• Daily Practice as Graduate Students

    Tennis players practice 1,000 serves every day, and soccer players practice 100 free kicks everyday. For sportsman, they need to practice the same movement hundreds of times every day in order to polish their skills, then what should be the daily practice of graduate students in order to make our outlook brighter?

  • Tanya Baldwin

    What I Learned From Chairing a Conference

    Over the summer I had the privilege of chairing the Gordon Research Seminar (GRS) in Phosphorylation and G-Protein Mediated Signaling Networks. What makes the GRS unique is that it is organized and attended solely by students, post-doctoral fellows, and other scientists at a similar career level.

  • Sara Peffer

    Finding Your Outlet

    Getting through five or more years of graduate school has its ups and downs, so it’s important to balance the stresses you may encounter in the lab with hobbies, activities, friends, and a lifestyle to help maintain your sanity.

  • It Takes a Village

    Graduate school education is unlike any other step in a student’s academic career. From early childhood until the end of their undergraduate education, learning generally means listening to lectures, doing assignments, and taking tests. During most of graduate school, none of this actually happens! That can sometimes make explaining how graduate school works a little difficult to people that haven’t experienced it. So I thought I would take this opportunity to discuss all the different people that contribute to a graduate student’s education.

  • Academia's Inferno

    In high school I read a book called Inferno by Dante Alighieri. You may or may not have read it, but this is what happens: Dante is taken through hell, which is depicted as nine circles of suffering, just to end up back on Earth at the end. In a more light and slightly comical take on this famous poem, I want to take you through the nine circles of suffering every graduate student experiences on their journey to defending their thesis. I’m sure there are far more than nine forms of struggle that graduate students go through, but for the purpose of the analogy, we will stick with nine.

  • Learning to Think

    As you come to the end of your career as a graduate student there is a funny feeling you experience that no one warns you about. You’ve spent countless, tireless hours in the laboratory slaving away trying to understand how to use big, complicated pieces of equipment. You also now understand how to make measurements and with these measurements, you test hypotheses about the properties of tiny things you can’t see. You’ve certainly learned a great deal, but then you start thinking about the fine details of your work. Thoughts arise about the limitations of your analyses or extent of your controls. And you begin to have this daunting feeling about all of these things you don’t know and didn’t even consider while you were tirelessly trying to acclimate to a life in academia.

  • Springtime Gardening

    Spring is finally here! Usually at this time of the year, I get to indulge in one of my favorite hobbies: gardening. I’m especially excited this year because Houston was colder than usual as we had a semblance of a winter season. There is something soothing, maybe even primal, about getting my hands dirty and nurturing plant life throughout the season. It is one the best stress reliefs with the added bonus that I get to create something that I enjoy most of the year, weather permitting of course. More often than not, it is my decompressing time, a quiet activity that takes my mind away from the rigors of graduate school.

  • On the Road or in the Lab

    As students, finding the time to relax is difficult. On the one hand, there are our experiments and the constant hope that they work as expected. On the other hand, we really want to indulge ourselves without interruptions from “research”. Travel provides a balance between our work and personal lives. It is at once, exhilarating and exhausting and it can free our souls and sharpen our minds. Travel makes our world smaller and enriches our lives.

  • Navigating and Networking at Scientific Conferences

    At some point in your scientific career, you will attend your first conference. As you progress through graduate school your strategies at conferences will improve and change according to your current goals. Preparation for conferences can be nerve wrecking and regardless of the amount of planning undertaken prior to arrival, chaos often ensues the moment you arrive. Although each conference is unique with differences based on specific field, conference size, location , etc, there are some common ideas to keep in mind and multiple resources currently available to guide students through the madness of a conference.

  • Houston Biking

    About a year and a half ago, I started routinely biking to work. As a graduate student whose job largely consists of sitting in front of the computer, I have not regretted that decision at all. Two factors have made it appealing to me: 1) It’s a form of light exercise, and 2) it’s often faster than any other form of transportation in Houston.

  • Starting the Search for an Alternative Career

    So when are you graduating? If you have spent more than five minutes in graduate school, you’ve probably become accustomed to being asked this question. Throughout most of your tenure, answering this question typically involves a shrug and a look of despair. However, as the end nears (it eventually will) and you have a projected graduation date in mind that doesn’t make your PI giggle, be prepared for the second most asked question: do you know what you are doing next? If you answer this question with the same shrug and look of despair, continue reading…

  • A General Guide to the Houston Area

    Whether you are deciding where to live or where to go this weekend (besides the lab), knowing about the geography of Houston will help you. As with any city, Houston has developed its own vocabulary to refer to various places within and around it. However, simply throwing a bunch of jargon at you without context usually means that you will forget it.