All Aboard for the June Scientiae!




All month the Scientiae train has been loading at platform 37.7*, and now we're pulling out of the station on a wonderful journey on the rails. I'm picturing a Harry Potter-esque train running through the Scottish countryside, complete with cozy compartments and carts full of goodies, comforting tea, and chocolate frogs.** But most importantly, this train is full of amazing people sharing confidences, celebrations, frustrations, and encouragement. Alice and ScienceWoman will be your conductors for this journey, and we're going to drop in on some of the conversations.

We'll start up near the engine, with an excited group eager to share all that's going on in their lives. Volcanista feels like almost everything in her life is moving forward. In fact, she had to rack her brain to find something that hadn't changed in the past year. Woot! Unbalanced Reaction is also clearly moving on from a visiting ass. professor to a new position, so she's taking delight in the stock questions that people ask along an academic pathway. On the other hand, JaneB at Now, what was I doing? thinks its funny that her life is moving forward, because she'd planned to take this year to regroup and make a new plan.


(Jacobite steam train photo on Flickr by Cayetano. Used under a creative commons license.)

Moving back to another compartment, we overhear Karina at Ruminations of Aspiring Ecologist share that she's entering her first field season with trepidation about her ability to collect good data, even though she's successfully navigated a ton of obstacles to get to Ukenzagapia. Candid Engineer offers some encouragement by saying that she loves that scientists get to keep learning, and she shares that she rocked some organic chemistry with the help of a friendly post-doc Kim at All of My Faults Are Stress Related asks whether as a mid-career faculty member she's at risk of becoming deadwood. I think if you read her post, you'll certainly agree that she's far from that point. Janus Professor is celebrating actually getting back into her lab after a year of absence. The group in this compartment decides that our jobs can be fun, if a little daunting, if we just take some time for introspection and to celebrate our accomplishments.


(Jacobite steam train photo on Flickr by piglicker. Used under a creative commons license.)

The tone of conversation in the next train car is a bit different, as a small clique discuss health issues that they are tackling. S. at More than a Permanent Student is struggling with insomnia, but finding that a new medicine helps her get the sleep she needs to make some progress in her life. In a few weeks, LabCat is having a hysterectomy because of uterine fibroids in a few weeks and is hopeful that afterwards she will be able to move forward with the sort of life she'd like to be leading. Katie at Minor Revisions is also dealing with fibroids, and trying to figure out how to move forward when she and her doctor have a difference of professional opinion. We wish S., LabCat, and Katie best of luck as they take care of themselves.


In the hallway between compartments, Alice and I find a little knot of women talking about the frustrating parts of the scientific career and how to move forward when you feel like you are stalled out. Dr. L of Who am I? tells us that she is stuck in an unhappy post-doc, in part of because of the unwritten formalism of Japanese work culture. Lucy at Always Listen to Your Pig Puppet also feels stuck with a project she's no longer interested in and is trying to figure out what to do about it. YoungFemaleScientist offers up that her therapist recommended that she watch "You've Got Mail" for tips on how to handle and decide whether to give up her research career, but YFS found it to be particularly unhelpful. So Dr. L and Lucy should probably try something else instead.

Overhearing that conversation and joining in, MommyProf talks about how, since her life seems to be in a holding pattern, she's going to do the sort of research she wants to do. Just do it, MommyProf! ScienceWoman also feels like her life is on hold while some personal stuff gets sorted out, but she's realizing that lists give her some momentum even on the darkest days. Amanda at A Lady Scientist has come to the realization that "life is what happens while you are making other plans" and is beginning to do things now, rather than waiting until after graduation. Zuska of Thus Spake Zuska gently reminds all of us that the concept of moving forward is not the only way to view life, and that the best things in life, like enjoying time in the garden, are somewhat circular. Thanks for the reminder, Z!


(Jacobite steam train photo on Flickr by piglicker. Used under a creative commons license.)

Towards the back of train, we find some more friends talking about strategies for moving forward. Pat at FairerScience offers up that she just keeps on keeping on when faced with a barrier. Speaking of keeping on, Patchi at My Middle Years shares that she recently had to keep working with a sinus infection...but it was so she could take a vacation later. We hope she's all recovered and rested now. JaneB has wandered back to this compartment to admit that the way she keeps on when faced by a challenge is by focusing on the small tasks and immediate goals. She tells us this by describing with a beautiful, and literal, field work metaphor. Chuck at Lounge of a Lab Lemming is wondering about the best strategies for least disadvantaging women in the hiring process.

Before the rest of us return to the station, to load up for another month of blogging and a new Scientiae, we have to say a sad goodbye to a couple of our our dear friends. Jane of See Jane Compute is moving forward with new adventures, and is shedding her blog to lighten her load. Those of us who have read Jane over the past four years wish her well as she moves toward tenure and beyond. At New Voices for Research, FlyGal too is moving on, but she leaves us with some life lessons she's learned along her journey. Good luck to FlyGal in her new adventures.

We've had a great time being your conductors for this trip on the Scientiae train. Thanks for riding with us and we hope to see you again soon.

*37.7 is the current % of US STEM Ph.D.s awarded to women
**The photos in the post are of the Jacobite steam train in Scotland, were obtained from Flickr and are used under a Creative Commons license. The smaller photos are by piglicker. If most Scottish trains are really not so Harry Potter-esque, then someone needs to invite me on a trip to Scotland. :)

Edited by Alice: Part II of the carnival, "Catch-up edition" is here. Thanks for all the fabulous posts!

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Somehow, I thought I had submitted something to this month's carnival. I shall tell myself that it must have gotten lost somewhere along the way and that I haven't been purposefully snubbed.

Don't let ScienceWoman fool you -- it is all her who put together this train trip. I'm just along for the ride.

SW - this was a particularly awesome carnival. Thanks to you, and thanks to all the folks who sent in posts.

Hmm...Rivikah, I'm in the same boat. I hope I didn't forget to submit it!

Great post though! I look forward to reading the entries!

All -- there were a few posts that got overlooked on the platform. I'll be doing an express edition later this weekend to catch them up to the main train. :-) Sorry about that!