Saturday, August 9, 2008

Catching up with friends

I went over to a friend's house for dinner last night. We share an academic history; she was my advisor when I started my Ph.D. program. She, in my version of history anyway, took a chance on a non-traditional student who had expressed an interest in plant genetics and had never actually studied either beyond a couple of undergraduate courses.

I'd like to think it paid off. I did finish, got a couple of publications out of it, and have employment doing what I learned in school, even if it's with a different kingdom of organisms. Hey, DNA is DNA, whether it comes from a mosquito or a plant.

She ended up taking a different path, and leaving academia. She now works as a safety officer for one of the several government agencies in town. In the end, it was the rate of publishing required of a junior faculty member that made her realize she didn't want to continue.

I am hearing this sentiment loud and clear lately, as the manuscript I submitted was returned by the journal I submitted it to because they thought it wasn't as good of a fit as I did. I spent most of the last week reformatting it, and earning a bit of scorn from my boss, who seems to think I made things less clear in my attempts to streamline my thoughts.

I have come to the conclusion that boss and I have different writing styles, and there's not much that can be done besides acquiesce to his opinion in order to get it out the door. Case in point, I lifted a sentence from the manuscript and send it to friend La Guera, who is my source for things grammatical because she teaches Spanish. Yes, indeed this sentence, which boss marked in red, "not a sentence" was indeed a sentence, albeit one with a little different sentence structure.

I like to believe I'm in the process of learning how to do this, and that it will take a few more papers until the process is smooth, and that it will get easier. Sometimes it doesn't seem that way, but if I want a career doing research, it has to be.

As to my friend/former advisor, she is happy, leading a full life, and.... back in school! Yes, in order for her to turn her term position into a FTE, she needs to get a MS in something safety related, which her employer is willing to pay her for. So it looks like that will work out.

Me, I'm not ready to change careers quite yet.

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Hi, sorry to make the humans do an extra step.