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120: Advancing Open Science with Dr. Jon Tennant

As a researcher, you may brag about the open, collegial way that scientists share their findings in lab meetings, poster sessions, and journal articles.

But if you dig beneath the surface, you’ll find a darker tendency built into our habits and institutions that actually cover up a lot of what we learn.

For example, you might spend months testing the efficacy of a new cancer drug in vitro. But if that drug doesn’t have a significant impact on cancer growth, you’ll conclude your work is ‘not publishable,’ and the discovery will languish in your lab notebook.

Meanwhile, in some other lab, at some other University, another scientist might get the same idea you had, and spend their own weeks or months doing the same tests, only to learn the same result.

And so, year after year, the research community wastes immeasurable time re-learning the same lessons. And because of that, the march toward real insights and real cures slows to a crawl.

This week on the show, we talk with Jon Tennant, PhD, who wants to re-open the channels of scientific communication and transform the way we build on what others have learned.

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119: Ten Tips to Crush Your First Semester

It’s that time of year again – summer days are growing shorter, your friends are trying to fit in one last trip to the beach, and the backpack aisle at Target is about to be cleared out to make way for the Halloween costumes.

Yes, it’s back-to-school time. From toddlers to teenagers, this time of year instills foreboding about the school-year ahead. But as a first-year graduate student, you may have other feelings.

For most, it’s the start of a new adventure. For the first time, you’re pursuing the one subject in the world you love best, surrounded by other equally brilliant and passionate people.

It’s the end of being told what to learn and how to study, and the beginning of blazing your own academic trail.

It IS a new experience – different from your matriculation in high school or college – and it may be difficult to know what to expect.

This week, we lay out a ten-ish step plan for putting your best-foot-forward in that first semester of your graduate journey.

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118: Find a Better Mentor with GradPI

Wouldn’t it be nice if you had a crystal ball that could reveal your grad-school future?

You might look forward to see if that next experiment will work out, or if your research will eventually make the cover of Nature.

What you should do with the power of foresight is to take a deep look at the quality of mentorship you’ll receive over the next few years.

It’s no secret that good research advisors can be tough to find. Most are passable – you’ll learn what you need to learn and graduate on time – and a few are stellar, elevating your research beyond what you thought was possible.

But of course, lurking somewhere at every institution, are a handful of awful, terrible, no good, very bad PIs. These are the people you must avoid at all costs, lest they destroy both your confidence and your career plan.

Of course, no one has a crystal ball, and sometimes our choice of a research mentor doesn’t pan out. But there’s a website hoping to change that.

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059: Simple Tricks for Time Management – The Focus Funnel (R)

In some jobs, one day at the office looks a lot like the next. You could look through your calendar and optimize your meeting schedule and to-do list without much thought.

But working in a lab is different: your projects are in constant flux, experiments lead to other experiments, and you need to balance bench work with meetings, mentoring, and writing.

That busyness can lead to inefficiency as you tackle the items on your list one after another.  Worse, you’re forced to plan overlapping activities to fill the ‘downtime’ during incubations and time points.

This week, we encourage you to take a step back, look over your list of competing priorities, and ask some hard questions about what’s really important.

You might find you have more free time on your hands than you ever imagined…

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117: Bridging The Gap as a Medical Science Liaison

For most graduate students, the list of potential careers runs something like this:

  1. Research Faculty
  2. Teaching Faculty
  3. Industry Researcher
  4. Science Writer
  5. …. ummmm…

But the truth is that there are other, less talked-about careers that can be a perfect fit for scientists who may love learning but not working at the bench.

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