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Queen Christina and Descartes team up

056. Team Up for Speedier Science (R)

When we think of scientists, we often think of the lone researcher plodding away at the bench late into the night.  We imagine Alexander Fleming scrutinizing his penicillium molds or Einstein pondering the latest equation he’s written on the chalk board.

We go a step further when training new scientists: we ask them to complete an ‘independent research project.’  We tacitly perpetuate this notion of the solitary scientist, making her own success or failure.

The side effects of this lone-wolf approach to research are painfully manifest: projects that stall on a single experiment, money wasted teaching everyone the same techniques, and students who burn out due to frustration, lack of direction, or just plain loneliness.

In Part 3 of our goal to modernize the PhD process, we propose a radical 180º turn from the independent project.

Let’s turn science into a team sport.

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162. Get More Done with LabScrum w/ Dr. Lisa May

It’s 8PM on a Wednesday night, and you’re sitting in a quiet lab all alone. It’s your turn to present during lab meeting on Friday, and that familiar sense of panic starts to set in.

What HAVE you been doing with your time? You flip back through the lab notebook and remember how you spent the first week waiting on reagents. The second week is a blur, and the third week, every dish in the incubator got contaminated for reasons no one will admit.

Now you have a day to try to come up with something… anything… to show for yourself.

Of course, it didn’t have to be this way, and with some techniques from the tech industry, you’ll never have to fret over a ‘missing month’ again.

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161. Career Development is NOT a Waste of Time. We Have Proof.

All those feelings of excitement and possibility screech to a halt when you walk back into the lab to see your PI glaring over her reading glasses.

She looks at her watch. “Hey, good to see you. So glad you could join us,” she drips with sarcasm.

After missing a beat, you rally. “Yeah, sorry about being a little late. I heard about an information session on internships for grad students and wanted to check it out. It seems like a really great opportunity for me to…”

She cuts you off there. “Well, I’m not sure you have time for internships or information sessions if you aren’t making progress on that paper.”

And just like that, the hope dies within you and you slump back on your lab bench.

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159. Cultivating Resilience w/ Adina Glickman

Imagine a tennis ball dropped on cement – it immediately bounces back to your hand.

Now imagine dropping that same ball on a sandy beach.

The bounce of a tennis ball on pavement is a form of resilience, but it’s important to note that resilience is not just an inherent property of the ball.

Context matters just as much.

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