27 and a PhD

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Sci resolutions for the new year

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.


January 2012
« Dec   Feb »

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Last week I made a list with personal and professional resolutions for 2012. While most of them are good, and possibly achievable, I thought it would be good to set some goals for 2012 on the work/science front. There aren’t that many, as I prefer to be conservative, but I think there’s a decent chance of crossing off a few of these puppies by the year’s end. Here’s (a very short) list of my science resolutions for 2012. Let’s see how I do over the next 366 days 🙂 .

  • Attend a field/sub-field meeting by the end of the summer.
  • Renew my membership to said society.
  • Attend a couple of local meetings to get myself known (and avalable) to the community here in The City.
  • Attend a few training sessions/workshops on equipment or software used in the lab.
  • Appear in a publication, somewhere in the author list. Since I’m staff, and I don’t really have a project of my own yet, I probably won’t be a 1st author any time soon. Still appearing in a publication will help gain some recognition in the field and keep my publication juices flowing.
  • Learn to use, with confidence, all major pieces of equipment in the lab. In last 6 months I’ve learned how to use 2 machines that no one else knows how to use (and they seem to work!), along with other pieces of equipment. I’ve even taught a couple of people how to successfully operate them. Hopefully by December, or sooner, (knock on wood that I’ll still be employed!) I’ll master the other beasts in the lab, or at least know enough to teach people how to collect data without having me hold their hand.
  • Get a good evaluation and a decent raise. I’m convinced I should be earning a wee bit more (2-3K more would be wonderful, per year, not monthly (I wish!)) based on the amount of hours, training and independence I’ve gained, while in an understaffed lab. Let’s hope I can walk confidently into the boss’s office this spring/summer and convince him that I’m a) worth keeping, and b) worth the extra money.

Stay tuned to see how many of these I can cross off by 12-31-12.


  1. joshuca says:

    This is a great idea! I am going to make my list on my blog later! Thanks for the idea!

  2. T says:

    Hi Dr. 27! I’m currently in my last year of high school, and I’ve been thinking about getting a PhD in psychology. Either that, or law school. I’ve read some of your posts and it seems like grad school isn’t a great idea for the “hard” sciences. What about for the social sciences? Would I be making a mistake if I decide to go to grad school in a few years?

    • Dr. 27 says:

      Hi T! First of all, thank you for commenting. I’m so glad you’re starting early to wonder what to do next and combine that with what you like. Second, I know a lot of my posts sound really down and bad, and the truth is that I wish I’d asked the questions you’re asking now when I was your age. I’m happy with where I am now, but it has taken a looong time to get here.

      My BF is in the social sciences and for him (he’s a few months away from defending) it makes sense. Like me, he started a grad program right after undergrad, and due to the turns that life takes, he ended up leaving his program after the first year, took some time to think about things and re-enroll, this time in a master’s program. After completing that he definitely wanted to pursue a PhD in the new area where he’d begun specializing and he definitely wants to continue on the academic side of things.

      My advice to you is to start making contacts early, ask questions, do informal and informational interviews, do undergrad research, present, and most of all, seek guidance from your school counselor, profs, friends or family who’ve followed a similar path. To me the most importants things are to ask, and to do research early on and take any chance you can to challenge your views, expand your knowledge and gain a bit of insight into your (possible) future area of study. Classes alone won’t give you that, you have to experience it and live it and breath it. My BF and I did undergrad research, I in a lab, him as a research assistant for a prof. We both went to conferences, presented work, etc. Our paths have similarities and some differences, and what he wants to do is a bit more different than what I want, but we went ahead and took chances and explored and did many more things to see whether we liked doing research or not.

      Ultimately, knowing whether it is/was the right decision will come with time and experience, but if you can get a leg up on whether you like doing research, reading, digesting and writing papers, and all the things that come with a graduate degree, then take those chances and see if you like it. More importantly, explore whether you want to teach, open your own practice or do research, a combination of all, or none of that, that is the key question. If the path you see ahead will be made better by having a PhD, then go ahead, if not, maybe a master’s will be enough. Or maybe you’ll find something else, which may or may not require an advanced degree.

      Good luck and thank you so very much for your question. It is so awesome to get my very first question from someone in high school!!

  3. […] the blog, though I try to write something every week, a promise I made as part of my resolutions for this year. One of the things that pains me the most is that I’ve been missing the wonderful and […]

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