As many of you know, I will finish my PhD without any publication…in the traditional sense! Call it bad luck, bad timing, what else? I didn’t manage to produce any positive result during my PhD, the only kind of results accepted by scientific journals. First of all, let’s unravel some myths. Negative results or results that don’t produce a positive outcome aren’t failures! They are the vast majority of science and equally if not more important than positive ones. It is a great shame that they don’t make it to a scientific publication because their value to one’s research, and potentially to the whole scientific community, is immense!
As scientists, we are constantly challenged to find solutions to new or old problems. This really stimulates creativity which is, by far, one of the best skills of a scientist. Creativity shouldn’t stop to the lab bench, in my opinion. All the skills we learn in grad school could be easily implemented in our personal and professional life too. So, what about getting creative and making actual money out of it? Many grad students don’t have a permanent salary, have to teach or demonstrate in undergrad labs to support themselves, work part-time jobs, and in the worst case, they might end up paying an eternal mortgage to get an education.
This morning I wanted to put together a list of things that I would like to do once I have finished my PhD. I started writing down travelling, going to a concert and this sort of stuff. Reading through, I just realised that none of this stuff is amazing things to do. They are just normal stuff. I actually don’t have to wait until the end of my PhD to do crazy things because I have been already living my best life.
Continue reading “Is a PhD only learning about your niche of research?”
This article has been republished by the website sisterstem.org and can be found here.
The other day I came across an article published on Science Career with the title You have accomplished more than you think! It was written by my friend Karin, scientist and author of the book You Must Be Very Intelligent – The PhD Delusion. The article starts with the story of a postdoc who wants to leave academia but believes that the skills she gained during her academic research won’t grant her any job! Unfortunately, I hear this story over and over again and as I am approaching the end of my PhD, many people ask me “Are you gonna do a postdoc after this? Is there any chemical industry that will hire you after your PhD degree?” When I tell people that you can also work either in science communication, scientific affairs, as a medical writer, get an editorial job, patent attorney with a science degree, they stare at me with their mouth open. “I didn’t know that you could do that with a PhD!
The American Society of Human Genetics states that any attempt to use genetics as scientific evidence to set differences between races shows a profound misunderstanding of this discipline. So, how come James Watson was awarded the Nobel Prize in Genetics? This person affirmed that he was inherently gloomy about the prospect of Africa because all our social policies are based on the fact that their intelligence is the same as ours – where all the testing says not really! Probably because Rosalind Franklin produced the crucial piece of evidence which allowed to sort out the structure of DNA and he took the merit for it? For this statement, he lost his job in 2007 and very recently he was stripped of several honorary titles by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, in New York, which he once headed.
I am back to business (blogging) and decided to put together this article to share my experience of being an international student and tell the story of how I became more than my PhD. As I am reaching the end, less than 6 months away from my thesis submission, I have been reflecting on the 4 years spent in Nottingham. I honestly could not be any happier of the unique opportunity I was given to. This PhD made me grow professionally and as a person in a way that I could have never envisioned. I have learned a lot about science, science communication and about myself.
Connie from Life Of Learning asked me to talked about my Etsy shop and featured me in her section Career highlights. A simple feature of her Instagram page became a 1000 word email which I then decided to turn in a blog article for my own website!
One of the best decision I made halfway through my PhD is starting my Instagram page. By using appropriate hashtags such as #phdlife #gradlife #phdstudentsofinstagram #scicomm, I connected with a lot of incredible people who became my friends in everyday life too. None makes it through a PhD on their own, and if there is a piece of advice I can give to an early-stage PhD student is to find your community and no matter how you reach out to people, in social or virtual life. just do it! After two years of blogging, I’ve come to learn that social media doesn’t have to be an escape route from your life or substitute it, it’s complementary and, as it in my case, you can use them wisely to become more than your PhD!
According to the World Health Organisation, disabilities is an umbrella term, covering impairments, activity limitations, and participation restrictions. This is quite a hard sentence to digest with loads of jargon and technicalities. So, let me be a bit more clear! Impairments refer to the dysfunction of one or more parts of your body and also includes malformations. Activity limitations refer to the inability to carry out normal daily activities. Participation restrictions include all the conditions that prevent people from living life to the fullest. Often, we recognise disabilities as physical disabilities, for example, a person in a wheelchair or missing a limb, deafness or blindness. But, actually, you might be surprised to know that people affected by cancer, diabetes, HIV and even mental illness are included in this umbrella term. 
Isabel Torres got her PhD in biology at the University of Cambridge and a postdoc at the MRC Laboratories of Molecular Biology in Cambridge. She has four kids and had her first pregnancy while doing her PhD. After her postdoc, she decided to leave academia to make her own things. Her transition from academia to industry wasn’t easy but she made it a wonderful career anyway. She works as a self-employed science editor and freelance science writer. You can find Isabel on Instagram and Twitter. She just launched her blog prettysmartscience.com to support women and especially mamas in science, make science more accessible and address the problem of fake news.