Wednesday, 14 June 2017 11:42

The Art of Acing the Qualifying Exam

exam with attribution PlanningMost graduate programs have some form of a qualifying exam (QE) or preliminary exam. Generally it consists of writing a proposal and defending it in front of a committee of faculty members. Many students dread it for months, but it’s an opportunity to learn through reading literature and asking for feedback from your peers. Learn how to pass the exam and fully enjoy the experience.

Published in Career Planning

coffee tablet headphones work CLPFor beginning research scientists, honing your writing skills is essential. Randy Olson’s book, Houston, We Have a Narrative discusses a way of storytelling called “and, but, therefore” (ABT) for writing scientific papers. ABT storytelling in writing follows this format - “Such topic exists AND we know this, BUT we don’t know this other thing, THEREFORE we did these experiments.”

Published in Career Planning

HandshakeModern science is built on collaborations and it is no doubt that successful collaborations enrich the scientific process. If you look at recent scientific breakthroughs, such as the creation of the HPV vaccine, identification of the virus causing SARS, or detection of gravitational waves, almost all of them are the results of international collaborations. We discuss how to set up successful scientific collaborations, which includes assessing collaborator’s personality style and setting up ground rules of the collaboration. Finally, we discuss the two most important factors of collaboration – communication and trust.

Published in Career Planning

PCR Career LPAnyone can encounter roadblocks with their experiments. What do you do next? We asked two trainees, Dr. Alan Goggins, a postdoctoral fellow, and Floricel Gonzalez, a Ph.D. student what they do. They check all their reagents, go to colleagues for help, and revisit the big picture of their projects.

Published in Career Planning
Wednesday, 29 March 2017 11:19

Surviving Your First Year of Graduate School

Advice guidance sign career planning sizeGraduate school is no walk in the park, and the first year can be especially hard because of the challenges that come with being in a new environment, learning what is expected of you, and the rigors of balancing lab work and classes. Many students end up feeling helpless, overwhelmed, and lost. We asked current graduate students about their first-year experiences and what advice they have for surviving the first year of graduate school.

Published in Career Planning

Lab DatingYour first year of graduate school will probably consist of taking classes and doing lab rotations, a trial period to assess a lab and its people, while they assess you, to determine if it’s a good match. Rotations are like dating for a long-term relationship but with research and mentors. How many rotations do you do? How do you pick rotation labs? And, how long do you stay?

Published in Career Planning
Wednesday, 25 January 2017 15:09

The Importance of Finding the Right Mentor

photo 0170252013rxzxnr 1Hear a personal story about mentorship from Dr. Alan Goggins, a new Microbiology and Immunology graduate. After a tough start with mentoring, he switched labs during graduate school and discovered a few factors to consider when finding the right mentor. 

Published in Career Planning
Wednesday, 18 January 2017 10:15

5 Reasons Why Having Multiple Mentors Helps You

rsz board-784349 1280 1Who do you go to with questions on your career? Or when your PCR isn’t working? How about when you have a conflict with a coworker? Although it may be easier to approach your dissertation mentor or an appointed advisor to get clarity on these questions, why not consider going to an expert or another mentor? Learn about the benefits of having multiple mentors. 

Published in Career Planning
Wednesday, 04 January 2017 16:50

How to Pick a Post-Doc Position

Test Tubes Final2One of the challenges for any PhD candidate is to decide if they want to pursue a post-doctoral position after graduation.  This challenge can become more daunting when decisions need to be made about where (and under who) this post-doc should be conducted as well as the post-doctoral research topic.  However, it’s important to know that you are not alone in making these types of decisions. Microbe Mentor reached out to three relatively new post-docs, regarding their post-doc decisions.  Despite different backgrounds, they collectively agreed that it was critical to first determine what was important to them. The factors and their importance played out differently for each of the three interviewed post-docs. 

Published in Career Planning

Diploma ImageThe decision to attend graduate school has huge implications on any young microbiologist. It can determine lifelong colleagues and friends, impact future research directions, and build business opportunities. It is no wonder, then, that the ultimate goal of any applicant is to find a university, program, and ultimately an advisor, that will satisfy the student’s current and future needs. Once the applicant has identified where he or she would like to spend the next few years of their lives, either as a Master’s student or a Ph.D. candidate, the next challenge is to convince this university/program/advisor to accept the responsibility of taking on this new student. Similar to that of a job, this application process can be very competitive. Knowing this, you might think, "What can I do to make my graduate school applications stand out?” In other words, what can I do to better prepare myself for applying to graduate school? ASM reached out to three distinguished faculty members for their advice on this topic. Here’s what they had to say:

Published in Career Planning
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