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For those who changed subject/topic from PhD to post-doc


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#1 noelmathur

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Posted 16 July 2009 - 01:38 AM

Hello all,

Currently I am working in Developmental Biology using invertebrate system. I am more than half way though my PhD and the only major article I had got scooped out. My boss isn't much interested in follow up and alls spiraling downhill. Other 2 articles won't get major impact factor either.

Meanwhile, I started thinking very seriously to work on stem cells in cardiovascular diseases or diabetes but I don't have any experience in the stem cells or the mentioned diseases. I would like to know how the transition has been for those who changed their subject/topic drastically as I am contemplating.

Any experience and words of advice there from are most welcome.

----
Somebody who just want to be a better scientist, without a good mentor.

#2 fishdoc

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Posted 16 July 2009 - 07:47 AM

Hello all,

Currently I am working in Developmental Biology using invertebrate system. I am more than half way though my PhD and the only major article I had got scooped out. My boss isn't much interested in follow up and alls spiraling downhill. Other 2 articles won't get major impact factor either.

Meanwhile, I started thinking very seriously to work on stem cells in cardiovascular diseases or diabetes but I don't have any experience in the stem cells or the mentioned diseases. I would like to know how the transition has been for those who changed their subject/topic drastically as I am contemplating.

Any experience and words of advice there from are most welcome.

----
Somebody who just want to be a better scientist, without a good mentor.



I didn't change from PhD to postdoc, but I changed pretty substantially both from undergrad to masters and then masters to PhD. To me, if you're working in the same basic type of science (proteomics, genomics, transcriptomics, etc), the science is the science. A western blot is a western blot, PCR is PCR, etc. I would think the biggest challenge will be introducing yourself to the literature of the field. Learning a whole new set of information. Maybe have to make a whole new network of friends/colleagues, depending on how the field relates to your previous one.

By the time you finish your PhD, you'll have the skills to do research. You'll have the skills to read and understand a protocol. You'll essentially have a lot of skills at your disposal, and many if not all of those skills will be applicable to another subject.

The difference will be the background information, but that will just take a couple weeks of immersing yourself in the literature, and relying on others in the lab to help you out with some things.

I will tell you that if that is what you want to do, do it. With no regrets.


My change from masters to PhD was pretty big. My master's was in aquaculture, so it was all pond-based analysis. Water quality, fish growth, ecology, etc. My PhD was disease, immunology, molecular biology, and the like. It took me a couple years to really feel comfortable even carrying on a conversation with people in the lab. It was very painful at times, and I often wondered if I made the wrong choice. But I got through it, and everything is good now. I basically had no skills that carried over from masters to PhD, in addition to have to learn a new language (molecular, immunology, pathology), and meet all new people.

Edited by fishdoc, 16 July 2009 - 07:54 AM.





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