PhD life

—from the Researcher’s bench

The big motivation killers get top billing--and for good reason. If a labmate has created a toxic working environment, your PI is unsupportive, you're struggling to manage a disability (invisible or obvious), your mental and physical health are all put at risk. These are all serious issues and it's critical that you find support in navigating through them.

However, it's also important to recognize that there are motivation killers that can destroy your motivation but they do so in such a subtle way that you might not be aware of what's happening until you're burning out. Many of these don't seem serious and it's easy to think "Oh, I'm just being sensitive. I shouldn't complain because others have real problems."

But a motivation barrier--even a small one--doesn't take much to grow into a much larger issue. It's dealing with these sneaky motivation killers that are the subject of this article.

—from the PI's desk

ProTip for undergrad and grad students alike: Try to apply for at least one scholarship, fellowship, or award each semester--even if it's not science related. This will help you build your CV, possibly be a source of cash or a conference travel waiver, and be part of an overall strategy for staying connected to former and current mentors.

15
Mar

Keep in Touch with Your Mentors. You Matter and We Care.

—from the Lab Manager's bench

As a mentor, I don’t stop caring about a former student’s success, well-being, or happiness because they are no longer part of my research group.

I want to know about the life events that they want to share with me—professional and personal--and celebrate when they achieve milestones in either category.

15
May

Empty Bench Syndrome

— from the Lab Manager's bench

Here’s to all the undergrad research mentors who said goodbye to a great student this semester, and feel that little pang of sadness as they clear the bench for a new researcher who starts this summer.

Even though this article was originally published a while ago, it still rings true. Saying goodbye to students, postdocs, technicians and anyone I've mentored never gets easier—no matter how many times I do it.

12
Feb

Your Guide for Considering a Gap Year

—from the Lab Manager's bench and the PI's desk

Exploring the Process

Figuring out if you should take a year off between finishing your undergrad experience and enrolling in a graduate, medical, or professional program isn't always an easy path. So, if you're feeling stressed out about the uncertainly of it all, know that it's part of the process. Deciding what to do, wondering if taking a break will be worth it, if you should even consider it, (or feeling frustrated because a gap year wasn't part of your 10 -year plan) is stressful.

New Researchers Beware: Learning Curve Ahead

For almost everyone, research turns out to be more complicated, and take more effort to gain skills and accomplish the objectives of a project than anticipated. So, if you struggle to learn a technique, or you don’t immediately understand a concept your research mentor explains, remind yourself that such challenges are to be expected.

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