This is a place where thoughts on matters that impact science and scientists, but are not science themselves, are shared. Most topics were selected in response to questions that young students and trainees have asked Blanca Himes on a regular basis, even if some feel the topics are taboo in academia.
Although career advice abounds on the web, at university resource and career offices, in books, and in seminars, there are recurrent questions that young students have (or answers that students need to hear, having not asked questions). While the advice listed here is not intended to be as good as, or better, than that offered anywhere else, it is a starting place that Dr. Himes can point students to.
Personal Motivation for Doing Research
Motivation is paramount to doing research (or anything else), and students often want to know why researchers chose their line of work. Some posts are dedicated to answering this question.
Dr. Himes is the mother of two young children. The first was born when she was a research fellow, and the second when she was an Instructor at Harvard Medical School. She has interacted with so many parents who are part of academia that she sometimes forgets that some students are under the impression that it is impossible to be a parent in academia (and also be happy and healthy, and/or not have one stay-at-home parent, and/or not be independently wealthy). The posts below include some of her early impressions of motherhood in the way that she would have liked to read before becoming a mother.
Promotion to Associate Professor
I have attended a series of seminars at Penn about receiving tenure (i.e. transitioning from Assistant to Associate Professor) and what follows is a summary of notes from such seminars. Speakers have included promotions committee chairs of four schools and members of the Provost’s Office. I won’t attribute quotes to anyone in case I relay … Continued
More Advice For Inexperienced Students Beginning Research
In addition to communicating effectively and demonstrating that you are driven, here are some more pointers for students who are starting a research position (or any job for that matter). If you think that what is written below is common sense, great. I, however, am surprised by the number of young students I meet who’ve never … Continued
Some Advice for Inexperienced Students Beginning Research
There are several “soft” skills that those of us who have been in academia for several years often take for granted. These skills are usually not formally taught to students, but they are vital to success. In particular, students who are from disadvantaged backgrounds may not have had a chance to pick up on these … Continued
Dr. Himes’ Background
I was born in Colombia where I was raised by a Colombian father and an American mother. Despite growing up surrounded (but not personally affected) by the violence and kidnappings of the 1980s and 1990s, I aspired to become a scientist. After spending one semester studying at a university in Colombia, I realized I was unable to focus … Continued
My Experience of Asthma
I recently had an asthma exacerbation, which was surprising because I had not had one in over 20 years. As an adult, I have always selected the “asthma” checkbox in medical history charts, but I always add, “I don’t have asthma any more, I only had it as a child.” At the age of 6 … Continued
Some Advice on Succeeding In Academia For Junior Faculty
During two Harvard Medical School Junior Faculty Orientation events in Fall 2013, I served on panels offering academic career strategies to young faculty members. On both occasions, I was the most junior panelist, so the advice offered was just as helpful to me as to audience members. I have attempted to combine some of the … Continued
The Sleep Deprivation Haze
I spoke to an old advisor of mine who is a psychiatrist, and after telling him about maternity leave (and beyond), he told me “Yes, your brain operates in an altered state of consciousness, as if you were on drugs.” Geez! Being a new mom is “natural” and comparing that state to being on drugs sounded … Continued
When is a good time to have kids?
This is a question that is very common among young students. The most common answer to it that I have heard is: “There is no good time. It will be an interruption to your career at any stage.” In many ways that is a true answer, but I don’t think that it is the best … Continued
It hits you like a ton of bricks
While the thing that books and friends dwell on when you are pregnant is how painful labor and childbirth will be, those are relatively easy parts of motherhood. My list of things that are much more challenging to a first-time mother: 1) Sleep deprivation. Prior to having a baby, most of us sleep the average of … Continued
Being a new mother is tough!
As an undergraduate and graduate student some years ago, I encountered several women (and men) who were faculty members with children. What their life as parents was like was a mystery. I attended seminars on “work-life balance” whenever possible. There is a lot one can balance in life, but most of these seminars consisted in female … Continued