Archive for: March, 2013

A note on starting a family while training to be a scientist

Mar 20 2013 Published by under Uncategorized

An excerpt from an NIH faq on fellowship awards for grad students and postdocs.

I am planning on having a child during my fellowship. What are the NIH policies on family leave?

NRSA fellowship recipients are entitled to 15 days of sick leave per year, and up to 60 calendar days of parental leave if the institution provides that benefit to other fellows. The NRSA stipend will continue during those periods. Hence, the fellow would, in fact, be trading some research training time for the opportunity to stay at home with the child.

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Positive feedback for Scientists

Mar 19 2013 Published by under Uncategorized

[a repost from the old blog.]

Being a scientist is not a particularly positive experience. By design, most of the interactions are negative. Or I should say critical. That’s just how it works both on a large scale and for each individual study. If scientists didn’t persist in providing negative critical feedback to each other, the grand enterprise would be much less efficient. That’s good for science. But for the individual scientist it’s kind of a downer.

I’m coming off a conference visit that included some good moments for me. People I’d never met had read my papers. Thought that the research I presented was interesting. Even cool. It was a very positive experience. So I thought, what can I do to facilitate that for other scientists? How can I help?

Here’s how. For the next conference I’m going to order up some Zazzle stickers with some positive feedback included. Hand them out at poster sessions or something.


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Perhaps Volcanology

Mar 11 2013 Published by under Uncategorized

Though I've wanted to be a scientist since I can remember I never really leaned towards one area or another. Physics? Marine Biology? Whatever, they were all good when I was a kid. There have been moments that  pushed me towards or away different areas. Here's one of them, slightly misremembered for humor's sake.

10th grade Chemistry. I am doing pretty well. I like chemistry. Perhaps those two are related. It makes more sense than last year's biology had. We're having a long day with a lab at the end of lecture. The goal of lab is some simple titration or something. At the end the liquid should suddenly change color. I sit at my lab bench and slowly go through the steps. Step 1..Step 2..Step 3..Step 4. Nothing. Not a big deal, things often don't work on the first try. I go over it again but slower. Step 1...Step2...Step3....Step 4. Again, nothing.

*rases hand*
"It won't work Dr.Oct"
"ok start again at the beginning. What's first?"
"Meausure out 50ml."
"ok go ahead"
"Ok got it"
"Wait. Is that 50 ml?"
"Is it?"
*looks closer. thinks about the meniscus*
"It's about 50"
"about 50?"
"well, I mean, maybe it's 50.1"
"The reaction won't work if it's 50.1?"

That's when I knew I was done with chemistry.

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