27 and a PhD

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Twelve months of 29 and a PhD

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.


December 2010
« Nov   Jan »

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Last year, one of my fave bloggers wrote about a year in recap and since I love to talk about myself incessantly I copied the meme, made changes accordingly and posted it here. Now that another year is coming to an end I decided to do it again and adapt it to the crazy and sometimes wonderful things that have happened since Jan 1st 2010. Here’s a very short recap on some of the things that happened to 29 and a PhD during the last 11.something years:

  1. January – came back from a vacay with my vision settled on making progress on my project and taking on another one. My project was kind of stagnant after the first few months of my postdoc, and I was learning a whole lot of techniques and protein biochemistry hadn’t had to do before. I finally got some of the proteins that I needed and started doing those darn assays (which didn’t work). Also,  I blogged about my defense in as much detail as I could.
  2. Februaryblogged a whole lot about grad school, my grad school experience and … well, grad school. Experiment-wise, not much progress.
  3. March – Had a problem with one of the purification columns  but eventually it was fixed. Figured out that 150 mM salt was needed for my favourite tagged protein to bind to another column (I learned about how important it is to read the data sheet for each and every column).
  4. April Paid taxes, in BOTH the US and Canada. Wrote a little “guide” about it … though not sure if it applies to everyone, but what they heck.
  5. MayGRADUATION!!!!! Went back to my lovely school, met with former PI and current rotation students. Saw old friends, grads and PIs alike. Stimulated PhD-citys’ economy by going to Target a grand total of 4 times in ~3 days. I know, crazy. But Target is yet to open its doors in the Great White North. Had some awesome food which I’ve missed everyday since I moved away. More importantly, my lovely baby nephew was born. A healthy, little blue-eyed prince with chubby cheeks and blonde  hair ….. awwwww. I learned that the BF and I would be visiting Spain for a few days for a little summer getaway (and graduation gift, yeepee!).
  6. JuneGot back on my PMDD medicine, blogged a bit more frequently and got some good bits of data, not enough to put into a new paper, but enough to show that this part of the project is far too time-consuming and needs a shit-load of tweaking … which I won’t do. Also, started new project, yeepee!! I think it was during this month that I joined twitter to try to connect with other science peeps. These connections would prove a great source of support later on.
  7. July – turned 29 and went to Spain. I still owe you the entry. I hope to post it before the year’s end with some pics and all. It was AWESOME! Oh, and we were there for the final, so we got to party on the streets the Spanish way. Priceless.
  8. August – Started recovering from the post-vacation funk and talked about how United Airlines is THE suckiest airline ever! Wrote about the overproduction of PhDs. Also, this marked the beginning of my second year as a postdoc.
  9. September – Went to the 35th Toronto International Film Festival. IT WAS AWESOME!!!!!!!!111111eleven11111!!!!!  Did a bit of shopping, a bit of dining and had a great time in this lovely city (the big TO is like NY, but cleaner and without the insane amount of people). Started to seriously question if I really want to stay in academia, and whether I could overcome my frustrations with how things are going in the lab, research-wise and mentoring-wise. Also, completed my series on “Nightmares while traveling with United Airlines.”
  10. OctoberStarted to seriously look at other jobs, both within our geographical area and close to where we hope to be after hon’s defense. Learned that the BF may need to push things back because of some unscheduled changes to his thesis. Joined the gym, which I promptly left 3 weeks down the road.
  11. NovemberWrote about a student in my department, and his going MIA without his PhD and the measures taken by his PI to try to get him back on track. Wrote about whether faculty should put all their materials in a class/databank to make things easier for their undergrads. Hon and I bought tickets to go home. Figured out what happened with one of my constructs and why it was being anal … huzzah! But, that cannot take away the feeling of scientific inadequacy. Made a new friend in the department who offers a hand and a shoulder to use if I need to cry or talk about current lab frustrations. Said friend gives me some good career advice.
  12. December – Not even done with lab work but every day I need to do manual lab work I see it as a punishment for sucking at doing the bench. I HATE bench work, HATE it with passion. But, 3 days before Xmas I’ll be home hugging my little nephew. I can imagine his delicious baby smell and I can see myself playing with him on the floor, buying 10000 ridiculously lovely things for him and taking as many pictures as I can, savouring every moment. Next time I see him he’ll be 1, and he won’t remember me, of course. This is one of the main reasons I want a new job, one where I’m closer to my family and things are more flexible so I can see him more often and I don’t miss the rest of his childhood. The sacrifices we do for science. Also, blogged about another student and his quest to finish the PhD …. maybe.




  1. Amy Nieto says:

    Rather eventful year!!

  2. I started to read and thought, “wow, I should do a recap of the year.” Then, “alright, January. What happened in January? Hmmm, I remember going to Europe this summer. Guess I don’t remember the other 11 months. Oh well, it was a good idea.”


    • Dr. 29 says:

      Thanks for visiting Amoeba Mike! I had a bit of a hard time remembering how my year went, except for when I was vacationing. I try this as a way to remember how my year has been, since I forget about everything, all of it. Thanks for visiting. Have a wonderful 2011 🙂

  3. Nice wrap up, enjoy your holiday and hanging out with your nephew.

    • Dr. 29 says:

      Thanks for visiting GRM! I’m spending every second I can with that chubby little angel. My heart will break when I leave :-(. Have a good rest of 2011 and a wonderful 2011 :-). Long live Ask Genomic Repair Mom!!!

  4. Anthea says:

    wow…what a busy year you’ve had. Enjoy your nephew…and think about the good bits of your year especially when I think that your point about the overproduction of PhDs is totally true. Happy New Year for 2011!

  5. Praveen says:

    Nice posts. If you ask me I d think you are disgruntled and cynical. At least you enjoy life which is good. I love my research having just changed fields. It is plainly obvious that a cynics life is poor though.

    Very evocative blog in some ways.

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