Category Archives: blogging

Social media make my maternity leave so much more enjoyable!

I’ve written before that when BlueEyes was just born I had a hard time enjoying all of it. Now that Little Brother is over two months old I think it is safe to say that this time I am enjoying my maternity leave. So what is different this time?

First, I think a major difference is that I knew what was coming. I’m already used to the fact that I am someone’s mother: my personal space is no longer mine alone. I no longer decide when I wake up or how long I sleep, and I got used to caring for someone without having that feel like a huge burden. Also, Little Brother’s birth was a lot less intense than BlueEyes’.

Second, when you’re used to dealing with a toddler, a newborn is really not that much work: they eat, sleep and need clean diapers but that’s it. No arguing about what to wear, no wanting to climb in the carseat by themselves, etc. I have to add that I’m lucky that BlueEyes continues to go to daycare while I’m home with Little Brother. I get quite a lot of work done while Little Brother sleeps in the sling or on my lap. And this is nice, because then at the end of the day I feel like I did something useful.

Third, what really helps is that in my mind, Little Brother going to daycare is really far away. With BlueEyes I felt like I HAD to enjoy every second that I was home with him because soon he would go to daycare. Now, Little Brother is only going to start daycare after we have moved to Europe. And I can tell you that a looming transatlantic move is a really good way to keep your mind off of other things (I have to add though that it is also quite an expensive and time-consuming way to keep your mind off of other things).

But the most important difference is that when I was home with BlueEyes I felt pretty lonely. Going from a busy lab with colleagues to being home all day with a baby was quite a shocking change. Now on the other hand I feel surrounded by funny, interesting and caring people through social media. When I feel lonely I know there’s always people on twitter I can talk to. There’s blogs to read and Pubscience videos to watch. Even though I might not actually see someone IRL all day, at the end of the day it feels like I’ve interacted with lots of people and I find that this makes me very happy. So thank you!

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Filed under attachment parenting, baby, babywearing, birth, blogging, daycare, maternity leave, Pub-Style Science, twitter

Addiction is a disease and why I don’t #boycottNature

Yesterday Nature published an editorial about the fact that addiction is a disease and not a choice. This is a very pervasive idea that even persists in my graduate school IACUC for example. There both I and other addiction researchers had to explain over and over that addiction is not a lifestyle choice, but rather a chronic disease. Even though the first use of alcohol, cigarettes or other drugs can be considered a choice, the continued use and especially relapse following abstinence is not. It is a chronic brain disorder that kills people and that we need to study in both animal models and people in order to find better treatment.

So I shared this piece on Facebook and on my personal twitter. I thought about doing this because wasn’t I supposed to #boycottNature after everything that happened over the past couple weeks/months/years? I think it is very important that Nature gets the message that they need to show that they take steps to be inclusive and treat everybody the same. It doesn’t feel right to say on twitter that I will boycott Nature but do something else in my real person identity. So I will share here that I decided I won’t boycott Nature. Not only because boycotting Nature publishing group means boycotting some of the journals that I tend to publish in and review for, but most importantly because I think it is more important to try to speak up rather than to silently boycott. Just like not going to Sochi won’t magically make gay rights happen in Russia, boycotting Nature won’t increase the amount of women authors, reviewers and other voices in the journal.

With a very hesitant hand I hit the Publish button….

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Filed under academia, addiction, blogging, drinking, ethics, experiments, science, women in science

End of 2013

Just like last year,  here is my year of blogging: the first sentence of the first post of every month. 2013 was a year in which a lot happened: my PI decided to move (but we could stay), my husband got a fellowship which enables us to move back to the homecountry, where I found a job too, and we welcomed a new addition to our family! Right now that new addition to our family is napping, while I am purchasing our plane tickets to return to the homecountry, which means our adventure as post-docs in the US will soon come to an end. It’s nice to go home, but there will be a TON of things I will miss about living here – something for a different post some other time. Not to mention the hassle of moving an entire family + acquired stuff across the Atlantic…

JanuaryNothing says back to work after a good nice vacation like a good spell of the post-holiday blues.

FebruaryI was tied to my electrophysiology rig for the past three days and completely missed the #postdocalypse hashtag on twitter.

MarchThe other day I talked to another post-doc who is in hir fifth year and about to leave the lab. 

AprilThere’s a bunch of things going on that I would LOVE to blog about, but for several reasons I have decided not to.

MayBefore BlueEyes was born I knew I wanted to give breastfeeding a try, but I didn’t have any particular goals in mind.

JuneThis morning I got the dreaded email telling me that I’m not invited for an interview for the important home country grant I applied to.

JulyWhenever we go back to the homecountry, I’m excited about all the things I can eat therethat are hard to find here in the US. 

AugustI really appreciate that my parents tried to raise us with gender-neutral toys.

SeptemberA while back I wrote about pumping milk at work and the other day I got an email from a reader asking me the following:

OctoberMy homecountry is getting ready for Sinterklaas, which means lots of people need to buy toys and the large toy stores send these big books full of ads to people.

NovemberThis weekend, I read an article entitled: ”Rebels rise against science gone crazy” (my translation) in one of my homecountry’s newspapers.

DecemberSo you know those lists that help you identify whether you’re in true labor or not

Thanks everyone, for reading and commenting!!

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#PubScience #scimom edition


Yesterday I stayed up past my normal bedtime to participate in #PubScience organized by @DrIsis and @MTomasson. We talked about being a parent in science, and you can watch the episode here and below (do it! It’s a lot of fun and an interesting conversation).
I had to leave about an hour in because BlueEyes woke up and needed some comforting. And then I fell asleep, because as I said: this was past my tired-pregnant-self bedtime. Talking about being a scimom.
What I wanted to clarify is that when I talked about one of the parents stepping back to make sure the other can excel in their job, both Dr. Isis and Dr. Rubidium said that that was a very privileged situation being able to take a step back. I agree that parents that have to work double shifts at McDonalds in order to be able to support their families probably have a way harder time than us academics do. But while there are usually people that have a harder time than others in whichever aspect of their life, for me this is still an issue in my life and therefore worth discussing. I see people around me where one of the parents decide to take a step back, taking a job where you are not expected to travel to meetings, you are not expected to work late nights to make deadlines and you don’t need to be in the lab on the weekend because your experiments require that. By doing this, they give up the dream of becoming a tenure track scientist. Even though I think doing this will increase the chances for my husband (and the other way around) neither of us is ready to do this.
Also, while we were discussing all this, on twitter some people were wondering if, after hearing all this, they were ever going to want to have babies. I have this to say about that (and I may have said this before on my blog or anywhere else): For me, having a baby was an entirely different desire than wanting to be a kick-ass scientist (preferable in academia). I know I would be very sad if I would be forced to leave science because I cannot work hard enough/publish enough papers/get enough grants, but I would have been heartbroken if I didn’t have kids. So for me it’s not kids or career, it’s kids and then see how far I can get in my career.

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Filed under baby, birth, blogging, parenting, Pub-Style Science, twitter, work-life balance, working mom

What’s in my desk?

Obviously I’m procrastinating finishing my to-do list, so here’s my contribution to Dr. Isis’ What’s in your Desk-Meme.

1. Three nutmegs. A colleague gave them over a year ago, but what are you going to do with whole nutmegs..?

2. A converter-thing to plug my apple laptop into the projector. Sadly said apple laptop died 3 years ago.

3. An empty vial of Alexa Fluor 568.

4. A laser pointer that is also a pen. However, the laser pointer doesn’t work anymore.

5. A whole bunch of invitations to my thesis defense and party, they were supposed to go into my thesis booklet, but I forgot.

6. A whole bunch of cage cards from experimental animals that are no longer with us.

7. Empty (and used for crackers) ziplock bags. You never know when they might come in handy.

Outside the picture but in my drawer (because it’s kind of awkward to take a picture of your drawer with 3 other people in your office: Shea lip butter from The Body Shop and an empty tiny vial of Ralph Lauren Glamorous.

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Filed under blogging, life in the lab, procrastination

A post about nothing really

There’s a bunch of things going on that I would LOVE to blog about, but for several reasons I have decided not to. For now at least. And whenever people write these things it always annoys me, cause why announce that you cannot write about something? So to not leave you completely empty handed:

A song that has #worklifebalance written al over it.

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Filed under blogging, work-life balance

About academic culture and reward/bullshit ratio

Dr. Isis’ blogwas the first science blog I read when I was in grad school. I was always impressed by her upbeat way of writing about combining her life as a scientist with being a mom. She wrote it in a way that was both hilarious and sounded real. Today I asked on twitter why she hadn’t blogged in a couple weeks and that started a whole conversation about being a mom in academia. I storified the first part of that conversation here.  (It was my first time storifying something so am not sure if I included everything that was said, but it gives you a good impression). I often wonder whether someday I will regret all the time and energy devoted to science and Dr. Isis said:”TBH, I suspect we’ll regret it.” Later, I asked her whether she was thinking of making major chances to her (academic) life and she answered:” I am thinking that I won’t be in academia 6-9 mos from now.” She added that science is not necessarily harder than other things, but that it is not rewarded equally. Also, she added “Let’s just be clear that I am in now way “failing.” I am just reevaluating what makes me happy.” And later: “Again, this is not about success. It’s about culture and reward/bullshit ratio”
To me, this was a shocking reality-check. Because if everyone’s favorite domestic and laboratory goddess reconsiders staying in academia then what does that mean for me? It feels a little like when I hear peers that published in better journals than me decide that science is not for them; it makes me feel that if they can’t do it, then neither can I. Do I work hard enough to ‘make it’ and more importantly: do I want to put in all this time and energy, especially now that the funding situation everywhere is so dire that we are competing for grants with a success rate of 10-15%? Or do I want to spend more of my time with BlueEyes (or in a job that asks less of my commitment)?
I don’t know the answers to these questions, but I do appreciate everyone’s honesty in this conversation. I like hearing other people’s experiences, and I would LOVE if Dr. Isis would someday blog about the things that drove her to make the decision to stay in academia or choose something else. In the mean time, I’m thinking about my plan B, and whether this should someday upgrade to plan A.

Edit: here are two other posts about the subject from Potnia Theron and Barefoot Doctoral

Edit 2: here’s Dr. Isis’ response

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Filed under academia, blogging, science, work-life balance, working mom