Friday, January 14, 2011

Celebrating the small joys

I sent out another draft to my boss - thanks to her nagging and managing to block facebook, youtube, blogspot, wordpress and twitter on my laptop. Really enhanced productivity. I think finding someone like this to nag you while writing- on a few hourly- basis- is really helpful. My husband is not effective at nagging me to write- may be because of the time difference, or the fact that I can just tell him to shut up and get lost (I told her too, but she didn't back off). I remember the days of my thesis-writing when another blog-friend was nagging me hourly, starting at 10 pm every night right up to 2 and 3 AM, and really helped get that tome out of the door. I will always be thankful to him for that. This review is not yet done, but I got some comments from my boss on my draft and can work some more. I think this weekend I should wrap it up.

One of my core competencies is being a go-between between the biology side of our experiments and the statisticians who analyze the data for us. It is always a challenge to be able to speak to them in their language and reach a happy medium regarding grey zones. Statisticians believe in numbers, strict quality controls, and mostly black/white. Biology doesn't always work itself easily into those frameworks. While I cannot actually perform those sophisticated analyses that they do, I can understand programs, thresholds, criteria, and what some of those rules and statistics really mean and measure, in a biologists book. (For example, I am not this guy) After our latest joint meeting with the statistician where I managed to break down things to him, my boss sent me an email as follows:

"Kudos. For your clarity in catalyzing the discussion today, and for your fine efforts addressing the data analysis portion of the project".

This felt nice also because there were a lot of undercurrents in the lab regarding this project. A coworker was actually doing all the experiments and felt like I was unnecessary in the project because I wasn't "doing" any of the "work" and perhaps insecure that I was going to steal her credit. A very baseless fear because I wasn't doing any of that - it would be ludicrious for me to even try- she was assigned to do the experiments and I was assigned to analyze the data. I had to fight to keep my place there, be included in meetings, get all the updates on the project, because I knew I was bringing something to the table that she wasn't, and, because I was intellectually invested in this project. Through most of the conflict, I was getting mixed signals regarding where my boss's loyalties were. Mostly, I felt he was just playing politics, while he assured me that I had my place in the project. Then, a few months ago, when coworker wrote up an abstract on this work, she put me in as the third author, and my boss bumped me up to second author. That was a good sign for me. The whole spat was an education of sorts for me: in jealous coworkers, in politics, in making my point, in being mature and professional as against impulsive and forthright. In the past few meetings, I have hopefully convinced both boss and the coworker, (although I don't care too much about the latter) that analysing this data is as much as a beast as generating it, and I am making significant and unique contributions to it.

Finally, I found out that I have been selected as a finalist for an award that will help me go to a big meeting in April if I get the award. It will be awesome if I get the award: money to travel to the meeting, and, more importantly, some visibility and recognition. Fingers crossed for more news from there. :)

The bigger beasts in my life remain: a big presentation in two weeks and a review to finish up by then. But for now, I want to bask in these small glories. :)


Anonymous said...

Thanks for letting the world know I nag incessantly.

Now no one will be my fraand.

The_Girl_From_Ipanema said...

oh c'mon! all the ABDs will :)