Thursday, October 22, 2009

What's been going on? Some academic musings.

So, what's been happening in the past few days (weeks?) since I last posted? Well, autumn is setting in here, so it's not like I'm spending a lot of time outside right now. I've been focused pretty much on a few things: writing a manuscript, updating a dataset, writing a job application, and learning some programming skills.

One of the nice things about being a postdoc is the flexibility of your time. It is an important period in the life of a researcher where you not only apply those skills you already learned towards being productive, but you have the opportunity to learn new ones. I'm picking up where I left off early in my postgraduate education, learning new tools and tricks for the software environment R. This really is an indispensable tool for biologists, or anyone who applies statistics. I would hope that in the near future, R will become an integral part of undergraduate biology curricula. It combines the ability to analyze data with a programming environment.

As much fun as being a postdoc is, I really want a permanent job—a good one, with lots of interaction with enthusiastic and creative students. Being a postdoc can be limiting, too. There are lots of small cash funds for Ph.D. research projects from various scientific societies, institutions, or funding agencies. I've had a lot of success with these as a Ph.D. student, and I really think they are important in helping students b. On the other hand, faculty tend to operating grants: a fund that supports their research throughout the year or several years. Somewhere in the middle is the postdoc, who has to rely either on his host's grant (allusions to parasitism here may or may not be intended), or the very few small (and therefore competitive) external sources. Thankfully, my current project can make use of a lot of published data, as well as data existing within our collections at this museum. However, I certainly feel the need to grow and develop something much larger and sustained.

1 comment:

Paul said...

Hello and good afternoon,

I'm writing on behalf of Nikon to let you know that Nikon Small World 2009 has announced its winning photomicrograph images and I wanted to see if you’d be interested in running them. I understand you covered Small World last year so I thought I'd let you know this year.

The first place image was from Dr. Heiti Paves of Tallinn, Estonia, who won with a photo of Arabidopsis thaliana, or thale cress anther, the male sex organ of a small flowering plant.

You can find all of the winning images at Please let us know if you have any questions or if you need any high resolution images of the Top 20, Honorable Mentions or Images of Distinction.

Thank you,

Paul Merchan