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062: FLSA and 21st Century Cures are laws that impact the lab

The 2016 presidential election was divisive, dramatic, and distracting.  That’s why you probably missed a series of rulings and regulations that could have a profound impact on your research.

But fear not, Daniel and Josh are back with news on the recent legislation and how it affects your funding and focus.

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055: Four Ideas to Modernize Mentorship – #modernPhD Part 2

Today, a graduate student will make a terrible mistake.

He’ll blindly commit to a long-term relationship that will make him miserable.  He’ll be too shy to ask his partner the painfully awkward questions that could predict their ultimate failure as a team.

Does this person have time for me?  Is she enthusiastic about helping me succeed?  Do our goals align?

Of course, this is not a romantic relationship: it’s the commitment formed between a grad student and his advisor.  And though it’s not a marriage, it can cover some of the same emotional ground.  When it’s healthy, you’ll both grow as people and you’ll achieve more than you would alone.

When it’s unhealthy, you might bear the emotional scars for the rest of your life.

With just a few simple changes to the graduate-advisor relationship, we can make sure more students, and their mentors, reach their full potential.  Why leave it to chance?

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Credit: Mo Riza

033: It’s Tax Season – Here’s What You Need to Know

You might believe that because you’re in grad school and receiving a research stipend, you don’t really need to worry about paying an income tax.  You don’t have a ‘real job’ and no one asked you to fill out any paperwork so you’re off the hook, right?

Wrong.  Utterly, expensively, illegally wrong.

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028: Making Time for Kids When Everyone Else Stays Late

If you have kids, you’ve experienced “the time shift.”

Where you used to have hobbies, you now have a drive to soccer practice.  Where you used to have dinner out, you now have dinner, dishes, bath-time, stories, and bedtime, IN.

And where you used to stay late in the lab to finish an experiment, you now rush out at 5 to avoid the late fee at daycare.

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011: The 8.5 fixes that will save biomedical 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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Two of the fixes are the bottle opener and the cork-screw. A little bit of ethanol makes everything better!

Saving Science

These topics are regularly debated in the literature, but a recent meta-analysis by Pickett et al. in PNAS works to find the consensus among a dizzying number of suggestions.  Their paper, Toward a sustainable biomedical research enterprise: Finding consensus and implementing recommendations, could be re-titled “8 Ways to Save Science.”  And while these 8 ideas may appear across the literature, they’re not without controversy.

This week on the show, we unpack the 8 recommendations and debate their merits.  Should all graduate school programs be limited to 5 years?  Should the federal government increase overall funding?  Should post-docs receive higher pay?

To summarize, the 8 recommendations are:

  1. Make funding predictable from year-to-year
  2. Increase the total amount of money the federal government hands out
  3. Reduce regulations
  4. Pay post-docs more
  5. Shorten graduate school to 5 years
  6. Train students and post-docs for “alternative” careers other than faculty PI
  7. Change how trainees are funded
  8. Increase opportunities for staff scientists

Josh throws in a bonus recommendation that didn’t quite make the top 8: increase diversity in the biomedical enterprise.

Did you applaud every item on this list, or did the authors miss the mark?  Leave your comments below and let us know what you’d add or remove to make biomedical science a more sustainable enterprise.

Also in this episode, we pay tribute to all the Oregonians who don’t listen to our podcast by drinking Dead Guy Ale from Rogue.  It’s an Oregon beer and we’re pandering for listeners in that great state, so tell a friend!

References:

States in order by quality of their beer offerings.

Newt Gingrich (NYT April 2015): “Double the NIH budget”

PIs spend 42% of their time on administrivia

Stanford recently bumped starting postdoc pay to $50K

NIH recently started a funding mechanism called “Broadening Experiences in Scientific Training (BEST)”.