scientific research and phd's : LUSENET : like sands : One Thread

Jen, i have a couple questions about your phd and the research you do. what is the difference in the research you have been doing in the various labs you have been involved with over the last year or so and the lab you have just started? since you are now in your phd lab, will your research from now on be only your own? was what you were doing before largely assigned by the university? how does this all work! :)

upon completing your phd what is the level of difficulty in finding a position in your field, and what are the most likely destinations (ie, private companies, universities, etc)? obviously on an individual basis it will be easy for some, and difficult for others. but in general is their a shortage of people or will you be heading into an area where jobs are scarce?

oh, and what originally sparked your interest to go from having completed a degree in russian to your current studies and career in biology?

i imagine this last question is covered in the archives but so far i have only read back about 2.5 years (and still reading) and am too curious to wait :)

-- Anonymous, July 26, 2000


I'm glad you asked these questions, because I'm sure a lot of other readers have them, too.

This year, I have been "rotating" through labs doing different types of research so that I could pick one to do my thesis in. My program requires us to do at least three rotations before picking a thesis lab, but you can pick any lab in your program, and have a lot of freedom to work on whatever you're interested in. It's fairly standard for large programs to require students to rotate--the rationale is that it's hard to know what lab you want to work in if you haven't actually spent some time there. I don't know if you have any interest in knowing what projects I was specifically working on, but in a nutshell: rotation #1 was in the lab I ultimately joined. My project involved studying meal patterns in mice lacking one serotonin receptor subtype. Rotation #2 I spent looking for a ligand for a nuclear receptor involved in steroid synthesis, and rotation #3 I was cloning a gene from a line of mutant flies which had a high tolerance for ethanol.

As for the job market, it's tough, particularly if you want a University job, which is considered the most prestigious (although that is changing somewhat as investor interest in biotech companies is causing salaries there to get jacked up). Biotech jobs seem to be not so competitive, but the drawback there is that you usually don't have as much freedom in what you work on. So, basically, good jobs in the field are scarce, but I'm sure I'll be able to find some sort of job.

And as for my career change, I actually got interested in bio. before I finished my B.A. when I took a required Biology class in college. However, at that point, it was too late to change my major and still finish college in 4 years, so I just graduated with the Russian degree, moved to Boston, and worked while I took the prerequisite classes for grad. school at night.

-- Anonymous, July 26, 2000

thanks for that, most interesting!

what would be your dream job once you get your phd?

-- Anonymous, July 26, 2000

...a waitress

-- Anonymous, July 27, 2000

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