Category Archives: Career

Life of a freelancing scientist – few observations

This post is mainly to indicate that I’m alive and blogging plus I wanted to share a few observations from my two month long freelancing scientist life:

1. If you are unemployed, but affiliated with an academic institution, applying for grants is OK, but getting an award for young and (possibly) smart is most of the time not possible (formal employment is usually required)

2. It takes very little time to sink in new projects (it’s me right now), after you’ve announced that you go freelance. That usually means:

3. It can take little time to go from no-salary to almost-a-salary-from-several-grants. Count grant turnover times in.

4. You have a lot (I mean really a lot) of skills that can be useful outside the academia. So useful that others may want to pay for them (I’ll let you know in a few months). And I’m not talking about programming.

5. You can switch the field in no time. It’s like going for a postdoc, sinking in projects and after few weeks deciding that after all it’s not that interesting. Although I keep in mind that I need to settle to have anything done.


Posted by on March 3, 2008 in Career


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Outsiders and great scientists

Last weeks brought another worth reading pieces on being a scientist: one in PLoS Computational Biology (found via The Evilutionary Biologist) and one over at Adaptative Complexity blog (found via Genome Technology). I would add a third one, albeit not strictly about scientists. This is “The power of the marginal” by Paul Graham. Graham in general writes about start-ups, but in this particular essay he put an advice, that I keep repeating myself over and over again:

If most of your ideas aren’t stupid, you’re probably being too conservative. You’re not bracketing the problem.

When I look back over the ideas I had, they could be categorized into four main groups: the ones that were published couple of years before I found them, the ones that were published just before, the ones that were published just after I started to work on them and finally the ideas I’m still working on because they were not published yet. In this light, Graham’s advice seems to me a pretty good way to escape this schema.

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Posted by on February 25, 2008 in Career, Research skills


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Freelance freedom

This lovely comic is a work of N.C. Winters. New episodes are published every Monday at Freelance Switch.

Freelance freedom

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Posted by on January 14, 2008 in Career, Fun


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Freelancing science in 2008

I was pretty busy last couple of weeks which resulted in massive amount of unread items in Google Reader. The New Year came unnoticeable but brought a lot of changes to my scientific life and to this blog. First of all, “freelancing science” became real – as of the first of January 2008 I’m no longer an employee and have no plans to be one soon. While I’m going to hold one of my academic affiliations, it’s no longer a formal agreement that binds me to a single place. This will allow me to jump with others into pool called “open science”. If you wonder how am I going to make money, all I can say is that I’m wondering about that too :).

Second thing is that I plan write more about bionanotechnology here, as I hope to merge protein science in silico with nanotech at some point. Molecular machines, multimeric complexes etc. here I come.

I plan to explore even more the topic of molecular graphics, maybe in a form of a separate site. In times of “Ice Age” (or any current animated movie) most of modern scientific visualizations look like Windows 98 next to Apple’s Leopard.

So stay tuned and I wish you an exciting year of 2008. Mine is going to be exciting for sure.


Posted by on January 8, 2008 in Career


Tenure dossier

Janet D. Stemwedel from Adventures in Ethics and Science publishes photographs of the three-ring binder containing her tenure dossier. She ends this post with the sentence: “I seem to recall that there are important aspects of life that you can’t cram into a three-hole punch.”

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The dossier itself more or less captures the teaching/scholarship/service categories impressed on us as faculty newbies. The faculty member preparing a dossier is handed a set of eight uniform dividers for a three-ring binder. Four of these impose the main structure on the materials the faculty member assembles, marking out sections dealing with teaching effectiveness, service to students and the university, scholarly or creative activity, and what amounts to service within or related to your field of scholarship.

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Posted by on September 27, 2007 in Career, Clipped