27 and a PhD

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One 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.


June 2012
« May   Jul »

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One year ago I had my life turned around. I left Canada for the new and unknown world of NYC. I left everything I loved behind, my boyfriend, my kitty, everything but the clothes on my bags, my car … everything. I left it all to come to NY. I was scared beyond belief. It had been 8 years since I’d done something similar. I’d left my parents’ house to move to grad school city. I had a lot of energy and I was in desperate need of change. I wanted to be independent.

But this time things were different. Hon and I were finally in the same place, in the same school. We slept in the same room, played video games together, watched reality shows, had lunch at school.

Then I couldn’t take one more day of being a postdoc. And it was a tough decision. I’d been dreading getting out of the tenure-track, but I knew it was necessary. I wanted to see the fruits of my labour today, not 5 or 10 years down the road. I wanted to go back to my field of study in grad school. I just didn’t picture that this would take me away from the little life hon and I had built and into the unknown away from everything and everyone.

I was pretty sure I wouldn’t last under my boss’ reign. I knew he was going to be hard to satisty … I just didn’t know how much. I knew I’d be facing many of my fears, being alone, living from paycheck to paycheck, not having my best friend and companion holding my hand and giving me the reassurance I so needed to do tough things … being apart from him once again.

Life conspired to bring us together at different times last year. We shared time, love, and bites of dessert in the city that saw us come together almost 7 years ago. He liked the city, more than he expected. And I did too, I still do, despite the noise, the smells and the crazy busy subways.

I met some of the pioneers of my field. I’ve gone on workshops and mini-symposiums. I finally got my NYS driver’s licence. Thai food in the city still sucks (sorry, it does, not everything in NYC is always yummy). I learned to work on other instruments, interact with people from different fields of expertise and different levels of training. I watched as the Empire State Building changed colours to celebrate marriage equality.

I can’t say where I’m going to be in a year. Ideally, I’d be in a place where I can still work with similar instrumentation back home, though I know it’s hard to come. I’m not afraid of admin work anymore, in fact, I kinda like it. Who knows, maybe I’ll switch once again to something more managerial/admin. Lord knows higher ed places need better admin people .. it wouldn’t be too bad to have a PhD here and there that can communicate with scientists effectively and watch out for their interest, in ways that perhaps HR or bookkeepers may not relate.

I’ve also been punched and kicked to the ground by life in more ways than I can count. I try to get up, but it’s tough. Thankfully, I have great co-workers who have my back. I try to be as nice and accommodating to them as I can.

I’ve met wonderful people all over the city, friends from Twitter, readers of the blog. I’ve gone out of my comfort zone on a few occasions to try and meet other people, be social, find new friends.

It had been a tough and rewarding year. I’m happy I made the change. It was just what I needed. I feel I fit once again, like I’m in my turf, with my people, my own kind of structural biologists. And that feels great. I look forward to what’s next, yet I’m a bit apprehensive. Life had been kind in some ways. I just don’t want to be kicked and punched anymore. A break from life’s asshattery would be nice.

Thank you for reading, and thank you for your support. I couldn’t have made it this far without all y’alls help. Thank you. Here’s to the beginning of my second year at work. Cheers!


  1. GilleighD says:

    Congrats! Hope the city and your job keep getting better 🙂

  2. Anthea says:

    Congratulations! I hope that your job and life in the city improves! It sounds as if things are improving for you. This is good news since its good to hear when things improve especially when it feels as if its all going badly wrong.

  3. tobintouch says:

    Sounds like you’re on the right track, after making a very brave decision. Good luck with everything!!

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