Thursday, May 5, 2011

How my life as changed as a postdoc (a.k.a. why I love my postdoc)

My life has changed as a postdoc.  Not incredibly, but subtly.  In little surreptitious ways that I don't notice when they crop up, but do notice upon reflection.

I was really worried that when I started my postdoc, I wouldn't be able to be on the accelerated track because of my relative dearth of knowledge on the subject at hand.  There are two major detection mechanisms in the world of biosensing: optical and electrochemical (or electrical, though I'm a bit rue to put it under electrochemical).  Graduate work was optical; postdoctoral work is electrochemical.  I planned it that way because of the broadening effect I hoped it would have.  I knew it would be delving into something different, but I had a sneaking suspicion that in the back of my mind, it would be ok, because I had the knowledge base regarding biosensing and biodetection.... I just had to learn a few different techniques.

So far, that's been what it's been, and there's been more.  I've found myself taking on a subtle leadership role, which is surprising since I've only been here for 3 months. I advise the younger students when the PI is not around.  I correct techniques that have gotten lost over the years and with the turnover of new students.  Right now, I am heading up putting together a budget for a major grant for which we are applying.  I would have never dreamed I would do those sorts of things in graduate school, but I am loving the freedom and autonomy.  And to top everything off, of course I have my own labwork to do, but learning what I am about our system is playing second fiddle to what I am learning behind the scenes, though it is still incredibly interesting, and I am devoting a lot of time to it.

Honestly, it's like I'm being groomed to become a tenure-track (TT) professor.  The grant process is teaching me that, ok, it's hard.  There is no doubt it's hard.  But it's not impossible.  I always thought it was like pulling teeth, and perhaps it is.... but perhaps also, the teeth aren't as firmly rooted as I had imagined.  Advising the younger students has also been a real joy.  They are so interdisciplinary, so smart in such different ways.  I love contributing to both their education and the lab's as a whole.  My ideas aren't just wanted, they're needed.  I think I finally am starting to understand what my Ph.D. advisor wanted me to see for so long: that she truly loves what she does.

In short, I'm glad I came here, and I love my job, and if you were worried about me going to a different country, don't.  Things are ok here.

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