Lessons from a toddler

(by Megan) Apr 09 2018

I thought I knew what I was doing when I became a parent. I’m the elder sibling and the oldest cousin in my family, so I changed many diapers when I was still a child myself. I volunteered in a daycare during college, I’ve conducted infant research in a psych lab, babysat often, and have done science outreach with age groups ranging from elementary school kids to teens in college. I wanted to have children for as long as I could remember, so I also spent many years before becoming a mother reading parenting advice from all corners of the internet, downloading parenting books, talking to friends who were parents…

And then, it finally happened. In spring of 2016, I became a mother. And I found out:

Jon Snow Love GIF-source

Yeah. I knew nothing.

There are SO many things that surprised me about becoming a parent, and a working mother in particular. I could easily write a novel (or another thesis) on that insane learning curve.

But one of the most pleasant surprises I got was discovering how much I would learn from my child.

My son is currently a toddler. He’s talking and starting to be more independent. He’s exploring the world fearlessly, and every so often he lets out a shout of “I DEEDET!” (translation = “I DID IT!”). He shouts this with a huge grin on, and sometimes even stops to applaud himself or give me a high-five. The funniest thing, to me, is that he’s getting excited over very small things, like getting a book off a shelf, or fitting a single piece into a puzzle. But his enthusiasm is contagious, and his instinct to celebrate himself is inspiring.

When he does this, I act like a ridiculously proud mother (forget Bringing up Bébé!), and I stop and laugh and cheer with him. These moments where he acknowledges and celebrates his little achievements light up our hours together.

He made me think—was there ever a time when I had that kind of confidence? When did it get lost?

Would it change my perspective if I celebrated all the little things I do? And can I even interrupt my own fairly constant narrative of self-criticism long enough to do so?

I’m trying it out. We all celebrate the big moments that happen really infrequently (like getting a paper into a great journal, or giving a dynamic talk. But these things are hardly daily events (I wish!!!). Inspired by my son, I’m trying to celebrate the small victories.

I had a stacked schedule and was on time for everything all day? “I DID IT!”

I served a healthy dinner on time that consisted of more than fruit, cheese, cereal, and yogurt? “I DID IT!”

I cleared my inbox? “I DID IT!”

I held my son and calmed him while he got his vaccinations, and I didn’t cry or scream myself? “I DID IT!”

Admittedly, I don’t yell “I DID IT!” out loud while clapping with an ear-to-ear grin like my son does when he manages to take his socks off or puts his arm the wrong way through his coat sleeve– because that would make me look crazy, right? I just kind of quietly say “I did it,” to myself, and see how that feels.

And it is surprisingly rewarding to acknowledge my victories in this way. It’s such a small thing to do, and takes so little time, but I think it’s starting to slowly change how I see myself and my efforts. Life as a working mother is incredibly demanding—there’s just sooo much to remember!— and it’s easy to berate myself for not doing enough either as a parent or a scientist. I don’t know if changing that narrative by acknowledging these small victories has made me more confident, but I think it’s making me a bit happier. Saying “I did it,’ also helps me see where I put my energy on a daily basis, and where the payoffs are.

I’m so grateful to my son—my youngest, most adorable, most loving, most runny-nosed, and most humbling mentor—for teaching me such a sweet lesson.

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Motherhood has changed my perspective on my career

(by ragamuffinphd) Mar 26 2018

Motherhood has changed my perspective on my career. (gasp!)

During graduate school, everyone told me that this would be a bad thing. It would be a sign of failure if growing a family altered my career objectives. I have decided (embarrassingly late) that this is yet another very unfortunate stigma. On the contrary, the psychological adjustments that I have made are major improvements to my mental and physical health, and likely also my career path.

It has been – far and away — the hardest thing I have ever done to start a new postdoc in a new field as a new mom. But I have learned some things about myself:

  1. I am a badass. I have never been more proud of myself as a human than when I realized that I had figured out how to coordinate pumping, training fellowship meetings, learning the lay of the lab from my colleagues when THEY had free time, juggling my son’s 2-3 weekly medical appointments and actually getting to be his mother for an hour a day. And by the way, I made actual science happen during windows between these obligations. It has all failed so far because none of my projects are as developed as I was told they were, but I have been a badass investigator and problem solver.

 

  1. It is possible that I am mentally moving away from a career at the bench. Becoming a mother has made me an even more organized and punctual person than I was prior (which is really saying something!). This includes a diminished patience with the snail-paced progress, general inefficiency and overwhelming failure rate of scientific experiments. I adore trouble-shooting; it is where I shine as a scientist. But I do not enjoy trouble-shooting that is never-ending. I used to compensate for this onerous progress by working 60+ hour weeks (as many do), but right now I refuse to miss my son’s bedtime more than twice a week, so I’m working much closer to 40 hours. Admitting that may I no longer have the patience to be the operator at the bench has given me the peace of mind I need to continue figuring it out.

 

  1. My Science Careers IDP match has always listed “Principal investigator in a research-intensive institution” as my top career path*. This is because I enjoy all the components related to being a PI – asking questions, writing grants, managing projects, mentoring scientists, networking at conferences, giving seminars, teaching science, scientific outreach. However, I don’t necessarily want my job to require ALL of these activities together. I would likely be perfectly happy with a career focusing on 2-3 of these things! What I now know that I definitely do NOT want out of my career – at least for the next few years while my son in young – is a 60+ hour work week. And that is a major change for me. I think I like it.

 

So now what? What do I do with this new perspective? My current plan is to reassess my position and objectives at 6 months and 1 year into my postdoc**. I do not think that 3 months in is the right time to reassess or act on a job change. But it is absolutely on my mind. And so is getting to go home to my sweet happy baby.

 

*As an aside, the ImaginePhD IDP matches me best to a writing/editing/publishing career. Fascinating.

**A bigger subject for another post!

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When should details of misconduct be made public?

(by sweetscience) Mar 23 2018

Amid the #metoo movement, we have seen extreme publicity of the Hollywood allegations of sexual misconduct, including the shocking and sensational details revealed by victims coming forward. We have seen some spread of this movement and publicity to other arenas as well, including research in STEM fields. Academic institutions should already be prepared to deal with allegations as they arise, but should also be able to respond to the growing attention paid, by both the media and people in the field or organization, to issues of misconduct.

A recent termination of a prominent scientist at a prominent research institution raised a lot of questions – with no answers apparently forthcoming. The particular scientist and institution are not essential for the message of this post, but you can read about him here. This institution, like many others, has a reputation for quelling accusations before they reach a level where action must be taken, and for not taking action when many deem it necessary. So, many people were happily surprised to find that someone (a prominent someone!) would and could be terminated for breaching institutional policies.

But what were those policies? What actually happened? The institution has not revealed this, except to say that it was not scientific misconduct, which leads one to believe that it must have been inappropriate interpersonal behavior. Indeed, even some employees in the researcher’s lab have no idea what happened, and reportedly have asked the institution to explain, with no further information obtained.

It is certainly important to consider that the institution may be acting in the interest of the individuals involved – both perpetrator and victims – to keep the details undisclosed. But is that the best course of action?

In a time where we – all of us, right? – are trying to rid our institutions of the sexual misconduct infestation that negatively impacts both individual and field-wide well-being and advancement, institutions should be doing everything in their power to make it known that this specific act will not be tolerated here. This would encourage others with allegations to come forward, and discourage potential perpetrators from initiating or continuing similar actions, and, all in the best long-term interest of the institution, enhance the overall image and attractiveness of this place as a safe environment where misconduct will be investigated and not tolerated, leaving the work to be the central feature.

Institutions should endeavor to be as brave as the many women who have come forward to share their stories – for the benefit of the people and the future.

3 responses so far

When should details of misconduct be made public?

(by sweetscience) Mar 23 2018

Amid the #metoo movement, we have seen extreme publicity of the Hollywood allegations of sexual misconduct, including the shocking and sensational details revealed by victims coming forward. We have seen some spread of this movement and publicity to other arenas as well, including research in STEM fields. Academic institutions should already be prepared to deal with allegations as they arise, but should also be able to respond to the growing attention paid, by both the media and people in the field or organization, to issues of misconduct.

A recent termination of a prominent scientist at a prominent research institution raised a lot of questions – with no answers apparently forthcoming. The particular scientist and institution are not essential for the message of this post, but you can read about him here. This institution, like many others, has a reputation for quelling accusations before they reach a level where action must be taken, and for not taking action when many deem it necessary. So, many people were happily surprised to find that someone (a prominent someone!) would and could be terminated for breaching institutional policies.

But what were those policies? What actually happened? The institution has not revealed this, except to say that it was not scientific misconduct, which leads one to believe that it must have been inappropriate interpersonal behavior. Indeed, even some employees in the researcher’s lab have no idea what happened, and reportedly have asked the institution to explain, with no further information obtained.

It is certainly important to consider that the institution may be acting in the interest of the individuals involved – both perpetrator and victims – to keep the details undisclosed. But is that the best course of action?

In a time where we – all of us, right? – are trying to rid our institutions of the sexual misconduct infestation that negatively impacts both individual and field-wide well-being and advancement, institutions should be doing everything in their power to make it known that this specific act will not be tolerated here. This would encourage others with allegations to come forward, and discourage potential perpetrators from initiating or continuing similar actions, and, all in the best long-term interest of the institution, enhance the overall image and attractiveness of this place as a safe environment where misconduct will be investigated and not tolerated, leaving the work to be the central feature.

Institutions should endeavor to be as brave as the many women who have come forward to share their stories – for the benefit of the people and the future.

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Is this cheating or is it networking?

(by Megan) Mar 19 2018

I’m a TA for a large undergraduate course that’s required for premed and bio majors. As I was grading the first exam of the course, I was scoring an open-ended question that was vaguely worded. So I was surprised when many of the students put together the exact cookie-cutter answer the professor was looking for.

“How on earth did they know what she was asking here?” I said to another TA. “Did you guys cover this explicitly in review sessions?”

The other TA answered, “No we really didn’t talk about that too much. But I think a similar question was on last semester’s exam? She refused to let them have a copy of that to study from, though. So I don’t know how they could have seen that.” She frowned at her pile of exams, “I’m having the same concerns with another question.”

A few minutes and a brief internet search later, we figured out that the exam from last semester was still posted online and although it was not available to current students, the exam and answer key were still accessible to last semester’s students. So, basically, any student who knew a former student would have had an answer key prior to the exam since the professor re-used the same exam from the preceding semester.

Upon review, it became clear from the lack of variety in responses to the open-ended questions that most of the students who had scored well on the exam had seen a copy of the answer key. For instance, one question asked students to draw and label the structures of the pituitary gland. The professor, on the answer key, drew the organ from an unusual angle. Many of the students did the same, although this was not how the pituitary gland was drawn in the text, in lectures, or in most online resources.

We, of course, immediately alerted the professor to the situation. She promised to make the next exam ‘harder’. In my mind, this was not a sufficient response to the inequities of the present exam, because the students clearly did not have access to the same study resources so I don’t think it was a very fair test.

Students who were able to get old exams and answer keys were simply using all resources at their disposal to study—although from a pedagogical perspective, if students simply reiterate answers they may not understand well, they’re clearly not getting much information out of the course. On the other hand, I sympathized with students who did not have access to the old exam through their social connections, studied hard, and did not score as well. I worry that they might be discouraged from putting in honest work in the future because of this experience.

What would you do in this situation? As a TA, I feel really frustrated and can imagine what the students who didn’t have the answer key feel. Of course, I think the professor should not have re-used last semester’s exam. I personally thought the professor should have done a mea culpa and not factored this exam into the final grade but she said that was not an option. I really hope she will create new exams in the future and I’ve even offered with the other TAs to write the next exam. But I just don’t have a lot of power in this situation.

Although I personally don’t think the students cheated in this case, since the answer key was so easily available, there’s a fine line between them and these guys, who, in my opinion, clearly cheated—although they seem to think their behavior was justified as ‘networking’.

Briefly, the link goes to a case where a professor re-used old exam questions although he took pains not to allow copies of his exams to fall into students’ hands. Some students managed to photograph their exams behind his back and passed them on to friends in the course. The thread was started by a student who did not have a copy of this exam, found out others did, and wasn’t sure what to do about it. Many responses posted on the thread were along the lines of this one: “Life isn’t fair, bruh, time to make some friends.”

Reading what those students wrote makes me wonder– what are the differences between cheating, slightly unethical behavior, and networking (especially in 2018 where such lines are completely blurred, even in the highest office in America)? Is cheating just networking to a greater extent?

The pre-med students who have been rewarded with high grades for ‘networking’ don’t seem motivated to outgrow this behavior either—CNN revealed radiology residents cheated on their board exams by basically the same means—which, frankly, could put our healthcare at risk.

I’m feeling naïve in my belief that students come to college to learn (as I did), or that they’re here for anything more than a grade on a transcript and a fat salary down the road. But, especially for pre-med and medical students, academia is set up to reward grades over knowledge, students learn to game this system by ‘networking’, and it’s difficult to know what, if anything, to do to change that.

4 responses so far

Attending a conference with a toddler

(by Curiouser&Curiouser) Mar 05 2018

I just got back from my favorite conference. It’s always a great mixture of science, inspiration and networking. Oh and great food, the food is awesome. This was my first conference since I had my baby and my husband and I decided that we would all go since it was semi-local, I’m still nursing and the hotel looked fabulous. I was pretty nervous about bringing the family.  Since we were local we brought LOTS of baby gear, toys and finger food.  Overall, it was a good, but tough, experience.

The conference program was great. The schedule was planned such that if I had needed to pump there would have actually been time to do so. I was staying at the same hotel as the conference so, to nurse, I just went up to our room but I’m sure a place would have been provided.  Speaking of food, the wonderful/kind organizers were so understanding they even told me that they were sure no one would notice if my husband popped over for some of the meals.

Hubby had a few meetings each day that he needed to call in for and we actually did pretty well with the handoffs. He and Baby had a lot of fun and Baby even got to see snow for the first time!  I felt a little sad that I’d missed out on these adventures, but it’s just something I’m going to have to get used to.

The main issue for us was, as sweetscience mentioned in her post, SLEEP!  Our baby is not a good sleeper, he hasn’t been since about 4-months old. We called ahead and the hotel had a crib placed in our room and we tried to keep to as many of our sleep routines as possible, but the baby basically did not sleep at night. Since we were in a hotel room there was no place to go (I did consider the bathtub) so I basically didn’t sleep. This general lack of sleep led to some fuzziness on day 1, crankiness on day 2, by day 3 I was a bordering on becoming a zombie, and on day 4 my body just gave up and I got sick. Thanks to coffee (maybe a contributor to the nausea and dizziness) and great talks I didn’t fall asleep in any of the lectures, learned a lot, and was inspired with the cool new ideas and techniques, but I do know I didn’t get as much out of the week, scientifically, as I could have.  My brain felt slippery, like I knew I should be able to latch on to some of the concepts but they were just sliding by.

While not sleeping in the middle of the night I did recall my coworker telling me I was crazy to bring the family, that I should just take the hotel room and get a few nights of real sleep.  I’ll be honest, at that point I totally agreed with her. But in the morning I looked over and got to see my son and my husband snuggling while I read the abstracts for the day, and I realized that I kind of got to have the best of both worlds.  Minus the vomiting.

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Flu season 2018: infectious behavior

(by Megan) Feb 26 2018

Walking around campus last week, I was surrounded by students who were hacking and coughing. I dodged an undergrad with red-rimmed, teary eyes and another who was pale and shivering despite being wrapped up in what looked like a blanket. I felt like I was in a scene from a bad zombie movie as I was surrounded by swarms of visibly ill students leaving class. I breathed a premature sigh of relief when I got to lab—where a colleague was coughing uncontrollably as he tried to pipette.

Later that week, when I picked my toddler up from daycare, there was a sign taped to the front door:

“PARENTS!!! Do NOT bring your children to [daycare] when they are SICK!!! We will KNOW if you gave them Tylenol for fever and they will be SENT HOME!!! This is for the good of your child! As well as the STAFF and other CHILDREN!”

If the judicious use of caps and exclamation points in that sign was any indication, my son’s caregivers were as fed up as I was with people’s lack of consideration regarding contagion. We were later notified that the daycare had 6 confirmed cases of influenza.

The flu can cause severe complications, especially for the elderly, pregnant women, infants, and immunocompromised individuals. So it’s really frustrating to see people behave as their though contagious illness is little more than a personal inconvenience, when the reality is that their behavior can create a truly dangerous environment for others.

But, what choice do people have? Vaccines and hand sanitizers can only do so much. Our human bodies still become ill, seemingly at the most inconvenient times. Fortunately for the influenza virus, we don’t often take time off to take care of our sick bodies, and therefore we provide the flu with classrooms and conference rooms full of potential hosts.

The students were going to class because they are highly competitive and had exams and review sessions they couldn’t miss. My colleague came to work because he had time-sensitive experiments to perform—and grant deadlines are even more merciless than exams. Parents drop off the sick kids at daycare because… well, it’s tough enough to get time off for yourself when you’re sick and contagious. It’s even harder when you need additional days off to care for your sick kid.

So, we go to work and send our kids to daycare—with the flu, with gastroenteritis, and other contagious pathogens. And the infectious cycle perpetuates.

Ultimately, we’re not doing ourselves or our employers any favors by coming to work sick: a Danish study showed that the habit of working through short-term illnesses leads to more prolonged health-related absences in the long-term. Still, this can be hard to keep in mind when faced with impending deadlines.

Of course, academics, students, and scientists are certainly not alone in working while sick and contagious. When I dropped off a parcel at the post office on the weekend, a postal employee was displaying the same symptoms as the students on campus—bloodshot glazed eyes, sweating, lethargy, and a hacking cough. I enquired, “You look sick…?” He answered weakly, “Yeah…” I responded, “You really should stay home and rest!” A woman I’m assuming was his supervisor shouted at both of us, “Well, what do you think? That we can all just stay home if we’re sick? NO! If you can still move, you should work!”

I feel like her words poetically summed up America’s attitude towards illness.

Food service workers, for instance, are notoriously not given time off when ill. The number of norovirus outbreaks caused by ill food service employees forced to work through their gastrointestinal distress is stomach-churning and their stories make me never want to eat out again.

Clearly, the behavior of working while sick is dangerous to others. What may come as more of a surprise is that it is also often detrimental to the economic interest of the larger corporation. Chipotle, for instance, lost a billion dollars in value when an employee forced to work while sick spread norovirus to the community. Personally, I wrote a negative review of my local post office branch for forcing its employees to come in when sick.

Coming back to campus– can we, as scientists and educators, influence how people think and cope with contagious illness? I hope so, and that’s one reason I’m writing this blog post.

At very least, let’s lead by example. In the lab, for instance, it’s important to have a degree of redundancy. If a postdoc wakes up with a 104-degree fever one morning, they should be able to stay home and know that their cell lines won’t crash and their mice will be cared for because someone else can at least perform the basic duties required (critical to this is also good record-keeping and labeling—which are good lab citizenry habits regardless of illness). This way, one lab member gets sick instead of five. And that lab member should be thanked for staying home and recovering, and offered help, instead of being made to feel guilty for getting ill.

In the classroom, students should be able to make up or drop an exam missed because of illness. Review sessions can be reiterated in online forums. If a professor or lecturer becomes ill, perhaps they can post recordings of the previous semester’s lectures online. Alternatively, a syllabus can be designed with some wiggle room so that missing one or two lectures won’t throw off the entire course plan. And it should be explicitly stated that students should stay home and take care of themselves while ill. Some honestly seem to believe that showing up while sick will impress their professors!

Unfortunately, illness will always be a fact of life. And, when it happens, it will present a conflict with work. In America, with its vomiting food service workers unable to take a single day off, this conflict seems especially profound. We will never be Sweden (check out Vabbing here and join me in my envy of Scandinavian rationality). I have had to reluctantly accept that I will not be living in Sweden any time in the near future.

But. We do all live in 2018. Germ theory is an accepted truth. Let’s acquiesce to that reality and encourage others to do the same—especially the younger generation who we teach and mentor.

And if all else fails, make people watch her. Preach!

5 responses so far

Impact

(by peirama) Feb 10 2018

One day, when my son was two or three, he did not want to put on his shoes. This is not unusual for a two-year-old, of course. But on this day he didn’t cry about it or throw a fit, he made up a song. His song went, “I don’t want to waaaaaste my time, I don’t want to waaaaaste my time, putting on shooooes today, putting on shooooes today.”

I’m sure he has forgotten this incident and this song, but I have not. I sing this little tune to myself sometimes. It is catchy and the sentiment rings true to me. It turns out I, too, hate to waste time.

Something I’m struggling with right now is using I devote to volunteering most efficiently. There is so much to do in this world and I have such limited time. I really want to make the maximal impact that my time and abilities allow.

I started volunteering with an organization last winter. Like many people, after the election I felt a need to get involved. There was a flood of new volunteers, so while there were many volunteers, the group felt very disorganized. They were not used to having so many hands, and so probably did not make the best use of the hands they suddenly had available. This year, so far, there is more thought and planning into what areas we can have impact. I really enjoy the planning and the idea that the time I put in will be put to better use. The planning itself does take time, but hopefully will be worth it.

I also volunteer with my local women in science group. It is a great grass roots group, entirely run by volunteers and started by student and postdocs. I am the outreach chair, and as such I organize volunteers and plan events to empower girls in science. Here, I am the organizer rather than the volunteer being told what to do. In this situation, I have to ask myself, how do I maximize my time and my volunteers time? I feel the need to plan most efficiently, but sometimes that leads to mistakes that then waste time.

I also think about whether my efforts are duplicating those of others. Other groups do science outreach with kids. What am I adding that is different enough to be worth it? If I am not doing something different, of course my efforts are not a complete waste. However, my time might be better spent volunteering for those other groups rather than organizing something myself.

Do you volunteer? Do you organize volunteers? How do you make an impact or deal with the struggle of limited time?

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New Mom in a New Job

(by ragamuffinphd) Jan 29 2018

I had no idea what to expect during my first week back to work after maternity leave at a brand new job. Just before my son was born, I landed a new academic postdoc position after being ousted from my first*. The subject matter, though generally enthralling to me, is way outside the scope of my technical/intellectual expertise. And though I knew that I would be starting over and had been looking forward to it, I could not have known how that would feel once the time came.

The first few days, all of my willpower went toward the following:

— Getting my son to daycare intact

— Figuring out where/when/how to park on a campus that sells far more parking passes than it has spaces

— Figuring out where/when/how to pump in a place with no designated facilities, and in several different buildings across the campus

— Adjusting to having zero immediate colleagues who are moms**

— Relearning material that I had sort of let slip from my mind since high school

— Between a mother and son with chronic medical needs, juggling way too many medical appointments with my husband

— Learning the schedule of outside-of-lab obligations including lab-mandated seminars/dinners and fellowship-mandated meetings/workshops

— Getting home in time to feed and see my son for 5 minutes before putting him to bed

The first few days, I cried alone in the bathroom more than I expected. I absentmindedly missed turns on my way to daycare and work. I missed kissing my son goodnight twice***. I freaked out about my milk supply dropping. I put WAY too much pressure on myself to figure it all out and be productive too quickly.

Now, three weeks in, things have not calmed down much. However, I’m more familiar with my surroundings and the personalities of my colleagues. I am very slowly getting used to not seeing my baby all day every day. I am giving myself a little leeway, having kicked so much butt at everything so far (several glitches notwithstanding). It all still feels very messy and exhausting and hit-or-miss, but I’m not crying every day anymore.

 

*Though the timing felt awful, it could not have been better in the long run to leave my previous position ASAFP without burning bridges.

**Being able to talk to other moms versus dads DOES make a huge difference. Especially moms who have experienced pumping breast milk at work. This will improve as I meet people through my fellowship and in different labs.

***Since my sweet boy was sleeping through the night at that time, this absolutely broke me.

2 responses so far

Getting to know you

(by sweetscience) Jan 26 2018

What I really wanted to know.

Image from: http://www.fallingfifth.com/comics/20070105

In my courses this semester I have over 100 neuroscience students, ranging from just-declared sophomores to early grad students, and I am trying to get to know each one! It’s a challenge but I know it’s important, especially for the early level students, to feel connected and comfortable talking with a professor in their field, and even if all I know is their name and face, that could improve the chances of their being comfortable with me. Throughout the first weeks of the semester I ask each student to tell me (verbally or in writing depending on the size of the class) what brought them to study neuroscience, what excites them, and what their goals are.

It is remarkable (but not surprising if you know or remember college students) the range, from  “I have no clue what I’m doing but this seems cool,” to “I was drawn to neuroscience by a specific event and am on a path to medicine/research with a specialty in this ultra-specific sub-field.” One thing that has struck me is how many students are drawn to the field because of a first-hand experience with a brain-related trauma or disease, especially given the young age of the majority of my students.

More than anything though, it is refreshing. I love to see things through their wide (but not naïve!) eyes, hear their personal stories, and especially to learn about things I’ve never heard of that sparked their interests!

And I have one piece of advice for them, and everyone at this stage – try everything! Anything you think you might be interested in, any opportunities you’re presented with you think might be even a little interesting or beneficial – do it! Even if what you learn is that you don’t like that experience, that is extremely valuable as you home in on your goals and personal path. In some ways, this is most valuable advice for people who are so set on their path they don’t try it, or anything else, so if they at some point come to the realization that their top and only choice won’t work, it is devastating and difficult to find a new path. And while it’s never too late to try a variety of experiences, it’s never so easy and so cost-free as this early stage in your career.

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