Skip to main content

054: The 5 year PhD – #modernPhD Part 1

Scientific training has its roots in the ancient world.  From Aristotle’s natural philosophy to the modern biomedical research lab, science training has relied heavily on an apprenticeship model.

Senior scientists take promising young students into their labs and train them, hands-on, in the practical activities of research.

The assumption has always been that the aspiring scientist will ‘grow up’ to be like her mentor – running a lab of her own someday.  And for a long time, that made sense.

But in the modern world, PhDs go on to a much wider variety of careers.  Sure, some seek faculty positions, but others teach, consult, work in industry, and influence policy.

Is it time to rethink the PhD process?  Can we modernize scientific training to support the diverse interest of today’s scientists?

Read More

051: Should I change labs or quit grad school?

Jessica was finishing her third year of grad school when she finally decided she had had enough.

Funding had gotten tighter, and her PI had basically checked out.  Many of her lab-mates saw the writing on the wall, and left their projects behind to find other work. With no support from her advisor or peers, she had little hope of turning things around.

And then her thesis project – the one she just proposed and defended – was scooped by a competing lab and published in a major journal.  It was the last straw.

Jessica had three options:

  1. She could quit immediately, and have no degree to show for her three years of work.
  2. She could find some portion of the project to salvage as a Master’s thesis.
  3. She could start all over and try to find a new lab.

Amazingly, she chose Option 3.

Read More

046: Do I need a PhD to advance in my industry job?

You’ve worked hard in your biopharma job, and you really love the position.  The team is passionate and dynamic, the product is starting to make an impact in the market, and you begin to imagine your long-term relationship with the company.

But there’s one problem: it seems like no one with a Bachelor’s Degree can move up in the organization.  PhDs from outside the company are hired into management positions, while you and your colleagues get passed over for promotions.

What’s going on? And do you really need a PhD to get ahead in your industry job?

Read More

042: I’m a Fifth Year, and I’m Stuck in a Rut

The good news is that your research project has gone well over the last few years, and you got your paper published.

The bad news is that you published everything in that one paper, and you’re out of ideas.

And you’re five years into the program.

And your PI doesn’t want to help you anymore.

How, exactly, are you supposed to get your research project out of the rut and back on track so you can graduate?

Read More