Archive for: June, 2012


Jun 22 2012 Published by under Careers

Omics, omics, more freaking omics. To many people in the biomedical sciences seems to have this pathological need to carve out their own little corner of biology and give it a name ending with -ome. We have genomics. Fair enough. Proteomics. Fine. Metabolomics. Really? Connectome. Ummmm. Allergenome. For real?

The tumor that is omics has metastasized. We now have "ironomics." Are you kidding me?!?!?!?

Freaking omics.

10 responses so far

Interesting times

Jun 21 2012 Published by under Careers, Life

May you live in interesting times.

Word on the street is this is an old Chinese curse. There are times I can believe that.

It be interesting times here at Big State U and beyond. My institution is going through some major changes at the administrative, college and department levels. Year after recent year we've had major cuts in state funding. Add to that other significant changes on campus and we're having some major upheavals. Finances at all levels are getting tighter, leading to re-evaluations of, well, everything. Including the job security supposedly provided by tenure...

This of course trickles* down to the faculty level as more pressure to justify their existence. The major pressure for those of us in the medical sciences is to bring in more extramural funding. Not a good time for that really. Funding success rates at the NIH, NSF etc. are currently very, very low. It's hard enough for faculty to maintain funding let alone increase it.

This has elicited a variety of responses from my colleagues. Including dark mutterings about "This is not what I was hired to do and if I had funding I would move somewhere else"** and exclamations of "ZOMG WE'RE ALL GOING TO BE FIRED!!!!!!" yelled while running around like a headless chicken. Most are more pragmatic about it all and are exploring ways to put submit more proposals, generate more collaborations etc.

Curiously I find myself mostly excited. Not by the budget cuts, low funding rates etc. of course. But by what's happening in my lab and professional life right now, and what could happen in the future. The science is rocking. My research program is moving along at a good clip and is currently splitting into at least two potentially fruitful directions. I have great lab personnel who seem to really be enjoying what they're doing. I have some very productive established collaborations going and a new one beginning to blossom (and one that sucks arse, but let's not go there right now). My science excites me more now than it has ever before.

And I have the opportunity to have some influence on where things within the department, and perhaps outside, will go.

Interesting times indeed. They're what you make of them.

* "Trickle" isn't really quite the right description. It's more like a sledgehammer slamming down on us. Repeatedly.
** What exactly is it you think you were hired to do? And do you seriously think the situation is that different elsewhere?

7 responses so far

Me too!

Jun 20 2012 Published by under Life

Gerty-Z's post yesterday had me off looking at recent search terms that led people to my blog. Always something good for a laugh...

the value of research
Various permutations of this almost top the list of recent searches. Alas I suspect you've been led to the wrong place. Don't get me wrong, I do believe there is a lot of value in research. I just haven't really blogged about it. Perhaps I should.

evernote lab notebook
This tops the list of recent searches. Not so long ago I had a post about electronic lab notebooks and a commenter noted Evernote was a possibility. One of my trainees talked me into trying it. So far so good. There will be a post in the future on this. Not promising when.

how to brew beer to taste like a german
Ummmm, perhaps just take some fairly tasteless beer, like Bud, and steep a German in it? Be sure to get the Germans permission first.

lab is flailing
If you're:
a) a tech - start looking for a new job.
b) a trainee - run.
c) the PI - you're screwed.

how to wear a black hat
Call me old fashioned, but might I suggest on your head?

nsf sucks/nih sucks/research funding sucks
No/No/Yes, if you don't have any/enough.

data fairy
Wouldn't know where he is. Honest. I'm not the type to have him chained to the bench or anything...

Okay, better go back to work. If the awesome data piles up any higher I might drown.

Comments are off for this post

Squirrel war

Jun 18 2012 Published by under Life

My neighborhood is inhabited by a lot of squirrels. A lot. Most don't concern me. But there is one, who resides somewhere in my back yard with his minions, upon whom I have declared war.

This overgrown bushy-tailed rat, along with his subordinate rodents, has in the past availed himself of the tomatoes I have tried hard to grow in my vegetable garden. Plump, juicy, but not ripe enough to harvest, tomatoes. Many, many of them. Oh yes, King Squirrely the Tomato Thief, I am well aware that it is you who, last summer, brazenly snatched the spoils of my hard labor from my plants. Snatched and half eaten, leaving their carcasses on my fence posts to tease me. Yes, I know it is you and your henchsquirrels who regularly sit on the roof of the neighbors garage hurling your chattery squirrel sarcastic comments at me should I dare to enter my yard. Laughing at and taunting me.

And yes, I see you once again eyeing my tomato plants. Waiting for the still small fruit to plump up. Waiting for it to reach that not quite ripe enough stage. Waiting to once again steal that which is rightfully mine.

But you have underestimated me my fine furry little nemesis. For I am not just any old vegetable gardener.

No, I am not just your run of the mill homeowner trying to provide his family with a bounty of fresh fruits and vegetables.

Beware squirrel, for I am no mere human.

I. Am. A. Scientist.

A scientist with powertools.

Yes, dear squirrel, that is a veritable fortress I constructed around my vegetable patch this past Saturday.

A squirrel-proof fortress.

No matter that it cost as much as 47.3 pounds of tomatoes from the local farmers market.

No matter that I had to toil for three hours in 90 degree heat and 90% humidity to construct it.

No matter that I had to endure the pitying "I think he's finally lost it" looks from the neighbors.

And my wife.

No matter that it makes tending my plants infinitely more difficult.

You. Shall. Steal. No. More. Tomatoes.


Not even one.

But if you do somehow manage to penetrate my squirrel-proof vegetable garden fortress, next year it will be motion sensors and laser-guided...


25 responses so far