Wednesday, August 26, 2015

10 reasons doing your PhD is just like going to Hogwarts

Sometimes Grad School feels like a mythical world, hidden away just inside the real world.

Here's some good reasons why it is, in fact, just like going to Hogwarts.

1) Attending Hogwarts takes 7 years, so does the average PhD - well 2 for the masters and 5 for the PhD.

2) Hogwarts school of Witchcraft and Wizardry is a cool old castle, well so are most university campuses.

3) Studies at Hogwarts are evaluated by two major exams, OWLs and NEWTs, your PhD revolves around QUALs  (or candidacy) and your Defense, which is sure to be 'Nastily Exhausting'.

4) While you're in school, you wear the boring wizard robes...

5) But when you're a professor, you get the exciting ones.

6) We take basically all the same classes.

7) Explaining your thesis to people is just like talking to Muggles.

8) When you graduate, it seems like there are really only 3 obvious job paths (Aurora/Ministry for Magic/Teach at Hogwarts = Academia/Industry/Teach on Contract) or you could be like Luna, and give Science writing a try?

9) So it's understandable, that sometimes, dropping out and starting your own business in something completely different sounds like a great idea.

10) So maybe you'll never be a Dentist like your parents, but at the end of the day you get to be something way cooler...

A wizard!..... I mean Scientist!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Could you be a science writer in a science researcher's body?

I'm sure every single PhD student at some point or another, or 500 times over the course of a post candidacy year, wonders if research is right for them.

I know I have.

And I know I have thought long and hard about the idea of going into science writing or science journalism.

I've read books like the Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, and The Emperor of all Maladies a Biography of Cancer and day dreamed about one day writing my own book about the magic of science and how it impacts our world.

I've purchased the Science Writer's Handbook... although I haven't read any of it yet.

Heck, I even keep the domain name for this blog, even though it's been ages since I've written anything here.

But today a line from Julia Rosen's article on the Open Notebook really spoke to me.

You can find the full article here: Trading the Pipette for the Pen: Transitioning from Science to Science Writing.

Here's the bit that spoke to me:
This isn’t an unfamiliar tale, according to Rob Irion, who directs the graduate Science Communication Program at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Many of his applicants, especially those who have completed or are working on PhDs, say that instead of reading the literature in their own field, they “spend a lot of time in their department seminar rooms devouring everything else, and finding that they are really interested in all of it,” Irion says. This might be the closest thing to a litmus test to determine if you, like I and many others, might be a science writer trapped in a scientist’s career path.
And much like Julia herself: "Sometime during my PhD studies, I had an epiphany: I liked learning about science more than I liked doing it. "

Now I don't know if science writing is my for sure path. In fact it may very well not be. Especially considering how much I enjoy teaching. But I thought I'd take a moment to share this article her, and tuck it away into the back of my mind, for the next time I find myself wondering.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Sometimes Science

Sometimes science is all fun and exciting.

Tissue on the myograph doing what it's supposed to be doing.

Sometimes science is spending 8 hours doing data entry and generating graphs.

Data entry in excel.

My first week back to the lab after the holidays has been a bit of both so far. Plus throw in an afternoon spent going through my inbox.

So here's to all us grad students back in the lab this 2015.

Here's to good data.

To high impact publications.

Here's to research funding success.

To scientific meetings in exotic locales.

Here's to Science.

Now head off to the pub across the street and grab yourself a drink. Is it Friday yet?
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