Skip to main content

165: A Survey Asked Researchers About Their Mental Health. Here’s What They Said.

Most academics are overwhelmed, even the ones who are successful in terms of being productive researchers, busy teachers and efficient administrators. But, they seem like the norm and everyone who struggles is not, and this needs to be disrupted and changed.

Research fellow/post-doctoral researcher, Africa.

I’m worried about sexism in academia in general and this might make me want to leave after finishing my PhD, even though my current work environment is good.

PhD scholar, Europe

It’s not about free time, it’s a lack of free energy. Who can do hobbies when you’re physically, mentally, and emotionally drained?

Lecturer, North America

Would it surprise you to hear that researchers and scientists around the globe are stressed out? Long hours, competitive labs, and unpredictable funding are just a few of the factors that contribute poor mental health among academics.

Graduate students tend to suffer the most, as they don’t receive the same support as those more advanced in their careers.

This week on the show, we delve into data collected by the Cactus Foundation from their 2020 Mental Health Survey Report.

Read More

164. The Essential Guide to Grad School Applications

Do you hear it? It’s the sound of hopeful scientists frantically typing out their grad school applications!

They’re pondering the best format for a CV, scouring University websites to learn more about each graduate program, and begging their research advisors to PLEASE make the time to write that letter of recommendation!

The silence you hear is the sound of trepidation as they sit down to write their personal statements….

This week on the show, we unpack the essential elements of a grad school application, and what you need to know before you begin.

Read More

163. The 3 T’s of Successful Field Research

The only thing harder than hiking for three hours into a remote boreal forest is realizing you forgot your sample kit back in the lab.

For many researchers, running out of a reagent means walking down the hall to borrow more from a neighboring lab, but field researchers don’t have that luxury. They may be hours away from their labs, and miles away from the van.

That’s why planning is so important.

This week, we learn the three T’s you should remember to pack on EVERY trip.

Read More
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.

Read More

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.

Read More