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.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Research is a Rollercoaster

Do you ever feel like one day you just made the most significant discovery in some time and you'll have a Nature paper for sure, and then the next day you find that it's not as great as you thought it was and you need a lot more characterization before you can publish and even then it probably isn't as significant as you thought?

I go through that a lot.

We had a very productive summer here. I had two undergrads, plus my grad students, postdocs, and a rotation student working full time. I had the UGs and rotations student mostly working on things that I thought were not likely to work, but might have a great impact if they did. Remarkably most things worked out, which is great. But, everyone is going back to school now and I am afraid our momentum will be lost. On each of the three projects we are about 1/2 to 3/4 of the way to a paper, and given that our lab has yet to produce an independent paper (not from my postdoc or PhD) I really want to get some of this out!

The problem is that in some cases the student is returning to class, in other cases the project still needs a lot of characterization and that characterization makes the difference between publish now and the garbage bin. For example, in one case we had a really great result. We produced something that a lot of people are trying to make and did it in a pretty easy way that no one had thought of, BUT...the properties are not ideal. It seems like we should be able to fix this easily, but if the student is not there to work on it...and if we can't fix it...

These are the things that I worry about now. We are doing okay on money and I am writing lots of grants, but now we need to PUBLISH!


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