Dear Person Seeking Training

It matters very little whether you are an undergraduate seeking a brief "experience' in my lab, a potential graduate student or a post doc. Even a person seeking a technical position. You who have just emailed me. Yes, you.
Look, just about every source of information available tells you not to do it. Just about every professor blog (that's what you kids read these days, right?) has a post like this one. Every other postdoc blog has these comments for the undergraduate assistants and trainees. Any etiquette book I've ever read tells you the same thing.
Do not send me a generic form mail.


I am not fooled. No matter how winningly you think you have managed to keep the focus on you and what you need, it is nakedly obvious you really have very little idea of what is going on in my laboratory. I have a website. It may be technical, brief or woefully out of date. Still. It gives you a toehold on the laboratory's area of interest. You claim to have taken some classes in -ology. I assume you have learned, somewhere along the way, to use PubMed. Do that. Get some idea of what my laboratory does.
Then re-write your letter. I will try to forget that I already think you are an annoying, impolite little twit. Fortunately, there is an excellent chance I will have forgotten about you entirely in about 20 minutes.
As it stands now, you are going in a special little file. Oh no, not the trash bin. Uh-uh. You see, your little waste of my time will not go entirely to waste. I throw these in a special file for trainee inquiries that I have no intent of responding to. You see, when it comes time to apply for training grants, the number of people who have "sought training with the PI" is of interest. Yeah, it is bogus to count these spammy inquiries...but everyone does it. So thanks for giving me your name and email so that I can add another tally to the list.
Cheers,
DrugMonkey

94 responses so far

  • Becca says:

    Whoa, I didn't realize the name/email of such n00bs was useful for anything!
    Seriously though, I'm not suprised. My advisor is working on a training grant now... I think training grants want to know everything. Like, "number of people who have sought training with the PI" Plus the number of those that are TGE, A/B/C/D...
    (training grant eligible, # with disabilities, # of underrepresented minorities, #from underpriviledged backgrouns, #with polydactylism...)

  • monson says:

    i don't want to work for you anyway. you are an ass

  • zy says:

    Tip: a google ad can vastly increase the number of those spammy inquiries.

  • Whee says:

    Sounds like you get enough applicants that you can be choosy about their email wording. Isn't free help good enough? After all, everyone can be trained to do some techy things.

  • anonymous says:

    why you are doing this DM to your fellow professors? I know you are trying to help trainees here, but did you ever thought about your colleagues? if only they will find out...

  • DrugMonkey says:

    huh? What am I "doing" exactly?

  • #4. 'Free help' is worth less than what you pay for it. Training takes time and often-expensive resources, and even carefully trained dimwits make mistakes that can cost your research program dearly. For example, glassware that hasn't been thoroughly rinsed can kill your cultures, with weeks or months wasted tracking down the problem.

  • I'm a fellow professor of DM's and have no idea what anon #5 is speaking about. I couldn't agree more with Prof Redfield in #7, except in very rare cases.
    On the larger issue of this post, DM is spot on. Never before has so much information been easily available about investigators and their laboratories. It is very easy to even feign interest in a particular P.I. by doing about 10 min of internet work.
    What dismays me is that I am seeing this spam-application culture metastasizing even to faculty candidates. Please, give me some indication that you've looked at our webpage, know something about our institution and dept and how you'd fit in, maybe even mention the name of a fellow future faculty colleague with whom you'd be excited to interact.
    Too bad for anyone who is offended by DM's post. This is reality. If someone can't spend 10 min on the internet before applying to my lab or dept, rest assured that I'd treat the app just as DM. Learn from her/him or spend your life complaining that science is so unfair and jobs are so difficult to get.

  • Neuro Geek says:

    I'm in an engineering department and I get enormous amounts of Seeking Research Assistantship spam, especially from China and India. One thing I've done to help both myself and those students who *do* read my lab website is to prominently feature a link there, instructing interested students to use a particular Subject line in their email to me. Those emails get much higher priority and and much more care than other emails--in particular they are always answered.
    On a related topic, I had a student Seeking Research Assistantship walk into my office last week who did not work in my field but told me that he wanted to work in my lab, for pay, because I was "famous in India" (I am most certainly not). And he said it with a such a straight face... šŸ™‚

  • anonymous says:

    huh? What am I "doing" exactly? #6
    giving away your little secrets to everyone who writes such mails with hope šŸ™‚

  • What kills me are the students who tell me they "need a research experience so they can get into medical school." No you don't, you little shit. You need to practice telling people to turn their heads and cough.

  • Odyssey says:

    I've gotten so sick of the generic form-letter style emails that I take my revenge by sending a generic form-letter reply. I have a couple of these set up as alternative signatures in my email client. I'm very careful about using these - I only use them when convinced of the form-letter nature of the original email. I look for obvious clues like a different font/font size for my name versus the rest of the email (surprisingly common), anything addressed to Sir/Madam or Professor (without my name following), etc.
    Anyone who seems to have made an effort to look into what I do, or emails where I'm unsure as to whether or not it's a form-letter, gets a personal reply. Whether I have room in my lab or not. I have colleagues who will ignore all such inquiries unless they have an opening. I believe you should spend the 30 seconds it takes to reply. A little good will never hurts.

  • leigh says:

    as a graduate student who formerly got stuck with all those research-experience candidates who DID make it through the selection process in our lab... your pickiness is justified.
    free help is not just free help. free help is 2 weeks of full time training (at least for what i was teaching), then usually constant checking-up and stopping by the bench to keep an eye on the student until it's over. that's costly considering you don't know what you're going to get out of it.

  • PhysioProf says:

    I don't even read "Dear Esteemed Professor" e-mails, and certainly do not waste my time replying.

  • S. Rivlin says:

    Wow! Most of you are whining elitists.

  • "Esteemed Professor." Heh.
    But I fear everyone here may have hurt Sol's feelings. When my two year old has his feelings hurt, I offer him a cookie and some milk. Do you need milk and cookies, Sol?

  • CC says:

    Wow! Most of you are whining elitists.
    I've got to largely agree with this. Postdoc applicants, sure, from them you expect a certain degree of professionalism. But 18 year olds? Maybe they don't have the proper pleasantries down, don't know what PubMed is, don't distinguish between whatever microfield you're in and "research" as a generality. It seems odd to give out finger-waving lectures about men talking business in the bathroom and then automatically blow off undergrads because they don't talk as good a game as some faculty brat.

  • S. Rivlin says:

    Dr. Isis,
    Pompous asses never hurt my feelings, they only evoke in me disdain and disrespect for they, somehow, see themselves as "better than thou." You are the same people who, not long ago, whined so loudly about those awefull, pompous surgeons.
    CC,
    If you want milk and cookies, simply continue with this line of thinking.

  • Sol, I don't consider myself to be "better than thou," merely better than you. And fairly brilliant with a scalpel.
    I had better get back to the kitchen. We are going to be needing alot of cookies.

  • Kelly says:

    Odyssey,
    Just wanted to point out that, in looking for a job if I'm not careful I can end up with the different font for a name -- even though I carefully write my cover letters/introductory emails. That is because, in an effort to get the addressee's name spelled right, I often copy/paste it from a website or other source.
    So, the name in a different font is not a terribly reliable clue.

  • S. Rivlin says:

    Dear Isis the Scientist,
    You surely consider yourself "better," at least where making cookies is concerned ;). Unfortunately for science, you are one of a bunch of pompous scientists who do see themselves above the rest in their field. You tend to forget the meaning of words such as "professor, mentor, teacher" etc. Of course, it's not all just your fault. The system that promotes the "Dollar" over academic activities for the sake of new knowledge production has it's share in creating "scientists" who are concern mainly with their own glory.
    Beth,
    one of the reasons you never learned how to hold a pipett when you were ready to seek your training has to do with the disappearance of laboratories both in highschools and colleges. In the effort to not leave our children behind we have brought the whole system back to the level of the lowest common denominator. Consequently, we have allowed the formation of an elitist class of scientists who have managed to do better than this lowest common denominator. They looking down on the common product of the system as a primitive, uneducated native.
    You all making me puke!

  • PhysioProf says:

    You tend to forget the meaning of words such as "professor, mentor, teacher" etc.

    Sol, you don't know jack fucking shit about what anyone other than yourself does or doesn't know about the meaning of those terms. You waste your time bitching and moaning and complaining. We spend our time doing the best we can to be professors, mentors, and teachers. You are a bitter nasty fuck, overwhelmed by your own failures, with nothing useful to contribute to this discussion.

  • Becca says:

    I think that this sort of thing is part of the process of becoming socialized as a professional (much of it would apply outside of science as well). It is unreasonable to expect it to be innate knowledge. Common sense... isn't.
    On the one hand, I applaud DM for taking the time and energy to write down the simple yet unwritten rules of professional behavior. And of course I think he's found an excellent use for such emails. On the other hand, the tone very much has a cranky old man "get off my lawn" sort of feel to me. I have the same problem over at FSP's blog sometimes.
    I know people need their blogs for ranting. And I admire people who use their blogs for mentoring. But sometimes these things are at cross purposes (that is, I fully believe you should send any message you please on your own blog, but sometimes there seems to be some mixing of messages).

  • DrugMonkey says:

    all right, all right. calm down y'all. everyone's more or less on the same page here, from what I know of everyone's commenting. Becca@24 nails it down admirably. Bloggy-rant and mentoring co-exist on this blog, as with many others. (all?) Yes. Sometimes this can be at cross purposes. Sometimes, I would submit, directly to the purpose.
    It is good for trainees to recognize that PIs, including their own supposedly CluelessMentor, are people. With egos and time pressures and other ThingsToDo beyond handholding with trainees. Yes, that is indeed part of our job and from my experience one that many PIs genuinely enjoy. Still...
    And I think people like Kelly @ 21 need to hear the ranty bit. Because nobody knows or cares if she was oh-so-careful to get the spelling right, hence the cut/paste font thing. If you are really so interested, would it take more than about 10 sec to retype the name in your email body?

  • Drugmonkey, you are ever the diplomat. I adore you.
    Sol, you remain an idiot. When yours truly has the opportunity to mentor a student, she actually takes it very seriously. I am quite proud of the impact I have had on more junior scientists, especially female scientists. However, PP makes a brilliant point in that there are a limited number of hours in a day. I do not have time to take under my wing a student who is here to add my work as another notch in their labcoat. I do what I do because I am passionate about my work. I expect the same passion from those I work with. In the earlier phases of my career I was lucky to have met people who saw some potential in me and I look for potential in others. Potential does not shine through in a form letter. I am willing to teach a naive student, but not an unenthusiastic one.
    And you, Sol. I there is nothing I could teach you. But, I will still offer you a cookie.

  • Rev Matt says:

    I'm amazed that this post generated so much hostility. This is just basic common sense for any job applicant, not just those seeking to work in a research lab. When I've been in applicant review positions (mostly for web developers) the people who tailor their cover letter/resume to highlight their suitability for our particular environment (client base experience, specific technologies used, etc) always got more consideration than people who clearly sent the same cover/resume to dozens of companies at once.
    This is the sort of thing any community college career counselor would advise you to do. Sad that it has to even be said.

  • Becca says:

    It is important to remember the "human" side of professors (by "human" I mean "someone who's motivations are not utterly incomprehensible"... not to be mistaken with actual mere mortals).
    Personally, I have a tendancy to read ranty-professor blog posts and immediately put myself in the place of whatever CluelessStudent they are describing. For that matter, when I read YFS's blog, I tend to feel empathy toward imaginary CluelessMentors (contrary streak? and how!). That's probably just me.
    That said, being continually demeaned as CluelessStudent can make one (at least temporarily) entirely unsympathetic to professor rants (and I'm sure the inverse holds true too). I wouldn't be suprised if that's part of what's going on with S. Rivlin.
    *one last grumble*
    DM I'm sure you're aware students have much more enjoyable things to do (like generate data) than recieve patronizing "hand-holding" style mentorship.
    My parents couldn't get me to hold their hands to keep me from running into the street when I was three; I'm not about to pick up a sudden affinity for hand-holding now (the "I don't want to have to hand-hold students" meme really pushes my "patronizing professor" button).

  • Becca says:

    @ RevMatt- I'm totally in agreement with you that any (good) community college career counselor would offer very similar advice to what DM is offering. I don't see why that would imply it's "sad that it has to even be said".

  • S. Rivlin says:

    PP said: Sol, you don't know jack fucking shit about what anyone other than yourself does or doesn't know about the meaning of those terms. You waste your time bitching and moaning and complaining. We spend our time doing the best we can to be professors, mentors, and teachers. You are a bitter nasty fuck, overwhelmed by your own failures, with nothing useful to contribute to this discussion.
    Isis said: Sol, you remain an idiot... And you, Sol. I there is nothing I could teach you. But, I will still offer you a cookie.
    I can see the great contributions of these two to the discussion. Moreover, the above responses are typical of pompous asses who really believe they know better, including all about S. Rivlin's failures and success.
    Becca said: CluelessStudent can make one (at least temporarily) entirely unsympathetic to professor rants (and I'm sure the inverse holds true too). I wouldn't be suprised if that's part of what's going on with S. Rivlin.
    Wrong! I belong to an older generation of students who appear on the doorstep of the mentor with whom they wanted to work. The mentor either like you or not, but you had the chance to present yourself and your ideas, and the mentor had his/her chance to size you not based on the font you used in your application letter, but rather on your personality, knowledge and enthusiasm. If you could not travel to the lab you desired, you could call on the phone and speak directly with the mentor. Luckily for me, as a student I never had the bad luck of dealing with a pompous ass mentor. As a faculty member throughout my career, however, I discovered that many scientists today carry this trait, a trait that many of the responders here carry, too. Furthermore, I am now retired after having a very successful and fulfilling career in the neurosciences. I attribute this success, at least in part, to the great mentors I had, who were all excellent teachers and who care about the success of their students and about their own science. They were all modest and unassuming and each one of them was a leader in their field of endeavor. Unfortunately, today the mentor, the teacher, is only secondary to the real rank - a PI! And, for many, the PI is coupled to a PA.

  • pinus says:

    This is ridiculous.
    Expecting somebody to have a minimal level of knowledge about the work they profess to be interested in doing is not being pompous, it is being professional.

  • PhysioProf says:

    Furthermore, I am now retired after having a very successful and fulfilling career in the neurosciences. I attribute this success, at least in part, to the great mentors I had, who were all excellent teachers and who care about the success of their students and about their own science. They were all modest and unassuming and each one of them was a leader in their field of endeavor. Unfortunately, today the mentor, the teacher, is only secondary to the real rank - a PI! And, for many, the PI is coupled to a PA.

    Yeah, Sol. We know. Back in the old days, you and all your mentors were wonderful pure scientists, leaders in their fields, modest and unassuming. In fact, every time you and your mentors farted, rainbows and unicorns shot out of your asses.
    And we are all craven money-driven scumbags who don't care anything about science, mentoring, or anyone's success but our own. We are the spawn of the devil, beholden to evil mannon, and even have horns that we hide beneath our shaggy unkempt greasy hair.
    Damn, Sol, you are a ridiculous tiresome old fuck.

  • Becca says:

    "In fact, every time you and your mentors farted, rainbows and unicorns shot out of your asses."
    Wait, when was Barak Obama was a scientist??

  • Sol, I would appreciate it if you didn't lump me together with PhysioProf. As you would see if you clicked here, I'm actually feuding with that guy. He's a real ass.
    But, back to the topic at hand. The reality of the situation is, I love being a teacher. Am I cocky and pompous? Absolutely, but I have every right to be. I am just that amazing at what I do.

  • PhysioProf says:

    He's a real ass.

    Try to extend some courtesy to your HOST!!!! This is my fucking blog.

  • S. Rivlin says:

    Isis,
    Your score on my card has already improved at least by two points simply for your feud with this PP ass. You have gained another two for enjoying teaching and being good at it. However, I must deduct two points for you being cocky and pompous because being one places you closer to PP who once used the very same description to describe himself.
    BTW, though he claims that I am rediculous, PP describes himself and his ilk perfectly:
    "And we are all craven money-driven scumbags who don't care anything about science, mentoring, or anyone's success but our own. We are the spawn of the devil, beholden to evil mannon, and even have horns that we hide beneath our shaggy unkempt greasy hair."
    And, of course, the fact that this PP creature is scatological makes the whole mentor-teacher claim of his even more rediculous.

  • NM says:

    Quote mining. That is low.

  • Odyssey says:

    Sol wrote:
    Wrong! I belong to an older generation of students who appear on the doorstep of the mentor with whom they wanted to work. The mentor either like you or not, but you had the chance to present yourself and your ideas, and the mentor had his/her chance to size you not based on the font you used in your application letter, but rather on your personality, knowledge and enthusiasm. If you could not travel to the lab you desired, you could call on the phone and speak directly with the mentor.
    This is really the crux of the disagreement. If a student were to come see me in person, or pick up the phone and call me, or send me a thoughtful email, then I would bend over backwards to make the time to talk to them. After all, students who make the effort to do these things would also make some effort to know something about the person they're communicating with.
    But that's not what this post was about. Many (certainly not all) students simply don't do this anymore. Too many use generic form email bombs as a way to target as many faculty as possible with as little effort as possible. I don't want someone that lazy in my lab.

  • Try to extend some courtesy to your HOST!!!! This is my fucking blog.
    Wow, PP! I clearly need to go back to first grade. I had no idea D-R-U-G-M-O-N-K-E-Y was pronounced "PhysioProf."

  • Arlenna says:

    As a brand-new (1 month) faculty member, the ONLY emails I get are the form-letter spam bombs to everyone in my department. I agree with Odyssey: I don't want someone that lazy in my lab. If somebody is truly intrigued enough by my research description and has read a few of my papers and really wants to, I'd love to try to find a way for them to come work with me. But that sure isn't what I've seen so far. The only thing that came close to even mentioning what my lab might do was a student who wrote "Oh madam, your research is really so good."

  • S. Rivlin says:

    Odyssey and Arienna,
    Throughout this discussion, the main tenor has been the whining of the PI who doesn't have either the time or the will to respond to students' letters. At the moment when a PI decides not to respond, s/he stops being a teacher and becomes a pompous ass. The majority of potential students are youngsters who lack the basic etiquette, not through their own fault and not because they are lazy, rather because no one has ever taught them the necessary skills. The system is broken and the PIs of the world are sitting in their glass towers and passing judgment on hundreds of students based on a letter.
    These PIs should respond to each of these students, even harshley, if they so choose, in an effort to help these applicants not to repeat the same mistake again. That's what a good teacher does.
    I have received hundreds of letters throughout my career (still getting several every month, despite the fact that I am now retired) and have replied to each one of them. Many of them came from China, India, Russia, Spain, Italy, South America and Mexico. Scores of them written in not so perfect English, many of the writers just looking for an opportunity to come to the US to study. All of then received my reply. I did not categorized them; I did not look down on them just because they were not fully immersed in my research interests; I don't think any of them was lazy. It is, if nothing else, a common courtesy to respond to a letter, and it is so much easier today with e-mails than ever before. If any one is lazy here, it is the PI who finds the excuses not to respond.

  • DrugMonkey says:

    Solution!!!! I'm forwarding them to Sol for him to answer kindly.

  • Stephanie Z says:

    Sol, do you respond to all your spam too? It's is a wonderful thing that you were and are able to respond to everyone who sends you mail. However, I think you underestimate the way that email lowers the barriers to correspondence. There's a huge difference in effort between putting something in an envelope and getting the correct postage on it and hitting Send.
    A person who has something desirable these days is frequently in a position of having to find ways to quickly weed through all their correspondence in order to have any time to get anything done. It isn't laziness. It's maintaining their own boundaries.

  • becca says:

    Dr. Isis- I think you need to go back to first grade to learn the "my ball, my rules" guideline.
    How exactly the bandwidth belongs to PP, I leave as an exercise to the reader (but not the first-grade reader, who would undoubtably say "nuh-UH! I don't see your name on it!!!")

  • Isis the Scientist says:

    Becca, nuh-UH!

  • PhysioProf says:

    At the moment when a PI decides not to respond, s/he stops being a teacher and becomes a pompous ass.

    Sol, you fucking ridiculous douchewacker, I receive about ten spam "Dear Esteemed Professor" e-mails per motherfucking day. You wanna come to my lab and be my Assistant In Charge Of Responding To Dumbfuck Spam E-Mails?

  • Reginald says:

    I respond to alllll my spam. My manhood is 3 feet longer, I rule 16 principalities in the south pacific and I'm currently raking in about 400million a day from the Nigerian prince I helped fly to the moon.

  • Odyssey says:

    Throughout this discussion, the main tenor has been the whining of the PI who doesn't have either the time or the will to respond to students' letters. At the moment when a PI decides not to respond, s/he stops being a teacher and becomes a pompous ass.
    Sol,
    If you read my comment #12 you will see that I do reply to these form emails. Perhaps not in the way you would, but I do send a reply. It takes me about as long as it takes the student to send me a form email. Seems like a fair deal to me.

  • The AntiSol says:

    Dear DM commenters,
    Intrigued by Sol's claim of having had an extensive career in neuroscience, I just did a search for "Rivlin S" in Medline. I suggest you do the same...

  • dm says:

    also try "monkey d". OMg!

  • Odyssey says:

    Dear DM commenters,
    Intrigued by Sol's claim of having had an extensive career in neuroscience, I just did a search for "Rivlin S" in Medline. I suggest you do the same...

    Anti-Sol, you idiot, has it occurred to you that Sol might not be his first name?

  • Cashmoney says:

    I can't find "odyssey" either! OR "prof p"! You are all a bunch of klowns perpetrating a hoax from your free library access in Peoria! We've been pwned!!

  • A search for "Isis" will get you about a million hits. I am quite prolific.

  • neurolover says:

    What, our esteemed host doesn't publish under Monkey D? I'm so disappointed. Just once, maybe?
    BTW, I think you'all are picking on Sol, but also, that he's trying not to understanding how the miracle of email can turn a sincere request into spam. Traveling to visit a potential mentor, even writing paper letters, too far more effort, inevitably requiring more of the applicant, and limiting the breadth of their requests.
    now, I suspect that some of the emails are actually produced by spam-like cites, which troll university web sites, looking for emails addresses to send potential applications to.

  • Samia says:

    Oh, DM, stop frontin'. You know you love us undergrads. Seriously, form e-mails should equal instant death.
    I make lists of people, their recent/notable papers, general impression from lab website, etc. before e-mailing to set up a physical meeting to discuss their research interests. I usually don't have to ask to work in someone's lab because people in my major have to get at least two semesters research anyway and everyone kind of knows the deal. If the prof thinks I'm zazzy and has a spot open, they'll tell me so.
    My recommendation to undergrads is to do this kind of research/recon early (like, months early) so you're not attacking people at the beginning or end of a semester. My school website has a cool search feature you can use to find faculty based on their research interests. And most places have career/academic advisors that can help you find a good match with a lab in your town. Or write a damn cover letter before you maul people with your crappy resume. My sister just got done working with a career advisor who helped her do her resume/cover letters, and it apparently got her into a women's health studies conference.
    My recommendation to (some) faculty is to please find some time to update your lab websites once in a while. Like, once every 3-5 years. Yeah, we can PubMed or whatever, but it's nice to see an actual photo of your lab personnel (I'll admit I look for diversity) and have some relevant biographical, employment and funding info in one place. I might choose to drop by your office because I see you worked for a biotech firm I'm interested in. Or I may want to learn more about that cool graphic of a crystal structure you solved recently. A random glamour shot of you from the 70's: not so helpful.

  • DrugMonkey says:

    What Samia said! Especially with respect to updating the faculty webpage (although see drdrA for a reason why this may not always be so easy).
    although I will add a caveat.
    Yeah, we can PubMed or whatever, but it's nice to see an actual photo of your lab personnel (I'll admit I look for diversity) and have some relevant biographical, employment and funding info in one place.
    It seems to me as though animal research labs may be slightly less likely to include a lot of staff pictures on their websites. for the obvious reasons.

  • Nat says:

    See this? *rubs thumb and forefinger together*
    This is the world's smallest violin playing just for the dumb people who can't come up with a halfhearted attempt to personalize an email seeking a position in a lab.
    But what Samia said. More labs need better and updated websites. With blogs right on em as well.

  • DrugMonkey says:

    With blogs right on em as well.
    Really? I think this would be weird.

  • Becca says:

    I don't get it... "(monkey, d[Author])" doesn't give any hits.
    I am sad I didn't win the comment contest, so I could learn DMs Secret Identity in New York.
    My life is sad.
    Wait, since when does Peoria have free library access?

  • DrugMonkey says:

    I am sad I didn't win the comment contest, so I could learn DMs Secret Identity in New York.
    I don't think they've actually run the random selector thingy yet so there is still hope.
    but I'll just note that one thing they didn't make all that clear was that not all Sb'ers were going to be able to fulfill the prize if selected.
    and Zuska is way more funny, interesting and entertaining than I am anyway...

  • Nat Blair says:

    Why weird?
    I'm not talking about have a DM/PP style blog on your website, but I can certainly see having the convenience of a blog like updating mechanism be useful in keeping a website updated. Sure you could do it in HTML, but that limits who will actually be able to do updates.
    Plus blogs are a great way to store "institutional memory", so if you could get people in your lab to blog, you might be able to capture some of that. Though people might not want that open to the web at large.
    But I tend towards those open science kinda wackaloon types.

  • S. Rivlin says:

    The AntiSol,
    Search Solomon Rivlin on Google. For PubMed you'll have to use my real name - Curious George.

  • Becca says:

    I'm not shocked it's not really any SB'er.
    Zuska is way more funny. However, there might be more things I could learn in a short meeting with you. Besides, since you appear to be anti-party* I needed a sneaky way to meet you. Zuska is accessible to her fans.
    Samia- my school has an awesome thingy for searching faculty research too... it's just 8 years out of date, or more and nobody knows how to edit their own info. Lame (though I'm not sure if it's the person who decided to make it inaccessible who is lame, or if the profs just aren't savy enough to find a way around it).
    *Unless you are going to show up as a suprise addition to Zuskas- *hint hint* šŸ˜›

  • ScientistMother says:

    By the time an undergrad is applying for a research position, they should be independent and intelligent enough to know how to apply for a job. Very few of us students have had the luxury of going through an undergraduate degree without having to work or apply for a scholarship. I agree it is common sense to personalize any emails. I also do not think a PI needs to respond to EVERY request. If a student really really wants to work with them, they will contact them again. The labs that I wanted to interview in, I approached more than once.
    What I don't get is why you have to attack someone personally for disagreeing with your opinion.

  • DrugMonkey says:

    since you appear to be anti-party* I needed a sneaky way to meet you
    I am not anti-party at all. In fact if you were reading closely you would have realized that I suggested that people who wanted a meelyun comments party in their locale to agitate specifically. Had I heard a bunch of requests for my location I would have done something.
    There will also be something on for SfN. those of us who are mutually 'out' will be meeting for sure. i've said i'll try to stop by the posters of anyone who emails me the details. other than that, if we get a big clamor for something bigger at Sfn, perhaps we'll flashmob something so that everyone can anon or not as preferred...
    in short, I'm all about the partay šŸ™‚

  • VeronikaB says:

    I do not think it is elitist to ignore generic copy&paste e-mails. If the person pretending to be interested in working for you does not even take the time to look at your website, they are not that interested, are they? It is not cluelesness. It is thoughtlesness and inconsiderate behaviour of a person who does not think that the recipient's time is as valuable as his/her time. I would not wish to have to teach such an inconsiderate and thoughtless student.
    An e-mail showing that the student has done his/her homework certainly deserves a considerate reply, but not these spammers. What gets me are all the e-mails starting "Dear Sir, [...], I would like to work in your lab...". Dear spammer, I am female. If my first name does not give you a clue, then there is a photo of me on the departmental website, one click away from my e-mail address. And I do not work in a lab. I am a theoretician. This is also clearly stated on my research website. So any e-mail that starts "Dear Sir," goes straight into trash.

  • PhysioProf says:

    perhaps we'll flashmob something

    Dude, stop pretending you're not an old fucking dweeb.

  • DrugMonkey says:

    'flashmob' is sooo 2003. isn't that sufficiently out of date that I can use it?

  • Becca says:

    DM, since your location is a big secret, nobody would know to agitate. We all assume you are nowhere near us. Since I'm in that part of Pennsylvania which resembles Arkansas, I was pretty sure you weren't in my immediate neighborhood.
    Wah! I'm not a neuroscientist! Darn Neuroscientists have all the fun. And an NIH institute that actually funds predoctoral fellowships. Curse you neuro people, curse you!!!
    Now the question before me is... does SfN appeal sufficently to my "I JUST WANNA KNOW STUFF" geekiness(there are after all a couple of people working on TLRs and a chunk on autophagy) that I could justify $110 in student fee + $26 in gas + $1!1eleventy!! in time away from lab.
    Even with flashmobs with dweebs it's a little tough.

  • juniorprof says:

    SfN appeal sufficently to my "I JUST WANNA KNOW STUFF" geekiness
    I have often wondered, bur never bothered to find out, is SFN the biggest of the big scientific meetings? is it possible that it is the biggest annual convention of scientific knowledge in the history of humankind? Just curious, if anyone knows. Either way, I can't imagine a single event that could satisfy the "i just wanna know stuff" itch better than SFN.
    And Becca, you will find more than a couple people working on TLR and TLR-related things there, not to mention that there are likely hundreds of posters that might have some bearing on autophagy at least in terms of some shared mechanisms or signaling.

  • NeuroStudent says:

    Have you considered sending back a form e-mail to the students that send you form e-mails?
    Something like:
    Dear Student,
    Please send me a detailed description of what you're interested in working on in my lab.
    --Prof. So & So
    If they're just lazy and uninterested then they won't bother; if they're interested, but didn't realize that they should have done this already they'll get the hint.
    Departmental website updating is a whole other issue--my mentor still has the same list of lab people up from 2002-2003...no one from that list is currently in the lab. He also still has a description of work that we don't actually do--I'm sure that it's a little confusing to some people.

  • PhysioProf says:

    American Heart Association meeting is bigger than SfN.

  • juniorprof says:

    American Heart Association meeting is bigger than SfN
    Gosh darn it!

  • Nat says:

    Beaten by a dumb pump.
    INCONCEIVABLE!

  • neurolover says:

    "American Heart Association meeting is bigger than SfN"
    But, I think that doesn't count, 'cause I'm guessing it's those MD's who spike those numbers. So, they're not really the biggest *scientific* meeting. (Just guessing, though, so someone can disprove me with numbers)
    Otherwise, we'd have to admit that the heart is really more important than the brain. And, I'm just not sure that my world view could survive that admission.

  • Nat, those are fightin' words.

  • Samia says:

    DM, your caveat doesn't seem to be an issue at my institution, but it is an interesting point. We've got a vet school here and lots of USDA money in satellite research complexes nearby, so there are more obvious targets in my town than a random person's lab in the biochemistry department who sometimes grinds up cow brains.
    Thankfully, we don't seem to have much in the way of violent animal rights "activists" here. Actually, the animal researchers I spoke about with you earlier have very nice, recently updated websites because they happen to do some cutting-edge work, and you know how schools like to showcase their Ballin' Scholars. And yes, there are pictures (the labs look very Indian, incidentally). So I guess it depends on how secure the PI feels? In any case, the work I'm interested is more biophysical/structural in nature and goddamn those people need to UP. DATE. I figure they have no excuse, because those folks are friggin' programmers and programmers don' neeno IT people. šŸ˜‰
    Oh yeah guess what guess what? A chemist I work with has a grad student daughter at the USDA facility next to us. If she has a couple minutes to spare one of these days, I might get a little tour-type thing. šŸ™‚ Wheeeee!

  • Nat says:

    *runs* Goddess wrath can mess up your day right quick.
    I think my neuro inferiority complex is acting up after spending these past few years working in a cardiology department, in a lab where lots of people are studying sperm ion channels, run by a guy who made his name understanding a heart ion current.

  • S. Rivlin says:

    While acording to the American Heart Association "Our more than 26,000 AHA/ASA Professional Members are key contributors to the credibility of the association," to the best of my knowledge, the SfN boasts a membership of over 30,000 members.

  • Odyssey says:

    The American Chemical Society boasts >160,000 members. Not all turn up to the annual meetings - generally only 13,000 attend.

  • DrugMonkey says:

    SfN annual meeting stats: http://www.sfn.org/index.cfm?pagename=annualMeeting_statistics
    looks like about 25,300 [I misread, ~27,000 as Nat noted] or so for 2007 (2006 was down because of the Katrina situation and the move from NOLA to atlanta, I assume)
    Experimental Biology always seems big to me but this link
    http://www.eb2008.org/pages/documents/FinalStatisticsPDF.pdf
    suggests half to a third the size of SfN.

  • Nat says:

    SfN website says 38,677 members for end of 2007.
    Annual mtg attendance in 2007 was ~32000, of which ~27K was "scientific"
    As for AHA, are we talking their "Scientific Sessions" mtg. Cause according to their website info, there were 26K attendees, ok which 7K were "non-professional"
    Ok, trolling done, now back to work.

  • Experimental Biology is the only meeting worth attending and is where Dr. Isis holds her yearly fan meet and greet.

  • PhysioProf says:

    "Experimental Biology"? I never heard of that meeting. Is it some kind of low-level student confab or what?

  • Mike_F says:

    I think this issue of meeting size deserves a separate thread. Personally I subscribe to the notion that that if you don't go to SFN you miss 100% of the meeting, while if you do go you miss 99.99%... . I would much rather invest the time and energy in an EMBO workshop or Gordon Conference in my field, where attendance is "only" ~100-150, but that invariably includes most of the movers and shakers of the field.

  • S. Rivlin says:

    I agree with Mike. One learns so much more from small, more specified meetings than from huge ones where 50% of your time is spent walking looking either for the location of the presentations you interested in or for your colleagues.

  • River Tam says:

    Annual mtg attendance in 2007 was ~32000, of which ~27K was "scientific". As for AHA, are we talking their "Scientific Sessions" mtg. Cause according to their website info, there were 26K attendees, ok which 7K were "non-professional"
    Holy crap. Your meetings are bigger than some towns I've lived in! That's just wrong. Never thought Ecology's "big" meeting of 4k would look....quaint. How do you get anything done at these things?

  • River, I fear that I usually don't. I get some work accomplished and reconnect with some science homies. But that all is usually outweighed by the huge amount of alcohol that is consumed.
    However, I am really, really looking forward to this year's Experimental Biology.

  • CC says:

    One learns so much more from small, more specified meetings than from huge ones where 50% of your time is spent walking looking either for the location of the presentations you interested in or for your colleagues.
    Once again in this thread, I agree with Sol. Nothing bigger than Cold Spring Harbor for me if I can help it.
    "Experimental Biology"? I never heard of that meeting.
    At first I'd thought she meant FASEB, but they don't have mega-meetings. Apparently it's this. Never heard anyone mention it before.

  • DrugMonkey says:

    "Experimental Biology" is indeed the big, collected annual meeting of the Federation of American Societies on Experimental Biology. You may simply think of it as the "FASEB meeting".

  • CC says:

    "Experimental Biology" is indeed the big, collected annual meeting of the Federation of American Societies on Experimental Biology.
    Looking again at their sites, you seem to be right (the EB staffers all have FASEB email addresses) but they're certainly coy about the connection. The EB site doesn't mention FASEB as a sponsor, or anywhere outside of the email addresses, and the FASEB site prominently mentions the small meetings I knew of but I don't see anything about EB.
    It sounds mind-numbing, but de gustibus non whatever...

  • DrugMonkey says:

    Hmm, that is little strange. the "sponsoring societies" for EB are pretty prominent and I guess I just happen to know that means "FASEB" when I see that list. and if you are on FASEB's site and click meetings EB is listed prominently
    http://www.faseb.org/meetings/
    But you are right that the EB site doesn't really say FASEB. So I guess I don't really know what the formal relationships are about...

  • anon says:

    F*** you Drug Monkey. You are an assturd.

  • F*** you Drug Monkey. You are an assturd.

    You spelled "fuck" wrong. And BTW, DrugMonkey is not an assturd; DrugMonkey is a cockwad. Comrade PhysioProf is an assturd.

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