223 episodes

Science is hard work, but making it through a PhD program and into a rewarding career can seem downright impossible. Wouldn’t it be nice if someone shared the secrets for success at every stage? Admissions, rotations, classes, quals, research, dissertations, job-hunting – avoid the pitfalls and get back to doing what you love. It's like getting a PhD in getting a PhD!

Hello PhD Joshua Hall and Daniel Arneman, PhDz

    • Science
    • 4.8 • 146 Ratings

Science is hard work, but making it through a PhD program and into a rewarding career can seem downright impossible. Wouldn’t it be nice if someone shared the secrets for success at every stage? Admissions, rotations, classes, quals, research, dissertations, job-hunting – avoid the pitfalls and get back to doing what you love. It's like getting a PhD in getting a PhD!

    202. Academia Has a Postdoc Problem

    202. Academia Has a Postdoc Problem

    A few generations ago, you could probably graduate from a PhD program and immediately land yourself a junior faculty position at a nearby university. But as grad school enrollment grew, a new quasi-professional job-description emerged in the nebulous middle ground between student and professor.

    Lacking a better name, we just called them ‘postdocs’. It was an academic adolescence that implied they were ready to leave the nest, but not quite ready to fly freely.

    Over time, academic institutions realized they had a good thing going. Here was a group of highly-skilled scientists who could churn out papers and grants with little oversight. And as a bonus, you didn’t have to pay them a salary commensurate with their position! They were ‘putting in the time’ in the hope that they, too, could one day run their own lab. “Think of it as an ‘investment.'”

    The one-year postdoc/job search evolved into a two-year affair. Then it grew to two two-year affairs (in different labs, of course, so you can broaden your horizons!). Now, a postdoc may last 5 or 6 years, earning around $55,000 per year, and there’s still no guarantee of a faculty job light at the end of the tunnel.

    But about ten years ago, something changed. The number of PhDs continued to rise, but the proportion of those graduates pursuing a postdoc declined.

    What caused this shift, and what does it mean for academia and research in general?

    We talked with a journalist who has been tracking the trend for years.

    This week, we’re joined by Jonathan Wosen. He’s the West Coast biotech & life sciences reporter for STAT News, and holds a PhD in Immunology from Stanford University.

    Over the last few years, Jonathan has been tracking the ‘exodus’ of early-career life scientists from academia. They’re foregoing the postdoc to find jobs in industry where they can often earn six-figure salaries.

    We talk about the data behind these demographic shifts, and how a growing biotech industry has driven the trend.

    In one article, an academic observer describes the change as ‘a tipping point.’ If there truly is a fundamental shift in how academic labs recruit and train postdocs, it could have wide-ranging impacts on academia, career opportunities, and the pace of scientific discovery.

    You can read more of Jonathan’s work on this subject in the links below. Students and employees of academic institutions can use code ACADEMIC75 for 75% off of a subscription.

    ‘The tipping point is coming’: Unprecedented exodus of young life scientists is shaking up academia

    Life scientists’ flight to biotech labs stalls important academic research

    With biotech in a slump, the industry’s job market is upside down

    • 1 hr 5 min
    201. Society for Neuroscience 2023 – LIVE!

    201. Society for Neuroscience 2023 – LIVE!

    Josh and Dan traveled to Washington DC for the Society for Neuroscience Conference 2023.

    We chatted with students, postdocs, and faculty about everything from grad school applications to industry jobs to work-life-balance. And we recorded this special update from the hall of posters and vendors.

    Here are a few photos from our vantage point at the Promega booth. There really were posters and vendors as far as the eye could see in both directions!

    200. Want a Degree Without Quitting Your Job? An Online PhD Might Be the Solution.

    200. Want a Degree Without Quitting Your Job? An Online PhD Might Be the Solution.

    Karla already has a successful career. After completing her training, she’s worked as a pelvic-floor physical therapist for over ten years! Her patients love her, and she loves serving them.

    But no matter how skilled she becomes at her craft, there’s still a limit to how many people she can help. A PT, working in a clinic, can see only so many patients per day if she wants to give each one the time they deserve.

    That’s one reason Karla decided to go back to school to earn a PhD. She wanted to find a way to continue serving her patients, while also advancing the practice of physical therapists everywhere through research and teaching.

    But quitting her job to enroll in a traditional PhD program wouldn’t work for her patients, or her lifestyle. She had to find another way.

    Karla Wente

    This week, we talk with Karla Wente, PT, DPT, WCS, CLT (whew, that’s a lot of degrees!) about her quest for a PhD. She’s currently enrolled in an online Health Sciences PhD program at Rush University.

    Karla tells us how she made the big decision to go back to school after ten years of clinical practice. We talk about her career opportunities, the financial impacts of going back to school, and learn more about how an online PhD program works.

    If you enjoy this episode, check out Karla’s work with www.thefirstsixweeks.com, where she and a team of clinicians support new parents during the first few weeks postpartum.

    • 1 hr 7 min
    100. The One Where We Celebrate (R)

    100. The One Where We Celebrate (R)

    Graduate training has many milestones, but a few stand stronger in memory due to their importance.

    You may remember the day you passed your comprehensive exams, officially becoming a ‘PhD Candidate.’ Or maybe you’ll remember the day you saw a paper you co-authored published in your favorite journal. 

    And of course, every PhD remembers their defense – presenting years worth of work to an audience and receiving the committees’ blessing to graduate.

    After each event, it’s important to take a moment to celebrate the achievement before pushing toward the next goal.  Maybe that means gathering with friends, popping a bottle of bubbly, and remembering the road that brought you to this point.

    Well, at least that’s what we do with a milestone.  This week, we celebrate 100 Episodes of Hello PhD with a few of the friends we’ve met along the way.

    Make a Toast

    We start the Episode with a half-bottle of Guy Larmandier Cramant Grand Cru  Brut Blanc de Blancs.  This champagne is bubbly and light, with a touch of sweetness.

    Just like our banter. ::ba dum shish::

    And then, the guests begin to arrive!

    Emily Roberts, PhD

    First, we’re joined by Emily Roberts from Personal Finance for PhDs.  She’s been a frequent guest on the show, and she shares her secret for the perfect deviled eggs: get someone else to peel them.

    She also gives us some quick pointers on tracking your spending and creating a budget in graduate school, and why that’s so important. “Tracking your spending will actually help you change your behavior passively.” she says.  “Graduate students should keep an eye on their irregular expenses.”

    Emily also told us about her new podcast covering personal finance – you can check it out here: http://pfforphds.com/podcast/

    Next, we’re visited by Randy Ribaudo and Larry Petcovic, the minds and personalities behind SciPhD.  Randy and Larry travel the country teaching scientists how to develop and translate their skills into an industry setting.

    Randy Ribaudo, PhD

    “Scientists don’t necessarily take advantage of the incredible experiences they have in solving problems, managing risk and delivering reliable results, which is really what companies are looking for,” Randy reminded us.

    Larry adds, “In todays world, you are really also data analysts.  The data game is becoming bigger and bigger.  In many ways you have an advantage because you have experience already with working with data when you go into that first job.  A lot of folks don’t.”

    To hear more tips for making it in industry, you can listen to Episode 079 or catch Randy and Larry in one of their on-site programs.

    Mónica Feliú-Mójer, PhD

    • 50 min
    199. Mailbag: Is a Master’s enough, or do I need a PhD?

    199. Mailbag: Is a Master’s enough, or do I need a PhD?

    This week, we answer a listener’s question about whether he should pursue schooling beyond a Master’s degree.

    Plus – once your formal education is complete, how can you continue to focus on learning? What steps should we take to become life-long learners?

    Adam writes:

    I have been given an exciting opportunity to continue my education and pursue a PhD, working with the professor who sponsored my masters research project. It would require moving across the country to work in the lab (since I was able to do my masters remotely). That would require me to either quit my job and just work on my PhD full time, or to switch roles within my (large) company and drop to part-time work while doing my PhD research. Either way I would be sacrificing my full-time salary for several years to either be living on just a stipend (a big lifestyle change, financially), or having to juggle PhD and professional work at the same time. Do you have any advice to help me decide if the sacrifices are worth it to continue my education? I am still unsure if the time, money, energy, and lifestyle changes to get a PhD will pay off, or if my masters will be sufficient, and I am struggling to figure that out. 

    We offer advice on how to assess his long-term career goals, and help him consider the cost/benefit analysis of more schooling. For example, there’s data on how much a PhD can increase your salary over someone with a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree.

    But wait, there’s more! Adam also wants to know how to continue his development once the formal schooling is over:

    I want to always be a life-long-learner. I’ve been involved in formal education for most of my life to help guide my learning. Now that I am not in school anymore (at least for now), what  tips do you have to help me stay current in my field? How can I always be learning and growing in my knowledge, exposure, and skills, especially in a field as diverse and complex as robotics?

    We have lot’s of ideas for ways that Adam (and the rest of us) can stay engaged in learning. From attending conferences to mentoring students to maker-spaces, there are plenty of opportunities to continue learning, if you’re willing to put in the work.

    • 30 min
    198. Just The Abstract: Is the GRE Really Optional?

    198. Just The Abstract: Is the GRE Really Optional?

    Just The Abstract is a new series where we explore a topic in a short, focused episode that’s easy to share. This week, we find out why most science PhD programs stopped requiring the GRE, and whether they’ll demote your application if you fail to provide a score.

    We take our inspiration this week from a thread in the r/gradschool subredit.

    knightshade017 writes:

    I’m currently at a point where I’m applying to PhD programs in behavioral neuroscience, brain and cognitive psychology, and similar fields. Most (if not all) of the programs I am interested in have the GRE as optional, but I am a bit weary to say I won’t take it altogether because I don’t know if it will ding my chances of getting in… Any insight and honest thoughts/opinions would be greatly appreciated!

    We cover the recent history of “GRExit” – a data-driven movement to remove the GRE as a barrier to graduate school after learning that the test is not a good predictor of research success.

    Instead, application committees focus much more on prior research experience. How you’ve fared in your previous labs is a much better predictor of how you’ll do in the future. Unsurprisingly, a GRE that tests your ability to complete word antonyms and find the length of the sides of a 3-4-5 triangle are not indicators of success.

    Here are some resources we mentioned in the show:

    ‘GRExit’ gains momentum as Ph.D. programs drop exam requirement

    Predictors of Student Productivity in Biomedical Graduate School Applications

    And here are a few episodes with related content:

    112: Listener Mailbag – Leaving Home, Avoiding the GRE, Finding Collaborators, et al!

    065: Does the GRE Predict Which Students Will Succeed?

    023: Seriously, can we ditch the GRE already?

    At the end of the show, we mentioned the recent tragedy at UNC where a graduate student killed his faculty advisor. If you, or someone you know, is experiencing a mental health crisis, there is help within reach. This guide from the NIH has links and phone numbers for crisis support and mental health resources: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/find-help

    • 28 min

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5
146 Ratings

146 Ratings

Chitran963 ,

This is a gem of a podcast

I heard 2 episodes and realized that I should support this podcast. This is a gem being a grad student hearing to these while driving.

slamajamapajama ,

Great content!

I don’t know why it’s taken me so long to write a review because I love this podcast and I am constantly recommending it to people interested in grad school or in it already. There is such great content here and it’s delivered in a multitude of connecting ways for all types if listeners to enjoy.

amberberry07 ,

Good but get to the point

They waste so much time (sometimes 15+ minutes) before getting to the point of the episode. Only downside, otherwise I really enjoy the content that actually relates to the episode.

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