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Edgar Carrera | USLHC | USA

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Juggling Scientists

Recently, I came across a BBC article about juggling.  Apparently, it can increase the white matter of your brain by as much as 5%.  I have not done much juggling in my life, so I really hope that the juggling I am doing now as a postdoctoral researcher counts! Let me explain…

The position title Postdoctoral Researcher is given to someone who has completed his doctoral degree but who is not quite ready to be hired as Professor or Researcher at some university.  It is the transition from being a Ph.D. student, who was told almost always what to do, to this mature scientist who can take decisions by his own and can lead a particular project of research.  I became a “postdoc” not too long ago, after a rather quick period of doctoral training, which made it a very tough enterprise.  Like any other Ph.D. student, I sometimes felt really exhausted with my academic work and its intensity, so I have to admit that I was a little scared about becoming a postdoc.

In fact, the life of a young postdoc does not become any easier, on the contrary, you are being demanded a lot more than when you were a student.  Basically, you have to juggle with many activities that range from aiding graduate students with their physics analysis (something really new that requires a different mind set) to working on your own physics analysis.  In between, you are expected to complete little service projects in a fraction of the time you spent in a similar project as a student.  To summarize, stress does not decrease.

Life is now much better though. It is maybe that I found that learning how to lead and how to abandon that advisor-dependency is much more enriching and fulfilling.  I still have a long way to go, but so far, I have been having quite some fun with this new postdoc life.

Edgar Carrera (Boston University)

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