PhD students – they are cheap, obedient and without lobby

Rumors: At our institute there is at least one species of worker that gives everything and all for the sake of science and the consequential benefits to mankind.

The PhD student.

He (to keep it simple I use he, but it may as well be a she) is usually eagerly engaged in several projects, whose outcome will be of great importance and for this he gave up his personal life, became a total geek and as a result developed some bizar social behavior isssues. He will always do as PI says and works many many many many hours, also at nights to have that one extra slide for the next progress report. After a couple of years, there will be no one better than himself in what he does  (is this sentence working?). He will run the lab, supervise the rotator and take the guest speaker for dinner on a friday.

And he is doing all of this for only 750,00 Euros a month, in some cases without health insurance and payed as a freelancing scientist. Sometimes he doesn’t have to be payed at all and he will still keep working. And when the PI salaries have to be cut by 25% (we are all moaning and aching every time the greek government is announcing new salary cuts and additional (newly invented) taxes. If these measures are really in the right place (money is take from those that don’t have any) and, most importantly, going to be helpful in restoring this countrys economic situation may be discussed elsewhere), then the PhD student should give (somebody called it “symbolic”) 50,00 Euros off his 750 in oder to maintain the natural shape of wage pyramid!

Hmmm, yes! What a good idea. Let’s take also some money from the guy that doesn’t earn enough to make a living of his salaries to begin with. And also, he can’t do anything about it. He doesn’t have a powerful lobby and the others are to busy (with their respective PhDs) to get organized about it.

Well, I think that our PIs do distinguish themselves somehow as most of them really are brilliant minds and this is mostly seen in the amazing and fascinating work they are doing in their respective fields. I don’t think that 50,00 Euros will let their glory shine in a brighter light.

It didn’t happy by the way, they (PIs, directors or presidents) found another way to compensate for the salary cut and our PhD student can keep all of his 750,00 Euros.





I am scared and excited at the same time…

Posting before publishing?

At university they prayed to us that the only thing that will make you rich and famous is publishing your scientific research in a prestigious journal such as nature, cell and science… Well, seems as I have to re-learn and be brave: biologists depart from the sickening “publish with high impact factor or perish miserably” convention and decide to go for the open-access world where a self-organizing, kind-of anarchistic rule will drive science publishing…. I like that idea very much.

I (will) have a publishing record of 1. And although there are many more to come (!), this makes me a little bit, let’s say “thin-skinned” (oder auch dünnhäutig) when it comes to the moment that I have to go to my boss and demand to pre-publish our work in an open-access medium for review… rather than sending it to nature…

Maybe one day, when I will be a powerful and famous PI, I will do as Mr. Eisen does! Until then I will certainly try to convince my boss to do so.

Zebrafish, the next-gen lab rat

I heard a very cool talk from a very cool guy today: Nicholas Katsanis, head of the Center for Human Disease Modeling at Duke University. He talked to us about the “morbid pedriatic genome” and how zebrafish can be used to assay gene function in a more physiological manner.

Of course there are many more topics he is working on, so here his webpage, “to check”:

Katsanis Group

ze brain of ze zebrafish is sinking

in order to understand the title of this post you need to see this

They really look like puppies….

Bilder der Forschung 2009