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Tall Chai Latte

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About Tall Chai Latte

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  • Gender Not Telling
  • Location it snows here in winter
  • Application Season Already Attending
  • Program Life sciences

Tall Chai Latte's Activity

  1. Tall Chai Latte added a post in a topic Confronting a PI about a rotation grade   

    Your second rotation sounds just like one of my rotations. I also rotated with a PI who had really high expectations, who had really high expectations (e. g. experiments need to work no more than two tries, need to be super energetic) for rotation students. I wasn't meeting her standards of being 'interested' in her lab, and she gave me the lowest grade (and ratings in all five categories on the evaluations) for the rotations. The rotation was short and I worked seven days a week, and still got a horrible review and 'it's up to you whether you want to complete this rotation. I don't think my perspective will change". This had huge impact on my later rotation searches; I guess people didn't wanna deal with a potential problem child!

    Rotation periods are tough because you are politically not protected by anyone. If your second rotation eval doesn't affect your prospect on finding a permanent lab home, I'd say just let it go and move on. You might run into them some day, you might have to collaborate with them on your projects or borrow equipments/reagents etc. Just be courteous on this, smile and move on. Sometimes people just don't work well together, may it be personality or work ethics. Just like me and my ex-rotation advisor, she's a big extrovert and I'm an introvert. I guess she had a hard time reading me and interpreted things the wrong way.
  2. Tall Chai Latte added a post in a topic What aspect of graduate student life surprised you the most?   

    Yep, SNPCracklePop summed it up nicely. I had quite a bit of trouble finding an advisor with funds for me. As a result, I had to compromise with an advisor (my current advisor) who wants to do something she has no expertise over, and yet where my skills could apply. It turned out that the projects were very challenging -- thus making my PhD harder than it needs to be. Although we have made progress, but my overall CV is less impressive than if easier projects were given to me or more support from within or outside of lab. It could be a difficult consequence to swallow.
  3. Tall Chai Latte added a post in a topic What aspect of graduate student life surprised you the most?   

    The decisions you made early on have big impact on your career later.
    How lonely grad school can get, both emotionally and scientifically.
    Constantly being judged, and often taking blames for things you have no control over.
    Most professors have no interest in teaching and training students.
    No one will go to the bat for you unless there's benefit in doing so.
  4. Tall Chai Latte added a post in a topic Undergrad to Grad Transition   

    It wasn't easy for me. As someone who went to college in-state, being far away from home was the biggest challenge. I also lived in dorms (until my school kicked all upper classmen out) and went home once a week. It took me about a year to feel fully settled in to the new city, developing new hobbies... This is key! Also, learn how to cook

    I went with rooming with somebody during my first year. That way, you could learn things about the city quick. The only real furniture I bought was my desk from ikea, and bought the rest from the local ikea.
  5. Tall Chai Latte added a comment on a blog entry Poster awards   

    Thanks everyone for commenting. guttate, I agree with you--being able to present well sure is a necessary skill to get a job in or outside of academia. The poster presentation competition was based on student voting; the format itself is not entirely fair as students (especially the younger students) tend to vote their friends, regardless of scientific significance. I'm not really saying that my work is the most important in the whole department, but I'm not totally convinced the best posters were fairly selected (similar to best student talk selected on the same day).
  6. Tall Chai Latte added a post in a topic Living alone or with roommate   

    It's a personal choice. For me, the benefit of living alone outweighs rooming with someone. I also have two cats, with family visiting from time to time, thus having a place of my own is a much better option. It is more expensive, but my stipend is not that big anyway to make a difference in the amount of money I could save each month. 
  7. Tall Chai Latte added a post in a topic Getting by on the hard days   

    Before I got too busy/lazy, I used to go run in the gym when the going got tough and looking forward to my next road race. Sometimes I play video games on my iPad, read self-help books/leisure books, or just sit and do nothing like juilletmecredi. Other times I just keep on keeping on when there's no way to remove the external stress stimuli (like the stress won't go away unless I get the experiment working).
  8. Tall Chai Latte added a post in a topic Do Ph.D. programs get better/easier once you finish classes?   

    My own PhD experience so far says research + classes is easier than research only. What's difficult with year 3 and beyond is that your time becomes less structured and starts to blur together, but if you are still taking classes, there are some deadlines to keep track of. I was pretty lost for a while after passing candidacy- it was like "congratulations! you are now a PhD candidate! go for the degree!" without really a physical road map or guide. It is so easy to put on more workload than you could take and burn out. 
  9. Tall Chai Latte added a post in a topic contacting profs   

    I did contact a few people when I applied, but not to my current institution. I think it's good to ask if your POI has a space for grad student, but other than that, I doubt they have much to do with the admission process. 
  10. Tall Chai Latte added a post in a topic Ann Arbor, MI   

    Love your doge taco! 
    This is my fifth year in Ann Arbor. If anyone has any questions feel free to ask. 
  11. Tall Chai Latte added a blog entry in Tall Chai Latte's blog   

    Poster awards
    After waking up early to attend our annual departmental symposium yesterday, I was left feeling exhausted at the end of day.

    The symposium is entirely run by graduate students in the department, starting from deciding who to invite as speakers, down to the location of the symposium dinner. Overall, it's a great thing to participate.

    But one thing that really bothers me every year is the award session. Each year, the department gives out awards in best poster presentation and oral presentation to students. Although the awardees are either decided by faculty or student in an anonymous voting process, the students receiving these awards are often the students from Big Wig labs. Or the most popular student. Or the talk with the prettiest PowerPoint slides. The science we do is sooo diverse, that is now difficult to fully understand the significance of everyone's work. Everyone works hard, every lab does good science. But you can't give everyone an award- so what do you do?

    This is a common theme in life science academia nowadays. I know my PI is trying to be encouraging and supportive on this issue. After all, my success is a reflection on her, and me working hard is in her best interest. But her own CV totally reflects the above situation- multiple Glamour magazine publications, trainee of multiple Big Wigs, etc. It's kind of, well, ironic. It's hard to accept her encouragement when you know she wouldn't be able to land on a faculty position without her credentials above as the icing on the cake.

    Life is unfair. I work hard and I have no regrets. That's what I need to know at the end of day.
  12. Tall Chai Latte added a post in a topic Advisor asks me to do his referee job   

    I've reviewed unpublished manuscripts for my PI before because she had too much on her plate. It's common around here, and nice training to see how to read critically of other people's work. As long as you follow ethics (keeping confidential information confidential, etc), it's actually fine. 
  13. Tall Chai Latte added a post in a topic Passion lost.   

    I'm at the same stage as you in my program, also battling fading interest. I heard/read about various alternative careers over the years, and those opportunities sound much more attractive than the gloomy academia career. I thought about quitting many times throughout the years; I even attempted to leave my program but our program director convinced me to stick around. 
    But true reason I'm still here is that there are plenty of resources at my institution for people who want to step away from the ivory tower: workshops, seminars, and career development groups. I would have no access to them once I cease being a student at this school. Maybe your institution is the same way? You could look into on-campus student groups or other opportunities to network or gain some volunteering experience related to the alternative career you interest in. 
  14. Tall Chai Latte added a post in a topic Mentors   

    My mentor is the professor I worked for during undergrad. He was patient and never stingy about sharing his knowledge. This is the reason why I decided to pursue a PhD and potentially research as a lifelong career; the experience has been positive, and I took away a lot of valuable skills with me. Although I do largely different things now as a PhD student, I still use some of the old knowledge! I still stop by his office and say hi if I'm home for the holiday.  
  15. Tall Chai Latte added a post in a topic PI personality - need help.   

    Your concern is legitimate. I agree with much of the consensus here that personality between you and your advisor should fit to a certain extend. While that is an important factor to consider, you also should look at how well the advisor's expertise fit your projects. I would try to find a good middle ground between personality and expertise. Some advisors are very ambitious and adventurous; they want to try all kinds of new ideas or break into a new field, but could not find the right person to work on those new projects. Pay attention to what kind of projects they are proposing to you, and whether that's something the PI's good at, or there's a more experienced person for help and advice. If you can get no help at all from your own lab, run away and look for another option.
    This is how my current lab is like. My advisor wants to do everything in her lab-- from structural biology to animal models- while her own training is in traditional molecular biology. I joined because the lab has been well funded (I was looking for a lab to stay in the midst of funding crisis a couple years back) and the proposed projects really appealed to me. It wasn't long before I realized that I could not get any help from my advisor and the lab, nor the help she promised to hook me up with. But I already over-committed to the lab, leaving would cause significant delay to my graduation. I switched projects 3-4 times and caused much unnecessary stress and frustration.   
    I once read an article on the Chronicle of Higher Education on mentoring. The article concludes with the advice that "never choose an advisor who needs you more than you need him". The existing power imbalance could lead to exploitation, or something that feels like it.