My Postdoc Story: Research and Application Scientist, Anonymous
By Anonymous on October 1st, 2012
While nearly all of us face challenges during our postdoctoral years, we often feel alone in our struggles. In this series, we hope to share encouraging and uplifting stories of how other scientists were able to turn their situation around and move forward, despite a non-ideal situation. Like snowflakes, fingerprints, and nightmares, every postdoctoral experience is unique, so today we share the Postdoc Story of another successful scientist.
I. The Story
In grad school I was a virologist. As a postdoc I studied virology. Now, I’m a research and applications scientist. After completing my degree, I was motivated to do a postdoc because it was the next logical choice, and I wanted a chance in an academic lab that was different than the one that I did my PhD in. In selecting my postdoctoral lab, I based my decision on the virus it worked on, working with someone very different from my phd advisor, and the likelihood of having funding for more than 1 year.
Going into the postdoc I wanted to find out if I enjoyed research in a different setting, wanted to further my technical prowess, and learn new techniques. On the road to pursuing my goals, I didn’t expect to be at odds with the research assistant that was auxilliarly working on the same thing.
II. The Situation
During my post doc, I worked for Dr. A, but in Dr. B’s lab. There was also Dr. C who was a research professor in Dr. A’s lab, who would flat out say that whatever I was doing couldn’t be done, and then when I did it, would say that she already did that x number of years ago. I liked both Dr. A and Dr. B, but with Dr. C, I would never be able to be first author on a paper, or have my research acknowledged.
III. The Emotions
After dealing with this situation for ~2 years, I decided that I needed to move on. I realized that I didn’t want to be in academia anymore, and that I’d much rather have a more traditional job. I was frustrated and annoyed. Dr. B knew that Dr. C was a problem, and that it has previously been documented with a former employee. Dr. B could do nothing about it. Dr. A was told about it, but was oblivious to the situation (or just ignoring it) as many heads of large labs are.
IV. The Solution
Dr. B knew that I wasn’t happy. He knew that I was looking for jobs. I tried to be as upfront with him as possible, and at one point told him that I felt like I was cheating on him when I went on interviews. Eventually I ended up with my dream job.
V. The Lesson
There is no reason to stick it out in a lab where you are always going to be beat down and have nothing to show for it. I had a pretty good situation in my post-post doc journey (I still talk to Dr. B on a regular basis), I guess that I wish I would have taken a week off between jobs, and gotten all of the free academically provided software I could before I left. :)
Want to hear another story?
- My Postdoc Story: Junior Faculty Member
- My Postdoc Story: Start-up Company Scientist
- My Postdoc Story: Staff Scientist
Do you have a Postdoc Story you’d like to share? Email us to let us know.