Monthly Archives: October 2012

The code of life turns out to be an enigma

When I get the opportunity, I love spending time in local schools talking about science and trying to get young people engaged. Inevitably, one of the questions I get a lot is ‘Why did you pick biology?’ There are many answers to that question, but one of the silliest sounding is probably ‘I wanted to know the truth’.  Continue reading

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Starting Grad School: Find the silver lining

Welcome to Grad School, the place where motivation goes to die. 

Seriously though, I procrastinate. I was never much of a procrastinater before I started my postgraduate studies. Now, crippling indecision and a general malaise caused by my lack of success cause me to while away the morning reading papers on subjects that aren’t really related to mine and drinking endless cups of tea. It’s not uncommon for it to be 12 before I start lab work, even if I’ve been in by 9am. I tell myself that this is fine because I have to read and write some time, but really I’m just putting off the inevitable.

Continue reading

Starting Grad School: There’s a fine fine line

There’s a fine fine line… between a post-doc and  a friend

(To paraphrase Avenue Q)

Starting a PhD, especially if your most recent degree was your undergraduate Bachelors, and not a Masters degree, can come as a little bit of a culture shock. There’s the working hours (Forget watching Countdown. Forget being home in time for Hollyoaks! Actually forget being home ever). There’s the lack of deadlines. But there’s also a very different relationship with your professors.

I was fortunate to have a very good working relationship with several academics at the university where I did my undergrad, but of course there’s always going to be a certain amount of distance. You don’t know their wife’s name. They don’t know what your Facebook profile looks like.  Continue reading

Starting Grad School: Trust nobody

I received two pieces of advice early in my career as a grad student. The first came from a friend who had graduated at the same time as me (in Biochemistry, rather than Biology, which meant that she had an additional year of undergrad to her name) and had immediately started her PhD. “Ask questions. ALL THE TIME.” She told me. No matter how much of an idiot you feel like asking a question, you will feel a million times worse if you don’t ask, and then you screw up.

The other piece of advice came from a post-doc. When I started this blog I made myself one promise: that I would not talk about this post-doc. (Put it this way: stealing my data and throwing away my entire cDNA collection was the small fry). But regardless of the abysmal state of our working relationship, this post-doc bequeathed two very important things to me. Continue reading