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071: Practical Advice for Overcoming Imposter Syndrome with Dr. Maureen Gannon

Imposter syndrome might make you feel all alone in the world, but ironically, many graduate students, postdocs, and faculty members experience the same feelings of inadequacy.

This week on the show, we interview Dr. Maureen Gannon, PhD, about the sources of imposter feelings and the practical steps you can take to work through them.

By every objective measure, Dr. Gannon’s career has been an unqualified success.  She went from private high school through a Masters degree with full scholarships, finishing her undergraduate training in just three years.  She completed a PhD at Cornell and is now a tenured faculty member at Vanderbilt University with appointments in several departments. She leads and chairs multiple organizations and committees, and is invited to speak internationally about her work.

And yet, for much of her training, Dr. Gannon didn’t feel successful.  She sometimes attributed her personal wins to outside forces or good luck. She wondered when others would discover her shortcomings as a scientist.

Then, she attended a workshop that put a name to the feelings: imposter phenomenon.  With the name came a realization that many of her peers were experiencing the same thing.

Now, she speaks to students, faculty, and professional groups about her experience of overcoming imposter syndrome and getting on with her career.

In this episode, Dr. Gannon shares some of the common triggers for imposter feelings and the steps you can take to work through them.

Here are the books and resources she recommends:

Take the test yourself: The Clance Imposter Scale

The Impostor Phenomenon: Overcoming the Fear That Haunts Your Success

The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women: Why Capable People Suffer from the Impostor Syndrome and How to Thrive in Spite of It

Creative Visualization: Use the Power of Your Imagination to Create What You Want in Your Life

Man vs. Machine

Science in the News brings us another reminder that computers are going to take our jobs.  This week, machine learning algorithms outperform human doctors on predicting which patients will suffer from heart disease.

Now, when the robots rise up to kill us, they’ll be able to make it look like ‘an accident.’

We also sample a tropical ethanol with the Big Wave Golden Ale from Kona Brewing. It’s not clear why this allegedly Hawaiian beer was featured on a cruise in the Caribbean, but it’s best not to argue.  Any port in a storm, as they say…

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070: Imposter Syndrome

Meeting a new cohort of graduate students on your first day of class can be intimidating.  These are the brightest students from their undergraduate programs. Some of them have years of research experience, first-author publications, and a depth of knowledge that seems encyclopedic.

Feeling intimidated by your new colleagues is normal, but some of the people you meet will suffer a more insidious type of anxiety. Some students actually see themselves as charlatans who are just play-acting at a scientific career. So far, they feel, they’ve successfully bluffed their way through college, entrance exams, and interviews.

But they fear that at any moment, they will be discovered as frauds and rejected from the program.

This daily battle is the emotional reality for people suffering from “Imposter Syndrome.”

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scientist twitter

069: Five Ways Scientists SHOULD Be Using Twitter

Traditionally, spending time on social media was a great way to make your PI angry. Your job is to finish experiments, read papers, and present your work at conferences, not to upvote and share the latest blue-dress illusion.

But there are some unexpected benefits to the Twitter network that could help your science and your career.

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068: Use Targeted Savings Accounts for Irregular Expenses

If the idea of saving money while in graduate school sounds laughable to you, you’re not alone. Many grad students live month to month on a stipend that places them near the poverty line.

After rent, food, and clothing, there’s nothing left to save.

But food, clothing and shelter don’t cover all the expenses you’ll face as a grad student. There’s also car maintenance and repair, gifts for loved ones, and the occasional concert or trip to the beach.

How do you squeeze these add-ons from an already meager budget?

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067: Science Magazine Takes a Teeny, Tiny Step Toward Open Access

If you read the following headline this week, you might have experienced a small thrill:

AAAS Forms Partnership to Expand Access to
High-Quality Scientific Publishing

AAAS, or the American Association for the Advancement of Science, is the organization that publishes the flagship journal Science Magazine and related titles.  You might believe from that headline that you could now access Science articles for free from anywhere in the world!

You’d be wrong.

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