Graduate school… of science!

I am a big fan of Penelope Trunk, a business writer of all things, who writes a column called the “Brazen Careerist”. Yes, I know that I don’t work in business. (Yet.) But I think she always has interesting things to say about how to get ahead in one’s career. And I do have one of those. Okay, maybe I don’t have one of those, but I want one.

Anyway, she wrote a column a few weeks ago about how regular, focused blogging is good for your career. Some of her arguments are frankly a stretch, but she makes a good point overall. Alas, my own blog is neither regular, nor really focused on what I (plan to) do for a living, so I fail on both counts.

In fact, I’m not sure I’ve really written about what I do in my blog at all. I have a little biographical blurb on my main page, but that’s it. Long story short, I’m a graduate student in Biophysics, trying to finish up my Ph.D. on a topic relating to macromolecular crystallography. I have been in grad school for a long time. If you’ve ever read the comic Piled Higher and Deeper, I am essentially Mike Slackenerny, save that I am more suspicious of free food. Read some of the comics he’s in; that will give you a healthy dose of what my life is like.

I do honestly enjoy what I do. The work is interesting, and I spend the vast majority of my time doing it. It’s just that I often fail the “dinner party” test. I can explain what I do to laypeople, but not always quickly enough before they get bored and wander off in search of more hors d’oeuvres. Since I suspect that the vast majority of you out there in readerland aren’t biophysicists, I hesitate to go into the topic.

But I do want to find my focus, and so I’m going to try to talk a little more at a layperson level in this space about the kind of research that I do. Don’t worry; the rants aren’t going away, and I have a beer-related project I’d also like to talk about in upcoming posts. But I hope you’ll bear with me as I conduct a little experiment.