We had a different kind of seminar today. Once a week, we have an invited speaker from outside who gives a talk on his/her research. Today we had a "motivational speaker" types. It's almost worrisome, that we need these talks now. :) Nothing new was said, but the reinforcement was useful. Good timing for me too, especially since the jade from starting my sixth year is beginning to set in, and I'm beginning to embark on the post-doc hunt too.
Vishesh tippani from babaji's talk.
What should motivate a scientist? Love of the process of finding out. Not so much the ends or the results, but the means.
You cannot prove anything. All it takes is a single experiment to prove you wrong. You can only find the truth to the best extent you can.
As a graduate student:
Interdisciplinary is the way to go.
Make the best of your environs. If you're in a lab with the sexiest microscope and imaging facility, take your project there.
Read widely, not always necessarily deeply. (To gain breadth)
If you're really keen on doing an experiment, DO IT.
Think out of the box. Ask of your data "What is the most interesting thing this could mean?"
Don't be afraid. Have the self confidence that you could've indeed stumbled upon the answer that many were trying to get at. (He in fact mentioned that women are bad at this)
Learn the history of your science.
It's ok to get side-tracked. But don't put all your eggs in one basket.
Be a control freak. :-) (As in designing controls for experiments)
Honour the scientific method, always.
Keep a good notebook. Should have all the information needed to repeat the experiment.
Develop a thick skin. Take criticism constructively. Nothing's personal.
Speak up when you have to. Our mission is to find the truth, not to be nice or to honour elders.
Always LOOK at the cells. (Sigh, indeed! The cells, they tell you so much)
Think for yourself. Write for yourself. OWN your project. Be the world's best expert on it.
The Boss is not always right. (hah! this i know ;) )And will often be happy to be proven wrong.
When you find yourself disagreeing with the boss, you're ready to graduate. (Excuuuz me??? ;) )
Pick a project where you can learn as many techniques as possible.
Each time you perform an experiment, you should be thinking about improving every step for the next time you do it.
Base conclusions on multiple experiments.
Don't be blinded by the statistics. The statistics are only as good as the assumptions they rely on.
Force yourself to write down observations, especially of the failed experiments. Do not forget the unexplained results! (This is so important!)
Speak up! Ask questions at talks.
Grab every opportunity to present your work to an outside audience. (very important, especially when it comes to the post-doc hunt)
Do not prolong your Ph.D. :(
Take responsibility for yourself. Have a plan for the next five years.
Post doc hunt:
Don't sell yourself short. Salaries are negotiable. Play the game. Post-docs are among the most exploited class of workers anyway. (hah!)
Must interview prospective lab. Talk to students/employees. Track back ex-members of the lab and speak to them.
Does the P.I help his people? (Outside of lab). Will he let you take projects with you when you leave?
Choose wisely. Cannot go wrong in picking a lab for your post-doc, after being in the system for five plus years.
If you have to do two post-docs, switch after two years at the first one.
Try getting outside fellowships for post-doc work.
Work hard. If you want to become a P.I, it's an uphill climb.
You don't have to end up as a P.I to be successful in science.