Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Copy Cat

I have been invited to write a review (yay!). I caught my post-doc plagiarizing for my review (boo!). The post-doc is helping me write the review, and he turned his half into me recently. It looked a bit disjointed at first glance. When I started to compare the post-doc's writing to the references cited, I noticed some startling similarities. He cut and paste the abstracts into the review, only bothering to change a few words. If I hadn't caught this now, it would have been published and my career would be over. Over. I'd be banned from publishing at certain places. I was so mad. (Why do I spend most of my work time being angry?)

So, the post-doc is awesome in the lab. I know he isn't making up his data because I'm really on top of what's going on in the lab. I look at raw data files, etc. and others can reproduce his work. I decided to be really stern, but not to kick him out. He brings a great attitude to the lab, has a great work ethic, and produces. We talked about the plagiarism, and he admitted it. I asked him if he did that with his grad adviser, to which he replied no. I think he got lazy, had a deadline, and took the path of least of persistence. I told him that I was going to scrutinize every single word he gave me in the future, and that he almost cost me my career. I can't tell if it sunk in. If it happens again, he's fired - and he knows it.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


The ceiling of my office here is much nicer than that of my old Ivy League office. Sometimes when "all this" is too much, I'll lay down on the floor of my office, listen to some music, and think about my nice neutral ceiling tiles. My current office has carpet and new ceiling tiles. My old Ivy League office had an unforgiving, institutional floor, over which I had to spread my yoga mat just to get comfortable enough to contemplate those water-stained ceiling tiles. The story is much the same. My students are pissing away grant dollars, not publishing, and not listening to my direction. Even if I go into the lab and show them how to do it, they can't even copy my actions. If I give them a paper, they can't reproduce the results. It takes two students to do one project, but grants generally fund one student. I'm not at a top ten place, and I don't get top ten students. It is what it is. Usual stuff, right? We've all got the same deal even if we're in a different department or discipline.

Today, I was sent over the edge by a student in my class. With all the stress of my lab, the last thing I want is my class weighing me down. This student told me that they would like to take the exam on some other day because they weren't ready for our exam tonight. Dumbfounded, I asked if they were serious. Oh yes, they were serious. The end of the story is that they agreed to take the exam tonight. But the whole interaction left me so bitter. I love teaching, but this ruins the experience for me. The bottom 5% of the class takes up 95% of my time. They are whining, complaining, and doing everything to weasel out of assignments and exams. They sure as hell aren't studying.

The rewarding days are so few and far between. I'll just lay down, and wait for the semester to end.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

If Only Funding Could Heal These Wounds

Yesterday I received the great news that I had won another grant from a hard-to-get source. With this new grant and my CAREER, I'm doing pretty well for tenure. Papers and moving students through the pipeline are the next thing on my mind. To celebrate we went out for BBQ - the kind you eat at a picnic table with butcher paper on top.

And today, I went to see my RA doctor. I always dread these appointments because they make me so depressed. This time I went to get an ultrasound done on my hands. The doctor spotted new bone erosions in my fingers and wrist. Translation: my disease is still progressing and has not slowed down.

How cruel it is to feel so great, to live without pain, but to still have this damned disease that marches on behind the scenes. The doctor says that I can feel fine, but that is no indication of how I'm actually doing with RA. Because I have the erosions so young, that sets me up for more later in life. I don't know what happens in the long run, but I just keep going as usual.