TIP TROVE | When Postdocs Change Their Minds
Courtesy of Gordon Keller
If you're not excited about what you're doing, you're just not going to do it well. Mentors should encourage independent thinking. If postdocs want to change the direction of their projects, or explore new avenues, I certainly encourage it. However, if you find that you've chosen an area of research that doesn't interest you, I would advise you to think carefully about your choices ... and if you are absolutely certain you want to make a change, you should find another lab. I have found that most of the people who decide to leave the lab want to leave academic science altogether. Once done, however, a chain of events set into action makes it difficult to return. Still, I tell people they have to do what they're interested in--what makes them happy.
--Gordon Keller, faculty adviser postdoctoral, and professor, Center for Gene Therapy and Molecular Medicine, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, NY
TRAINING @ | Keys To Computing
WHAT: Microarray bioinformatics
WHERE: University of Oxford
WHY: Microarrays have provided the ability to generate unprecedented volumes of highly complex data
ADVANTAGES: Knowledge of bioinformatics is helpful to handle and understand the data and critical for the successful use of microarrayss.
WHEN: November 24-28, 2003
DEADLINE: October 26, 2003
COST: £1500, £900 for full-time members of academic institutions
CONTACT: +44 (0) 1865 286 939
MOONLIGHTING | Researchers Find Key to Long Life: Doing Research
Scientists take heart! Your choice of career may be linked to good health and a long life, a new study published in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine suggests.1 The researchers examined mortality records of 8,367 male students enrolled at Glasgow University from 1948 to 1968. Of those, 939 had died by the year 2000. It was found that those who had studied science subjects, including engineering and medicine, had substantially lower risk of mortality, whereas art or law students were the most likely to die young.
Health records collected at the university show that the subjects started out on a level playing field. The average student's body mass indices and blood pressure did not vary with the course of study, and their socioeconomic backgrounds also were similar, given that back then only the affluent could afford a university education.
So why did destiny deal scientists longer lives? Was it their rational outlook, long hours in the lab, or "Eureka!" moments? "Not surprisingly, lifestyle is important," explains Peter McCarron of Queen's University in Belfast and lead author of the paper. "Science students were the least likely to smoke. They didn't imbibe too much, maybe just drinking enough to enjoy the health benefits of alcohol," says McCarron. But, job security and a good income seem to have the strongest protective effect, the study concludes. Those Glasgow science grads had much better job prospects than did their peers in other fields.
So, study what you like, McCarron says, because future job markets are unpredictable. If you smoke, quit; and drink in moderation (those nights in the lab instead of the bars may help); and if you aren't born yet, avoid the Y chromosome. The authors reported on males only, because they didn't have enough data on their female conterparts.