Struggles of a Life Scientist
|

Struggles of a Life Scientist

Working late nights or weekends in the lab—we’ve all been there. Why isn’t your cell culture considerate enough to get to exponential phase during normal business hours, anyway? Maybe you just need utter peace and quiet while you pipette hundreds of wells worth of stinky beta-mercaptoethanol. Or perhaps you’re using your wealth of microbiology knowledge…

How to Get Over Impostor Syndrome as a New Graduate Student

How to Get Over Impostor Syndrome as a New Graduate Student

You made it. You got into the grad school of your dreams! You worked hard, you spent hours working on your application, bravely navigated your way through the interview and you now are here. So, why do you feel like maybe you shouldn’t be? Why You Might Suffer From Impostor Syndrome The dreaded impostor syndrome:…

The Dumbed-Down Thesis:  A Little Reddit Fun

The Dumbed-Down Thesis: A Little Reddit Fun

Science talk can be cryptic, and scientists are realizing that nobody knows what the heck they’re talking about half of the time. To combat this, science communication lobbyists have done a great job of introducing new ways to communicate science that don’t involve babbling on and on. Have you ever practiced a 30 Second Elevator…

Transitioning out of the Lab: B­­­­reaking up Is Hard to Do

Transitioning out of the Lab: B­­­­reaking up Is Hard to Do

Working in a research lab is not a normal job. The hours are often unconventional and the tasks can run from exciting to mundane—it’s a world all of its own. Even so, your loyalty to your field and people is unmatched; there is a level of comradery you experience that is unlike any other. This…

How to Avoid Feeling Isolated During Graduate School

How to Avoid Feeling Isolated During Graduate School

Try to recall the last time you were not alone in the lab at 11pm on a Friday night running an experiment. If you found that to be difficult, then this article is definitely for you. Here are ways to avoid feeling isolated during your Ph.D. studies. Build a Network of Friends and Colleagues Building a…

How to Approach your First Experiments as a New PhD Student

How to Approach your First Experiments as a New PhD Student

For many students, a PhD project is the first opportunity to really sink your teeth into your very own research project over a long period of time. This initial period is exciting but can also be a little daunting. Where do you begin? How do you actually design your first experiments? I mean, what are…

Should I Stay or Should I Go? Graduate School Edition

Should I Stay or Should I Go? Graduate School Edition

A PhD, like any worthy endeavor in life, requires hard work, patience and perseverance. It also involves challenges that will make you doubt your choice to pursuit an advanced degree in the first place. It is inevitable that a series of failed experiments or that one paper rejection will bring you down and temporarily make…

Staying Ahead of the Pack in Undergraduate Research

Staying Ahead of the Pack in Undergraduate Research

Whether you’re just beginning, or nearing the end of your undergraduate career, getting involved in research can be overwhelming and stressful. There are many factors to consider, so keep it simple and focus on the most important ones: What area of research motivates you? What organisms do you find interesting? Are there any research professors…

5 Things I Would’ve Told Myself Before Starting Graduate School

5 Things I Would’ve Told Myself Before Starting Graduate School

Having just finished graduate school, I have been given the privilege of nearly unlimited time to reflect (Yay! Unpaid, Boo!). Graduate school was, for me, a juxtaposition of intellectual growth, real-world learning and great fun. An introduction to adulthood with training wheels—while simultaneously being a blur of anxiety, work, sleepless nights and existential crises. I…

7 Helpful Tips to Get You Through Your First Grad School Week

7 Helpful Tips to Get You Through Your First Grad School Week

It’s official. You’ve signed on the dotted line and you are about to begin the most exciting and frustrating journey into the depths of the unknown: a journey otherwise known as a PhD. You’ve heard the horror stories from previous students; the cloning that wouldn’t work for reasons unknown to man, the data that indicates…

How to Switch Mentors, Part 3: Actually Switching – Is it Worth it?

Grad school is a big investment of your time, with a lot riding on a successful relationship with your mentor.  Unfortunately, you may have realized that the relationship is not working and resists improvement.  You’ve taken the steps to switch to a new mentor. Now comes the hardest part. What do you actually say to…

How to Switch Mentors, Part 2: Planning and Preparing to Switch

How to Switch Mentors, Part 2: Planning and Preparing to Switch

Much of your success and happiness in grad school depends on an effective relationship with your mentor.  Despite your best efforts, sometimes the first relationship doesn’t work out, and you need to switch mentors to succeed in your program.  But how do you prepare to change mentors mid-PhD? Step 1: Write it all down Before…

How to Switch Mentors, Part 1: Recognizing Red Flags

How to Switch Mentors, Part 1: Recognizing Red Flags

Grad school is a long, hard, long, time-consuming, and–wait for it–long process. A bad relationship with your primary mentor can make it worse, and may even drive you away from a science career.  Unfortunately, you often can’t spot incompatibility until you’ve spent time with a mentor and lab.  Even then, how do you tell the…