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078: Knowing When to Leave Academia – Feat. The Recovering Academic Podcast

Maybe you’re in love with science, but you just can’t imagine your life as a PI.  And maybe you’ve had a string of experiments fail and you’re just ready to put the entire ‘lab thing’ behind you.

You have a choice – you could leave academia and try to find your way in industry, publishing or some other career. Or you could try to revive your research in the hope that lab life will eventually improve.

But how do you know which choice is right for you?

What happens if you make a mistake?

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077: Google Discovers Five Keys to a Productive Lab

Google is data-obsessed, so it should come as no surprise that the company sought to apply its analytical expertise inside the organization.

In an endeavor dubbed “Project Aristotle,” Google sought to answer a vexing question: What factors are important for a successful, productive team?

Their findings may have profound impacts not just at Google, but in a lab near you…

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076: Should I choose a research focus BEFORE I apply?

Applying to grad school means making a series of difficult decisions: university location, reputation, lifestyle, and program.

But do you need to pick out a specific research topic before filing an application? Is it better to nail down a project and lab before you apply, or is it okay to keep your options open?

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person pulled down by project

075: When Research Sucks

It’s inevitable.  At some point in your research career, you’re going to get that sinking feeling.

Your experiments will all fail, your PI will get on your case about finishing that paper, and your graduation date will drift maddeningly out of reach.

So what can you do when your research starts to drag you down?

Coming Up for Air

This week on the show, we share some practical advice from the Academic Mental Health Collective on ways graduate students can get going when the going gets tough.

Stress, anxiety, and depression are inevitable in your graduate training. At least they were for us!

At the same time, these painful emotions can be a valuable signal that it’s time to step back, take stock of your situation, and ask for help.  There are resources on, and off, campus to help you through the hard times.

By thinking ahead, you’ll meet your training challenges with a tactical plan and a team of supporters to help you through. It does get better, we promise!

The Check is in the Mail

Science in the News brings us the story of a New York court’s $15 million judgement against Sci Hub, the online research paper pirate ship.  We explore the legal and moral implications of the action, and make bold predictions about the future of scientific publishing.

If you’re interested in the history of academic publishing and how we got into this quagmire in the first place, we highly recommend Stephen Buranyi’s Guardian piece titled: Is the staggeringly profitable business of scientific publishing bad for science?

We also celebrate the beginning of summer by breaking our IPA fast. We’re drinking the Nectar IPA from Humboldt Brewing Company. This golden beauty has a sweet start and a bitter finish, sort of like my first marriage!*

(*Yes, this is a total lie, but the setup was perfect and impossible to resist.  Sort of like my first marriage!**)

(**Okay, I’m done.)

income inequality

074: Does Science Have an Income Inequality Problem?

On May 2nd, NIH Director Francis Collins announced a plan to limit the total amount of grant funding awarded to an individual investigator or lab.

According to Collins, “the distribution of NIH grant funding is highly skewed, with 10 percent of NIH-funded investigators receiving over 40 percent of NIH funding.”

The funding proposal would limit an individual lab to the equivalent of 3 RO1-sized grants, and free up an additional 1600 funding opportunities that could go to early and mid-career scientists.

On June 8th, the plan was scrapped…

Addressing the 90%

This week on the show, we cover the contentious and somewhat confusing reversal of Collins’ plan to spur innovation by spreading around the money.

Did the plan change due to criticism from the labs with the deepest pockets? Or was there evidence to support the replacement plan that earmarks money for early-career scientists?

At the heart of this issue, we discuss whether basic research would benefit from a shift in investment strategy.

Do science and innovation advance faster when the ‘best’ labs get all the money, or is there value in making many smaller bets?

Tell us what YOU think in the comments below.

Everybeer

Some beers sing with complex aromas, malty bitterness, and just-right effervescence.  And then there’s brown ales.

This week, we sampled the Legend Brown Ale from Legend Brewing in Richmond, VA.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great beer.  Very tasty.  It just tastes like every other brown ale ever.  If you sneakily replaced the contents of this bottle with some other brown ale, I promise no one would notice.

I don’t know whether that makes us beer snobs or beer newbies.  Either way, we’re just counting down the days before we get back on our IPA kick…