Same thing as last year: the first post and first sentence of every month of the past year.
January: First of all: happy 2016 everyone! I hope next year will be a great one for you all!
February: I was the smartest kid in my primary school class, I think.
March: Four years ago today, I published my first blog post.
April: The other day I was invited to attend a meeting with a couple of important (internal and external) people at my company.
May: Last week I went to a conference with nearly 100% medical doctors.
June: Everyone who is involved in animal research has heard about the 3Rs: Replacement, Reduction and Refinement.
July: Instead of: "Hey, are you an intern/graduate student/post-doc here?", you can ask: "So, what is your position here?"
August: Two people buy a house together.
September: Recently, an anonymous postdoc emailed me with the following question [slightly redacted by me]: I realize it is time for me to start taking my career switch to industry seriously.
October: Yesterday I attended a seminar and I noticed that at least 75% of the audience were women.
November: I think that in the past couple of weeks I have cried more at work than in the years before that combined.
December: This week I received feedback that I need to act more confident in my role as expert.
The disgruntled postdoc – or disgruntledoc - is a specific species of the academic family, first discovered in the wild and described by DrugMonkey. Its body is often found in a particular non-ergonomic posture that is intended to entirely devote itself to academic science, for example bent over to stare into a microscope, crouching on the floor to put a laboratory animal into an operant box or crawling behind a rig to fix the wiring. Its brain however is mostly occupied with online conversations on twitter or blogs discussing fair pay, the difficulty to obtain grant money and general unfairness of the academic system. This behavior has been observed consistently since the early history of social media.
At the end of the day, the disgruntled postdoc either indulges in cheap beer and free cookies – when these are left over from other occasions – or scrambles to be in time to pick up its offspring from their daycare that the disgruntled postdoc’s salary can barely pay for. In unique situations, the disgruntled postdoc will try to combine these two activities often with mixed success.
Similar to other adolescent mammals, the disgruntled postdoc stage has a hypothesized purpose to “learn how to maximize utility of their environment and emigrate to new social groups in order to prevent inbreeding”. It is expected that the disgruntled postdoc will leave its environment at some point in time. This point will either be reached when the disgruntled postdoc is able to rise in the academic ladder, or when the disgruntled postdoc reaches a threshold where their level of dissatisfaction is higher than their level of willingness to work hard on science. Where this threshold lies is different for each individual disgruntled postdoc and depends very much on the conditions of the habitat, most notably the amount of grant money available in said habitat.
I came back from SfN last week and want to write about some of my observations there, but with little time to sit down and write this, somehow this post came out first.
I’ve been asked a couple of times (both at SfN and elsewhere) what my pseud means. I thought it was an obvious play on words, but I guess it was a very nerdy play on words, so here is some explanation. Before I left academia, I was a post-doc doing electrophysiology doing whole cell recordings in slices. When doing that, before you reach whole cell mode, you are first in cell-attached mode (ie when the pipet is attached to the cell membrane, before you actually break into the cell). A good image on how that works is here.
At the same time, BlueEyes was born, and he was somewhat the opposite of babies that you often see in pictures: relaxing and/or sleeping in a crib or something like that. He was mostly happy when he was being held and even then he was sometimes unhappy *. I quickly discovered babywearing and other types of attachment parenting thingies that seemed to help retain everyone’s sanity.
So when I started tweeting and blogging around that time, babyattachmode seemed a good name. I did not really think ahead to the time when I would no longer be a post-doc doing electrophysiology and no longer have little babies. So I contemplated whether to change my pseud, but since I already find it confusing when people change their avatar on twitter, I’m just going to stay who I am online.
Have you outgrown your pseud and have you changed it because of that?
* I know, this is normal baby behavior too – but we see it much less often in books or on TV…
Yesterday was #drugmonkeyday: a day to celebrate and be thankful for everything DrugMonkey has done for the online science community and beyond. However, yesterday I wrote a navel gazing post about running my first half marathon and then spent the day at the side of the playground because Friday is always my day off (I work 4 days a week like so many people (M/F) in this country). So I tweeted about it, but didn't take the time to sit down and write this post until now.
I started reading DrugMonkey's and Dr. Isis' blogs when I was a wee grad student in my homecountry. A lot of what they were writing was literally very foreign to me, even though I had spent 6 months as a research assistant in a lab in the US during undergrad. I don't really remember how I ended up reading science blogs: whether I googled something and found them or whether I found them through the early days of twitter. I only started to appreciate the usefulness of all this information when I went to interview for post-doc positions in the US and when people said things like:"I have 2 R01s from NIDA and NI triple A" that this sounded like more than a couple random letters in a row but that I actually understood the meaning.
Fast forward a couple years and I was a disgruntled postdoc (a DrugMonkey term) who just had a baby that did not sleep well. I felt alone in the lab full of people who could spend whatever time they wanted on both science and drinking, while my time was spent running experiments and trying to get my baby to sleep. I started my pseud twitter account and a blog shortly after and found other sleep deprived post-docs, among tons of other interesting people. From a long-time lurker, I started to become part of this community and DrugMonkey played a big part in helping me become part of this.
I remember riding back home from the lab and checking my blog stats (my husband was driving by the way) to see that they had suddenly exploded from 2 people a week (or month) to over a hundred in an hour. DrugMonkey had tweeted about something I had written, which caused this sudden uptick in traffic.
And aside from everything that can be learned at DrugMonkey's blog, lets not forget about all the encouragement on twitter!
...while thinking about a good way to end this post, the time for #naptimescience and blog writing seems to be over in this house. Thanks DrugMonkey and happy belated drugmonkeyday!
Links to many other #drugmonkeyday praise in this post.
The other day, someone asked me:"So, why do you blog?" and I didn't have an answer immediately. I started blogging to practice writing: I'm not a native English speaker* so I figured it would be good to write something on a frequent (or less frequent) basis.
But why do I write about the things that I write about? I share bits and pieces of my life mostly to get my thoughts clear - and putting them on paper helps. And I share things because I feel they can be helpful to others, for example how I found my job outside academia.
Also - even though I rarely do this - I like going back to read my own old posts. I realize that sometimes I would have entirely forgotten about things if I hadn't written about them here.
For those of you that have a blog: why do you blog?
*I do appreciate edits and comments that people sometimes send me. Although I feel that most improvements to my writing have more to do with me being a sloppy editor than me not being a native speaker ;-).
Last week I went to a conference with nearly 100% medical doctors. It was interesting, but also weird to go somewhere where it was so obvious that I did not fit in. I was there as a scientist, to learn how doctors look at things and what is important to them in treating patients*. It really made me think about how you fit in somewhere. It made me think about Doctor_PMS's post about how to fit into science Twitter when you're no longer a scientist and it made me think of nicoleandmaggie's recent post on who you are online compared to IRL. And I've started this blog post a couple times trying to put my own thoughts on paper but they are just too incoherent to press the publish button. So I'll just leave you with this (very broad) question: Do you feel like you fit in where you are (online or offline)?
*this was a very good learning experience and I can highly recommend it to academic scientists too. Some meetings already provide this mix of clinical and preclinical people of course.
It seems like Drugmonkey is back in the early 2000s when people used blogs instead of twitter to exchange ideas. Without emojis too, can you imagine?! He started a meme with the question: which top five movie or TV characters should come rescue you from a bad situation? This is another hint that he's back in the early 00s because who on earth watches TV? Or does Netflix/Youtube count as TV too? I'm tagging Doctor_PMS and challdreams!
- Hugh Glass (when I'm cold I'd really like someone to hand me a warm horse carcass to sit in)
- Claire Underwood (when a situation is so bad you can do without ethics but with very classy outfits)
- Saul Goodman (of course!)
- The octonauts
- Story bots (every kid should watch this!)
What are yours? Post a link or your answers in the comments and join Drugmonkey in the early 00s!
Four years ago today, I published my first blog post. Since then quite a bit has changed: I had another baby, I moved, I quit academia and I'm still busy figuring out what I want in my current job.
To celebrate my blog-birthday, I'd like to know a bit more about you, my dear reader! Please comment (or de-lurk) and tell me about:
- who you are
- how you found my blog and how long you've been reading here
- what you like and don't like about my blog
First of all: happy 2016 everyone! I hope next year will be a great one for you all!
Last year, I set a couple goals in January and I haven't really written about whether I was able to meet those goals in the past year. My first goal was a personal one:
...This is not to say that I should work less overall, but more that I need to divide it better: time spent not working also means not ruminating about work-stuff that needs to be done, and time spent working should just be that. Let's see how that goes.
I think that after quitting my post-doc and starting to work for a company I have become better at not panicking so much about keeping my job. Even though my job is of course not super secure, I am less stressed about being able to keep my job than I was in academia. I still think about work during non-work time, but it's the good kind of thinking: coming up with new ideas or going over meetings that happened. I make lists of things I need to do, which has proven to be a good way to not ruminate about them so much. Also, I've gotten good scores on my end of year review, so I feel pretty confident about what I get done in a normal amount of hours and how I do it.
My next goal was really work-related and was about stakeholder management:
I always wonder if I should ask someone for help or just do it myself without bothering anyone.
This has really changed in the past year, when I've worked in different teams needing to keep multiple people in various functions updated about projects. I now make a habit of checking if I'm on the right path with people or sometimes double-check to see if we all have the same ideas about where a project is going. I think getting more comfortable in my job and finding that people rarely feel bothered when you ask them things have contributed to this.
My last new year's resolution of last year was about blogging: I wanted to interact with commenters more and blog once a day for a whole month. This last thing sadly never happened. My priorities are taking care of kids and working and blogging only happens when those two things have happened to a satisfying degree. Kind of the same thing is true for answering to comments: sometimes I just cannot find enough time to answer or keep a discussion going (or comment on other people's blogs, which I would like to do more too).
My resolutions for 2016? I already tweeted the following
More about that in future posts! What are your resolutions for 2016?
Just like last year, here's my end of year post (just in time!) with the first post of every month.
January: Happy 2015 everyone! I hope this will be a great year full of whatever you want it to be full of!
February: In my homecountry, only 16% of the full professors are female.
March: First, go read the long discussion happening over at drugmonkey about how the current funding situation affects early career scientists and current grad students and post-docs the most.
April: When reviewing somebody else's paper for a journal, I found myself thinking:"hey, my paper just got rejected with a similar response to the reviewers! Perhaps I should reject this paper too!".
May: As DrugMonkey already talked about: a well-known neuroscientist doing non-human primate research has announced that he will stop using monkeys but will switch to rodents instead.
June: This morning, I was happy to discover this new website from 4 Dutch female full professors: Athena's angels.
July: The reason it is so quiet here (last post over a month ago I just realized) is that I was soloparenting for a week when husband was away to a conference and immediately afterwards we went on vacation for 2 weeks.
August: This week is World Breastfeeding week and this year's theme is combining breastfeeding and work, so I decided to repost this post from May 2012.
September: A couple years ago I was applying for personal fellowships to return to the homecountry and work in a PI's lab in order to set up my own group within their bigger lab (which is how things usually go in the homecountry).
October: In a continent where 67% of Europeans don't believe that women possess the skills to be in high-level scientific positions, it is nice that the Dutch scientific organization (NWO) organizes a talent day for female scientists.
November: In academia, the year is clearly dictated by what needs to happen for students: teaching, exams, grading.
December: I just noticed it's been a month since I last posted here, which is mostly because it's busy here.