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St Andrews Lynx

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St Andrews Lynx last won the day on August 10 2016

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About St Andrews Lynx

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    http://www.standrewslynx.wordpress.com

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    Female
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    The Eastern Seaboard, USA
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    Travelling. Running. Reading. Writing. Dancing. Double espressos. Science. Thinking.
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    Chemistry PhD

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  1. I think pre-emptively calling off a relationship before they even start grad school is too extreme (and does sound like "an excuse to leave him"!). I've seen people break up shortly after starting their Chem PhD...but not at a higher rate than after starting other major life events (e.g. breaking up after you start college/your first professional jobs). If you want to stay with this guy...stay with him. Maybe you'll break up with him partway through grad school...but maybe you won't (and wouldn't that be better than breaking up with now?). Maybe you'll break up with him after he gets his PhD. Who knows unless you try to make it work?
  2. I've never seen arbitration of busted friendships go well. Despite the best intentions of the person who is trying to engineer the reconciliation in other people - they usually get sucked into the conflict. I'd use the natural break to go out and find other friends. You don't need to form a new group of BFFs, just folk from your research group/department/campus who you get along well with and do some social stuff together (lunches, coffee etc). It'll make you feel less dependent on this group of individuals. When you all get back on campus start off with low-key social events (lunch on campus rather than a party in someone's apartment). In case something goes wrong it is easier for people to leave, and you won't be stuck for too long in an awkward situation.
  3. As you're a chemist you may have already seen this, but I figure it's useful for other scientists out there too: the compilation of "I Quit Grad School In Chemistry" stories from the Chemjobber blog (http://chemjobber.blogspot.com/search/label/i quit grad school in chemistry). Just to assure you that you're not alone. Surviving another year in this lab may mean (i) accepting your Masters thesis is going to be imperfect, but that there are more important things (such as taking care of your health) (ii) putting your mental energy into researching possible careers and applying for jobs (iii) devoting small chunks of time to "nice things" even though you could be in the lab running reactions.
  4. I have sympathy. Sounds like a stereotypical "Assistant Professor in Science". A lot of PIs struggle to learn emotional intelligence when they're on the tenure track if they don't already have an instinct for it; and unless you hit some kind of research jackpot within the next few months the pressure to generate results for papers/grants is only going to continue. Try not to take the PI's behavior personally (it's about their stress, not you as a bad scientist). As @rising_star says - getting clarity on what you need for a Masters thesis should be your main goal. Accepting that you can't please your PI 100% may also make your life easier. Is it possible to transfer into another research group in your Dept? Y'know, one where the PI is less...intense? Of course it depends on what your career goals are (you don't need a PhD for everything), but a more established PI might be better for you.
  5. Start reading the book. During the semester simply read for 10-30 min each night in bed before you go to sleep. You'll get it finished.
  6. There's usually underlying reasons why people become "extremist" or "radicalised" like this. What starts out as loneliness or dealing the aftermath of a traumatic life experience mutates into a fixating hatred of...something. So I don't think your husband necessarily "just decided" to be this way, and he may well have gotten more extreme in his views over time. It's not your fault. So it might be possible to address and treat the underlying issues in your husband, and find that the racism dissipates as a side-effect. But (i) your husband has to want to be helped (ii) it could take a lot of time & money. I also agree with everything Fuzzy's post.
  7. Maybe an informal practice oral exam would help? Get some of your lab mates/friendly postdocs to ask you softball bio questions in the style of the oral exam. Maybe your advisor would be willing to play, too? It's clear that the oral exams are existing as a Big Thing in your mind, so breaking it down into a culmination of smaller & easier tasks might take the edge off it. Plus it allows you to gently get used to the oral exam set-up and what it feels like to be confronted by questions you weren't expecting.
  8. You can't force "hotness"! Think about what the goals of the seminar is. Who is the target audience (presumably non-experts in the field, but how much would they already know)? It might be better to err on the side of less material rather than rushing through a lot of different talking points.
  9. Though to clarify - the area around College Ave campus is almost 100% fine during the day time; but I'd advise against walking around by yourself after 11pm. However, I figure this is true of most urban areas (especially with a large student population). The Piscataway/Highland Park areas are safe. That's where most of the grad students live in any case.
  10. There are some labs where PI will place new grad students on a project that guarantees a quick publication (something that has already been partially-developed by a previous student, etc). Other times you'll work with a senior student in the beginning. This is something to clarify before you join the lab. You'll also need to see what is typical in your new lab - do most people get a publication before the end of their 2nd year, or do most people graduate before they can publish anything? You might have to tone down your goals (or find a new program) if your expectations don't match up to what ~80% current of grads in your program/lab actually achieve. The most obvious suggestion if you're stuck with a senior student...work hard and don't complain. Show you can do what is asked of you in a polite, timely manner. Make an effort to deploy your best experimental technique and show that you can work up to "publication standard" (in synthetic chemistry this would mean being able to isolate good yields of clean products and getting pretty NMRs for the paper's SI). Be engaged, mature and show you can handle responsibility.
  11. Who told you this? There are very few people who apply to Chem PhD programs with a "perfect" application. There's always a weakness (e.g. poor GPA) or something "non-traditional". The fact you got a paper out of your current lab is great (I'd argue that most undergrads applying to Chemistry PhD programs don't have any papers) and your currently advisor will clearly be putting in a strong letter about all the great work you've done in such a short time. In an ideal world yes, perhaps ad comms would prefer to see a couple of years research experience in one lab...but your CV clearly shows that changing labs isn't a problem with you. Going through different labs has helped you develop different research skills, and now you're better able to screen for toxic labs (trust me, you need this skill going in to grad school). If there was one crusty old white guy on one ad comm somewhere complaining about your CV...screw 'em.
  12. Although I don't think it should be too difficult to get accepted in to a grad program with that kind of background I think it can be quite hard to go to organic synthesis from computational. A lot of people who apply to do organic synthesis at grad school (and who will be your peers) have several years of research experience already from undergrad. Learning synthetic techniques takes time (it took several years for me to become consistently good at running column chromatography, for example), and some people are never going to be good at it! I've seen a few cases of people trying to move in to organic synthesis from other fields - they've been quite frustrated and sometimes have fallen behind their lab mates when it comes to research progress. The sooner you can try out organic synthesis the better (is there any way you can try an organic project at your current university?). Make sure there are several POIs you could see yourself working for at the school you choose, ideally with a mix of synthesis/computational research.
  13. Yeah, some undergrads can be over-entitled and I would be annoyed in your position. In fairness, I do sometimes invoke the authority of the prof is charge when students get really argumentative with me over scores I'm not going to change - "If you still have a problem after I've told you all this, you can go talk to Prof X." - since I know the professor will have my back and their word carries a bit more weight. It does tend to shut them up (most don't bother going above my head after I've invited them to).
  14. At this point, your PI isn't going to change. If you decide to stick with him you'll be in for much the same communication style and interactions. Perhaps they're uncomfortable saying hard truths ("you aren't working hard enough/you don't know enough"), or perhaps they only have this vague sense that something isn't right and it isn't based on anything concrete. Is he used to dealing with non-traditional students? That might unfortunately be part of his problem (his problem, not yours!). My translation of what your PI wants is for you to be more proactive. Not just saying "X doesn't work" and stopping there, but giving your own suggestions about what to do next in your meetings. Not just asking for advice, but offering 1-2 suggestions of your own and seeing which one he likes the most. He doesn't want you to mindlessly churn out data, but to work smart and explore the literature in depth. These excessively non-confrontational, indirect people are fairly common in academia. I can't give you much advice about whether you should stick it out or change labs other than what I've said above (he's not going to change). It's unlikely that you can get the perfect combination of great PI + exciting project + ideal management/communication style, so you need to think carefully about what's really the most important thing for you.
  15. In line with @knp - my advice would be to proactively go and join any conversations that this student is having 1-on-1 with the faculty, perhaps bringing 1 or 2 other female PhDs along at the same time as wing(wo)men. (i) 'cause I suspect you won't be able to get the male student to act considerately of his own accord (ii) I don't think you can complain about a buddy relationship unless there's an ethical issue (e.g. unfair grading, allocation of resources). The most benign reason is that the individuals involved don't realise they're causing issues for others or propagating an exclusionary culture. Networking is all about proactivity - whilst some great advisors will help introduce their students to fellow academics...most would never think to. I suspect that's what the dude in question is doing. Unfortunately you've got to play the same game.