Being a scientist isn’t just about doing experiments, so neither are we. This is where we make breakthroughs beyond the bench for scientists.

Hairy Query

FlyGirl: Hairy QueryDear FlyGirl,

Do you have any good hair grooming products to recommend? 


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The Good Luck Bench Fairy: Failed Experiments are a Thing of the Past

When asked what makes a successful scientist, researchers answered “work ethic, intelligence, and luck.” For many, the realization that a large component of their career success hinged on a factor out of their control was upsetting. We agreed and decided something had to be done to bring lady luck into the lab – specifically, to our bench.

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Looking for a Bright Idea? Go Bold With Color This Season

FlyGirl: Looking for a Bright Idea? Go Bold With Color This SeasonDear FlyGirl,

I’ve noticed the trend of bright color in magazines.  How do I wear it without feeling like a clown? 


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The Ideal Postdoc Duration: Get Out Before You Get Old

Here’s a good rule of thumb: if you can use the word “Decade” to describe your current graduate school or postdoctoral experience, it’s time to move on. In fact, our recent poll on optimizing graduate school found the ideal length to be significantly shorter than the dreaded D-word. However, grad school and postdoctoral experiences are not the same. In one situation, there are exams, committees and departments that (should) track your progress and keep you moving through the system. However, in the other situation there are far fewer administrative and departmental pressures to move on. In fact, it’s not uncommon for a postdoc to settle into a comfortable routine in which the days and weeks blend into months and years seemingly unnoticed. (Another rule of thumb: if you use the words “comfortable” and “routine” to describe your postdoc, you probably won’t be using the words “exciting new job” anytime soon.) At what point is staying in the postdoc doing more harm than good?

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You’re a Scientist. You’ve Got Ideas. Now You’ve Got a Notepad.

Having trouble keeping track of the potentially-brilliant, possibly-bonkers, ideas bouncing around in your head? Tired of those around you not appreciating the genius that lives in your head? As Bob Dylan would say, if he could still articulate, “the times, they are a changin'” for you, my friend.

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Optimizing Graduate School: How Long is Too Long?

Optimizing Graduate School: How Long is Too Long?They say a few of the defining characteristics of a “person” are the high-level thought processes of rationality, wisdom, and self-awareness. As scientists, we should be willing to turn the microscope on ourselves and our own career path to see if a rational person would deem it wise to enter a graduate school process that can take up to a decade for some folks. Are our current educational and career development pathways truly optimized for students’ benefit, or have we let other factors slowly pull our profession out of balance?

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Stuck with a Bad Project (or Just a Bad Attitude)?

Long before the Lady Gaga parody, graduate students and postdocs everywhere were painfully familiar with the term “bad project.” When we were sold the project everything sounded great- a huge impact in a hot field, and best of all it was only a couple of “straightforward” experiments away. We all know how this story ends.

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A Quick Makeover: From ‘Lab Drab’ to ‘Ab Fab’ in 10 Minutes

FlyGirl: A Quick Makeover: From 'Lab Drab' to 'Ab Fab' in 10 MinutesBy the end of the day I feel like I’m covered in “lab”. So when my friends want to go out after work I really feel like I need to go home to regroup, but home is too far away- not practical.  Is there anything I can do in the dingy bathroom at lab to refresh?

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How Long Should it Take to Get a Lab Off the Ground?

Many events in life come with defined timetables. It takes 21 years to buy alcohol, four years to avenge an Olympic loss, and 11 seconds to lose your lunch if watching a Real Housewives episode. Yet in our scientific lives the time required to complete our most important milestones are undefined and arbitrary. Is five years just right for grad school, too much for postdocs and not enough for tenure decisions? Catalyzed by numerous conversations with fellow scientists, we’ve decided to examine each phase of our career development pathway to determine whether the phases are truly optimized for our success, or whether it’s time to overhaul the system.

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BenchFly Crossword: History’s Most Famous Scientists in Two Words

Distilling a lifetime’s body of work down to two words seems slightly unfair. Contemplating our own two-word biography, we hope the words “no-talent” and “ass-clown” don’t make the short list. Ironically, for history’s most accomplished scientists – many of whom started entire fields of scientific knowledge – it seems a word or two is all that’s necessary to conjure up images of their greatness. Even if “ass-clown” was an appropriate phrase for a few of these mental giants, the words “Nobel” and “Prize” usually bump it down the list. See how many of history’s most famous chemists, biologists, physicists and mathematicians you can recall with limited information.

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