The Sassy Scientist – Stochastic Sequels

The Sassy Scientist – Stochastic Sequels

Tuckered from simply contemplating the infinite myriad of possibilities arising behind the dandy phantasmagoria at the pristine horizon which is a doctorate, Maite considers:

Should I start a postdoc directly after my PhD?

Dear Maite,

I would. If you want to stay in science, that is. Consider yourself a prospector initiating the exploration of an unsullied landscape. A wonderful scenery of exciting possibilities lays at the tips of your toes. For you to discover. In science, at home, in business, at schools, et cetera, et cetera. You think of the opportunity, it’s out there. Somewhere. Moreover, your goal is to pinpoint that one and only pinnacle of interest to you: a scientific career. Whereas your initial position (to the ordinary folk also known as a PhD) for this search is excellent, you haven’t really got your bearings properly; shrouded in mist you perceive the faint outlines of peaks and valleys all around you. And you can’t see which one is highest. Or lowest for that matter. So you start wondering; what’s the best way of walking through this wasteland? Videlicet the shortest, and thus most efficient, trajectory towards that bright shining light atop the apex of a scientific career path. You decide that a systematic quest to fill in the blanks of your chart will take too much time, as will the old spiral outwards. By and large this would simply constitute a wild goose chase. After a prolonged period of contemplating, ruminating and – suprisingly – meditating, by chance your sophisticated procedure is as simple as it is elegant; you just take a step in a random direction and if you assess your current location better than your previous, you move onwards from this new position. In case your evaluation suggests otherwise, that this might just not be the path to success to continue onwards, you either return back to your previous station or you still move onwards. Just a flip of the old coin. You live and you learn, right? You never know, perhaps there’s simply a little foreland basin in front of that majestic peak of scientific excellence. All in all, the stroke of luck might just result in you arriving at your preferred destination. However, you also should consider that you end up in a perfect storm. In a barren landscape, with howling winds and thunderous solemness. On a peneplain, dreaming of those fabled peaks afar. To avoid such disastrous outcome you remember that you should never wander such immaculate terrain willy-nilly, as prior information is up for grabs. From yours truly but your supervisor and colleagues may have something to say about this too. Once in a blue moon there’s actual sense ejected through commentary. Once you’re able, and willing, to take the chances in front of you, you’ve got to take them. Start that postdoc. Go abroad. Welcome that invitation. As soon as you’re able. Explore that map, and set out a course to the peak of your choosing. Fill in your chances, a posteriori that is.

Yours truly,

The Sassy Scientist

PS: This post was written as a random search. Ah, the bliss of ignorance.

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I am currently employed at a first tier research institute where I am continuously working with the greatest minds to further our understanding of the solid Earth system. Whether it is mantle or lithosphere structure and dynamics, solid Earth rheology parameters, earthquake processes, integrating observations with model predictions or inversions: you have read a paper of mine. Even if you are working on a topic I haven’t mentioned here, I still know everything about it. Do you have any problems in your research career? I have already experienced them. Do you struggle with your work-life balance? Been there, done that. Nowadays, I have only one hobby: helping you out by answering the most poignant questions in geodynamics, research and life. I am waiting for you right here. Get inspired.

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