Jade at Life's a Biotech shares a recap of an American Association for Cancer Research session she attended this week, dedicated to career issues for graduate students and postdocs. While she, herself, is neither, Jade attended the session to hear what the invited speaker — Nobel laureate Elizabeth Blackburn — had to say. "If you ever have the opportunity to listen to Dr. Blackburn speak, go out of your way to see her," Jade says, adding "how I wished I had this advice when I was young." In fielding questions on topics that ranged from letters of recommendation to alternative careers, Blackburn shared her personal advice with AACR attendees. When asked about choosing where to do a postdoc, Blackburn said that it's important to train in a lab where the PI is known to be a good mentor, Jade says. In addition, Blackburn "talked about how you can chase idea after idea. There are so many ideas and it is easy to get off onto tangents — and that's good because that's how you make the big discoveries, by exploring the unexpected result," Jade says. However, she adds, Blackburn stressed the importance of realizing "when to stop working on something. You have to be able to … throw it away and move on," without becoming "hung up on every idea." On careers beyond the bench, Blackburn told attendees that while she's not a fan of the term "alternative" careers — as it can have a negative connotation — "she stressed that there are plenty of excellent and important jobs that are not all bench work," Jade says. Blackburn said that researchers "who know law and business who can play the important roles that help bring the science to the public" are as important to society as those within academia, and that "choosing a non-bench science career was in no way a negative and should not been seen as a failure," Jade adds.
Apr 08, 2011