When I turned 28 years old, midway through my Ph.D., my biological clock went “BRRRRING!” My rational self thought, “Hmm, not a good time. Fact A: I love research and want a career in academia. Fact B: There are only two female faculty members in my department, and neither has children.” So, I put off having children, planning to secure a tenured position and publish at least a dozen papers before a “career interruption.” But biology couldn’t wait for my career. When I saw that thin blue line on a pregnancy test at age 34, I was overjoyed—and terrified about the career compromises I expected to face.
Archives for December 2017
Science is a brutally competitive field. Long days in the lab are a given. Every hour of available time is an advantage, especially in the crucial early years of a postdoctoral career.
Developmental biologist Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard is well acquainted with the demands of the laboratory. Her work on the role of genetics in embryonic development has led to honors including the 1995 Nobel Prize. And as director of the Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology, she saw a striking disparity in the amount of time available to her PhD advisees—and took specific notice of how it was disadvantaging those who were women with children.
The end of your PhD is one of the most hectic times of your life. You have a huge list of experiments to finish, papers to complete, a thesis to write, a defense to prepare for, as well as the small matter of applying for jobs, attending interviews, and making all sorts of huge life decisions. However, if you do end up choosing to do a postdoc, you are going to wake up one day and find that your life is drastically slowing down. As an early-stage postdoc, your work is not going to proceed at the same pace as when you are finishing up your PhD project. What’s more, it would be untenable for anyone to keep up with that crazy pace of work and life for a sustained period of time! Here are five of my top tips to help you shift gears and successfully adapt to life as an early-stage postdoc.
Here’s something to seriously ponder: Research is saying that a new hire’s decision to stay with a company long-term is made within the first six months of employment. Think about that for a minute. It means your average employee hasn’t made up his or her mind about staying or leaving your company until, quite possibly, month six on the job. […]
The graduate school application and admission season will be upon us again. The ostensible goal of that arduous and anxiety-fraught procedure—and of the even more involved process of hiring and promoting faculty members at research universities—is to identify the next generation of productive scientists. But how can the relevant committees accomplish this when no one can really specify the qualities of mind, heart, character, spirit, and background that combine to produce great research?