Category Archives: Graduate school

Ph.D. Qualifying exams: what they do and do not mean

My youngest son went to a very progressive public kindergarten in Houston, La Escuela Rice, that was supposed to be highly technological, multi-grade, and bilingual in Spanish. This school also had a special grading system that did not have letter … Continue reading

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The monastic glory of a seven year Ph.D.

Anything you do for seven years is a way of living, not preparation for something else in the tangle of life. It is the time from birth, when you are just working out that you are no longer a part … Continue reading

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Other kinds of graduate school fun

One of the fun things about seminar trips is you get to meet some wonderful graduate students. I am not alone in viewing invitations by graduate students as the hardest to turn down. The trip I made in the fall … Continue reading

Posted in Graduate school, Life in a biology department | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Why you should aim for a three year Ph.D. degree

Why not get your Ph.D. in three years? Can’t you learn what is needed in this time frame? This may sound ridiculous to an American who may hardly even have identified a thesis topic by their third year. How did … Continue reading

Posted in behavioral ecology, Graduate school, Managing an academic career | Tagged , , , , , | 5 Comments

Do you celebrate a paper submission with cognac?

There are celebrations for milestones of various kinds. In Japan I hear turning 60 is a big deal. Birthdays, graduations, even publishing can be celebrated. But why not celebrate something that is under your control? How about cheering when you … Continue reading

Posted in Graduate school, Life in a biology department, Publishing your work, Scientific community, Social interactions, Writing | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

Why it is OK to have kids in grad school or as a post-doc

There was a post by Leonard Cassuto on having kids in graduate school and what a difference it made to one student when she heard that it was explicitly all right. The point that Leonard made was that our role … Continue reading

Posted in Graduate school, Managing an academic career, Postdocs, Professors with families | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Quick tip for picking a great graduate program: look to the postdocs!

What if there is one simple way of assessing a program, something that is flexible, responds rapidly to increasing and decreasing quality, something that applies to the whole place but can also be used to understand one potential investigator over … Continue reading

Posted in Graduate school, Postdocs | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

How to motivate a graduate student

When you are motivated, ideas bubble up in the middle of any activity. When you are motivated, you find solutions and links across different areas of your endeavor. When you are motivated, you find joy that carries you through the … Continue reading

Posted in Graduate school, Research | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Gulbenkian in Portugal, best Ph.D. program ever?

What about a program that is interdisciplinary and means it, including various things close to evolutionary biology, and also history of the field? It brings in a tiny class of 15 people or so from around the world to a … Continue reading

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How to avoid choosing vampire professors for graduate school

A vampire professor will suck you dry. They will rob you of your life essences. Exactly which essence they will remove might vary with professor. Some will suck away all your time. Such a professor will notice when you arrive … Continue reading

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