Thursday, October 6, 2011

the conundrum: rotation saga part III

Week 2 into the fall term, it becomes apparent to the first years in my department (n=6) and to those in the interdepartmental program (n=14) that there are several new labs entering Neurobiology and Behavior.  Instantaneously upon disseminating this news, we are all clamoring to get some face time and possibly a rotation with some of these new labs (R2 = madness).

Yours truly had had it all figured out: fall in a renowned histology lab, winter in a renowned molecular genetics lab, spring in a budding molec/e-phys/histol lab.  But then, there was an opportunity to rotate with Dr StemCells.  Three exciting labs for the remainder of the year, and two terms.  Not cool.

It was not easy to make a decision, and honestly my stomach is still churning somewhat (or perhaps that's the caffeine).  After two weeks of soliciting the philosophies and suggestions of graduate students and PIs alike, I chose to forfeit the renowned molecular genetics lab in favor of the budding Dr StemCell's lab.  Ultimately, it came down to this:

1) Dr Molecular Genetics runs a very large lab and is very inaccessible.  We're talking up to 18 month gaps between private meetings, unless you are her co-PI.  She is a remarkable woman, and I would do a post doc with her in the blink of an eye, but students just do not graduate from her lab in less than 7 years and I require the guarantee of semi-regular one-on-one time (things tend to move more quickly that way, in this department's labs).

2)  The three labs under consideration all collaborate with one another on some level.  It's not like I would be abandoning an opportunity to participate in a hot project.

3)  Although it certainly puts a feather in one's academic cap to be spawned from a renowned lab, it doesn't hurt to be part of the creation of one either.  Newer labs (again, in my department) tend to publish more frequently and use more shiny high-tech toys.  I would speculate that this is because a) budding PIs need to lay golden eggs to stay funded, and b) budding PIs tend to still be in that rosey-eyed optimistic stage of their careers.

Naive Raga has chosen to try out two fledgling labs after a term in the current renowned one.  What will be, will be. 

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