Friday, January 20, 2006


In theory, my job once I finish school will be that of 'scientist'. Part of being a scientist, in any of its incarnations, is explaining research: how you did it, what it means, what importance is has?

This is an area I need to work on, as exemplified by my reluctance to talk about my work to my parents. My parents are both quite intelligent; both have BS degrees in their fields and work full time using that knowledge. No one in my family, not even a distant relative, has ever gone to graduate school. It is a whole new world that none of them understand. I get questions like:

-"If you aren't taking classes, what do you do all day?"
-"How much longer do you have? 3 more years! Haven't you already been there 3 years?" (Yes).
-"What is this big exam you keep talking about? How does it work?"
-"What exactly are you working on again?"

Some days, I try my best to explain the whole process or my research. Explaining my research in layman's terms is the hardest of all, and yet something I will wind up doing my entire life. I suppose I could use the practice. Some days though, I just want to chat with my family and not have to explain the nuances of the oral exam or the thesis, or what I do all day. I find myself getting annoyed that they don't understand it all.

I think a major reason why I have started this blog and why I read other blogs is the sense of community I've found among the science (and othe academic) bloggers. The professors have been there, the postdocs have been there, the other students are slogging through along with me. There is a sense of innate understanding here in the blogosphere that I have yet to find anywhere else. If I complain about a gel not running, at least five readers out there can leave comments and say "Oh, that sucks, have you tried X?" Quite amazing!

In the end I just need to realize that there are benefits to being in both the layperson world and the expert world.

Thursday, January 12, 2006


There are several milestones in a science career. Graduating with your BS degree. Choosing a graduate school. Picking a major professor. Qualifying Exams. Writing your first paper. Writing your first grant. Writing a thesis. Graduating with an MS or PhD. Finding a postdoc position. Finding a tenure-track position.

One of my good friends recently had her first paper published. I'm very excited for her. This is a big step for a graduate student. It went into a pretty high impact journal. While I'm happy for her, I am also sad for myself. I've had a few set-backs. My own first paper is at least a year away from even being started. The research is going well, but I just don't have enough data. Meanwhile, both a post-doc and the other grad student in my own lab are working on papers. My fellow student is a year behind me, but has been in this current lab longer. I am jealous of her, even though I know she put more time into the research and therefore...paper first.

I guess deep down I have a competitive streak that appears in odd ways. I want to have the first paper even though she was here first. Even though I have nothing worthy of an entire paper yet.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Birth of a blog

I have been considering starting a blog for quite some time, and what better opportunity than the turning over of a new year?

Welcome to Life Science. I love reading blogs, especially those from fellow scientists. I hope that this adventure will blossom and grow and evolve.

All that I write here is my vision of the world, though I strive for truth and honesty. Though I plan to remain anonymous, the views represented here are my own and do not represent Science University where I study, that of my major professor etc.