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A Very Merry Unbirthday!

December 31, 2012 Leave a comment

No room! No room! Another arbitrary year has passed. And it’s that time again when people make their new year’s resolutions. This year, again, I resolve to make no resolutions. And look! I’ve failed already.

Today, like tomorrow and yesterday, can also be labeled a special day. Every, single, day can be hallmarked. Better celebrate! Consciousness awareness day is coming up on January 2nd! Come on.

It’s sad that we need a new year to make resolutions. Why can’t it be enough that we’re fat, and resolve to exercise? Because we lie. We lie to ourselves thinking that tomorrow, we’ll change. Yeah, that laundry pile can wait while I’m urgently watching my Walking Dead download creep along 150kb/s.

Every day is an unbirthday. If you’re going to make resolutions for one day of the year, you’re lying to yourself thinking that because it’s January again, you can change. Rather than make one seemingly impossible resolution, make small resolutions every week, and make them doable.

Don’t pray when it rains if you don’t pray when the sun shines. Actually, don’t pray at all. Do it. Celebrate your unbirthday.

That’s not tea they’re drinking. You must have a cup of tea!

Why a PhD?

December 4, 2012 4 comments

phd081508sMy students frequently ask me “do you have to do research over the break?” No. I WANT to do research over the break.

There’s a fundamental problem with students in the sciences. They don’t care about anything but grades and “getting a good job.” They don’t get exposed to research and simply have no idea what it means. It’s upsetting. Each of them seems to think they will simply go to medical school and become a doctor. Health care is sensationalized by the media, while the real life savers are in the background doing research. Doing real science.

There was a discussion on the ASM page of LinkedIn that I stumbled upon. The thread was about “the future of the Ph.D.” That’s when I saw this mind blower: “While it’s true there are some jobs that require the degree, there are a lot more that will consider you overqualified if you get it. If you want a secure career look elsewhere.”

WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT? This is incredibly aggravating. You get a Ph.D because you absolutely love science. Not for fame, or money (there is none in science), not for some “secure career.” You do it because you can’t live without the thrill of the discovery. You have to love the chase, to be enthralled with the unknown. You have to know that with each thing you find out, there are a million more intricacies behind it.

It’s hard to believe that most people are heading into their adult lives seeking degrees for some sort of pay increase or stability. Look at what science has given us. We take it all for granted.

Food for thought: The US military receives roughly $680 billion per year. The NIH only receives $30 billion annually. How is this sustainable?

“The reason you do it, is because you can’t do without it.”