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176. Stop Calling Yourself a ‘Grad Student’ w/ Dr. Alaina Talboy

Titles are a part of our identity. If you meet a school teacher, computer programmer, or rocket scientist, you will instantly form an impression of what kind of person they are without any additional information.

The bias we impose upon hearing a title can be good or bad, of course. But we all invariably take these mental shortcuts, and it influences how we treat the people we meet.

What’s interesting is that these titles reflect on us, as well. What I call myself impacts what I expect from my work, and how I expect others to treat me in my role.

This week on the show, we talk with a PhD who helps current graduate students as they explore careers outside of academia. And she has some advice on how you can reimagine your graduate title.

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person pulled down by project

075. When Research Sucks (R)

It’s inevitable.  At some point in your research career, you’re going to get that sinking feeling.

Your experiments will all fail, your PI will get on your case about finishing that paper, and your graduation date will drift maddeningly out of reach.

So what can you do when your research starts to drag you down?

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166. Want to Improve Research Careers? Scientists Have 5,434 Suggestions.

The CACTUS Global Mental Health Survey asked valuable questions about stress, performance, and career goals for scientists.

The data revealed plenty of room for improvement, as researchers struggle with harassment, work-life balance, and limited pay.

But the study’s authors also asked more open-ended questions:

Do you have any suggestions for organizations within academia or other related stakeholders on what they can do to ensure a great work environment for researchers?

The received 5,434 ideas from the 13,000 survey respondents.

This week, we’re joined once again by Andrea Hayward, Senior Associate for Global Community Engagement at Cactus Communications.

We unpack the themes she uncovered from those responses, and identify the many ways in which Academia can foster a more supportive research environment.

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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.

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119. Ten Tips to Crush Your First Semester

It’s that time of year again – summer days are growing shorter, your friends are trying to fit in one last trip to the beach, and the backpack aisle at Target is about to be cleared out to make way for the Halloween costumes.

Yes, it’s back-to-school time. From toddlers to teenagers, this time of year instills foreboding about the school-year ahead. But as a first-year graduate student, you may have other feelings.

For most, it’s the start of a new adventure. For the first time, you’re pursuing the one subject in the world you love best, surrounded by other equally brilliant and passionate people.

It’s the end of being told what to learn and how to study, and the beginning of blazing your own academic trail.

It IS a new experience – different from your matriculation in high school or college – and it may be difficult to know what to expect.

This week, we lay out a ten-ish step plan for putting your best-foot-forward in that first semester of your graduate journey.

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