Having started a new website late last year, it has taken me some time to get together my first blog. As its January, the New Year seems like the perfect time to start, albeit with a waffle. This year is about getting back into science…well, getting paid for it anyway.
Spending the past year at home writing fellowship proposals and finishing papers has been an unusual experience. I have missed being in the laboratory, more than expected, and that’s despite maintaining my research commitments at university in the capacity of ‘visiting scientist’. I have had flurries of microscope work at home but it is not the same. My volunteering on a week long undergraduate field course topped up my enthusiasm for fieldwork when I probably needed it most. Seeing all the current exciting Antarctic research going on also gives me itchy feet. I can’t wait to get back into the field.
Being officially out of the postdoc merry-go-round for a year has been tough, and surprisingly isolating. The moment you are taken off the staff and school e-mail lists (or saved from 10’s of daily emails) you realise you are beginning to lose the foot in the door you thought you had. That is scary. Is there a maximum amount of time out of work before there is no way back in? I have worked hard to maintain my network and develop my research with new collaborations for my fellowship, and in fact I don’t think my research vision has ever been clearer. But, I do not feel that I have the same support as when I was surrounded by people who have been through it, are going through it, and are there to bounce ideas off as they come to you.
The lack of opportunities makes you think about life outside of science, and the routes many take to leave the cycle of fixed term contracts working on other people’s research vision. I know too many people that have been practically forced to leave academia to pursue more stable careers. For me, I know what I want to do, and I am still determined to do it.
What I have had in the past year is some time to spend with my family, real time without stressing about why my antibodies didn’t work with my extracted proteins, or late-night panics that I forgot to turn off the waterbath in the lab. I also had time to develop my fellowship proposals and they naturally grew into fascinating and ambitious projects. And while I would have preferred to have been working in 2017, I am glad to have had the time to focus on my science, develop my ideas, and still have the time to watch my children grow up.
2018 is going to be a good year. Happy New Year!
About the blog
Just some thoughts that pop into my head