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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

November Theme

The program has recently been talking a lot about the state of academic jobs and the job market for PhDs in general. It has often been a depressing conversation.

So what I’d like to see for November (and it conveniently sort of fits a “thankful” theme) is comments and entries from the professors in the NSP telling us what they like most about their job. What makes it worth it? What aspect of their job gives them the most satisfaction? I urge participants to be honest and forthright here. Having 5 entries that say “The teaching and training of young scientists is my reason for living” doesn’t provide a very wide range of things to look forward to.


Tuesday, September 8, 2009

September Theme

This month the NSP blog isn’t going to have a theme so much as a… goal?
The goal is to get a job. No matter what delusions you may have had when you entered graduate school, upon your exit you are face with the fact that your age:income ratio is not anywhere near most of your friends and it becomes apparent that you need a job. What kind of job? Where that job will be (I’m still hoping for the Caribbean)? What will it pay?? Those are topics for future conversations. What I’d like to begin now is a collec-tion of job hunting resources. If you know of a website where PhDs might want to look for jobs, post it in the comments. Do you know a company that is hiring? Is there a page that helps neuroscientists find jobs overseas? Do you have some general advice about the process? Let us know!

Think of this as a brain dump. Any ideas are welcome. Over time we’ll sort through them and filter it down to the most useful, but for now just comment away.

Monday, July 6, 2009

July Theme

I thought about doing something with a patriotic slant this month, but that seems a bit trite. So I think I’ll stick with the goofyness established by the last theme and ask this:
Once you’ve made it as an academic researcher, you tend to have a pretty long title; Barnett Rosenberg Professor of Neuroscience at Michigan State University, Professor and Director of the Autism Research Centre at the University of Cambridge are just two examples. So what is your title eventually going to be? Go ahead and send your answer to Molly as an entry since these will be relatively short.

July Theme - Entry 1

Ideally, my title will eventually be something like this:
Endless Supply of Money Endowed, Official Barbeque Pit Master, Captain of Awesomness and Director of the Amygdala, Autism, Astrocytes and Anything Else He Wants to Study Center at the University of the Bahamas


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

MSU Neuroscience on Facebook!

Look to your left and you will find that MSU Neuroscience has a facebook page!! We also have a fan page, which you can become a Fan of, so we can all keep posted and also get our name out there (what better way to look like an awesome and fun program than to have a social networking site on our side!).

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

June Theme

This grass is always greener in another campus building? The theme this month is simple; what field would you strongly consider getting a PhD in other than neuroscience, and why?

June Theme - Entry 1

Is there a PhD in cooking? I would strongly consider culinary school as another option. I realized that cooking combines my two favorite things, which are science and creativity. It’s actually quiet a rare combination and it tends to make me go into a zone where al my neurons are humming along and I’m quiet content. I can fiddle with formulas and write down what I did and then decide on what size and color plate to use, how to arrange the product, etc.
I guess architecture and some other fields might provide a similar combination of the logical/rational and the creative/artistic, but I imagine that much of the science in architecture is left up to engineers rather than the building designer. Maybe I’m wrong about that.
Anyway, I’d figure out some way to get a PhD in cooking. Then I’d ask Alton Brown to sign my diploma.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

May Theme

Sorry for the lack of an entry in April. A long series of failing experiments put the dampers on any motivation I had.
However, failing experiments is something many scientists will encounter during their career. Failed attempts at obtaining funding and failed attempts at obtaining a tenured position are also rather common. How do scientists (you) deal with failure?

May Theme - Post 1

Entry 1 - Failure is a massive fear for me. This shouldn’t be too surprising as I think most people who are in graduate school are accustomed to succeeding, at least in some aspect of their lives. On the other hand, my fear of failure is a bit surprising to me mostly because I have failed several times at this point. There have been numerous times just in grad school that I have felt certain I would succeed and then tasted the salty smack of a giant fail whale to the face. Yet, I eventually got back up. I’m still here, still moving (sloooowly) through. When I think back to how I dealt with that and investigate what kept me going, I think that my reactions mostly come from a stubborn pride.
I don’t have many memories of being surrounded by cooing adults telling me every turd I produce was gold, so I’m not quite sure where this indomitable idea that my eventual success is inevitable came from. It seems almost genetic at times, something I inherited from my mother... a will to go on, no matter what happens. Despite this will, which has served me well, I still fear failure. It still hurts even though it has yet to be a death knell for my career.
I guess I figure that at each new level in life, the stakes get bigger, the task more challenging and at some point my stubbornness will cave and I’ll just say, “Screw it! It’s not worth it!” How do I know if that breaking point exists? How do I know when it will come?

Friday, March 6, 2009

March Theme - Post 1

It is interesting that I am writing this blog so soon after Richard Dawkins visited campus. This topic is actually something that I have thought about for a long time. Anybody who has taken a general biology course has heard the quote: “Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution.” (Theodosius Dobzhansky – evolutionary geneticist). This statement remains controversial to this day ‘in light’ of the fact that we live in a largely religious world. The clash of creationism and evolution is something that I personally had an internal struggle with in my life. Being brought up in a Christian home I was taught that God created the ‘heavens and earth’ and formed them in the state they currently reside. In class I was taught that the current state of things was the product of billions of years of successive cause and effect. There are those that try to meet in the middle ground with the idea of Intelligent Design. However, in my life I have found that route ultimately unsatisfying. Why did God allow so much redundancy and some much ‘slop’ in biological processes and proteins if he was ‘directing’ the evolution of such? On the other hand, is it truly possible that evolution could have ‘selected’ for the thousands and thousands of protein interactions and a created such a complex system as the human psyche? These questions still remain, but ultimately I find myself choosing either one side or the other (sometimes depending on the day). The internal struggle continues…….

-Tyrell S.

March Theme

Internal Struggle…..
Life naturally lends itself to struggle. In many ways that is what has created us. It is easy to identify the external struggles of the life and times around us. However, we as humans are in a somewhat unique position to discuss an unusual struggle…..the one within.

Monday, February 2, 2009

February Theme Post 1

Entry 1-
I know exactly what began my infatuation with science. I know the year, the subject, the speaker and the television channel. It was the summer before my junior year in high school. Up to this point, science had been an easy but not necessarily interesting subject for me. Then one night sitting at home, I caught a show called “Desmond Morris’s The Human Animal”. The show possessed many elements that would instantly grab any 16 year old males attention. From the BBC description of the show’s topics: “the stages of courtship, and the aesthetics of physical beauty are studied, along with the anatomical mechanics of sexual arousal and copulation”. This translates to: sex, nudity and more sex; which, coincidentally, were the only three topics my 16-year-old brain was capable of attending to.
However, because Morris was a zoologist with a strong evolutionary psychology slant, the show had a lot of exciting and useful information concerning the “whys” of human sexual behavior. Suddenly I was watching to see if a girl I was talking to would twirl her hair or if she leaned towards me as we talked. Are her eyes dilated when she talks to me? Does she laugh a lot around me? To many women and more experienced men, these are obvious tips, but to a 16 year old boy these bits of scientifically derived information are gold! I felt like the most important mystery of my short life, “how do I not screw up around a girl”, had been revealed to me by an old guy with a charming British accent on TLC. I remember telling my male friends what I had learned and when the show would be on next so they could catch the stuff I forgot. I remember looking for more information of sexual behavior and reading more and more about sex differences and the “whys” of girls and guys. Four years later and two years into college I found psychology had finally overcome my art and music biased mind and I switched majors. Thus, an infatuation with the science of sexual behavior led to a strong interest in evolutionary psychology, which led to a love of sex differences and their exploration, and that is the story of my love of science (and Desmond Morris).


February Theme

How I Love Thee…
Dedicating yourself to a long and sometimes difficult task such as graduate school requires a certain amount of devotion. For many of us the attraction of science was pronounced and undeniable but for some it may have been a more subtle seduction

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

January Theme Post 2

Science should take a step back and question the assumptions it's been operating under. Last week I went to a science museum and noticed a group of kids playing with wands and a tray full of bubble solution. All of the adults were keeping a good distance because they were afraid to get soapy and thought they knew exactly how the bubbles would behave. But far too often we make assumptions about the general principles, and that gets us in trouble when we try to understand minute details based on incorrect assumptions. We should question these basic assumptions and not be afraid to get a little soapy in the process. And if the kids are any indication, we'll have more fun in the process.

-Katie N

Monday, January 12, 2009

January Theme Post 1

I would like the scientific community to commit itself to a period of rejuvenation. In my mind, scientists are the original great explorers and at times, it seems exploration into uncharted waters is too often sacrificed for whatever will minimize risk. I want science to resolve to renew their dedication to the expansion of all horizons of knowledge. Of course, this is a massive task. Science has become a big business and like in other corporations, shareholders demand a maximum return for a minimal investment. Science must resolve to emphasize the necessity of risk, exploration, and the hidden dangers of gaining some small increase in value at the expensive of laying the foundation for much larger and sustained long-term gains.


January Theme

Scientific Resolutions –
Resolutions are normally a very personal experience. However, in a relatively small field like the academic sciences perhaps the entire community can resolve to improve itself.