Dr. Mom, My Adventures as a Mommy-Scientist

Discussion of my journey from grad school to postdoc to tenure with two kids, a husband, (and a bit of breast cancer) in tow.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Being your own boss and the perspective a few years brings

I can't tell you how much I am enjoying being an Asst. Professor. I guess this would be the honeymoon as I am miles away from being worried about tenure, haven't had any grants rejected yet, and don't have any students (or equipment for that matter). But, I absolutely love what I am doing. I am trying to prepare a couple proposals right now, and the coolest part is that I am in charge. I decide which direction the research should go, what we should work on next, and how it should be executed. Of course, I will have to generate funding for these ideas, but the freedom is something entirely new for me. I absolutely love it.

On another note, I find myself drawing ever closer to the kinds of things that my advisors would say to me that made me so angry. Funny how a few years changes things. I was just thinking about starting up the lab. There is a a lot of research that I want to pursue, and I was trying to think about realisitic expectations for a first year grad student. I remember how angry I was when my advisors told me that classes weren't very important, that research was all that mattered, and that I should let my grades slide so I could spend more time in the lab. Now I want to say the same things to my students!

In many ways my advisors were right, but I also understand how most people in graduate school are there for the love of the material. It is very difficult to care deeply about something and also be willing to 'blow it off' to concentrate on more important issues. I think the transition between classes and lab is an important one and that most 1st years need the time to make the change from a lecture setting to a research setting. I also think that grad classes are some of the last structured opportunities to learn information, and should be taken full advantage of. However, if there is any way for a student to benefit from classes and find their way into the lab for serious experiments, then I am all for it!


At 12:49 AM , Blogger ScienceWoman said...

hear, hear! I think the conflict between classes and research is one of the hardest parts of your first years of graduate school. I know I found it incredibly frustating to not be able to get as much as I wanted to out of class, but when I put too much time in on class material, I made no progress on my research.


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