The Plight of the Post-Doc


I am officially on vacation: Holiday Fun and New Year's Resolutions

To those of you with blogs, aren't traffic tracking programs the most amazing and fun thing?  Today Google Analytics informed me that I had a visitor from Wasilla, Alaska, and I SO hope it was SP!!!  Does she still live there?  I don't even know.  But it wouldn't surprise me in the least if, in addition to the many publications she reads both in print and online, Inside Higher Ed (which recently linked to my last entry and generated much of today's traffic) were part of her daily routine.

So much negativity in the last few posts!  I don't like it, no I do not.  I am mostly of the philosophy that there's very little use in being depressed about stuff--either there's nothing you can do about it, so what's the point in wasting energy feeling sad, or there is something you can do about it, so go do that thing and stop feeling sorry for yourself!  Plus, nobody likes a downer, especially around the holidays.

Speaking of the holidays, we had a really fun party in my department.  My PI is a bit of a wine guy, so whoever goes shopping for the booze always tries to impress him and we end up with some pretty nice wine.  No Yellowtail in this department, no sir.  Also, we have a new chair who's pretty cool.  He became a whole lot cooler when, during his reading of the raffle winners, demanded a cheer for the New York Yankees.  I cheered the loudest, I'm pretty sure.  Never hurts to have the chair on your side, you know?  Especially when you need things signed.

Also speaking of the holidays, I am leaving early Thursday morning to spend Christmas with J's family in the heart of the midwest.  I've never been there, and am looking forward to meeting everyone, and to seeing what that which I usually describe as "fly-over country" is like.  I hear there's a Red Lobster, and having never actually been to a Red Lobster (I know!!!  I am apparently missing out on cheddar biscuits?), I'm pretty excited.  Also, I'm maybe going to make latkes for the grandparents, so that they can better appreciate my faith.  I mean, can you think of a better introduction to any religion than deep-fried potatoes and onions?  No, you can not.  Being Jewish is awesome!!!!!  Did I mention that on Passover we are required to have 4 glasses of wine?  And by "required" I mean, "required by God"!!

Back to the subject of going and doing that thing (or things) that can change the stuff you are sad about--my resolutions for 2010:

1.  Ask more questions.  One of the effects of my multi-institution post-doc has been that I've maybe been too independent.  I go in, I do my thing, I get out, without talking at length with people in each lab about theories behind everything, possible variations, etc.  As a result, I'd say I know less about the things I've done than I should. I now resolve to have more conversations.  This is what scientists do, no?

2.  Stop delegating, and do it myself.  I've been very lucky in the last several years to have some amazing people in the lab who are basically there to do whatever I ask of them.  I am very good at asking them to do things, but of course, this means that I don't know how to do those things.  I just say, "thank you for ordering that antibody" or "thank you for doing all of that incredibly painful microscope work.  You will be second author."  In 2010, I am doing all of the fucking microscope work.

3.  Read more papers.  Seriously, what is wrong with me?  I only just got my Google Reader to update when my PubMed searches have a new listing.  But now that I have that, there is no excuse for not knowing everything that is coming out of my field.

In sum, I want to be a better scientist in 2010.  It's almost embarrassing that these are my resolutions 10 years out from matriculating at my grad school, but I have to think that it's better late than never.  Right?


Comrade PhysioProf said...

Stop delegating, and do it myself.

Why would you want to do that?? If you have people to whom you can delegate, you may as well get used to it now, as that is what you will be doing when you are a PI.


Anonymous said...

Delegating ???. Yes. But What ??? and with the purpose of ???.

" Quite a few PIs take credit for our hard work but then when something goes wrong they "cite" their postdocs research ".

These postdocs made me think more than once about multiawarded PIs advertising on the benefits of "delegating".

Unbalanced Reaction said...

So what wines were tops this year?

Becca said...

@CPP-- It's true that I'll be doing lots of delegating once I'm a PI, but I'll first need to train the people who'll be doing my work. Also, I feel like my chances of actually becoming a PI would be greater if I could demonstrate that I have the skill set needed to answer the questions I claim to want to answer.

Unbalanced, I wish I could remember what we drank at the party, but it's all a bit of a blur...funny that.

Comrade PhysioProf said...

I'll first need to train the people who'll be doing my work

If you are an effective PI, the trainees in your lab will not be "doing your work". They'll be pursuing their own interests with your oversight and guidance. And the training you'll be giving them will be nothing like, "OK. Hold the tweezer here like so, and then pull, no HARDER" or any shit like that.

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