27 and a PhD

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Female, scientist and homeless

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.


June 2011
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Can’t give too many details but, there is a possibility of work in the States. In a couple of days I leave Canada. I’m packing away my life of 2 years in Canada and 6 years in grad school city to move to the unknown. I have to downsize drastically, and sadly I have to move alone, as hon will stay in Canada to finish his studies. I can/will leave my things in Canada and it’s possible I get reimbursed once I’ve completed the move, but first I have to spend money.

I got a call from one of the places I had visited earlier this year. The place was very welcoming and nice. I liked that almost everyone is/was a staff scientist and that I wouldn’t have too many people to share my working quarters with.  I don’t hate people, I don’t mean it like that. But, rather than sharing office and lab space with 15 people, it’s possible I get my own (looooong bench space), and maybe a bit of office space (but the offices and lab quarters are way apart, so people mostly stay at the bench). It’s a science place, but it’s neither industry nor academic.

I’m going back to what I know, but applied to something completely different. I may get a “fancy” title with the word ‘scientist’ in it (it’s true peeps, I’ll get to introduce myself from now on as some sort of fancy scientist). In paper I should be getting more moolah, but in practice I’ll be taxed on 3 levels (city, state and fed), which will invariably have me seeing a lot less money than I would have wanted (I did negotiate, but there’s no way to compensate for taxes, and no, I’m not complaining about taxes, it’s my civic duty and I’m happy to do it).

I’m thinking of renaming the blog ‘female scientist and homeless’ because I barely have money to move to uber-cool-city-with-great-science-and-too-small-apartments and I may not see more money for a long time. Possible new place of work will provide a roof over my head for a couple of days (read, a couple). I have a couple of (very, VERY) distant family members, and a grade-school “friend” who live there, but (sadly) can’t play hosts for me while I get my feet off the ground (in an ideal world I’d be happy to crash on somebody’s couch for 1-2 months while I get started, but reality is a bitch, and I don’t have any money, for realz). And because uber-cool-city-with-great-science-and-too-small-apartments is cool, landlords need to see a lot of moolah in all sorts of deposits and this and that prior to letting me in one of their (possibly not so fancy) apartments. I won’t have a car, furniture or even pots and pans to survive the first days (or months, at this stage, who knows who long it’s going to be). I’m taking a sleeping bag, and hoping I can pick up enough loose change on the streets of uber-cool-city to buy a pump and sleep somewhere (I’ll investigate whether there are showers at (possible) new job).

So, to summarize, I (may) have a job (I haven’t exactly signed anything, so to me, it’s not real at all, and based on the last 6 months they could back out at the very last-minute) which requires me to move back to the States, to a state I’ve never lived in, to a complete unknown, which is hard for me to swallow since I’m a type-A, planner-to-the-max kinda person. Yeah, I want to pull my hair to say the least these days.

We’ll see how that goes. Oh, and I’ll also turn 30 alone and (possibly) homeless. I am strongly considering renaming the blog female scientist and homeless.


  1. katiesci says:

    I’m so excited but nervous for you! Any tweeps in new city with a couch you could crash on?

    • Dr. 27 says:

      There are a couple of lovely tweeps who live in the city. I just don’t have the courage to ask for that … I’m thinking of taking out a small loan at my (hopefully, future) place of work to (hopefully) secure an apartment in new job city. We’ll see. Thank you so much for your good thoughts and encouragement!!!

  2. Carolina (@braziliancakes) says:

    As a suggestion for furnishing with very little money, I would see whether people moving out are selling their things. Sometimes people are giving a lot of kitchen supplies away for free. And, if the really big city with small apts is nyc, send me an email, I’ll keep my eyes open for freebies of things you may need to completely re-build a new apt.
    Also, I know a lot of postdocs who start out with no money, and got a loan from their new PI just to get the downpayments out of the way. When their received paychecks, they could then reimburse the PI. Just a thought, not sure if it would be possible in your case.

    • Dr. 27 says:

      Super!!! Thanks for the advice. Where we live, our neighbours put things in this empty parking space and people come and go, as do things. We’ve rescued 4 chairs (2 of them matching), a table, a recliner, and a couple of other random things. I’ve heard it’s not unheard of in new job city to rescue things. But I’d feel silly if it was something big. I’m taking my small dresser, a table and a nightstand and boxes with books, clothes and other things, but my new space will be bare for some time. I’ll definitely check out postings and boards to see who’s selling what.

  3. scientistmother says:

    wow that sounds both exciting and terrifying. I really it works out for you.

  4. Chen Guttman says:

    Congrats! I hope this will be the starting point of a very promising career! Just keep your relationship, it’s the most important you’ll have for sure!

    • Dr. 27 says:

      Thanks for visiting Chen! I’m keeping my fingers (and most importantly, communication) open between hon and I so we can keep and nourish our relationship now that we’re going back to being in a long distance relationship. Thanks for visiting!

  5. Heather says:

    If you’re up for crashing on a couch but don’t want to impose on folks you have vague connections with, try http://www.couchsurfing.org/ It is literally a website of folks who lend out their couches to the visiting, the apartment hunting, and the no-real-money-to-pay-rent-yet. If the city you’re going to is big enough, you should have a ton of options. Best of luck!

  6. […] epic job search of 2011 was … well, epic. It stemmed from feeling like I wasn't getting anything accomplished during my […]

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