What have I learnt from post doc-ing?

I am no longer a postdoc. This both makes me ecstatic and sad. As a belated goodbye to academia post, I thought I would share my thoughts on my period as a postdoc. I learned a lot over the last 3 years or so and, looking back, am very glad I became a postdoc. I don’t consider myself a failed academic, I just decided that I could earn and achieve more in a different field.

  1. Helping students is fun – When I first became a postdoc, I was worried about students asking me questions and me not knowing the answer. It turns out that I knew more than I think I did. There were plenty of times that I didn’t know the answer, but I gained enough experience to point the student in the right direction.
  2. I became a skilled technician – when GCs break, I am your gal. I would never have guessed that I would spend half of my time changing liners and inlet septa but hey ho it was a useful experience. I am also handy, and somewhat ambidextrous, with spanners (and wrenches) as working in flow chemistry required frequent leak fixing and blockage removal.
  3. I can write half decent prose, much faster – I can now write a report or presentation in the fraction of the time that it would have taken me during my PhD days. It is also better written, formatted and edited. I am continually learning and improving this though –  I still have a lot to learn!
  4. I learned to enjoy presenting my work – as I gained more and more confidence in my subject, my confidence in presenting grew. I wasn’t the most confident presenter at school or as an undergrad but now i’d day I am OK at it.
  5. I understand terms such as mass transfer and flux – collaborating with chemical engineers certainly increased my understanding in a range of areas, sometimes more than i’d like, but it was been a great learning experience.
  6. I learned that it really helps to have friends in finance, purchasing and stores – when orders or equipment fail, these are the people you need to have on your side!

I am sure there are many other things that I learned during my postdoc years and I shall try and add them to the list as I remember. What would you say were the skills that you have picked up or improved upon during your postdoc?

And with that, bye bye lab, hello desk.

The rest of the #realtimechemcarnival posts

Hi again,

Apologies for the delay in posting the last #realtimechemcarnival roundup. It has been a hectic time in the lab and at home!

@Fluorogrol contributed with his post on the oddities of scientific publishing, by reminding us that ” there’s free, and then there’s free“.

Katherine (@KJHaxton) then gave us a glimpse into her outreach life with her summary of a Chemistry at Work event for schools.

So that is it for the 2014 #realtimechemcarnival. See you again next year for another superb #realtimechem week.

Jess

 

#Realtimechemcarnival 2014 Day 2 and 3 Roundup

This year’s blog carnival has shone the light on a few chemistry blogs that I previously did not know existed. It is great to see so many new (to me) bloggers in the chem-blogosphere. Keep it up all. The more the merrier!

Here are the posts from Tues 24th and Weds 25th June.

1) Tom (@TRBranson) started us off with his awesome take on the supervisor-student relationship during thesis writing time.  I had many a comment on my thesis drafts, but I don’t think I was ever told that I was “fundamentally wrong”! Thanks for sharing, Tom.

2) Jess (@chemicaljess) wasn’t far behind her with post on intentions during a PhD. Her blog is a great place to read about the trials and tribulations of a PhD. Definitely worth a read for those just starting their PhD journey.

3) One of the prolific bloggers from last year’s  #realtimechemcarnival, Joaquin (@JoaquinBarroso), has again joined in with his post on his summer interns. It will be great to see the progress that these students make over the summer. Please do keep us up-to-date Joaquin!

4) Since the kind guys over at ChemDraw were kind enough to let me try out their new 2014 version, the least I could do was let them know what I thought of it.

5) Julia (@ochemprep) joins the party with her post on Praying for an Epiphany where she shares her story from undergrad to start-up founder.

Keep up the excellent #realtimechem work everyone and remember to let me know if you think I have missed any carnival posts.

#realtimechemcarnival – New ChemDraw: What do I think?

A slightly different post in aid of the #realtimechemcarnival but hopefully useful to someone!

I currently use ChemDraw 13 Pro at work. This has very basic features and is really only useful for drawing out reaction schemes and checking molecular weights. At my previous workplace, I had ChemDrawUltra 2010. This had a lot of useful features like “convert name to structure” and NMR prediction, which were really useful tools, especially as I was writing my PhD thesis at the time.

Recently, I was given the chance to trial the new ChemBioDrawUltra 14.0. I expected this to be a better, flashier version of ChemDrawUltra 2010 and, indeed, it is. It has pretty much all the same useful tools as ChemDrawUltra 2010 but it also has some new features, which I have had fun playing around with.

What do I particularly like about this new version?

1) BioDraw tools – our group is very interdisciplinary. We currently have people working with biocatalysts and we were very pleased to see updated BioDraw tools (a lot more choice and much more detailed) and a Biopolymer tool bar so that peptide/DNA chains can be drawn. I have a feeling the bio people in the lab will be wanting to borrow my laptop in the coming months!

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2) Structure Tool bar – this is a useful addition as it means I don’t keep having to go up to the structure menu. It contains the commonly used NMR prediction, naming and clean-up icons, amongst others.

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3) Scifinder addition – I thought this was a bit of a gimmick but it has made my life easier. I am currently writing a literature review and this has certainly made that quicker to write. It is as simple as drawing the structure, clicking on search > search SciFinder (via my library login page).

What I would like to see in future versions?

A tool bar for flow chemists – synthetic chemists are embracing flow chemistry more and more so it would be great to see some tools which would allow us to draw schemes of detailed flow set-ups.

Overall, I really liked this version. I will keep updating this post as I find more features that I like (or dislike). I got this version on a free trial, I am not sure, however, that I would pay the full price for it but I hope some employers do!

 

#Realtimechemcarnival 2014 Day 1 roundup

Hi all,

I hope you are all enjoying #realtimechem week! My week started with a house move and trip to Ikea so I am a little behind but from what I have seen so far, there has been a huge variety in the content of the tweets from people all over the world. Keep it up tweeps.

Monday gave us some really amazing blog posts, so thank you, bloggers, for getting involved and contributing.

1) Harm reduction – an interesting post on the rise of ecstasy derivatives by Craig (@Sci_McInnes).

2) The ever wonderful Laura-Jane (@laurajane0103) has started up her first chemistry-themed blog in aid of #realtimechem week. Her introductory post is a video snapshot into a day in the life of Laura Jane.

3) At The Dose Makes the Poison, Kevin (@forensictoxguy) gives us an overview of drug detection in urine.

4) A new (to me) blogger, Martin (@MartinStoermer), from Chemistry and Computers, shares their views on The trouble with Cha, (aka cyclehexylalanine).

5) Ellen (@ChemistLN) joins in on the video blogging by giving us a tour of her lonely lab.

Thanks to all that contributed to the awesome blog posts for day 1 of #realtimechem week. Do let me know if you think I have missed any or if you want to host a post of your own here. I shall be writing some of my own this week, so do watch this space.

Back to the lab for me.

Jess

#Realtimechem Blog Carnival

realtimechemcarnival2014

 

As Dr Jay has mentioned, we shall be doing #realtimechemcarnival during #realtimechem week again this year. For more information about #realtimechem week, read Jay’s FAQ.

You can blog about absolutely anything chemistry related – the stranger, the better!  Once you have blogged, either email me the link at theorganicsolutionblog at gmail dot com or link on Twitter using the hashtag #realtimechemcarnival. If I can, I will then post the day’s carnival posts here but if not I will definitely do a roundup at the end of the week. For some inspiration, do take a look at the 2013 entries .

If you have any questions about the carnival, don’t hesitate to get in touch!

Jess

P.s Thanks to Jay for all his artwork!

 

Elemental chemistry

Hello world!

I thought I would interrupt this unplanned blog hiatus with a post about elements, which was inspired by a Twitter conversation with Dr Tom.

Which elemental form of the chemical elements have you used in the lab?

I believe my number is a lowly 10 although I am sure I have forgotten some.

Hydrogen (H), carbon (C), oxygen (O3), fluorine (F2), sodium (Na), magnesium (Mg), bromine (Br2), iridium (Ir), tin (Sn), iodine (I2).

Tom’s was a more impressive 12, including Samarium.

 

p.s I have obviously also used nitrogen and argon as inert gases in reactions and helium as a GC carrier gas but I don’t feel they count as I haven’t manipulated them into something new.

p.p.s oxygen has been added as I forgot that I have had plenty of experience with stinky ozone.