Lessons learned this week
0 comment Sunday, June 1, 2014 |
I have spent the last two days sitting in a Sub-field Symposium hosted by Really Big Research Institute. I really should be preparing my presentation for my committee meeting on Monday, but since Hated Data Set continues to be a debacle I figured that hearing about some other people's research success would do me some good. Also because GrAdvisor is the organizer and expects us to be there. I have been coming in early and leaving late to eak in some experiments that can run while my butt spends 9-5 in the seminar seats.Here is what I have learned:I have a very short attention span. 3 x 25 minute talks/session is A LOT more than I can process, even if all three talks are on topics that I find intensely interesting and in which I have more than enough background to understand what's going on. [Note to self: Ask Dr. at my next pretend-to-manage-migraines appointment if Ritalin or Adderall have any off-label indications for migraines...you know, seeing as my actual migraine medication is totally falling down on the job.]There are several other sub-sub-fields in which I would consider doing a post-doc. I was aware of these fields even as an undergrad, but I had completely forgotten about them...I think that I have been wearing dissertation blinders for too long.One of the three transgenic mice we could use for Shiny New Technique probably won't work for my purposes (I already know that the other two will, just not as well as I had initially hoped). This little tidbit via a coffee break conversation with one of the speakers who also works on these tg mice, also some tricks for getting the troublesome genotyping to work - super nice guy!Catering at Really Big Research Institute is generally pretty good...but the fish is not to be trusted! [I've been regretting that choice all afternoon.]Professor Grand Poobah from Fancy-Pants Research Institute is a total dick!To illustrate #5 --Yesterday the first talk in one of the sessions was really interesting and ground-breaking and was composed of several incredibly elegant experiments that got at all the beautiful little nuances of this master process in sub-field. It was one of those talks that just makes you want to break out in song by the end. So good! Even more impressive was that the speaker was very young, fresh out of a post-doc, just started the lab a few years ago and is already knocking out this totally hot science. And a woman...not that that should make it surprising, just that I noticed.Supplemental Movie 1: Re-enactment of my reaction to this awesome talk...I really did almost spontaneously break into song at the end!At the end of her talk, some greybeard in the back asked a really good question:Greybeard: Have you considered that sub-population A of the field you are testing actually arises from a separate source, and that this may affect the implementation of Really Elegant Experiment and thus the effects of sub-population A on the master program of this system?Speaker: Thank you for bringing that up! Yes, we have considered the effects of multiple sources...I didn't have time to get into the data in this talk but we have ruled out that possibility, and I should also remind you that our experimental design included a global manipulation of the system so that it affects all sub-populations at their sources. As such, our conclusions remain that this effect is totally nuanced and novel and cool.Greybeard: No, I think that you have not considered sub-population A's source because your results are clearly impossible![Me: {WTF!?!?! Who the hell is that guy!?!?!}]Speaker: [!!!, recovers from shock, proceeds in a calm and collected manner] Well, let me see if I can explain this more clearly...[returns to experimental design slide]. As you can see, with our experimental design, we are implementing a global change in the system which includes all the sub-populations at each of their local sources. This could affect sub-population A in the following way, which would cause this perturbation. As you can see from the results, this is not the case, which means that sub-population A continues to behave appropriately in the context of the system. Thus, we conclude that the effect we are seeing is the result of nuanced, novel and cool master regulation of the system at large, rather than a specific effect that would exclude sub-population A.Greybeard: No, no, no. Your results are just not possible. We can talk after the session so that I can explain to you why you are wrong.Speaker: [Tight-lipped "smile"] Sure, I'd be happy to discuss my findings with you at the break.[Me: I know enough about this to follow and she had me convinced...perhaps Greybeard knows something more about this field to consider some other factor, but she has clearly addressed this...wait a minute!! Did he really just call her a liar!?!? I mean, if you take issue with the interpretation of the results, by all means, question and discuss! But to tell someone that their results are impossible!?! What, like she made them up? Is that what you're saying? That you think she got up here and gave a talk based on fraudulent results? Would you have said that to a fellow Greybeard? I kind of doubt it...I have no idea who you are buddy, but congratulations, you just convinced me that are possibly the biggest asshat on the planet.]Session Chair: Thank you, Speaker, for that very interesting and exciting talk...our next speaker is Dr. Grand Poobah from Fancy-Pants Research Institute. [Greybeard steps up to the podium][Me:....figures....]I asked Fellow Student what he thought of this exchange at the break...he used to work on that specific subfield so I figured he would know about the sub-population A issue. He explained why sub-pop A could have been an issue but also that with Speaker's system, it shouldn't be. He totally didn't get that Dr. Grand Poobah was being insulting...maybe because of the language barrier. I reiterated the exchange along with which particular parts I found objectionable.Fellow Student: Oh, really? He said that!!? I missed that...hmmmm...well, you know he is very famous in this field.Me: [Grrrrr.] Yes, I gathered.Fellow Student: [pause] But really?!?! He said that!?!? Did he really say her results were impossible? Famous is no reason to be so rude.Thank you. 'Nuff said.