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.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Victim of my own success

As I mentioned in my last post, I realize that I have been far more MIA than I would like on this blog. A big part of the problem is that things are going so well. I am being asked to do more invited talks, be on more panels, nominated of more awards (requiring me to fill out nomination forms and to attend banquets), advise more students who are writing more papers and to participate in more grants.

OK. I know that this is a good problem to have and that all of this probably makes someone just starting crazy. Actually I met someone like this a about a year and a half ago and she drove me crazy. But it really is a problem to be too busy and have too many good things to choose from and that is where I am now.

Before I had to beg/cajole students into my group, but now they are applying in droves, and the question is how do I know who is any good? I used to have long email discourses with perspective students discussing research and papers, now I am lucky if I can send them my form letter (describes research in the lab and how many people we plan to hire etc) a month after they email me. And papers and grants, don't get me started. I haven't wrote a full NSF or NIH grant as lead PI in over a year. I am co-PI on so many other projects that require reports and 1 page descriptions of my research and slide presentation and highlights that I hardly have time to breathe. I will however write several this summer, which I really need to do. I managed to squeeze out several papers last year but the timeline from on my desk to submitted is an embarrassing 6 months or more. And because things are going well, I am being asked to do more at the university as well, from meeting with donors to lunch with the visiting speaker.

All of this is great and I realize that I will get little sympathy for this problem, but if someone could offer any advice on the transition from assistant professor just starting to associate professor with lots of projects etc. I would be grateful

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Not dead yet....

I can't believe it has really been January since I posted, but...well things have been very, very busy. It is unlikely that I will continue to post as regularly as I would like, but I will try. I have been saving up quite a few articles to talk about, but for today just an update.

So what's happened this term...
1) Taught a new lab course for the first time and no one blew anything up!
To be honest, I was scared to death about this course. I was worried that students wouldn't sign up. Then I was worried that too many students signed up. Then, that the reagents wouldn't arrive in time. Then all the cells died...yeah for real... and I had to scramble to find new ones. Then I got stuck in Scotland because of the volcanic ash plume for 2 weeks and my TA had to teach the class! which brings us to...

2) Stuck in Scotland trapped by Volcanic Ash Plume
When this first happened I don't think anyone believed me, but I can assure you 6 days of pub-crawling, scotch drinking later, that it was horrible to have an unplanned vacation in Scotland. I got to see highlights of surrounding regions (Loch Ness!), learn how to distill Whisky through ample tours, and all about the world of Harry Potter (JKR lives in Edinburgh). I was rudely dragged onto a stand-by flight by husband's early AM call and returned to reality.

3) Paper accepted by high impact journal!
Finally. After working on this puppy for over a year and lovingly crafting each sentence I am happy to report that it was finally, finally accepted. And...after my last count we now have 14 papers out of our lab (including reviews and peer-reviewed proceedings), which is more than enough to go up for early tenure. So yippee.

4) Lots of grants rejected
Just to show that everything is not roses here in Dr. Mom world, I did have several grants rejected, and none in fact funded in the last term. Ah well....

So as you can see I have been busy and happy and had an impromptu vacation which I am now catching up from.

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