Keeping up with the Literature

“Young scientists sometimes tend to neglect the literature. They look at a number of related papers when they start working on their project, but then they fail to keep looking for more papers as their research—and the work of other researchers—progresses.” “Remember that we walk on the shoulders of giants.” “At the early stages of your research career, it’s especially important that you take the time each day to get up to speed with the literature. I would recommend trying the different tools available and experimenting with your reading routine until you find what works for you.”

I pulled this intro from this recent article published by Science. Check out tips and tools from scientists by reading the article!

Knowing nothing: keeping an open mind

During your undergraduate experience, you probably had a fairly good idea of what you “needed to know” for your coursework. In contrast, you’ve probably heard that the biggest lesson of graduate school is that you know nothing. That is not entirely true, but you certainly realize in grad school just how big the world of science is and that your goal is not to learn everything but to become increasingly specialized in your knowledge and to think through information. How do you adapt to these newer, bigger goals?
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Why study that, Ray Blind?

I’m excited by our second installment of our “Why study that?” series! Today, you’ll hear from Dr. Ray Blind, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Biochemistry, and Pharmacology. His lab uses structural biology to understand nuclear lipid signaling and phospholipid-controlled gene expression. You’ll enjoy his story that showcases the importance of outside perspectives on your journey.
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Learning rotation dynamics: how to really understand a lab

If you are in a PhD program with rotations, your goal is to (fairly quickly) experience, participate in, and evaluate a lab culture. The goal is to find a compatible lab that will be your major training environment for the next 5 years: a very tall order, especially since you might not have had a job at the same place for that long before. You’re likely doing 3-4 rotations in less than a year, which means you are changing labs right when you begin to get comfortable. How can you efficiently evaluate a lab to be sure you pick the best fit in the end?
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Balancing coursework and lab work: the breadth and the depth

You’ve done the class thing and you’ve done the lab thing before you came to graduate school. You may have even tackled both of these together! However, your first year of graduate school is a totally new world, and all of the new responsibilities might shake your confidence. Between classes and the lab, you are bombarded with a flurry of learning objectives, styles, and expectations and you are on your own to learn it. How do you manage all of this successfully?
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Seeking comfort in the discomfort: How to approach your first year

Today I will be starting a blog post series on the challenges and rewards of starting a new PhD program. I hope to write every couple of weeks, so keep an eye out for the links below to become active!

As a primer, Science just published and advice column with thoughts from upper-level graduate students. It is a great start to these important topics!

Why study that, Jim Patton?

What is better than hearing why a scientist is studying what she or he is studying? To me, this personal aspect of science is my favorite. Because our faculty are indeed people, I am adding a new feature to my blog where I ask a faculty member each month: “Why?”. I ask them to describe their work in the context of their interests. We’ll start with our IGP director, Jim Patton. What does he find most interesting about his work?
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