Archive for: December, 2010

Is it just me...

Dec 30 2010 Published by under [Et Al]

or does this advertisement make you think you are signing up for one of those text update services? I know people who have injury reports for their team texted to their phone, but after the report that Favre texted pictures of his "primary receiver" to a Jets sideline reporter and Favre's follow-up stonewalling of the NFL investigation, I'm pretty sure I don't need Favre's "pants comfort report" being sent to my phone.

Wrangler, maybe it's time for a new athlete to wrap an ad campaign around, or at the very least, a new slogan.

6 responses so far

Writing just isn't fun right now

Dec 29 2010 Published by under [Et Al]

I'm apologizing in advance for my very least favorite type of post to read on other blogs, but nevertheless, I'm feeling a bit drained of my writing interest lately. It is rare for me to go a full week without posting something and I could easily chalk it up to not being around, but that is hardly true. I've been here, but with nothing to write.

It's not even that I've been too busy. I've managed semi-lucid posts at times when I though the combination of teaching and writing a proposal was going to deny me sleep for a week, because blogging is a nice change of pace. It keeps me thinking and keeps me writing, and sometimes I even have trouble focusing on work until I get a post out of my head.

Over the past few weeks however, I've been doing nothing but writing. Hour after hour I'm staring at this screen, squeezing out sentences like an old man trying to drop a deuce after a cheese festival. By the time it comes to blogging, my effort is gone and I'm left uninspired. I have four half started posts in the hopper that I thought might get me out of this funk, but about two paragraphs in I realized that they are more pathetic than the neighbor who leaves their Christmas tree up until February. Rather than vomit up these forced posts I'll sit tight and hope that pushing these grant proposals out the door results in the mental unclogging I need to get back on this.

Maybe I just need some new peeps around this place to shake things up. Let's see what the New Year brings...

12 responses so far

How my job made me a grinch

Dec 22 2010 Published by under [Et Al]

Tis the season, right? I mean grant writing season, what season were you thinking of?

There was a time when the "Holiday Season" really meant taking a holiday. As much of a whirlwind as it was, we used to take two weeks to visit home and meet up with people we hadn't seen in a while - seemingly trying to schedule time with half the people we had ever met. It was a good break from work, if not exhausting in it's own right.

These days it is just not possible for me to take that kind of time away and still survive January. I have three NSF proposals going in during the Jan 9-12 deadlines, followed by two NIH R15 proposals being submitted on Feb 25th. In between those deadlines I am going to Europe for a week to write a paper and another proposal with a collaborator there. Oh right, and I start teaching two classes towards the end of January, one of them new to me.

The "holiday" season is good for this on the one hand, because I can write in relative quiet. Of course, if I have a question, need some analysis done or have a budgetary issue, I'm on my own. That doesn't really bother me though, I'm not one to get in the way of other people getting the break I used to enjoy. But it is hard to get into the holiday spirit when time spent on holiday activities is plucked from a precious supply.

It is only work, though. While the immediate demands of funding the lab and the people associate with it are a loud noise to ignore, I try and remind myself that the joys of seeing my family happy and watching the Wee One digest all of the sights and sounds of the season needs to be more important than what I do for a pay check. I don't know that I always do the best job of this, but I'm working on it.

Happy Holidays everyone, may you enjoy every minute of them.

12 responses so far

Endless entertainment and possible child scarring

Dec 21 2010 Published by under [Et Al]

My wife stumbled across the site, Portable North Pole, which allows you to devise a message for your child, friends or family from Santa. This is my first shot at it, but I think it got me in the holiday spirit already!

Happy Holidays Physio Prof!

3 responses so far

Graphic Fridays - Cleaning

Dec 17 2010 Published by under [Et Al]

8 responses so far

New blog on the block

Dec 17 2010 Published by under [Et Al]

Welcome to Scientopia Dr. Becca!

2 responses so far

Thesis poll redux and mentoring

Dec 15 2010 Published by under [Education&Careers]

Following up on the poll posted yesterday, I found the results really interesting. As I mentioned in the comments, I think it would have been even more interesting to see how the perception of "whose responsible for what" in the thesis/dissertation process is broken down based on career stage. I know that my perception of the process has changed over time and through seeing it from multiple angles.

In some ways it surprised me that more than a quarter of the 113 respondents (at the writing of this post) saw the PI contribution as either equal or greater than the students. That percentage was more than the people who felt the student is responsible for the result of their dissertation. It makes me wonder if most people who picked those categories were mostly picturing dissertations that did not go well as the result of PI / student conflict.

I also found intriguing the sentiment from the comments that there was some arbitrary level of "good" that all PhD students should be measured against, with those not meeting the amorphous criterion being removed from the pool by "The System" and its various lifeguards. The problem with this notion is that trainees in ANY field inhabit an enormous spectrum, from clearly not fit to pursue the career at hand to stellar. Combine that with the differences between the measure of "good" in a field and how we actually test for that early on, and the process of placing the predictive bar for who will be successful and who will not becomes increasingly difficult to define. But wait! It turns out that not everyone with a PhD goes on to follow the academic path through which they have come thus far. These must be the failures, because they couldn't hack it. Their interest were in tangential fields or career paths, and thus they should have been eliminated by The System.

Give me a second, I have to slip into these meat pants. Man, I've put on weight since last wearing them. Hold on. Okay, I think the button will hold. Now, where were we?

What a crock of shit.

Are there people who enter PhD programs that shouldn't be there? Absolutely. These people often drop out because they are miserable* or are asked to leave or take a MS degree instead. This happens all the time. But there are many more who, for various reasons, do not live up to the perceived arbitrary bar for Good that others have in their own heads. Is someone a failure if they get one paper from their PhD dissertation and go on to work very successfully in a non-academic career? I think a lot of people that hang on to the myopic view that the Ivory Tower is The Goal would say yes, and that the person should have gotten the hook earlier, etc., etc., call the whaaambulance.

But here is why I think the perception of the thesis process between trainees and those in a position to advise PhD students can be so different: If you've never had to work with someone to meet non-academic career goals, it may not cross your mind to think about what that process takes or what the end product might be. There are also trainees who follow a different career trajectory than what some consider traditional, and really bust out as postdocs rather than grad students.

I'm not saying that PhD students shouldn't publish and attend conferences, etc., because many non-academic careers value that production as well. But the emphasis for some other careers may not be on the same tick boxes that academics focus on (see one example here). So maybe rather than focusing on whether some students "deserve" a PhD, consider what some people's goals are in relation to your own and measure them by a different standard.

*Or maybe stick around to be that miserable person who everyone keeps telling to go do something else, but who ignores this and treads water, seemingly just to remain miserable. Everyone knew someone like this in grad school.

9 responses so far

Poll: Thesis credit

Dec 14 2010 Published by under [Education&Careers]

There are a lot of factors that go into a successful thesis, including input of the advisor. Having been involved in multiple thesis committees I have been struck not only by the variability between theses, but by the perception of what a thesis says about the student / advisor relationship. I am curious what the readership thinks about the advisor's contribution to the thesis, so I am trying a poll for the first time (this is not my forte, so feel free to use "other" and explain below).

In answering, envision attending a defense or reading a thesis in our field where you know neither the history of the student, nor the advisor.

How much responsibility do you asign the advisor for a studnt's thesis
(polls)

17 responses so far

Whoa.

Dec 13 2010 Published by under [Et Al]

Minnesota doesn't need a new stadium, the one they have is totes fine.... It's not like Minnesota ever gets lots of snow, right? Right?

How fast does that little golf cart get the eff out of there at the 10 second mark?

11 responses so far

Graphic Fridays - Scientific worth

Dec 10 2010 Published by under [Education&Careers], [Et Al]

9 responses so far

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