long hours into any financial reward.
 
2012-12-27 07:58:22 AM

HairBolus: Once a group gets dominated by a particular type...


You sound like a social scientist who even works when he's not working.
 
2012-12-27 08:23:14 AM

Millennium: There's a certain myth of a "pure" scientist out there: someone for whom the pursuit of scientific knowledge, not necessarily to do anything with it but simply to know, is life's highest and ultimate calling, to be pursued with quasi-monastic zeal. This myth is what institutions like the ones mentioned in TFA are pursuing.


sounds like catholic priesthood
 
2012-12-27 08:30:35 AM

Ishidan: austerity101: and she told me in an email that she was concerned that my extra-curricular interests were impeding my education. I asked her if she had received any other complaints from my professors, or if she could point to any insufficient work in my studies or my grades. She conceded that she hadn't and couldn't.

I politely told her to fark off

And there you have the difference between science and politics.

Science demands that you have evidence before you come up with a conclusion.

Balls out method: demand that the graduate advisor prove her hypothesis, using the required number of references and appropriate logical notation.

/never a grad student
//dealt with many asshole managers who felt that their accusation was as good as a conviction, their suspicion a proof


The only thing that separates a PI from a postdoc is that first RO1 grant, and the contract they sign with the university. There is no training whatsoever in time or money management, or how to instruct trainees. Not a minute. To put it another way, junior tenture-track scientists begin their career with a check from the government worth hundreds of thousands of dollars to start a particular 5-year project, and no managerial training whatsoever.

Before science became the business it is today, it could afford this crappy business model. But universities have slowly begun to depend on their cut from government grants (their cut now being 50 or more). Thus, at this point in their business model, it is not in their best interest to concern themselves with whether people that are better managers or teachers, let alone verify that they're dealing with a solid scientist and not a bullshiat artist. I worked for a guy who claimed to everyone that his work would lead to a cure for Huntington's disease in "three years". Many people didn't realize that clinical trials alone would have taken longer than that (it was inexplicable).
 
2012-12-27 09:09:51 AM
There are lots of scientists (too many) out there who confuse "long hours" with "hard work" and "productive science". That isn't the case. I've known plenty of grad students and post-docs who put in lots of time, but weren't necessarily that good, and didn't do better science than plenty of others who spent far less time in the lab. Luckily I have never worked for a PI who expected people to slave away in the lab.

It also helps when you are in Bioinformatics and can do plenty of work from anywhere, not just the lab.
 
2012-12-27 10:26:41 AM
I didn't read the entire thread, so someone probably already mentioned this. If you're applying to a science PhD program it's really in the interest of both you and the school for you to be very devoted to the very specific subset of science on which you'll be working. If you're not really into it, you'll hate school and slowly be weeded out; you probably can't fake it for 5+ years. It's not that they don't care about your interests; I found that having something outside of work to talk about is a good way to get on your advisor's good side, it's that they're basically irrelevant when it comes to you being a successful student in their program.

As far that thing about being told he was an embarrassment because of his desire to do stand up, that will happen when you work for a curmudgeon. I've also heard that biology departments tend to have a stick pretty far up their ass (no experience, I just mentored an undergrad who work both in my chemistry lab and a molecular biology lab).
 
2012-12-27 02:29:03 PM

KimJ: I thought it was just my field (mathematics) that was like this. I was accepted to an undergraduate summer program that rejected another girl I knew solely because she had a second major in physics, showing that she couldn't really be "serious" about math according to her rejection letter.


I think doing those two majors would make you as serious about math as humanly possible.
 
2012-12-27 03:31:20 PM

Braindeath: I think doing those two majors would make you as serious about math as humanly possible.


Often not from the point of view of a Mathematician. Physics isn't "pure" math.
 
2012-12-27 03:39:39 PM
I've been out of grad school for about 3 years now; man, this thread is bringing back the memories.

Alas, I come to it a day late.  Perhaps I'll catch the discussion on the next turn around.

But for those who were contemplating grad school, I'll share this bit of wisdom:  In 1995, a friend of mine published a paper looking at the path for PhD candidates in the biomedical sciences.  The average (or median, I can't recall now) time from the start of grad school to the end of post-doc work was 12 years.  That's a long time to be in training.  In addition, the math worked out that, over the course of a career, you will never make up the earnings as a PhD that you missed by being a PhD student and then a post-doc for those years.   Granted, this paper looked at the American market, so I can't speak for elsewhere.

Post-docs haven't been given a better lot since then, and salaries haven't really gotten better.  If you're looking at grad school, you'd better be damned sure you love that particular field of science before you sign over your life, because it's exactly what you're doing.  There are people who get rich off of science, but they're not frequently PhD holders, and it's not likely to be you.
 
2012-12-27 04:23:17 PM

entropic_existence: Often not from the point of view of a Mathematician. Physics isn't "pure" math.


Very much this. (And this program had a Fluid Dynamics option, which you think would be physics-related!) The only hobby you could have that you wouldn't be made fun of was playing a musical instrument.
 
2012-12-27 04:44:27 PM

entropic_existence: Often not from the point of view of a Mathematician. Physics isn't "pure" math.


Yeah, physicists and mathematicians often snipe at each other a bit. Physicists often look at mathematical rigor as a waste of time and make assumptions that mathematicians wouldn't dare make. Mathematicians then look at physics as if they're somehow cheating by taking shortcuts, and it's not "real" math.
 
2012-12-27 04:51:03 PM

entropic_existence: Braindeath: I think doing those two majors would make you as serious about math as humanly possible.

Often not from the point of view of a Mathematician. Physics isn't "pure" math.


www.titaniumteddybear.net
 
2012-12-27 05:21:38 PM

hstein3: I've been out of grad school for about 3 years now; man, this thread is bringing back the memories.

Alas, I come to it a day late.  Perhaps I'll catch the discussion on the next turn around.

But for those who were contemplating grad school, I'll share this bit of wisdom:  In 1995, a friend of mine published a paper looking at the path for PhD candidates in the biomedical sciences.  The average (or median, I can't recall now) time from the start of grad school to the end of post-doc work was 12 years.  That's a long time to be in training.  In addition, the math worked out that, over the course of a career, you will never make up the earnings as a PhD that you missed by being a PhD student and then a post-doc for those years.   Granted, this paper looked at the American market, so I can't speak for elsewhere.

Post-docs haven't been given a better lot since then, and salaries haven't really gotten better.  If you're looking at grad school, you'd better be damned sure you love that particular field of science before you sign over your life, because it's exactly what you're doing.  There are people who get rich off of science, but they're not frequently PhD holders, and it's not likely to be you.


I'm thinking a masters program may be my best bet. As someone who got involved with the greek scene and all in college, I'm not your typical science geek going into the lab for grad school anymore. I've realized I need more than the lab in my life and I think, sadly, that means I'm not the best fit for the PhD/Post-doc slog.
 
2012-12-28 04:57:20 PM
An interesting look at the post doc mill and the general breakdown of research track scientists in the U.S. post WWII. Link.

I graduated from my undergrad (dual Marine Bio and Ecology) over a decade ago, and the job market for field biologists could be politely described as rocky. In order to get some kind of career going again, I'm looking at pulling the trigger and going back for my MS. I for one never wanted the teaching and "publish or perish" workload that comes with a Ph. D. in academia, but it's far too easy to get pushed out of your field with a mere Bachelor's. It's a bit of a Goldilocks situation; I know a lot of people happily (or not) working long grinds in labs postdocing or as a P.I., and I know tons of people who were fine ending their academic career with their B.S.. Unfortunately, the latter are generally in fields that may only be related tangentially at best to what they studied.

tl, dr: Find a career field you are interested in, and if you want to stay in it, be prepared to at least get your Masters.
 
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