You're a What?

File photo Ah, the holidays. A time for gathering, feasting, celebrating, and some pretty complicated explaining. With all those family gatherings and holiday parties comes the dreaded question no postdoc really knows how to answer: "So, what do you do?" Usually something similar to the following dialogue ensues: "I'm a postdoctoral fellow in neuroscience at Emory University." "Emory? So you're some kind of doctor?" "Yes, I have a PhD." "So you're one of those fake doctors?" "Well, I don'

Heather Patisaul
Dec 14, 2003
File photo

Ah, the holidays. A time for gathering, feasting, celebrating, and some pretty complicated explaining. With all those family gatherings and holiday parties comes the dreaded question no postdoc really knows how to answer: "So, what do you do?" Usually something similar to the following dialogue ensues:

"I'm a postdoctoral fellow in neuroscience at Emory University."

"Emory? So you're some kind of doctor?"

"Yes, I have a PhD."

"So you're one of those fake doctors?"

"Well, I don't see patients, I do research."

"Ok, what kind of research do you do?"

"I study how different environmental contaminants affect the brain."

"In people?"

"I use rats and monkeys to make predictions about what happens in people."

"Monkeys? Monkeys are funny."

Long pause ... "Yes, monkeys are funny. I work with very funny monkeys."

I then have to tolerate being introduced to everyone else at the party as "the monkey lady."...