Uppers and Downers
0 comment Friday, May 16, 2014 |
I just had a really productive meeting with my Favorite Committee Member. I went through the progress and hang-ups of my "safe project" that I was hoping to finish up this month and push out a manuscript in January. Also my Shiny New Project, that you may recall was worrying me because it feels like we've been trying to come up with a question that will fit Shiny New Technique, rather than a technique that will help us answer the question (you know, like scientists do). FCM offered some really good suggestions on a low-tech approach to answer the interesting question that we can use while still developing Shiny New Technique, and also that we should consider Shiny New Technique to be the icing on the cake rather than the meat of my second paper which will make the whole thing a lot easier to work into something publishable. She even offered me the use of her equipment to do it and we scheduled a day for her to show me how it works herself. Hooray for that!We also discussed some labs for me to look at for post-doc positions. I wrote a self-destructing post some time ago about my desire to do a post-doc with FCM...when I emailed to inquire about this possibility she sent me a really nice response:"While I think that you would be a good fit for the lab, it would financially irresponsible of me to offer you a position right now as we've been having trouble with grant renewals and I'm not sure I'll be able to continue to fund the people I have already."I really respect FCM and appreciate her willingness to give me this info up front rather than dragging it out into a "let's wait and see" situation.So today as we were discussing some options for me, she also said that I should consider applying to labs run by young faculty rather than established researchers (a category that FCM falls into) because she thinks that I would really benefit from working with a mentor who actually gets involved with my project, even at the bench. She's absolutely right. I would love to have a mentor that is invested in my project and shows some interest in what I'm doing. In my current situation, GrAdvisor is interested in Shiny New Data from Shiny New Technique...because it's Shiny. We don't have a project built around it just yet, but it looks really cool and sparkly when he gives talks. Which is great as long as Shiny New Data keeps coming in. But when I really need him to care, like when I'm stuck and nothing's working, he couldn't give a rodent's posterior about my project and so I am left feeling like I am the only one who actually cares about the question we are trying to answer with this project. This has made me an independently motivated and self-sufficient scientist (by necessity) which is a good thing I guess. Still, it's really disheartening to feel that it matters to no one but me after all the mental and physical and emotional energy I've invested in this project.So yeah, I think that FCM's right about what sort of mentor I should be looking for at the next step. I'm pretty independent and I like that GrAdvisor isn't usually breathing down my neck, but it would be a really nice change of pace to have a mentor that is enthusiastic about the science that I'm doing rather than just the data that I'm producing. It would be nice to have interactions and *gasp* actual discussions in the lab about what I'm doing. It would be nice to be treated like a colleague rather than a wayward child when troubleshooting an experiment. It would be nice to have someone as invested in the process as they are in the outcome. All of these things sound great, and I'm so glad that FCM brought this up. I really appreciate the fact that she has given some thought to who I am and the most probable circumstances for my scientific success and happiness.All the same, there is this part of me that interprets this as an easy let-down to take the place of "you're not good enough for my lab."And it stings.Rationally, I know that this is not what she's saying. But there is this part of me that is still a kid in grade school and I want everyone to love me for how smart I am. I don't want to hear that I might be more or less successful due to this or that variable. I want everyone to believe that I am excellent at everything no matter what. I don't want to hear that I'm "not quite right" for this lab or that person. I want everyone to want me because I'm super-intelligent and good-at-science and awesome. I know that this isn't very realistic. I have my own needs and wants and a personality so of course there are going to be some labs and PIs that are a better fit than others. But it hurts a little when the person you really want to work with doesn't want you quite as much.

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