As then I could come up with a funny way to introduce myself, but I'm not. What can you do, eh?
This is my first post, and I have to admit that I have been very nervous to post something here. Partly because I am currently a PhD Student (at least for the moment) and I find it just a tad bit intimidating to be part of this amazing group of contributors. However, I wasn't always a PhD student, nor will I ever only be a PhD student, which is why, I was invited to be part of this amazing (didn't I already say that?) group of contributors.
What did I do before I became a PhD student? After completing my masters degree I worked as a "Microscopy and Imaging consultant" for a National Research Institute. In a way the title is a fancy term for saying I was in charge of all the microscopes in the institute, but the job was way more then that. Anyone who does any type of work in the biological / biomedical fields know the importance of microscopy to research. Yet microscopy has changed immensely in a very short period of time. In the digital age there is more to taking a "good" image than just Kohler illumination. As an aside, many who work on microscopes don't even know what Kohler illumination is. Microscopy has gone high tech and very high resolution. Quality, high resolution microscopes (confocal, two-photon, widefield) run upto 3/4 of a million dollars and these scopes can be easily damaged. Furthermore, learning the intricacies of high resolution microscopy is not something that many students, let alone PI's have the time for. They just want to know how to get the data they need (which buttons they need to push, which ones they shouldn't touch). Which is where I came in, I trained all types of users on how to take quality images that looked good but also accurately represented their samples. I assisted them in designing their experiments, what controls to use, how to set up slides, and most importantly how to analyze and interpret the data. I also worked closely with a variety of PI's, developing grant proposals for the purchasing of new equipment, as well as coming up with new applications for existing equipment. The best part of my job was organizing seminars and workshops so that students and PI's could learn more about microscopy, what questions they should ask when looking at images, what is important in the methods section of a paper. When PI's had money to purchase equipment, but needed someone with the knowledge to find them the best bang for their buck, they came to me. I really enjoyed dealing with some of the microscopy and software sales reps, learning about the new scopes and software applications that were coming out, how they could improve the research of our PI's. It was a fun job that I really really enjoyed. Unfortunately it was a short-term contract as I was covering the maternity leave for the individual whose job it was. I am grateful for the opportunity to do it, as it really opened my mind up to what was out there in the science world and re-ignited my passion for science. Which is why I am back in the lab, because I also learned that not having my PhD was inhibiting me from getting some of the positions I would love. The lab work is not what I most passionate about, but that is OK because it is through the lab work that I am able to get a breadth and depth of knowledge that I can transfer into other careers ie Core Facility Manager, Grants Facilitator, Lecture, etc.
Now why do I say I am not only a Phd student? Well its because, I am also a mother of little monkey boy and I work the not-for-profit community, where I have gained a ton of exposure to women working in immensely different areas of science. Through that work I have learned the importance of networking and how constantly developing a reputation as an ethical, hardworking individual is so important. But that is for another post.