All Work and No Play Makes Katie RSI Prone

Last night saw Tim Wakefield pitch his 200th major league baseball win. For those of you who just went “who the heck is Tim Wakefield?”, or “baseball?” or “200th ?”, don’t panic, I’m not going to ramble on about how awesome the Red Sox are, or how much I can’t stand A. Rod…oh sorry! I’m losing you…

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Your Boss is Incompetent, But Could You Do Any Better?

It has been said that in the workplace, people rise to their highest level of incompetence.  In other words,  individuals who are good at their job will likely be promoted, while average performance will be neither rewarded nor punished.  So ultimately individuals will advance until they hold a position they’re incapable of properly performing and employees will be forced to deal the consequences of the boss’ inability.  In an organization top-heavy with incompetence it should come as no surprise that employees are frustrated.  But given the opportunity, could they do any better if they were running the show?

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BenchFly Crossword: Back to Basics with Chemistry and Biology

We thought what better timing than the beginning of the new academic year to brush up on the fundamentals of chemistry and biology.  Or perhaps more appropriately – brush off the dust from those fading memories.  But let’s be honest, who wants to crack open the textbooks on a Friday afternoon?  Nobody.  So today, we’re excited to kick off a new series at BenchFly – our Interactive Crossword Puzzle!

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Pay It Forward with Good Lab Mojo Checks

Know of a labmate who’s having trouble getting experiments to work?  Or perhaps one who just doesn’t have the exciting ideas they did when they were younger?  No, this isn’t a “Low T” ad.  Turns out, you know someone who has lost their Lab Mojo.  Here’s how to give it back.

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Is Grad School or Postdoc Success More Important for My Career?

Dear Dora: Grad school and postdoc successDear Dora,

I’ve had friends who have had very successful graduate careers (big papers, etc) and then, for any number of reasons, their postdocs were not very fruitful. On the other hand, I’ve known people who had what I would consider very average graduate careers and then ended up having tremendously successful postdocs. My question is whether one of those two situations looks better to employers?

– Mark, grad student

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Laughter Really Is the Best Medicine

Suffering from heart disease? Perhaps a daily dose of Monty Python will help. Do I sound crazy? Well, I guess that’s beside the point, so don’t answer that. But really, a good giggle might be just what the doctor should order.

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Are You Prepared for the ‘Worst Case Scenario’?

A single event can forever change the trajectory of a scientific career.  Most of us hope for the successful home run experiment that opens the door to a new field and transforms us from an average scientist into a superstar.  Unfortunately, not all events are positive – just ask residents of the United States’ east coast who nervously endured the season’s first potentially lab-destroying hurricane.  Better yet, ask the labs that were forced to permanently close their doors in the wake of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

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Can We Skip the GRE Subject Test If It’s Too Expensive?

Dear Dora: The GRE subject testDear Dora,

Is it appropriate to contact a school and ask them (delicately) how much one of their criteria really matters?  More specifically, I’m grappling with the GRE subject test.  I’m working as a lab tech right now for a very miserly boss and coming up with another $150 on top of the many hundreds of dollars in application fees I’m going to have to pay is not going to be easy.  I don’t want to lose out on one of my top choices because I couldn’t come up with the money for some silly test but at the same time it’s hard to justify the cost when I know I have other significant expenses coming.  What should I do?

– Grant, Lab Tech

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Sexual Identity and Autocrine Stimulation: Oh, To Be Teenage Yeast

I picked today’s topic based on personal interest. As an overzealous undergraduate I came to Brown to work on a very similar problem, and so I was excited (yes, I still get excited despite staring down the barrel of my seventh year in graduate school) to see this article title in Current Biology:

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Confronted By Your Hollywood Boss

Whether induced by the magic of grabbing our first pipette or the vapors from the ether bottle that was left open, many of us daydream about how our career in research will unfold.  While the ending may vary, most fantasy scripts include completing graduate school in three years, curing a major disease, and winning a Nobel prize.  But in our rush to bask in the glory of our own scientific greatness, one person is often neglected in our visions – our boss.

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