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Dealing with Fellow Scientists

How to Reconcile Being an “Aspie” and a Scientist

I received a very late diagnosis of Asperger syndrome, when I was already twenty. Before that, I was ashamed of my “social awkwardness”, but my passion for life sciences and research relieved me of my sorrow. After I learned about my condition, I was able to self-accept and be proud of myself (and continued to…

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Hot Tips for Creating a Scientific Special Interest Group at Your Institute

Universities are often organized by faculties, colleges, schools, and/or departments. So, as an academic, you often work closely with colleagues studying similar subject areas. A common interest, however, often transcends the boundaries of this organizational structure. Enter scientific special interest groups. What Are Scientific Special Interest Groups? Scientific special interest groups are member-led initiatives within…

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How to Foster Lab Cooperation

Research isn’t easy. Not only do you deal with experimental failures and demanding supervisors, you also work with other lab members — people who are under the same pressures and stresses as you. Staff, postdocs, PhD students, and undergrads are often given bench space and a desk and encouraged to sort out the personal side…

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The Sandwich Technique: How to Dish Out Critique

How time flies. One day you are giving your first presentation in front of your fellow students, seemingly the next you are listening to a presentation by your own student. And frankly, the talk is awful. It’s twice the time limit, the student weaves around the topic as a drunken sailor, and she acknowledges her…

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Don’t Be Discouraged in a Lab with Minimal Resources

My first lab experience was in a lab on a really strict budget: no kits, no technicians, no media kitchen, or glassware washing service. We really had only minimal resources.  I was close to paranoid about not wasting one tip or glove. Later, when I started in other labs, I spent my first days going…

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Breezing Through the Aftermath of a Conflict

When working very closely with a team of people in the lab, you will have disagreements leading to conflict. That’s just human nature, hence the origin of a common phrase, “Can’t we all just get along?” If you are lucky, you will be able to resolve the conflict. But then the question becomes, how will this…

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How to be an Excellent Scientific Leader

It’s often said that great leaders have a knack for bringing out the best in those that follow. In turn, followers enjoy the work they do and will take the initiative to soar far above and beyond what is asked of them. A less effective scientific leader may unknowingly squander potential that might have flourished…

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Ten Phrases Uttered by the Unethical Advisor

A good scientist must see to believe… but if you just landed in the lab and things aren’t working, maybe it’s not you. We all love to try and save our hypothesis, but in this publish or perish climate, looking the other way during truth bending happens, and it happens a lot. Here are some…

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How to Make the Most of Your Visit to a Collaborating Lab

One of the many perks that we often experience as graduate students is the chance to work with a collaborating lab on a research project. A successful collaboration results in: Gaining a collaborator’s expertise in a particular area of science Building/learning a new method and/or Addressing an overlapping scientific question I recently came back from…

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Are you being bullied by your boss?

There are many kinds of supervisors out there, ranging from the amazingly laid back to the crazy micromanagers. There are various strategies for dealing with all of them, but what do you do when your boss is a bully?

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Survival as a PhD Student: Keep the Post Docs on Your Side

From one lowly PhD student to another: we need post doctoral scientists. From their ability to seemingly do everything right to their moral support after a weekend of failed experiments and questioning the decisions that led you up to this moment * clears throat *. The list of support post docs offer is endless. So…

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Dealing with tension and conflict in the lab

A busy research lab can be a challenging place to work for a variety of reasons. Science is a high pressure environment, often with looming grant or research paper deadlines, troublesome reagents, and experimental failure. Combined, these factors can cause many kinds of strife in the workplace, here are a few examples and some of my top tips for dealing with them!

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5 Types of Bad Boss and How to Handle Them

Science attracts so many different and quirky personalities that you are bound to have a problem with some people. But when your boss is the problem, its a big problem for you. So what do you do when you don’t get along with your boss? Well sometimes the best advice is really to just move…

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What makes a good collaborator?

In its beginning science was a solitary pursuit: most of the papers in scientific journals prior to the 20th century have just one author.However, the change in scientific culture from “publish when you are really sure about the results” –(it took Darwin many years after he wrote The Origin of Species  to publish it) –…

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Getting the Most Out of Supervisor Meetings

The monthly meeting with your supervisor is approaching and you are getting nervous.  What can you do to get the most out of it?  For starters, let’s hope that you are actually having regular, one-to-one meeting with your lab head.  If not, you have bigger problems than just preparing (look out for my upcoming article…

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The Tale of Two Lab Management Strategies

According to the philosopher of science Thomas Kuhn, experimental science relies more on  scientists’ emulation of each other as apposed to theoretical knowledge; e.g. it’s more like craft, which is transferred from person to person through teaching and observing, rather than anything else. Chosen by a group leader, a lab-management strategy is self-sustaining, so I…

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How To Deal With People Stealing Your Reagents

I have been fortunate enough that in my career to date I have rarely experienced the problem of other people stealing my reagents. However, one PI told me of her experiences working in a US laboratory where things had got so bad people brought their reagents home at the weekends! Working in a research laboratory…

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