Archive for: March, 2011

Recent times...

Mar 22 2011 Published by under Uncategorized

...keep reminding me of this old gem. The video quality sucks, but there's not much I can do about that.

6 responses so far

Damn right.

Mar 21 2011 Published by under Careers, Life

You've probably already seen this, but what the heck...

3 responses so far

Japan

Mar 17 2011 Published by under Life

Folks, we're all aware of the current state of affairs in Japan. Earthquake and tsunami. Now a reactor potentially melting down. It's easy to sit back and think "Japan is a wealthy country, they'll take care of it." Given no help, maybe they would. Eventually. But a lot of people would suffer and likely die in the meantime.

Remember that old adage "treat people the way you'd like to be treated"? Well, if I were in their shoes I'd welcome any and all help. If you can, give. There are many organizations you could give to. I would suggest the Red Cross as a place that's guaranteed to get your money somewhere it's needed. Don't favor the Red Cross? A simple Google search should yield plenty of other places.

And if you have a blog of your own, consider posting something similar.

Comments are off for this post

Lab Evolution

Mar 15 2011 Published by under Careers

Labs are, and always have been, under selective pressure. They evolve.

Or go extinct.

In recent times we've seen an increase in this pressure. Fewer TT positions. Decreasing funding rates. Perhaps even a push to eliminate single R01 (or equivalent) labs. It would appear labs/PI's need to evolve more rapidly than in the recent past. What traits will be most beneficial in this rapidly changing landscape?

I would suggest two: efficiency and flexibility.

Efficiency:
This is the ability to get top-notch work done in the most rapid, cost-effective, and yet thorough, manner. Note that I said "top-notch." One can certainly churn out the research rapidly if one is willing to be second-rate. But you don't want to be second-rate, do you? Do it right or bugger off.

How to be efficient? Think ahead. Focus. Plan out what you're doing and how carefully. Be organized.

Recognize that you'll need help. The days of single labs being able to do it all are long gone. Unless you're either a supermegalatron-sized lab or your research is irrelevant. Collaborations are where it's at. Build a network of friends, collaborators and even foes. Use them and let them use you. But not in a bad way. Be a great collaborator and you'll attract great collaborations. And keep an eye on things outside of your sub-sub-sub-field. You never know when you'll come across an awesome approach being applied in a different sub-field that can push forward your own.

Why cost-effective? Because that gives you...

Flexibility:
The ability to change directions as necessary. Follow where the data is taking you. Start up the new projects (or new branches of existing projects) you're going to need for the 2-3 R01 (or equivalent) applications you're going to be submitting each year.*

I'm not advocating jumping on the latest "hot" science. I have a strong distaste for those that do that. I also dislike those who constantly change directions based on where the most funding is perceived to be (although to some extent this is something we all have to be cognizant of). But banging away at the same old, same old when the data is yelling "go that way bozo!" is just plain stoooooopid.

Learn new stuff. New techniques. You haven't picked up a new technique in the last year, either in-lab or via a collaboration? That's likely not good.

Darwin may not have been referring to research, but he was correct about evolving or disappearing.

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* Assuming you already have funding. The number of submissions might need to be higher if you're not.

3 responses so far

Doing it right

Mar 14 2011 Published by under Uncategorized

Blog gadfly and MFJ connoisseur CPP has a post titled "Grantsmanship is a Stochastic Process." If you are, or will be, involved in grants in any way, even peripherally, you should read it.

Here's the link again.

Bookmark it.

He's right. It really sucks living from grant to grant, knowing that you're just one rejection away from closing down your lab. I was once in that position. I got lucky and dug myself out. Don't do what I did* - too many don't get lucky and end up with nothing.

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* Sometimes I think my role in life is to be a warning to others...

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I'm still alive

Mar 10 2011 Published by under Beer, Life

Work, travel and life in general have kept me from blogging recently. Here are some thoughts:

Beer 501:
People asked for brown ales. I had to travel. Perfect, thought I. I will sample brown ales in my travels. Wouldn't you know it, none of the fine establishments graced with my presence had any. Other than Newcastle, which is a rather boring brew. They did however tend to have some rather fine pale ales. 🙂 I suspect pale ales may be next after all...

And, I have dispatched a roving researcher into the field. My piratical older brother, JollyRgr, is currently working his way through SE Asia sampling beers at a furious pace. Look for a special report soon. Which, hopefully, will be followed up by a second report on Australian beers (Fosters = Australia's Bud).

Travel:
Delta, you suck.

Hotel toilet paper would make great fine grit sandpaper. Even the stuff in the four star hotel I was in.

Apparently a 15 year old girl can get a bottle of nail polisher remover through security. And use it on the plane. While at 30,000ft. one really does not want the smell of such a highly flammable solvent wafting over the head rest of the seat in front of you...

Atlanta airport sucks. Sure, there are worse, but it still sucks.

So does Delta.

5 responses so far