Clustering scientific communication groups

In what concerns this blog/post, the initial cluster is constituted by the four of us, four different persons collaborating in a blog with contrasting views on why science is not glamorous. Because of this I think it is important that the first blog post is a clarification on what the main objective of my contributions will be. But before answering it, two other questions require a response: who are the audience and what do they seek (i.e. what can be found here by each of them, assuming that we are not pretentious to the extent that we aim to answer a long unmet need, as this is only a small contribution to it).

In my view, the audience can be divided in three: 1 – a general audience non familiar with the details of how science is done/communicated; 2 – bachelor/master/early PhD students that are facing some early frustration in their respective field; 3 – late PhD students/scientists who already passed this stage.

With this in mind, what each group can take from this blog is clearly different. While the first group might become more aware of science in general and why it is not [that] glamorous in particular, the second might find some useful comments and explanations or (I would say mainly) discover that what doesn’t exactly work as planned is normal and happens to everyone. Lastly, what the third group may find here is a place to share their views and find (if they didn’t already) some additional scientists that share their view and faced the same shortcomings.

All of this, of course, is not intended to be discouraging in any way! It aims to make people aware of the intricacies of science in a factual (as science is about knowledge and facts) and sometimes funny way.

With the clusters defined, what can connect them? And more significant, why is this connection important?

That was in fact the advice of this first post, particularly targeted to the second group and how they may connect and interact in a useful manner with the third.

One of the first key things that students interested in pursuing a scientific career have to decide is what research field, laboratory and project to join. This decision is in fact almost never obvious, without a unique answer and can lead to unnecessary obstacles in the students’ career development.

There are several ways to reduce this risk. One of them, more recent, is based on the adviser peer review, as established in many other fields. This has several advantages and shortcoming clarified in [1]. In my opinion this approach can be a neat complement to the more traditional mentor based where a younger students asks for the opinion of someone more experienced.

They will certainly be glad to share their view and support a better decision, especially if you are not asking about their project! So next time that you don’t know what to do with your career or have a difficult decision to make, ask the person in the lab next to you!


What could have been and what indeed was

Someone once though he wanted to work in a lab; with some luck he managed to spend a summer during high school wearing a white coat following SOPs in one of those wonderful places. Therefore he decided he had to do a Ph.D. so that he didn’t need to follow them anymore. After a bachelor in Molecular and Cell Biology and motivated by another summer in a lab (in this case a pharma lab, so that he could confirm that not being accepted in this course was positive) he started turning his back to fundamental science and to the wet lab for something his colleagues didn’t like and he found interesting (data analysis, modeling and programing). With a master and Ph. D. more applied (Biotech and Bioengineering) and chasing the opportunities that came across his path he jumped between metabolic networks, systems and synthetic biology, stem cells, bioreactors, Portugal and Austria with (for now) his last jump being the vaccine production in Belgium… (to be continued)

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Alguém uma vez pensou que queria trabalhar no laboratório; com alguma sorte conseguiu passar um Verão durante o secundário de bata branca a seguir SOPs num desses maravilhosos sítios. Assim, esse alguém decidiu que queria fazer um Ph.D. para não as ter que seguir nunca mais. Após uma licenciatura em Biologia Celular e Molecular e motivado por um outro Verão num laboratório (no caso de farmácia, para confirmar que não ter entrado nesse curso foi algo positivo) foi virando as costas à ciência fundamental e ao laboratório propriamente dito por algo que os colegas não gostavam e que ele achava interessante (análise de dados, modelação e programação). Com um mestrado e Ph. D. mais aplicados (Biotec e Bioengenharia) e aproveitando as oportunidades que foram surgindo, esse alguém acabou por saltar entre redes metabólicas, biologia sintética e de sistemas, células estaminais, biorreatores, Portugal e Áustria sendo (por agora) o último salto para a área de produção de vacinas na Bélgica… (em actualização)