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Need some advice


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#1 scgradstudent

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Posted 04 July 2011 - 07:20 AM

Hello,

so recently I've had some trouble in my career as a graduate student. Short story, I was in a research lab where the PI was chair of the department and was never really around. My research stalled and never really went anywhere. I've worked on various projects of my own design, but all failed because of either technical reasons, impossible to do, or the environment changed in my sampling area and my questions became irrelevant. My advisor came by my desk at the end of the last spring semester and said that he didn't want me in his lab anymore. He never lifted a finger to help me. Recently I have discovered that I'm still considered a graduate student at the University, but that I have until December to find another professor to take me in and do research with. The dilemma that I'm having now is rather do I want to go back or start somewhere new? Either way I have to start over again with the research. Also, another issue is my interest in research. My old lab was in the area of microbial ecology and I fell in love with that area. However, there are not many other labs in this area at my university and plus it is a tight group of researchers. I'm afraid that no one would from that group would take me in. Also, I'm afraid if I do go into another research area, can I develop an interest in that area? Any advice given would be greatly appreciated. Thank you

#2 Adrian K

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Posted 04 July 2011 - 05:38 PM

Hello,

so recently I've had some trouble in my career as a graduate student. Short story, I was in a research lab where the PI was chair of the department and was never really around. My research stalled and never really went anywhere. I've worked on various projects of my own design, but all failed because of either technical reasons, impossible to do, or the environment changed in my sampling area and my questions became irrelevant. My advisor came by my desk at the end of the last spring semester and said that he didn't want me in his lab anymore. He never lifted a finger to help me. Recently I have discovered that I'm still considered a graduate student at the University, but that I have until December to find another professor to take me in and do research with. The dilemma that I'm having now is rather do I want to go back or start somewhere new? Either way I have to start over again with the research. Also, another issue is my interest in research. My old lab was in the area of microbial ecology and I fell in love with that area. However, there are not many other labs in this area at my university and plus it is a tight group of researchers. I'm afraid that no one would from that group would take me in. Also, I'm afraid if I do go into another research area, can I develop an interest in that area? Any advice given would be greatly appreciated. Thank you


Just do whatever you like, and like whatever you do.

I had switch my field from a group doing bioremediation & bioconversion research (my undergraduate degree) to currently clinical microbiology (my MSc). Currently, I feel that synthetic biology is interesting, so as structural biology... I not sure whether if there is any group would like to take me in the future ^_^

Learning is fun, as long as you got the money. I not sure whether you will like a new area of research, but after you read about what the group did in the past, and where the group is heading, you will probably know whether you want to join them.

Also, a big research group usually is a good group. Just make sure the graduates there can graduate on time/not stuck there for very long without graduation.
Expecting the world to treat you fairly because you are a good person is like expecting the lion not to attack you because you are a vegetarian.

..."best of our knowledge, as far as we know this had never been reported before, though I can't possible read all the published journals on earth, but by perform thorough search in google, the keywords did not match any documents"...

"what doesn't kill you, makes you stronger"---Goddess Casandra reminds me to be strong

"It's all just DNA. Do it."---phage434

#3 Ameya P

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Posted 04 July 2011 - 10:35 PM

SC,

Although, what Adrian said is true, the last line is biased due to his personal experiences. Forgive him for that, usually his advice is sound, unbiased and very helpful, like the remainder of his post.

It is unfortunate what the advisor did to you. However, you must not lose hope. The good thing is you have time until December to find another group. My advice, unless its very diffciult, would be to stay at the same Uni. I dont know how many labs work in areas of your interest, but it will atleast save you the trouble of moving to a new city and settling yourself again.

Also, this time make sure that you speak to the PI much more in detail, as to how your training will be handled. Who would you be reporting to, whom to approach when you are looking at a potential dead end, how much would the PI be involved in your project, before you decide to join the lab. Speak to four- five labs before you make a decision.

Regarding the labs, like Adrian said, if you read about them and speak to them, about what they are aiming for, you will definitely develop interest. Also, meet the PI and let him/ her decide whether to take you in or not. Please do not make this decision yourself. So gear up and find yourself a new PI!!!!

:)

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#4 Adrian K

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Posted 05 July 2011 - 11:36 AM

Ameya,

You are correct that I join a small group, and I have seen people from big group was unable to graduate for years. That where my comments came from.

Here, I really have to defend and disagree with you. My claim was supported by 'Father of molecular medicine,' Vernon Ingram, from MIT. Just in case you want citation and proof, here is it:

http://www.dnatube.c...f-Graham-Walker

See the transcript:
"And that's something that you should remember. When you're choosing a lab to work in, always go to a lab that's overcrowded. Never go to a lab where there's lots of space because a really successful lab attracts so many coworkers, visitors that it rapidly gets overcrowded."
Expecting the world to treat you fairly because you are a good person is like expecting the lion not to attack you because you are a vegetarian.

..."best of our knowledge, as far as we know this had never been reported before, though I can't possible read all the published journals on earth, but by perform thorough search in google, the keywords did not match any documents"...

"what doesn't kill you, makes you stronger"---Goddess Casandra reminds me to be strong

"It's all just DNA. Do it."---phage434

#5 Ameya P

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Posted 05 July 2011 - 11:23 PM

Although, I see your and Mr. Ingram's point Adrian, an over crowded lab can also mean that the PI/ post doc has little time for you and you get to learn very little from them. On the other hand, a smaller uncrowded lab means that the PI has time to sit with you, tell you what the project is all about, show you the bigger picture and help you with troubleshooting, when required. Of course, here the PI has to be technically sound as well. But being a smaller group has lots of advantages, when on a learning curve. Probably a post doc, you need a big name.

Personally, I would prefer a smaller lab with a sound PI. A totally crazy PI and an over crowded lab is the worst thing that could happen to me!

NEW!!!!  The Beauty in Symmetry on CoffeeTableScience!!!!

Image copyright: Adrian Koh SF.
Replication of this art is strictly prohibited without express permission of the artist


#6 Adrian K

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Posted 06 July 2011 - 08:05 AM

Although, I see your and Mr. Ingram's point Adrian, an over crowded lab can also mean that the PI/ post doc has little time for you and you get to learn very little from them. On the other hand, a smaller uncrowded lab means that the PI has time to sit with you, tell you what the project is all about, show you the bigger picture and help you with troubleshooting, when required. Of course, here the PI has to be technically sound as well. But being a smaller group has lots of advantages, when on a learning curve. Probably a post doc, you need a big name.

Personally, I would prefer a smaller lab with a sound PI. A totally crazy PI and an over crowded lab is the worst thing that could happen to me!



Totally agree :D
Expecting the world to treat you fairly because you are a good person is like expecting the lion not to attack you because you are a vegetarian.

..."best of our knowledge, as far as we know this had never been reported before, though I can't possible read all the published journals on earth, but by perform thorough search in google, the keywords did not match any documents"...

"what doesn't kill you, makes you stronger"---Goddess Casandra reminds me to be strong

"It's all just DNA. Do it."---phage434




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