Trading Pipette for Pen, Assay for Essay

In 1993, Jamie Zhang was in a career funk not uncommon among biologists with Ph.D.s. Three years out of graduate school, she was in her second postdoctoral job, studying the molecular biology of cancer at Rutgers University. But she wasn't satisfied in the lab--and hadn't been for a long time. "Everybody's unhappy as a graduate student," she observes. "Then in my first postdoc, I just felt like I was spinning my wheels." She blamed the feeling on her doubts about her project and on the differen

Douglas Steinberg
May 23, 1999

In 1993, Jamie Zhang was in a career funk not uncommon among biologists with Ph.D.s. Three years out of graduate school, she was in her second postdoctoral job, studying the molecular biology of cancer at Rutgers University. But she wasn't satisfied in the lab--and hadn't been for a long time. "Everybody's unhappy as a graduate student," she observes. "Then in my first postdoc, I just felt like I was spinning my wheels." She blamed the feeling on her doubts about her project and on the different approaches of her and her boss.

It was only in her second postdoc, Zhang recalls, that "it finally dawned on me that I just, plain and simple, didn't like research. Then I started to think, what do I like? And it was writing. I was one of those oddballs that actually didn't mind writing her thesis." After answering several ads for medical writers, Zhang...

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