27 and a PhD

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First few weeks of work at the new place

Welcome to my blog!

Hello there, awesome reader. My name is Dr. 27. I'm older than that now, but I'm staying faithful to the origins of the blog.

This blog started 2 months before completing my PhD in a pretty southern university back in 2009. It was a way to practice my writing and take a break from all things thesis. My PhD is in a branch of structural biology where I studied some rather impressive stuff.

After completing the degree, I packed my life of 6 years in 3 days and moved to Canada to do a postdoc in a completely different field. Two years later, and after attending a lot of seminars, workshops and doing some much-needed soul-searching, I ended up getting out and looking for an alternative path to academia and industry.

The blog chronicles my mishaps, ideas, musings and tips on entering, staying and finishing grad school. It also talks about some (or a lot) of personal stuff. For a while, the blog became a place to talk about the frustrations of not knowing what to do after PhD. I wanted to explore alternatives to the traditional paths of research (academia, industry and goverment) whilst going back to my field of training (if at all possible). Eventually a job materialized. Follow my quest as I navigate the waters of being a staff scientist at a core facility.

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So, it’s been a little over 2 weeks since I started my job as a postdoc in Canada. These weeks have been a whirlwind. Everything happening so vary fast. Contracts to sign, people to meet, things to set up and get.

I don’t know if this is routine, but in my new school it took them more than 2 weeks to process my contract. Once it’s processed (which just happened last Thursday), that’s when you can get your ID card, which works as a universal card that you can use to purchase food (if you load it with $), gain access to facilities and open doors .. among other things. I got my picture taken on Friday morning … ugh. I look like a criminal with a silly smirk. But the process was not an easy one, as even though I got a staff # provided by HR, the people at the card office still needed confirmation from HR (which of course, won’t answer the calls when you need them). Since it’s summer, even though the school is opened, it seems like everything goes SO.VERY.SLOWLY. I was so mad … basically because I’ve been used to the US system in which things are done super fast. Now, I’m not saying that I’d like Canada to turn into another US … but it’d be nice if PI’s had the info and be notified by HR BEFORE the postdoc gets there so you don’t have to wait to start existing at the new place. I don’t know how similar the process is at my old school.

I have almost everything I need. I do need to get a bank account and get the right things in place in order to get my first paycheck as a postdoc.

On the experimental front, since I’ve forgotten almost all of my biochemistry (I did my PhD in structural biology, and the samples I examined were prepared and isolated by other labs). Thus, my new boss (super patient, thus far) assigned a grad student to teach me how they do some of the expression, isolation and purification of DNA and protein.

When I was doing my PhD I thought I would for certain be rid of doing protein/DNA biochemistry. I guess I was, and still am, scared of sucking at doing those experiments. In the past, if guided by someone else, I’ve been able to do beautiful experiments with nice results. I’m reading a lot about how to do things, make calculations (which is the scary part for me, as I have not used many of them in ages, and I forget them).

I’m excited though, at the thought of relearning biochem and doing experiments once again.

More to come later ….

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