Archive for the 'Uncategorized' category

Clearing the backlog

Nov 29 2016 Published by under Postdoc, Publishing, Uncategorized

I'm currently not able to spend a lot of time in lab (booo!) and stuck at my desk working on papers (yay!!!!). Papers good right? Yeah but too many manuscripts are coalescing at once. I'm staring at four drafts of papers from me (2 first authorships, 2 co-authorships) and I'm looking at my excel sheet and I have two more to write.

I'm super happy with all the work I've been doing but I'm not going to lie this is daunting as hell. I want to get at least two of the papers out the door in the next week and a half or lets face it, they won't be going out until early January.

7 responses so far

Thank you DrugMonkey

Sep 23 2016 Published by under Uncategorized

I came to find out about DrugMonkey and his ubiquitously profane, sometimes incendiary, and always insightful partner in crime Comrade Physioprof nearly 8 years ago. I imagine these two running around the halls of meetings or study sections like Turk and JD from the TV show Scrubs.

I'll focus in on DM and save my praise for CPP another time. I've been reading science blogs for roughly 8 years and some blogs I go to and then leave for a while and maybe come back and some I'll peruse once and never again. Not DM, dude is my ride or die science blog that I read. He is my guy who makes me think bigger than I do, want to be a better scientist, get mad about shitty practitioners of our craft, and make my blood boil as he bates us with great topics and witty banter. And sometimes all in a single blog post.

And did I mention his Twitter account? While he crafts intricate blog posts, he is nothing short of a resplendent troll in 140 characters. I check him periodically throughout the day to see what bon mot he is offering up. I laugh at those who fall victim to his trolling and cringe when he sometimes catches my own dumbass in the bear trap as well.

You can call DM many things, avid fan of cycling, hater of pitbulls, advocate of diversity in science, but never boring. The day he hangs up his blog will be like the day McDonald's stops selling the McRib, utterly horrifying and leaving society shaking their head wondering what to do with the rest of their lives.

Over the years he has been my critic, confidant, and sage. So to my scientific Man Crush Monday (sorry Prof-Like Substance) I just want to my appreciation for the years of entertainment and information. Whatever praise you get is not enough but what you do get is deservedly earned.


So to the stylin', profilin', bicycle riding, fig-flying, election stealing, wheelin' and dealin' son of a gun I want to say thank you.

3 responses so far


Mar 28 2016 Published by under Uncategorized

Is looking at all the compiled data for a manuscript and seeing very few items on the punch list* that need to get wrapped up before its ready to head off for submission.


*Construction term for the few nagging items/tasks that need to be completed in order to receive final payment.

One response so far

What are you listening to...podcasts

Jan 11 2016 Published by under Uncategorized

So I'm trying to broaden my podcast horizons and wanted to know what everyone else is listening to. My list of what I listen to while I do some of the more mundane tasks in the lab are:

-Tony Kornheiser Show (long time loyal little)
-Tim Ferriss Show
-Monday Morning Podcast w/ Bill Burr
-Dan Carlin's Hardcore History
-Stuff You Should Know
-Reasonable Doubt w/ Adam Carolla and Mark Geragos
-Tell 'Em Steve-Dave (occasionally)

So let me know what you are listening to.

10 responses so far

Post Ph.D. transition to Postdoc

So now that I'm ensconced in my new position as a postdoc, I felt it was time to talk about the post Ph.D. Transition. The last few months of my Ph.D. program felt like a wild ride. It also felt so far removed from the rest of my experiences in grad school.

1. Thesis Writing: I wrote the thesibeast in about a month and a half of full time writing, followed by a round of making edits with the boss before submitting to my committee. What really helped was developing a solid outline and sticking to a writing schedule. Otherwise I would have fallen apart. I also learn that while I work best in the lab in the morning, my most productive writing occurred between 8pm and 2am. Nights were spent writing, just getting thoughts to paper and leaving placeholders, no worries about editing. Mornings and the rest of the day were better spent doing routine editing or working on figures.

One other huge benefit during the thesis writing was enlisting a really good editor who dissected it line by line pointing out issue. It is humbling to have some just ripped though your stuff and have so much red ink on it that it looks like a prison knife fight took place over my thesis. But it was good, it made me realize where I need to clean up my writing and how to make me a better writer and communicator of ideas.

2. The Defense: I'd like to say that I spent a lot of time honing a well-crafted and beautiful presentation, but I didn't. I spent 30 minutes putting it together and my boss spent 5 minutes reviewing it with me the day before my public seminar. There were no practice presentations, no run throughs with trusted friends and lab mates, none of that shit! I had already given a similar evolving talk on multiple postdoc interviews (more of this later) so it wasn't much work or effort to give the talk.

The public seminar went really well and then came the room. This had been filling me with fear and dread. Not because I thought it was going to go like 12 rounds in the ring with Mike Tyson, but because I never really knew anything about the whole closed door meeting. My boss was tied up before the seminar so I couldn't ask them what was standard operating procedure for this so I went to another professor. Their question to me was how did you enjoy your qualifying exam, it would be like that. I nodded my head and feigned pleasure at their response saying that the qualifying exam was a pleasant experience. This dear reader, was a bald face lie. My experience with the qualifying exam was tantamount to sandpapering the asshole of an alligator in a telephone booth and the exam was chaired by the professor who I had sought advice from. This same person came to apologize to me the week following my exam about how rough they went on me. I'd like to say I remember a lot of the details from this event but I guess we tend to repress the most painful of memories.

But my time in the room with the committee post-public seminar was brief (~45 minutes), the committee had minimal edits to my thesis (most of these came from my boss). Most of the discussion centered around clarifying things that I had written about and then talking about future directions of the project, even though I wouldn't be there to do them. I amended portions of my thesis that caused any confusion to be much more explicit so whoever (read no one) picked it up to read it would have an easier time understanding it.

It took all told about a week and a half to finish all of the edits and get it into final format to be submitted to the graduate school. And because it had a good chunk of preliminary data I had to go through channels to embargo its publication on Digital Commons for at least one year to give us time to publish the data.

3. What's next: Okay, so you are about to get or just got a Ph.D., what the fuck are you going to do for that? That's a very personal question that we all have to answer our own self. For me I knew I wanted to do a postdoc in order to expand my knowledge base and skill sets. About 5 months prior to my defense I sent out enquiry packets to prospective labs for postdoctoral positions. This was timed as the main publication of my thesis was set to come out a month later. My first interview occurred a week before the publication went live, so everything was happening really fast and was a bit exciting and nerve wracking.

I feel that part of my success at getting postdoc interviews was crafting a nice application packet that included a personalized cover letter, cv, and copy of my in press manuscript. The email was also personalized and literally every person I sent it to, I got a response from whether it be an invitation for an interview or a sorry I'm out of money. Even the folks who didn't have space or money told me to check back later or suggested someone else to contact.

Interviews...I had all kinds of interviews...less than 24 hours on site, three days there, skype interviews, phone interviews, you name it, I did it. Dinner with the PI, dinner with the grad students, nice PIs, standoffish PIs that try to elicit a response from you, it was like Patty Hearst in the bank video...all a blur. But I was there. My suggestions for interviews are to make sure you have enough cap space on your credit cards as some places made me pick up my accommodations and then I would get reimbursed or other places would pay. Everyone I met I always asked them the same few questions: what makes their lab different from any other lab, what frustrates you about their lab, and if you could change one thing about your lab what would it be. Its interesting to see the spectrum of answers that come from techs, students, postdocs, and even the PI. It also provides insight if everyone says the same thing is a problem then it probably is a real problem.

If you want to chat more about the postdoc interview process and how and why I selected the lab that I did, shoot me and message or email and we can chat in a more private manner.

3.  Ramblin' Man...This is the really tough part, when do you put the pipets down, pack your shit, and hug your friends. For me the decision was easy. I got my main paper out and one co authorship out. Other future stories that I was developing were proceeding with some progress and could be capably handled by other members of the lab that I had trained. I decided jump shit approximately one month after my defense so that I could start my postdoc. This was due in part to the fact that my previous lab was going through a period of funding troubles, so one less mouth to feed at the table, means you can feed the rest of the mouths for that much longer. The good news is a grant came through for the lab, spurned by some of my work and contributions.

I think the main reason that I bugged out quickly after the defense was that we had a glut of papers that still needed to get out. Those papers would take close to at least one year before anything else of mine may come out. So to quote the Allman Brothers "When its time for leavin', I hope you understand, that I was born a ramblin' man."

4. FNG. I'm still the FNG and the stench has yet to wear off. Making the long move and starting the postdoc was exciting but brought with it a whole new set of frustrations: orientations, trainings, byzantine rules of supplies and procurement, etc. The lab is good and I'm making good data (which I'm happy about) but not at the pace that I want (which I'm not happy about). But overall things are looking up and my new master, at least for the time being, seems to be pleased with me. I'm adjusting to the differing mentoring styles and how this PI likes to conduct individual progress and laboratory meetings compared to my old PI.

The folks in the lab are great about teaching me new techniques and in return I'm showing them things from my bag of tricks, so its been great. I'm still less than four months in the lab but I feel like I have yet to be able to turn it up to 11.

So in conclusion, the transition has been interesting and is still ongoing. I'll post more as time allows. Feel free to leave feed back about your own journeys and transitions from post graduate school. Maybe this will help someone out or at least bore them into fitful sleep if the Ambien has yet to kick in.

6 responses so far

Happy Festivus 2014 edition

Dec 23 2014 Published by under Life, Uncategorized

Break out the Festivus Pole its time for the annual Airing of Grievances and Feats of Strength.

"Festivus for the rest of us!"

No responses yet

The Hunt for Red October...err postdocs (Pro-Tip Edition)

Oct 27 2014 Published by under Uncategorized

Just some thoughts as I'm rolling through interviews:

1.  Don't wear jeans and wrinkled t-shirt on the day of your interview. (Not me, someone else interviewing in the lab next door).

2.  If you are presenting from your laptop, please bring VGA and DVI adaptors (Like I do).  Invariably they don't have the one you need.

3.  If you are presenting from your laptop, clean up your laptop (Don't leave talks from prior interviews on the desktop or anything compromising for that matter).

4.  If someone asks you where you are interviewing, just be frank and tell them.  If you don't you just come off as a slippery eel.

5.  Clear some space on your credit cards if you are doing multiple interviews back to back.  Some places make you buy your own plane tickets, hotel rooms, transportation, etc and then reimburse you (this is dependent upon the institution and its purchasing regulations).  This begins to add up really fast.

6.  I always ask everyone in the lab what's one thing they wish they could change about the lab.  This question usually is a kind way of asking them what they think is something negative about the lab and leads them to answer candidly.  I also pose the same question to the PI but I rather ask it as what are your current and future challenges you face with the lab.  This usually elicits a pretty good response and you get an insight into what PI is battling with in the lab and finds important.

No responses yet

Publishing update

Jun 04 2014 Published by under Publishing, Uncategorized

I'm currently shopping my manuscript at journal #4...  You know what they don't say, 4th time is the charm.

4 responses so far

Scientopia will now have sponsored content by Ken Ham!

Apr 01 2014 Published by under Uncategorized

Just fucking with you, unless that dude can drop some big checks.

Happy April 1st.  Now get back to work.

4 responses so far

What's the difference between a good poster and a great one?

Mar 11 2014 Published by under Uncategorized

Neither do I?  At least in my present state of delirium.

I don't even know exactly what time it is in the early morning as I am finishing my poster layout for the Gordon Research Conference that starts this weekend.  If you will be in Ventura, CA, I'll see you there.  If not, I can give you updates on what the hell happened.

2 responses so far

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