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  1. Like
    Butterfly_effect got a reaction from katcz324 in Lab Rotation Expectations   
    I'm in a neuroscience program so my advice is probably most applicable to those in the life sciences:
    In general, no, you should not be expected to hit the ground running. It's pretty hard to just teach yourself new techniques and typically the lab may assign a post-doc or graduate student to be your point person. If not, I might recommend asking your PI who in the lab would be good to go to with questions about the particular techniques you'll work on in your rotation project. Typically the rotation project is something you A) might choose from a list of options your PI presents or B) you may work with someone else on their project or C) work with the PI to come up with something entirely new. 
    In my program, we rotate as we do classes, so we typically spend about half the day in lab and half on classes. I knew I felt pressure (self-induced) to always be working and hanging around in lab like I saw some grad students/post-docs doing. I have to say that I would strongly disagree today. Yes, you should definitely spend a good amount of time (in my program at least 4 weeks) before moving on to another lab rotation. I would say at least 6-8 weeks if you enjoy the lab and are considering it as a place to do your dissertation research. But don't overcommit yourself. Remember that you have homework and they don't! Also, if everyone is at lab all the time, consider whether this is sustainable for you long-term. Graduate studies are a marathon, not a sprint.
    I slightly disagree with this sentiment. Yes, one of the best things you can do as a rotation student is to show enthusiasm, but if 'doing it tonight' means overextending yourself, it's not worth it. Always remember that as important as it is to make a good impression and show enthusiasm about the lab, it's even more important for you to assess the lab on it's fit with you and your interests. You're not expected to get data or results (if you do, great!) and if a PI does expect that, I would strongly encourage you to avoid picking that lab. Unrealistic expectations during the rotation will not let up once you've joined. Get a feel for the lab culture. Are people friendly and helpful? Do they do interesting research? How do you interact with the PI? Could you see yourself here for 4-6 years? It's a long commitment and not one to be taken lightly. 
    I would also recommend when setting up rotations to talk not only to PIs and people currently in the lab, but also reach out to people that rotated but DIDN'T join. In my program, our admin keeps a record of this so it's easy to find these students and ask them about their experiences. In most cases, no labs are purely good or bad and it's more about the fit of your personality with the lab. Talking to someone who didn't join is great because they can and will be more candid about their experience and may provide useful information about potential downsides of the lab that you can then think about an evaluate. For example, if someone didn't join because the lab didn't feel close-knit enough, you can think about whether that matters to you or whether you'd actually prefer to think of your labmates more like work colleagues. 
    Bottom line: Enjoy yourself, do fun science, and think of rotations almost like dating before marriage. Try a few options out before you settle down and remember that rotations are a two-way street. 
  2. Upvote
    Butterfly_effect got a reaction from 0002684179 in Quitting School and Getting a Job to Reapply to Schools Next Year   
    In response to Pink Fuzzy Bunny, I don't think most courses will transfer. At least in neuroscience, it's very rare for a grad school to accept coursework done at another institution. Maybe if you got a master's but even then it might not transfer. 
    I'm also a bit confused about why you're leaving. The only real complaint I can glean from your statement is that your lab doesn't focus exactly on what you want to do and isn't quite as translational as you want. I'd just like to say that your lab doesn't have to do exactly what you want in order for you to study it (you mention that you could work on B even if most of the lab does A). As long as your PI is supportive of this, I see no reason why this is a detriment. Most grad students end up expanding the scope of the lab's research in some way (otherwise everyone would be doing the exact same thing). I also don't know what you want to do after grad school, but it probably won't be what you do for your dissertation. I wouldn't worry if the project doesn't fit the most narrow definition of your research interest. Personally, I think mentorship and fit in the lab is way more important than the actual research. Most people are more flexible than they realize in terms of what they're 'passionate' about, and indeed this often changes over time as you're exposed to different kinds of research. I guess I'm suggesting you ask yourself what your overall fit is with the program and what your chances are of finding a better fit somewhere else are? You've only been in the program a few months. Are you really sure what you want is to leave?
  3. Upvote
    Butterfly_effect got a reaction from babybird in Is the stipend enough?   
    A note about this: be careful about IRAs. I was told by a financial advisor that grad students aren't actually allowed to contribute to Roth IRAs (or any IRA) unless you get W2s. I've looked it up as well and it seems true in the tax code. It's weird and dumb, but at my school we don't get any forms about taxes whatsoever (and no withholding) and thus our stipend isn't considered "earned compensation." So we have to pay estimated taxes AND we can't contribute to IRAs. Super annoying
  4. Upvote
    Butterfly_effect got a reaction from Queen of Kale in How to respond to an email calling me out?   
    If I got an email like this from one of my students, I would probably not respond (I'm not sure how that would really improve things), but I would definitely think about what the student is trying to communicate. I think the request to not surf the web in class is legit, no matter if the tone of the email isn't as polite as possible. I don't think the student wrote you that email just to troll you. You can deal with the tone by not responding, but seriously, do think about whether other students could feel this way as well. As a grad student TA, you are supposed to be a role model for students. If students can look over your shoulder and see you not attending to class-related material, that says to them that you're 'checked out' and don't care. It doesn't matter that it was grant-related or work-related. It's not a part of your job in that space; it's an active detriment to it. 
    IMO, they are probably using a fake account because they're afraid of retaliation, which doesn't delegitimize their message. There are a lot of TAs that might judge the student or treat them differently after offering this kind of feedback. 
    So I guess I'm saying you should not talk to this student, or try to find them (they clearly don't want to be found), but do think about why they sent the message, and maybe talk to other TAs? Do they also sit in the front of the class and surf the web? What does the professor think about non-class-related laptop use?
  5. Upvote
    Butterfly_effect got a reaction from DBear in How much money did you spend on your graduate school applications?   
    Applied to 7 schools, went on 6 interviews, spent just over $500 (two schools I deliberately chose because they had waivers available for low-income students). I bought an $8 set of vocabulary word flash cards for the GRE and only took the test once. The rest of the prep I used I found online at the GRE and other websites (there are free practice tests available). 
    I would suggest looking into whether schools offer waivers (google <school name> graduate school waivers) and if you know where you're applying, I think you can specify a few schools to send scores to when you take the GRE and its factored into the cost of the initial test (?). Of course additional score reports cost more. 
  6. Upvote
    Butterfly_effect reacted to ssfgrad in Potential Laboratory Sabotage   
    Thanks for all of the help everyone.  This thread was really the only place I could talk about this for a while.  I did resign, and I do not have another lab lined up.  I am a non-traditional student, with a family and a house.  It will take me a couple of years to logistically prepare for a move to another university.  I can now say, I 100% made the right choice.  It has been so incredibly difficult to walk away from something that I hold so close to me, especially through no fault of my own. I cannot lie, I am battling what I can only describe as PTSD. Its bad, but it doesn't hold a candle to how I felt in that lab.  I reported my situation to the department head and the graduate school, with all of the details and all of the names. I would love to see Sarah be found out, but mostly I wanted to make sure a record was created to prevent anyone from going through this again.  
    Just to give everyone an update on how my resignation went:
    -I pled my case to my PI, for what felt like the 100th time.  It was long winded. Basically, I told her that I believed that Sarah was very dangerous and that I could not be associated with things I viewed as unethical. 
    -The PI told me that she may be biased due to Sarah's productivity, but she didn't think that I had all of my information correct. She explained to me why everyone who thought that Sarah was a saboteur was wrong. The master's student who graduated before I got there "was crazy". John's stuff "just never worked". Veronica was "just at a point in her research" where she thought that. For my research it was explained by, "sometimes stuff just doesn't work and then it does". She said that she was sorry to see me go, but didn't see any other option. She asked that I email my committee and tell them I was resigning.
    -I emailed my committee. Most people responded with very nice, but shocked emails. I know that I come across as a capable, passionate, level headed scientist, so I'm sure they were very shocked. One committee member, who Veronica and the previous MS student were close with emailed me back. She asked why I was resigning. I knew that Veronica and the other student had spoken to this professor about Sarah, but had not mentioned sabotage. I explained to the professor that I didn't know how much I could divulge, but I resigned because I felt that another graduate student was abusive. She pressed me and so I sent her a link to this posting. She then explained to me that if a lab has secrets like this it is a total red flag. She also said that if I had talked to people in the department I would have found out that Sarah is viewed by many as "diabolical".
    -I know what you're thinking, why didn't I talk to anyone sooner? I would have been treated like (more of) a pariah by the lab if I did that. Also, I don't think working under this PI was in my best interest. She clearly was not going to be swayed away from Sarah's insanity. I would never be allowed to produce quality work there.   
    So, now....
    My friend works in Sarah's undergraduate lab. She explained to me that the senior graduate student had worked closely with Sarah. That student said that Sarah only brought drama. Sarah accused the student of stealing her ideas and would go crying to the PI and complain about the grad student.  Sound familiar?  
    I emailed Veronica and told her that I believed Sarah to be a sick individual that uses emotional outbursts to manipulate people into taking her side. I asked that she try to logically review what happened in the lab. I hope that this can protect the newest member of that lab. 
    What now?
    I have no freaking idea. I am a person who always has a plan and ten back up plans. I haven't been plan-less since high school. I'm healing now. I'm browsing research assistant positions in other labs (at different universities). I sincerely hope that the PI doesn't prevent me from moving forward in this career path. I have a lot of other amazing scientists in my corner, so letter's of rec will not be a problem at all.     
    Who knows, maybe you will see a happy update from me down the road.       
  7. Upvote
    Butterfly_effect reacted to MedievalMlle in Best (free) Plagiarism Checker   
    Use Zotero and you'll never worry about citing improperly or having to go through the difficulty of citing as you go ever again.
  8. Upvote
    Butterfly_effect got a reaction from Aminoacidalanine in need to stop comparing myself to my friend...   
    I know this is hard, but try not to compare yourself to him. It never helps to compare yourself to others, and you said yourself the other student had more experience in the lab before you joined so it totally makes sense that he had a leg up on you when you started. As you continue in your lab, this gap will close and those 3 weeks won't matter at all in the long run. 
    As far as your project, I would try talking to your advisor. Can you think of a way to modify project B to make it more interesting for you? As a grad student, you control the direction you want your research to go in. Don't  be afraid to talk about changing it up a bit. It sucks that you got kind of "scooped" in a way, but again, it's impossible to know how interesting the project results will end up being. Your project B or some other project could be more interesting in the long run. There are basically an infinite number of potential projects for you to work on. You don't have to be limited to B!
    The most important thing is to try not to stress yourself out. Try to talk to other grad students (maybe students farther along in the program?) and gain some perspective. I bet it isn't as bad or scary as you feel it is. And if it is, I bet they can provide some more specific guidance for dealing with that professor or that kind of situation. 
  9. Upvote
    Butterfly_effect reacted to TakeruK in how have you optimized your reading habits?   
    I write my papers in Latex and use Bibtex to generate bibliographies. It might be more clear if I just give an example .
    First, in my Mendeley Library, let's say I have papers from Smith et al. 2002, Jones et al. 2014, and Wong et al. 2011. One thing I need to do is to assign a "ID" to each of these papers. I use the format "Smith2002", "Jones2014" and "Wong2011" etc. (but others may use different conventions). I do this as soon as I import every paper into my library.
    Second, I start writing my paper. At the beginning, I tell Latex which BibTeX "style" to use. This includes both things like how the citation is formatted in-text, how the end bibliography looks and whether I want things to be listed in the the order I cite them or in alphabetical order etc.
    Third, I write my paper. I might write sentences like "Apple pies are shown to be more effective with ice cream than cherry pies \cite{Wong2011}. However, more people prefer cherry pies with ice cream than apple pies with cheddar \cite{Jones2014}. Although this discussion on pie is interesting, \citet{Smith2002} showed that cakes are vastly superior to pies, whether they are served with ice cream or cheddar." In the actual text, the \cite{} commands are replaced with citations in whatever style I defined above.
    Finally, at the end, there is a command to generate the bibliography and it is generated in the same style I indicated above. If I chose a numerical ordering, adding references will update all the numbers too. I can also change the style back in step 2 and it will automatically change all of the in-text and end-of-text styles!
    So, I think both methods are functionally equivalent
  10. Upvote
    Butterfly_effect reacted to adventurek in how have you optimized your reading habits?   
    EndNote also does automatic bibliography generation with a large variety of styles.
  11. Upvote
    Butterfly_effect reacted to aberrant in how have you optimized your reading habits?   
    Just wanted to point out that the word plugin for Mendeley can do what @Butterfly_effect was looking for. That being said, Mendeley can also automatically arrange/adjust the order of citation in bibliography (that is journal / citation format-dependent. You can change your format from 1 journal [e.g. Nature] to another [e.g. PNAS] in a few clicks.)
  12. Upvote
    Butterfly_effect reacted to eternallyephemeral in Venting Thread- Vent about anything.   
    I feel like there's nothing left to vent about, except the imploding of the US from the inside. A freaking KKK-supported president. Holy effing shit.
  13. Upvote
    Butterfly_effect reacted to shadowclaw in Venting Thread- Vent about anything.   
    Despite taking a low course load and being pretty efficient with my TA duties, I still feel like I'm insanely busy. I don't really feel stressed most of the time, which is an improvement over last year, but damn! 
    I'm feeling super grumpy today about my quizzes for the course I TA. The quiz was a bit long because there are only two lab quizzes this term (there are three during other terms). However, the questions really aren't difficult if you paid any attention to what was going on in lab. We give out lab points to groups if they can answer some questions throughout the lab related to what they're doing. Probably half of my quiz questions were taken from these word for word. They're printed in the lab manual and I told them to study them. I've graded about 1/3 of the quizzes, and the average is around 60%. So far every student got a question wrong that was on a homework assignment and on their lecture exam. They got the key to both, so how on earth are they still getting it wrong? I keep trying to remind myself that for most of the students, this is their first lab course and don't know what to expect. But I know some of them took the sequence out of order, so this should be old hat for them by now.
  14. Upvote
    Butterfly_effect got a reaction from sierra918 in HELP recommendation writer nonresponsive   
    So what ended up happening is I called his lab and talked with the lab manager (the assistant was not there yet) and left a message. Then I emailed later in the afternoon and the assistant was super helpful and really badgered my PI to submit the letter, which he finally did around 4. He also sent me an email to confirm (which was the first time he's directly communicated with me at all about this). 
    I don't think it would have been a good idea in my case to draft my own letter. He has written for me in the past for the same fellowship and the letter he currently has is a very positive one (based on reviews from last year) and would only need a little updating. I also personally don't like the idea of trying to influence my writers in any way. I understand there are situations where writers may need help, but I wasn't asked for input. 
  15. Upvote
    Butterfly_effect reacted to sierra918 in HELP recommendation writer nonresponsive   
    Just in case he never submitted it, this year's RFP stated that you would not be disqualified of one of your recommendations didn't make it on time. So, as long as your other two made it, you should be fine. Good luck!
  16. Upvote
    Butterfly_effect reacted to TakeruK in how have you optimized your reading habits?   
    Yes, Mendeley does everything you describe  Many paper databases in my field has a "add to mendeley" button but Mendeley also has a Bookmarklet, basically I click a button on my browser and it adds the article I'm looking at into my Mendeley Library, so it works even when the website I'm using doesn't have a Mendeley button. However, my own favourite way of adding papers is to download the PDF into a special folder I've set up. Mendeley knows when a new PDF is added to this folder and automatically adds it to my Library. Usually, the bibliographic information is correct (90% of the time). In the cases where it isn't correct (or not complete), 99% of the time, Mendeley got the DOI right. I then just press a button next to the DOI in Mendeley and it searches the web for this DOI and automatically corrects all the metadata. 
    The caveat is that I know a Word plugin exists but I have not used it myself. I use Mendeley to generate .bib files (for BibTeX) and then I generate bibliographies using BibTeX. This is because my field generally uses LaTeX instead of Word for our articles etc. Ultimately, the effect is the same---I never type out bibliographical entries by hand and I can generate bibliographies in whatever style I need.
  17. Upvote
    Butterfly_effect reacted to imacick6 in HELP recommendation writer nonresponsive   
    They have extended the submission until tomorrow at 5:00 EST.  I know mine came down to the wire too, so I do sympathize. 
    One work around would be to draft your own letter (or at least provide a very detailed outline) and insist on meeting/ Skyping them tomorrow to go over it and clarify what needs to be done by 5:00 EST that day.  Hold their feet to the fire and force them to make a decision (either support you or not).  If that fails, try to get a current Post-Doc to write something (anything) so you don't get disqualified on the reference letter requirements.  Good luck!
  18. Upvote
    Butterfly_effect got a reaction from Penemonie in CV Question   
    I would probably put it the way you have it the first time. I think it's more important than where the school was and I wouldn't expect to read it after the address. But I also think it's a matter of personal taste. 
  19. Upvote
    Butterfly_effect got a reaction from scientific in What were your reasons for getting a Masters before PhD?   
    I went straight to PhD but that was mostly because I got into where I wanted to go first try. If you think your GPA will prevent you from getting into the program of your choice, maybe a master's is fine. I'm in a top program for my field (neuro) and no one in my program that I know did a master's first, though many teched for a while. I would say in general, Master's are not required at all for US PhDs. What are your dream schools/programs by the way?
  20. Upvote
    Butterfly_effect reacted to Edotdl in Skills for neuroscience PhD interested in industry   
    Yeah programming experience is useful in general, so you should definitely get some experience. However, unless your lab is very computation heavy, it's unlikely you'll be at the level of a software/machine learning engineer. 
    In general, I find the two areas in industry where a neuro PhD could be applied is AI and pharma/biotech. The former would be suited for computational labs and the latter for more experimental wet lab. 
    I'm not the familiar with the specific skills needed for the second option but I'd assume it would be along the lines of specific techniques (eg. Crispr as mentioned above.) 
  21. Upvote
    Butterfly_effect reacted to TakeruK in How much time do you spend weekly doing meaningful work in your lab? (For everyone, but computational chemistry in particular)   
    I'm not in chemistry but most of my work is also computational, with occasional data-collecting using telescopes (sometimes involving travel, but I often also control the telescope remotely). 
    I would say that in my first year, when I was taking classes, I worked about 20-30 hours per week on research and 30 hours per week on classes. There's no TAing in our first year here. After the first year/classes, I work about 40 hours per week when there's no TAing (we only TA one quarter per year). My TA work is about 10-15 hours per week, so in the quarters where I TA, I work about 30 hours per week on research.
    These numbers correspond to the majority of my work weeks, but in the first 4 years, there are probably 8-10 weeks per year where I work an extra 20 hours or so because of deadlines. This year (my 5th) is especially hard because I am applying for postdocs so I think I have been averaging 60 hours of work per week for the last 2 months now. The application season will end in about 5 weeks for me, which I am thankful for since this level of work/stress is not sustainable in the long term for me! So, my "average" number of hours worked per week is typically higher than the above.
    Also, I count everything I do towards my research progress as work, not just time in the lab/office. So, reading papers, writing research related emails, making flight bookings for work travel etc. all count.
    I think that in your case, you should talk to your advisor and ask them for more guidance if you need it. Let them know that you are interested in doing more work.
    I think 16 months in should be enough for you to start considering independent work: definitely not necessarily experienced enough to advise yourself, but usually in my field, grad students in their 2nd year start to become more independent in their use of time (i.e. find readings on their own, find training modules on their own, find out about conference/workshops on their own etc.) But this could vary by field so maybe other computational chem people here can help you. I did have some periods of time in my 2nd year especially (our quals are at the end of 1st year and committee meetings begin in year 3, so year 2 is a "slow" year) where I felt like there wasn't anything I could do to make progress. So, I filled those hours with additional reading and taught myself a new coding language (python).
    What I mean is that it's not abnormal/unexpected that you need to "be your own boss" and set your own research and educational goals and then motivate yourself to do the work for 40 hours a week (or whatever amount you think you should be working). When I did this, I still had weekly meetings with my advisor so I discussed my goals with them and they gave suggestions and guidance, but no one told me to read X paper or to learn python. It sounds like maybe more communication between you and your advisor would be helpful. So let them know how you are feeling!
  22. Upvote
    Butterfly_effect got a reaction from sierra918 in NSF GRFP 2016-2017   
    Yeah, it's definitely a crapshoot. :/ My reviews were glowing, but I probably got reviewers who overall gave high scores, so that lessened the impact of my all Es.
  23. Upvote
    Butterfly_effect got a reaction from knp in Quitting School and Getting a Job to Reapply to Schools Next Year   
    I second everything TakeruK has said. 
    For anyone unfamiliar with the terms basic vs. translational, basic research is research without obvious applications (think NSF) whereas translational research is a particular type of applied research to solve a problem in medicine, usually by testing some kind of treatment (more NIH).  
    I will maintain that the line between basic and translational is often blurred though. Even if you want to do translational research ultimately, it really doesn't matter whether what you did in grad school was translational. Sometimes basic research can even expose you to a wider range of techniques and approaches that can make you more well-rounded and give you a different (and maybe better) perspective than if all you ever did was translational research. 
    I totally understand that there may be other reasons to want to leave, including wanting to be closer to your SO. I guess I would ask you to think about whether the fit at the school you're currently at is bad/inadequate, or whether you're just thinking it could be better somewhere else. You'd be trading a certainty for an unknown if you quit. You say you love the people there. Are you happy? 
  24. Upvote
    Butterfly_effect reacted to Eigen in Getting off to a good start   
    Honestly? Because a PhD is the time to set yourself up for the rest of your career. 
    Post-doctoral work and TT positions just get busier, not easier, and the stakes are higher. Learning how to balance your work and life while you're in grad school, and the stakes aren't as high, is how you become a productive academic long term. 
    I know a PhD program is hard work and difficult, as does Fuzzy- we're both almost done with our programs. 
    You can, and should, expect to have a work-life balance in graduate school. 
  25. Upvote
    Butterfly_effect reacted to telkanuru in Quitting School and Getting a Job to Reapply to Schools Next Year   
    You're month into a new program at a new school in a new town. Slow down and take a breath.
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