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051: Should I change labs or quit grad school?

Jessica was finishing her third year of grad school when she finally decided she had had enough.

Funding had gotten tighter, and her PI had basically checked out.  Many of her lab-mates saw the writing on the wall, and left their projects behind to find other work. With no support from her advisor or peers, she had little hope of turning things around.

And then her thesis project – the one she just proposed and defended – was scooped by a competing lab and published in a major journal.  It was the last straw.

Jessica had three options:

  1. She could quit immediately, and have no degree to show for her three years of work.
  2. She could find some portion of the project to salvage as a Master’s thesis.
  3. She could start all over and try to find a new lab.

Amazingly, she chose Option 3.

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050: Lab Fail – Radioactive Tritium Spill

We’ve all had bad days in the lab: you throw out the supernatant you were supposed to save, or contaminate all the cells in tissue culture.

It hurts, but the next day, you can start over and try again.

Today on the show, we hear the true story of a woman who dropped a tube and splashed radioactive tritium all over her self, her bench, and the floor.

And then things took a turn for the worse.

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048: Where the (Wild) Postdocs Are

Shhhh!  There he is.  Behind that rack of Eppendorf tubes….

The elusive ‘Postdoctoral Fellow’ in his native habitat!

If we’re quiet, we may be able to observe him as he completes an experiment, writes a few paragraphs in a grant proposal, and nurtures his young (i.e. graduate students.)

Postdocs are difficult to study in the wild, and no one knows exactly how many of them exist outside of captivity.

But thanks to a recent study from the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), we are starting to understand their migration patterns as they leave the safety of the training lab and venture into the wider world.

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047: How many postdocs are there? The answer may surprise you!

It sounds like a simple question: how many postdocs are there in the United States?

Maybe you want to know because you ARE a postdoc and you’re thinking about what kind of competition you’ll face for a faculty position.

Maybe you’re a program manager at the NIH, and you’d like to direct extra funding toward STEM training and postdoctoral positions.

Or maybe you’re a university administrator, and you’re wondering how the new labor laws will affect salaries this year.

Well, too bad. No one actually knows how many postdocs there are.

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