How to: give a chalk talk

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Recruitment season is in full swing, and graduate students and post-docs are beginning to visit departments vying for academic jobs. The first step to secure one of these jobs, especially in molecular biology and biochemistry departments, is to give a seminar based on your work. Generally, this is easy, as the candidate has likely given this talk several times. And they've practiced. Nothing too new here (although like every step of the process, you need to nail this talk). However the next step -- the chalk talk -- is much more unknown, and strikes fear into the hearts of candidates everywhere [insert dramatic music here]. What is the chalk talk? What are you supposed to talk about? What's the point? And, most importantly, how do I nail it? Read More...

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How to: choose a lab

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Welcome to graduate school. You were chosen because of your high likelihood to succeed in the world of science. Now what? 1. Find a lab. 2. Get your Ph.D. 3. Become famous. First, let start with point number one. Several universities have a formal rotation process (others are less formal, but are highly encouraged), where students will "rotate" through three different labs, each for 8-12 weeks. Then, through a stroke-of-genius and profound insight, students will choose the lab they would like to join for their Ph.D. career and then become famous (points number two and three). However, to get to two-and-three, point number one is critically important. And often overlooked. Let's consider a few important points with choosing a lab. Read More...

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How to: give a great talk

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You were just invited to give a talk. Congratulations! Why did they pick you? No, really; why did they pick you over someone else? It was probably because you have something interesting to say. So be interesting. Don't make the person who invited you regret it. Don't be the reason your audience fell asleep -- they were nice enough to attend in the first place. And be memorable. Give a great talk and people will remember it [Nobel laureate Liz Blackburn said this too], and they just might invite you back. And maybe next time, the invitation will be to talk in a far-away, exotic location. But even if it's not, please learn how to give a good talk. Read More...

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How to: be a great scientist

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Being a scientist is hard. Being a great scientist is even harder. And rare. What does it take to be a great scientist? Unfortunately, this isn't something taught in graduate school. Instead, the focus is often on experiments, classes, exams, teaching, grading, experiments, more experiments, publishing, defending, and hopefully graduating. So then how does a scientist know how to be a star? Read More...

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