Hello there bloggies! Welcome to this week’s Science Sunday. I have previously discussed some of my favorite things in science (click here to check it out). Today, I want to talk about some of the best specific moments that scientists experience. The moments of bright shining light that make all the hard, ridiculous work worth it.
Probably the first moment of elation a scientist encounters is that moment when you get an annoying or difficult experiment or script to finally work. You have triumphed over the lab and science gods and actually have results to present to your mentor or PI. It almost doesn’t matter how important the results are (obviously big results feel better), but that moment of triumph is exhilarating no matter what level of scientist you are. So good!
Giving talks and poster presentations are a part of any scientist’s life. Learning how to give effective presentations is a painstaking, somewhat awkward experience but is necessary. There are two presentation-related thrilling moments that come to mind straight away.
First, getting asked a question during an oral Powerpoint-based presentation that you have prepared a backup slide specifically for feels fantastic. It gives you a little boost of confidence that the audience got the messages you were trying to deliver and that you had anticipated their responses. Try not to let the smugness be too apparent to your audience hehe.
Second, poster presentations can be really boring and onerous affairs. You can be stuck standing in a massive hall for an hour just to have a handful of visitors. However, having a scientist you really admire come to your poster and have a meaningful conversation makes the whole hour (and the pain of bring a poster on a plane) entirely worthwhile. They have gone out of their way to come see you during your specific poster time. You must be doing something right in science!
This next one is fairly predictable: getting a paper accepted or grant funded. I still remember when I read the email that my first paper had been accepted. I may have jumped up and did a little dance around the lab (not embarrassing at all…). Even though I’ve had more papers published over the years, each acceptance is a little victory that keeps you going on the hard days. Grant funding is far more exciting at the moment (and much much rarer). I had a F31 predoctoral fellowship funded during grad school, and it still may be one of the professional accomplishments I am most proud of even though it happened about 5 years ago now.
The last moment I want to highlight is graduation day from your PhD program. Honestly, the whole process and day is a complete blur, but having actual evidence that you completed this ridiculous PhD journey is so gratifying. I imagine it feels just as fulfilling to have one of your students graduate (maybe I’ll experience that one day…who knows).
Those are some of the most satisfying, glorious moments in a scientist’s life. I’m sure I have missed loads. What moments are your favorite as a scientist? Comment below or on twitter @DrFsThoughts.
Have a fantastic day! Happy Easter and Passover to those who celebrate them! For the others, happy spring Sunday! It is getting warmer out there people!