And about the weather...

As a transplant from the Midwest to the mid-Atlantic region, this is a riot. And completely true.
Big props to the Buffalo-born Sneks for originally posting this.... 

Re: How to choose a postdoc

Recently*, there was a post and discussion over at Dr. Isis (written by Comrade PhysioProf) about how to choose a postdoc position.
I just thought I'd share where my postdoc fits in with some of the issues he raised.

1) Early vs. Later stage PI. Ruby-throated Hummingbird is early-ish in her career and hoping to go up for tenure next fall. That will depend partially on how much I can get done for her. As CPP pointed out, there is less competition to work with less famous peeps. In my case, none that I know of. I've been trying to cultivate this position for 2+ years and it was not publicly advertised. I did not take early vs. late career PI into account when searching for a postdoc. Geography and topic were the only major considerations. My PhD advisor was chosen partly on this criteria though.

2) The way the lab is organized or run. I was not hired to churn out data using a technique I have specialized in. I will need extensive training to be able to do my experiments, but will be able to bring my own point of view to the table. This particular lab is opposite the 'division of labor' model. There are a lot of experiments to be done using my specialized techniques, but I am only consulting on them while the grad students are working through them.

3) The subject of the research itself. To branch out in organism, technique or question. My organism is very similar to what I did my dissertation research on, and the questions I'm asking are related to theories I've been interested in since I started doing research. Mainly, it is the techniques and framework of questioning that are different.

EcoGeoFemme has also weighed in on the subject of really early career PIs. I agree with her point that there will be- or already are- an increasing number of people whose postdoc funding comes from a start-up package. This means you might not get a lot of the assumed benefits of a postdoc like access to a huge network. I think the change in Issue #1 should also lead to changes in issues #2 or 3. You have no way to know how the lab will be run. Seeing/helping a lab get set-up could be a good experience but probably takes a ton of time that could be better spent churning out data from a specific technique. Also, in a new lab, perhaps it is better to try to branch out more in your subject to try to increase your network as much as possible. 

*Or, not so recently....but I get Internet installed at home on Monday! Yay!!!! Posting in a timely fashion!


Undercover Blogger

Things are going well with the new position. I am knee deep in unorganized data (OMG!! organize your files, people!) and fancy programs that I don't understand. Fun all around. 

My 'office' space is actually a corner in the lab. There are two grad students who sit right behind me*. Undergrads abound. I really hate sitting anywhere with my back exposed. At restaurants, Grackle is kind enough to always take the aisle seat. Nothing gives me comfort like a corner booth. Additionally, it is never good to have your computer facing the masses. There was a grad student at my last institution whose desk faced a wall near their office door. That student played a lot of online games and everyone that walked by saw it. People don't take them too seriously. So having a computer that faces your entire lab would make it difficult to check your facebook, or your twitter, or cuteoverload and especially your pseudonymous blog. This is my current situation. I'm calling about getting internet installed at home today.  

*They are both at class right now. 


Odds and ends

Since I am still transitioning into my new position, I am still transitioning out of my old lab. In order to really do this, I need to finish up some things and get them off my desk. In particular order...
  • Final touches/Letter to Editor/Submit very old, small manuscript
  • Format/Submit MS 1 from dissertation
  • Final edits/Format/Submit MS 2 from dissertation
It would be nice if these were all finished by the time I return to the lab next week. The tasks themselves are small but they seem big in the greater sense of things. 
2008 ended up being a good year for getting papers accepted and these are the next round. This will be the first submission for each of these projects which almost certainly means rejections, lots of revisions, resubmissions, the whole cycle. I know it is good to have data and be getting it out and all but when working on these, part of me can't help but think 'Geez, here we go again...'


First Day

I started my postdoc today. 
It went alright. We never set a time to meet besides 'morning' so I showed up at 9. My boss, who I will call Ruby-throated Hummingbird, showed up t 9:35. We had a 3 hour meeting in which I chose my desk and got lots of keys*. We figured out my plan of attack and will get down to some data stuff next week. Tomorrow I get to do parking services, payroll and my first lab meeting. 
Then I am going home**. 
I realize it is ridiculous to go home 4 days after I got here. And after only 2 days in the lab, but R-tH is out of the office till next Wednesday and I have a previously planned commitment with my old advisor next Wednesday anyway (who never got a name but will now be Kingfisher). So instead of reading and working in an empty lab, I'm going to read and work in my pet filled house. It was R-tH's suggestion actually. Which is one of the many reasons why she rocks.  

*From a super nice key man. Key people CAN be nice! 
**Maybe I'll be able to catch up on blogs finally. I'm working on it but have about 1000 unread posts in my bloglines right now...You all are a prolific bunch!


Back to reality

Thanks to a neighbor with an unprotected wireless network and the Grackle's old, but functional laptop I am back! I moved and start my postdoc tomorrow. More on those later. More pressing is where I've been.

After our holiday trip to the Midwest, we jetted off to a lovely Caribbean island for vacation. VACATION! No work*, no futons, no standing commitments. I haven't been on such a trip since my last graduation and Grackle and I have never taken this type of trip together in 5+ years. Given the lack of work, family and the tropical nature of it, this might have been our honeymoon. We didn't plan it that way, but that is how folks at school interpreted it.
It was fabulous.
7 days of snorkeling, great beaches, hiking in the rain forest, kayaking, exploring an old city, good food and lots of rum. Fa-bu-lous. As a younger grad student, I balked at a labmate who took vacations at least once a year. Think of the missed experiments! The data! Now, I see why they did it. I doubt we will be able to take yearly trips, but hopefully it will not be 5 years till our next adventure. At least one long weekend away to a new, not necessarily far or exotic destination should be feasible for us and will be a good compromise between work and fun. The data will just have to wait**.
I'll add a few more later but for now, here is the only picture that would upload: Grackle on the beach.
*The only books Grackle brought were textbooks. While I worked my way through Middlesex he practically memorized all 3 of our island guidebooks.
**Alright, I say this now...let's see what I say when it is actually time to take another trip! I'm sure the exams, proposals, defenses, experiments and field seasons that have kept us from vacationing in the past will probably do so in the future....just..hopefully not as much...