February 6, 2009

The Loneliness of the Long Distance Researcher

Nice Idea by Libby MillerDespite what some people think (see “the myth of the lone inventor” in [1]) most scientists are usually pretty sociable people. Science is an inherently social activity [2], just take a look around you. Most laboratories are full of like-minded people working on related problems, our lab is no exception. Outside the lab, there are all the conferences, workshops, seminars, trips to the pub, coffee breaks and other meetings where scientists meet and exchange ideas and results. Finally, note the peer in peer-review – another essentially social activity, even when it is anonymous.

But in between these gregarious social activities there is a long, lonely and pretty unsociable road where you need to spend lots of time thinking, reading, writing and experimenting. Essentially you are alone, like a modern day hermit, especially at the earlier stages of a career. Solitary confinement in your ivory tower of choice needs to be balanced with various kinds of socialising. Talking about and watching what other people are doing, as well as publicising your own work are an essential part of the mix. But you still need to put the hours in on the road. It isn’t always easy to get it right, so how do you strike a balance between the social and the solitary activities to establish yourself as an independent research scientist? (more…)

October 10, 2008

PhD studentships at EMBL-EBI, UK

EMBL-EBIAny budding biomedical scientists out there, interested in doing a PhD, take note: The European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) – European Bioinformatics Institute (EBI) is having an open day on Monday 3rd November 2008. According to their website the EBI is “happy to welcome all Master students to this day”. Some talks at this open day include:

The EMBL-EBI lies in the 55 acres of landscaped parkland in rural Cambridgeshire that make up the Wellcome Trust Genome Campus. The Campus also houses the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, making it one of the world’s largest concentrations of expertise in genomics and bioinformatics. See also PhD Studies in Bioinformatics at the EBI. If you are interested in attending, sign up at the registration page before the 20th October.

See also PhD Opportunities at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, Cambridge.

August 22, 2008

If Science was an Olympic Sport…

Olympic Rings by JL08A fictional scene from the future: The Olympic games, London 2012. A new candidate sport is on trial, joining skateboarding, rugby and golf at their debut Olympic games. It is challenging discipline called Science, a sport more ancient than Olympia itself. The crowd awaits eagerly in the all new Boris Johnson Olympic stadium. It has taken more than 2000 years just to convince the International Olympic Committee that Science is worthy of being an Olympic sport. The big day has finally arrived but the judges are still arguing about how to award the medals to scientists. Despite all the metrics involved, it’s all very very subjective. The games go ahead anyway, and there are lots of exciting new events: (more…)

June 19, 2008

Sixteen (Yes 16!) PhD studentships available in Computer Science

Filed under: Uncategorized — Duncan Hull @ 3:45 pm
Tags: , , , ,

EinstongueThe School of Computer Science of the University of Manchester has up to 16 studentships to offer to highly motivated research students who wish to start a PhD in September 2008 (in exceptional circumstances the start date can be deferred until April 2009). The studentships pay tuition fees and a stipend to cover living expenses for 3 years.

In 2008/09, the stipend will be £12940 per year for students who were UK residents in the 3 years before the start of the PhD, or between £10352 and £12940 per year for students who were not UK residents in the same period and cannot demonstrate a relevant connection to the UK. The stipend is expected to rise in subsequent years. Because of conditions associated with this funding, these studentships are open to students eligible for home fees only; this includes UK and EU nationals. (more…)

November 28, 2006

Postdoc Hell: Should I Stay Or Should I Go?

Postdoc Hell? "Please dispose thoughtfully of your used postdocs"Sometimes, being a PostDoctoral researcher is a tough life. Thankfully, help is at hand in Philip Bourne and Iddo Friedberg‘s guide Ten Simple Rules for Selecting a Post-Doctoral Position published in PLOS Computational Biology. This article is part of a series of editorials [1,2,3] which discuss various aspects of the weird and wonderful world of scientific research. They are worth reading if you’re at an early stage of your career, although you may not always agree with all the advice given. For example, the article advises PostDocs to:

Think very carefully before extending your graduate work into a postdoc in the same laboratory where you are now – to some professionals this raises a red flag when they look at your resume. Almost never does it maximise your gain of knowledge and experience, but that can be offset by rapid and important publications.

Do any experienced postdocs (or post-postdocs) out there have an opinions on the importance of moving labs after a PhD? What if you’re already in a great lab and like where you work? To what extent is it important to move, just to get new experience and skills? Or as The Clash once put it [4]:

♫ If I go there will be trouble, if I stay it will be double.
So come on and let me know, should I cool it or should I blow? ♫


  1. Phillip Bourne (2006) Ten Simple Rules for Getting Published PLOS Computational Biology
  2. Phillip Bourne and Leo Chalupa (2006) Ten Simple Rules for Getting Grants PLOS Computational Biology
  3. Phillip Bourne and Alon Korngreen (2006) Ten Simple Rules for Reviewers PLOS Computational Biology
  4. Joe Strummer and Mick Jones (1981) Should I stay or should I go?
  5. Jawahar Swaminathan (2006) A ten step plan for PostDoc training nodalpoint.org
  6. this post originally on nodalpoint with comments
  7. Postdoc Hell, a collection of articles describing the plight of the postdoctoral researcher on citeulike

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License.

update: Mysteriously, Nature jobs used the Clash as a theme to their careers supplement, two weeks after this post was published. See How to ask yourself questions about major career decisions and Should I Stay Or Should I Go?. Coincidence? I wonder if they read nodalpoint?

Blog at WordPress.com.