Appreciating what you had

May 18 2009 Published by under Uncategorized

When I left my post-doc I somehow managed to put to bed everything that I was the primary researcher on. At the time it was great because it allowed me to focus entirely on my new ventures, which are more or less distantly related to what I was doing as a post-doc. The downside of the situation is that I haven't written a manuscript in what is getting dangerously close to a year. Between writing grants and getting the lab going I have managed to keep this fact in the back of my head, but the little bastard gnawed it's way through with the end of the semester.

I think we're getting really close to having enough data on one project in the lab which will lead to a nice publication, but I've decided I've had enough waiting for a writing project to come to me and rather that I should get back on the saddle in a different way. So, I have been batting around an idea for an opinion piece for a while and have been putting it off for various reasons, but mainly because I'm lacking he final piece to the puzzle. Without that it has just been an idea that had potential.

Over the weekend I had a visitor from Europe who I had significantly overlapped with as a post-doc in post-doc city. European Visitor is one of these people who likes to talk a lot of science and has always been a good sounding board, even if their ideas are sometimes from left field. We were chatting about projects we were doing and those which we have been kicking around ideas for and I started explaining my ideas on this opinion piece. EV pointed out a couple of areas I was aware of where the argument might be weak, but then mentioned one way to tie the theories together that made a shit-ton of sense. Why hadn't I seen this when it was right in front of me? Why hadn't it come up in my conversations with others on the topic? Because EV is one of those people who thinks more broadly than everyone else, that's why.

More than most things, I miss the people from post-doc university. The community there was so strong and so thoughtful on a variety of topics that it kept pushing me to be better without me even realizing it. I have good colleagues here, but there is no quiet and friendly competition for excellence that I was used to. I miss that constant pulse that you can't help but get caught up in. I miss being able to walk down the hall and get insight through conversation on something you have been wrestling with for a couple of weeks. It's taken me a while to put my finger on this or even really appreciate what I had.

Now it's time to gather some literature and dig in.

9 responses so far

  • Ink says:

    Colleagues who inspire us = priceless. Great point!

  • Ink says:

    ps: LOVE your new header.

  • Prof-like Substance says:

    Unfortunately, inspiration is less effective over email. Thanks on the header. It's a photo and it's not anything in a lab or under a microscope...

  • Hermitage says:

    I miss that about my old lab. We'd sit around all lunch, just discussing random new science widjits and it was so much fun. I feel like I learned a lot through nerd osmosis there, not so much at my current lab. So now I have to learn how to actually read papers with no feedback, le horror!

  • Comrade Physioprof says:

    More than most things, I miss the people from post-doc university. The community there was so strong and so thoughtful on a variety of topics that it kept pushing me to be better without me even realizing it. I have good colleagues here, but there is no quiet and friendly competition for excellence that I was used to. I miss that constant pulse that you can't help but get caught up in. I miss being able to walk down the hall and get insight through conversation on something you have been wrestling with for a couple of weeks. It's taken me a while to put my finger on this or even really appreciate what I had.Interestingly, my transition from post-doc to PI was the opposite. I left a relatively intellectually impoverished environment for one that is unbelievably vibrant/

  • Prof-like Substance says:

    I don't want to suggest that there is not an intellectual community here, simply that the number of people working in different sub-fields of my area was unusually large at my post-doc institution and we all benefitted from so many different perspectives. I don't have that here in the same way, but hope to create it with the help of a few other young PIs who work in related fields. Once again, it's a transition going from something that is already established to having to do it all yourself and by virtue of my somewhat unusual concentration, I would be going through this almost no matter where I ended up.

  • tideliar says:

    I had that as a grad student. It was awesome, hundreds of geeks who you could talk to about anything, anytime. We'd chat science in the bar, the footie pitch, everything. Postdoc U was a fucking wasteland. Blurgh. Another encouragement for me to leave the bench.

  • Ambivalent Academic says:

    Is the header a chemiluminescent wave (like a wave on a beach)?Great post by the way.

  • Prof-like Substance says:

    Bioluminescence in a wave, good eyes.

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