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Question for lab-based PhD students

Same for me too,

I have cells on the go, but they only came up from storage last week, i've plated some out to do a preliminary experiment, although the cells probably need a bit longer, so i'm currently parked on my backside doing reading. I did leave some data collected just before Christmas to analyze, that is now done though, so that's my lot for now.

Is science sexist?

Hi Flack,

You raise some interesting points. Personally I don't feel I have been the victim of sexism at any point in my career to date (junior post-doc of 11 months), although i have noticed a few differences in the way men around the lab seemed to go about things compared with women. Firstly, most women (and I am generalising massively here and accept there will be exceptions) seem to have a more friendly relationship with their supervisors, this is just something i've seemed to notice. Maybe this would indicate something like what was being mentioned in the article. I also notice that women seem to get supported more by their bosses in terms of retaining them in employment, or providing a little bit of extra funding to tide them through the write up period. This was something I once discussed with one of my fellow male PhDers and he agreed.

In terms of numbers I would agree that there are fewer women than men in the higher positions in science and yet more women than men in post-doc and PhD positions. Don't know why this is, it could be less equality of oppurtunities, but considering Britain had a female prime minister in the 1980's, when most of todays profs etc would have been doing their PhDs this seems unlikely.

One could suggest that having children is adversely affecting women's career progression. It certainly can't help, although I would like to think in the modern age that a woman can do both, or indeed either as she so wishes. Could it be that childbirth affects women's career aspirations? or is it just that men, who know that they will be working for 40 or so years whatever happens are that bit more ambitious, I don't know, although the topic intrigues me.

One other thing I notice, is that in spite of more women than men entering science in my field, there are still specific award schemes for women in science eg L'oreal women in science schemes. I suspect that if you had a male specific funding award it would be considered sexist, yet posters for this scheme were placed openly around the department, strange?.

In short, I don't really know why the situation is how it is, but it does intrigue me.

216 Hours: The Movie

Hi Walminski

So it's submission 9 days from now, ie 15th of January. Can i enquire why such an arbitrary date has been chosen. It does'nt sound like it's a deadline imposed by the university, I would have thought that would be to the start of the month? Is it a job thing, or just self imposed?.

Anyways good luck with it, allow at least 3 hours for printing and binding, and remember to check when the printer/binding facility you plan to use is open. If your feeling really organised you could even forewarn them of your sudden custom.

Don't you hate it when...

Mostly coffee for me since going through writing up, although since relaxing a bit over Christmas I have started to drink tea again and am about 50:50 at the moment.

Did also experiment with Green tea, it was alright, a friend of mine used to come to our lab office with a bag of loose leaf green tea, which looked just like marijuana, and asked if i wanted to go outside and do a bit of green. He was actually referring to partaking in a cup of green tea on the bench outside the lab.

Anyone taking longer than three years?

Hi Florence

Really, don't be so hard on yourself, going over your 3rd year is not going over time.......... it's just that funded PhDs only provide 3 years funding. In the days when I was finishing it was the norm to take about 3.5 years, the richer funding bodies were even extending their funding that way. Personally I'm proud to have taken only 3 and a half years to submit my thesis.

The ashes are here!

Am sitting at my computer, listening to 5live sports extra, fist ball about to be bowled, can't wait. Anyone else tuning in?

accommodation for newcastle uni postgrad!


I was an undergraduate at Newcastle 03-06, it's been a while but I don't think housing trends generally change a huge amount around universities. Essentially, or at least in my day there were 3 main areas students tended to live, Jesmond (most expensive, and smartest) Heaton (mid range, with good local pubs), and Fenham (Cheap and shabby, but with many ethnic food shops locally). Generally in my day the rent was pretty reasonable in Heaton, and cheap as chips in Fenham, while Jesmond was a bit pricey. As a general rule you get what you pay for, more or less with these 3 areas. All the postgrads I knew lived in Fenham, but it can be a bit on the rough side there, so bear that in mind. I'm sure many other postgrads lived in the other places as well.

There is an excellent underground mass transit system, the metro which means that places such as gateshead, gosforth or other areas are a valid option, although your less likely to find shared student accomodation in those areas. The stop you want for the university is haymarket. Apart from that, i can't really suggest anything else, if you have particular questions you could always pm me, or reply to the post

good luck

The intel you guys need to know...

Wouldn't you rather do the work and have the satisfaction of gaining the title properly, and deserving it? I know it's difficult and that supervisors can be harsh at times. What happens if you want to use the skills you gained during your PhD?, you can't continue to blackmail institutions forever, even if it has worked out for you on this occasion.

In the UK, I suspect such a system does not exist, although it does look bad for departmental reputation to have students dropping out left right and centre, and may make it difficult for a supervisor to recruit new PhD students. I suspect that if a student was playing up in the way you describe, an experienced supervisor would probably call their bluff and leave you with an incomplete thesis, the institution would'nt like this but ultimately it would probably be blamed on a poor student not bad supervision, especially if the supervisor had other very good PhD students in the past.

Congratulations on passing your PhD, I'm sure you'll go far.

Like Yah, one had heard Kate and Wills are getting married...

I too couldn't giive 2 f**ks about the royal wedding, although i do hope the Briish taxpayer is being spared the expense of holding the thing, we might have to sack 10 extra council workers to be able to pay for it, I shall be most angry if the windsors cannot in fact themselves come up with the money, or alternatively hold a modest, no frills ceremony at the nearest registry office.

I suppose we may all get a day off if it's on a weekday, although being a British Republican, i'm not going to acknowledge this by taking said day off.

Are PhD standards slipping?

Hi People

Interesting topic, very hard to say if standards in general are slipping, although I do know an interesting story. Back at my old institution there was a foreign student (self funded to my knowledge), her english was terrible and she showed very little inclination towards improving this. Her labwork generally was also hopeless and people found they could teach her nothing. She went through about 3-4 different supervisors before finally being dumped on the head of school. After 4 years she submitted an enormous thesis, rumor had it that a lot of it was simply made up, and it passed with some corrections (think they were minor). Although this would suggest standards are dropping, i am unsure.

Individual cases exist where the award was probably not deserved, but I think this has always happened. I think the biggest problem is that departments are under a lot of pressure to have all their students passed within 4 years, this may lead to a drop in standards, and maybe it is happening, but do we have any way of knowing?

Another point, have you ever looked at research papers from say the 1960's or 70's. Compared to todays publishing I'd say standards have in fact increased by quite a lot, at least in my field. The quality of papers accepted in good journals I believe has gone up enormously since those days, so it may be easier to graduate from a PhD, but it is definitely harder to get anywhere after that

So, I'm very slowly getting close to finishing my discussion...BAM!

Hi Wal

Why don't you just write the discussion first

The implications............. Supervisor might get slightly annoyed, but you won't have to deal with him/her for much longer, and you can always have a bash at paper writing when the PhD is in. Take care of number 1 is my advice

who's in science??

Autonomic neurosicence for me, although i'm no longer a PhD student, young post-doc is quite similar

A specific biochemistry related question

Thanks for the response there 4Matt

Not sure we have any active collaborations, or indeed inactive who have used this stuff. Might be worth asking around the university and seeing if anybody with the relevant experience is willing to help. I did manage to find a comercially available renilla luciferase fusion protein at a company called avidity or something like that, but unfortunately we need photinus pyralis luciferase......... the hunt goes on

A specific biochemistry related question

Hi Folks

I have quite a specific question for people with expertise in biochemistry and protein expression. I want to generate a streptavidin-luciferase fusion protein. I have checked the literature, and it appears to have been done before in many labs around the world. What is the quickest, easiest, and cheapest way I can get my hands on some of this fusion protein?.

Bear in mind, I am a biomed scientist working in a lab, but have no experience of transfection or protein purification as I am predominantly an electrophysiologist.

Many thanks, Cakeman

Advice on whether to apply for job

absolutely go for it, I had the interview for my job in November, got offered it, started in febuary, handed in in March. It's not nice doing essentially 2 jobs at once (your paid one and writing up) but you can do it, any job you want to do and feel qualified for, I suggest you apply for in this day and age