Monday, April 14, 2008

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Choosing And Handling Your Phd Supervisor

Article For Phd Students (& Postdocs) Aiming For A Successful Career In Science

While enjoying my routine 10 minute "breakfast surf" (i.e. surfing the internet for news, checking mail etc while having my breakfast - usually muesli with yoghurt), I came across this interesting article from the Queensland Institute of Medical Research. The article opens in Microsoft Word.

My own journey to science: Selecting a supervisor/lab

Busy, busy, busy! I have not had time to blog because I have been very busy with a paper that we have just submitted. My first! And then there is always the “administrative stuff” to deal with.

As a Phd student in Sweden, I have to submit my individual study plan to the faculty for review every year. An individual study plan is somewhat like an appraisal (as in regular jobs) where you describe your work and achievements for the year and state your plans for the future etc.

Well, as I was completing my study plan, I realized that I have yet to give a proper introduction to myself on this blog.

I would say that I formally started in science about ten years ago, after my secondary education. It is interesting that I very nearly went into something else. I come from a country where scientific research, as a result of poor government policies, is in a sad state.

I was very fortunate to receive a scholarship to complete my university education in one of the most prestigious universities in the UK. I graduated with a BSc Hons in Molecular Biology in 2005 and went onto work for Johns Hopkins for a year before taking on the Phd with my current supervisor. Including the work I did before embarking on my BSc, I garnered a total of four years of experience in industry before I started my Phd.

In retrospect, those four years have been invaluable training for me. Besides exposing me to different techniques and animal models, it has honed my soft skills which one needs even (or perhaps especially) in academia. All that technical grounding has given me a nifty pair of hands which enable me to get results fast and leave me more time to catch up with my reading. Most importantly, it was my experience in working with people that has helped me in my selection of my Phd supervisor/lab.

I chose Sweden over the UK (I had offer of a place and firm funding) because of a variety of factors. Both labs were renown in their own right and had good facilities. What appealed to me about the lab in Sweden was: (1) During my BSc, I’d worked with my current supervisor for a summer project and am comfortable with his working style. As such, I am more confident of a successful partnership with him than with the other unknown (but very renown and established) principal; (2) The Swedish Phd normally takes 4 years as compared to 3 yrs in the UK. This gives me more time to build up expertise in my chosen area and generate results; (3) My current supervisor is himself an excellent young scientist who is just starting out as a PI. This means that our working relationship will be closer, more flexible, less bureaucratic than in a large group, and also means that I will be exposed to more areas such as grant writing, attend more seminars and conferences, teaching etc. Good training!

Friday, October 05, 2007

Claiming Technorati

Technorati Profile

Sharing Life Experiences: Making time to write!

I wonder if I will be able to write as often as I had originally envisioned. Of course, I don't want to start a blog and then have only the blog title sitting around for blog eternity. But my real motivation for blogging is because I want to share my life experiences as a traveling young scientist with other scientists and others from different walks of life.

I won't be the first (nor the last) to say this — the blogosphere has transformed the way in which the world exchanges information, and hence the way the world works. Blogs serve us well. For scientists, blogs provide yet another avenue to network with one another and exchange opinions, findings, and experiences. Blogs are easy to set up and use, free of charge (free blog providers include Blogger, Xanga, WordPress, LiveJournal to name a few), offer flexibility in design and most importantly, the reach of the blogosphere is virtually unlimited.

However, even with the ease of use, I am finding it difficult to write regularly. I am sure some of you feel the same way. After a long and hard day's work, it can be difficult to find the energy to blog, especially if you also have a family. I am now in the midst of attending Phd compulsory courses so this is an especially busy time for me as I work overtime to stay on schedule with my experiments. Another possible reason could be that I am not used to blogging. This is something that I think can be overcome. If you feel this way, just focus on what you wish to share, instead of the pressure that others might not like what you write.

If you havn't tried blogging, maybe you should! You never know, you might just enjoy it. I do!