Some things I've found help reduce my stress around science

Good advice all around!

Redefine success. I’ve found that if I recalibrate what success means to include accomplishing tasks like peer reviewing papers, getting letters of recommendation sent at the right times, providing support to people I mentor, and the submission rather than the success of papers/grants then I’m much less stressed out.

In Negotiations, The Pen Can be Mightier than the Mouth

Good advice here.

  1. Negotiate with your pen (keyboard), not your mouth. Unfortunately, when women negotiate with their mouths, people generally respond based on how they look, the tone of their voice and how things went with the last woman who negotiated. When you make your request politely but firmly in writing, you are just stating your needs. The person reading the request can “hear” it in their own inner reading voice. They can respond to the content and take the time to consider what should be a yes and what must be a no.

Six things your research mentor wants you to know (but probably won't think to tell you)

Most of these are pretty true for research mentors at all levels.

1. If I don’t hang out and chat at the lab, it doesn’t mean that I don’t like you.
It probably means that I’m overextended or don’t have much spare time each day. I might be in the lab more hours per day than you are in an entire week, and I still might not have enough time to accomplish my goals. Alternatively, your lab schedule might overlap with my busiest time of the day, or I might need to leave lab at a specific time each day, leaving me no extra time to socialize. Therefore, I might focus on conversations that teach you how to interpret results or gain a new research skill, because I want our limited time together to make the greatest impact on your research experience. That might mean sticking to conversations about research and science.

Looking back on your career, what do you know now that you wish you had known before?

You can’t make people feel the same enthusiasm that you do for your work. Either they have it, or they don’t. I’ve come to really believe something that my personal life guru Dave Ramsey said regarding leadership- You can’t motivate people. You can only hire motivated people. This is a lesson learned the hard way.

High productivity doesn’t mean squat if the things you’re getting done aren’t truly important

Good thoughts from SVN.

You need to carve out more unproductive time. Get less done for a while. You’ll probably realize that a bunch of the shit that zaps your attention and time needn’t be done at all. Just let it slide and see that it probably just didn’t matter. Very few things ultimately do.
Productivity is all about focus, which in turn is all about a narrowing field of view. Shutting out the rest of the world. But many novel solutions require just the opposite: An expansive field of view, letting in the rest of the world.
Look, you obviously can’t have your head in the clouds all year long. But for highly motivated people that doesn’t seem to be a danger as much as having your head in the grind 24/7.

How Warren Buffet schedules meetings

If someone wants to see him, they are told to call and set up the meeting when they can see him tomorrow. So if you want to meet with him next Friday, you call next Thursday and say “Can I see Mr. Buffet tomorrow?”

I love the simplicity of the rule: I can see you today if you asked me yesterday, but I can’t fill up my schedule any further in advance. This way he can determine how he wants to spend his time within the context of the next 24 hours instead of booking things weeks or months in the future. Now his schedule is relevant instead of prescient.

I’m sure many people will say “well, he’s Warren Buffet so he can do that”. Yes he’s Warren Buffet, but no one granted him the power to do that or say that. He decided that.

Five reasons to hire you for our open faculty position

The most important thing to remember is probably that there is not a best person. There are probably at least ten people in any pool that are excellent and would do splendidly. Our applicant pools run from over a hundred to two hundred self-selected people, so this is not too surprising. Also, I have generally viewed nearly all the people we interview as potentially great picks. So how do we decide?


Repost: Being a PI ain’t all unicorns and rainbows…just like most actual jobs

Good advice.

I'll indulge myself about the trainee issue and repeat my constant refrain- If you won a tenure track job, chances are very good that you were a much better than average postdoc and graduate student. Consequently, the trainees that work for you are overwhelmingly likely to suck worse than you did. Get over it and learn how to make do.


Could Parental Leave Actually be Good for my Academic Career? | SAS Confidential

Parental leave is perceived differently for men and women.

Here I was being showered with praise for taking 3.5 months off work and feeling pretty good about my decision until I did a quick comparison to my partner’s situation, also an early career scientist. Not only would she be taking nearly three times the amount of leave, but she’s also been carrying a baby around for eight months whilst undertaking world-class research. Is there a small fan club of approving academics lined up to congratulate her on the brave decision to spend time with her child? Not that I’ve seen.

A network approach to mixing delegates at meetings

I don't like the "speed dating" term but otherwise it's an interesting approach.

Over the two days of the conference, we dedicated two 90 minute sessions to speed dating. The first session consisted of five rounds of ice breakers in which each delegate was paired with another delegate with whom they had little in common (based on the methods they knew about and the people they had collaborated with). The intention was to cause the delegates to meet new and different people. Each round lasted 15 minutes, giving enough time for scientists to discuss their own work while still keeping the meetings brief and to the point. The atmosphere of the meetings was highly informal–coffee and refreshments were provided, and scientists had the choice to sit down at small tables or simply walk around near posters and discuss each other’s results.

Eve Marder on owning your mistakes

In another example, one of my PhD students recently failed to replicate some of our previously published observations, for reasons we still don't fully understand. This was obviously painful, but we published the most complete description of the new data and our best assessment of what could be responsible for the discrepancy (including the possibility that our wild-caught crab populations are affected by climate change). Ironically, the first version of the manuscript was rejected (not by eLife) because a reviewer said we shouldn't be allowed to publish something that disagreed with our own prior observations!

Excellent advice for how to write a grant

Excellent advice - slightly tailored for British/European grant systems but applicable for all of us.

Keep your proposal simple. Introducers with their pile of a dozen or more grants to present will, at the panel meeting, only be able to keep in the forefront of their mind one main thing about your proposal. Make that the deliverable (i.e. the answer to the burning question), and make it a cool one. That deliverable should appear right at the start of your proposal, and also at the end, with the middle simply there to explain it.