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011: The 8.5 Fixes That Will Save Biomedical Science (R)

Josh and Daniel are on the road this week, so we decided to bring you some goodies from the archive.  An 8-ish step plan to save science!  

Biomedical science is broken.  Funding is unpredictable, training programs drag on indefinitely, and some of our best scientists are drawn to careers outside of the university or drowned in paperwork if they stay.  Can anything be done to support research staff and boost lab productivity?

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088: 15 Transferable Skills PhDs Can Use In Any Career

But I have no skills! At least no skills employers would be interested in!

Melanie Sinche
Melanie Sinche, Director of Education, The Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine

As a career counselor, Melanie Sinche heard grad students and postdocs voice this concern nearly every day.  She looked at these talented scholars and saw the ability to think critically, analyze data, and solve problems. To her eye, these were transferable skills very much in demand outside the research lab.  Why couldn’t the students see it?

“I felt frustrated by that comment, and motivated to conduct a research study around skill development. I would argue that scientific training, by its very nature, lends itself to the development of LOTS of skills.”

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085: Scientists in the Newsroom – The AAAS Mass Media Fellowship feat. Rebekah Corlew

Pick up any newspaper and you’ll find an article summarizing the ‘latest research’ on the health benefits of chocolate, a new treatment for Alzheimers, or the long-term risks of screen time for your toddler.

As a scientist, you probably groan before you reach the end of the title: the claims are extreme, the statistics are dubious, and often, the information a reader should know is buried below the fold.

If you’d like to see science communication reach new levels of accuracy and relevance, it may be time to step away from your lab bench and pick up a pen.

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080: Postdoc Straight Talk – Where Are They Now?

Uncertainty is a defining feature of postdoctoral training:

  • Q: Is a postdoc a student or an employee? (A: Neither. Both?)
  • Q: Should you continue in your PhD research field, or try something new?  (A: Yes)
  • Q: How are you supposed to find a job while you’re ALSO doing research and writing papers? (A: Pray that the Career-Fairy leaves one under your lab notebook while you’re at seminar.)
  • Q: How long should a postdoctoral fellowship take? (A: Now you’re just being mean!)

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079: The Insider’s Guide to Industry – with Randall Ribaudo, PhD

If you’re an academic scientist, applying for an industry job is a bit like traveling to a foreign country.

First, there is paperwork.

Will they accept your Curriculum Vitae as is, or do you need to crunch it down into a résumé? And how on earth do you get through the screening software that filters through the 1000+ applications?

Next, there’s the language barrier.

You’ll need to communicate your qualifications in an interview that may last just a few minutes.  You might describe a key experiment you designed with six controls and twelve replicates, but what the interviewer needs to hear is that you have experience in ‘quality control and quality assurance.’ Don’t expect them to make the translation.

Last, there can be culture shock when you actually get the job and start to work. There are aspects of your academic training that you will need to un-learn if you want to be successful. You can either begin the job with a sensitivity to these new cultural norms, or you can learn them the hard way…

This week, we talk with a scientist who acts as travel guide for academics who want to make the leap into industry.

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