MadSci Network: Medicine

Re: Do you do a lot of research?

Date: Thu Apr 29 16:12:28 1999
Posted By: Mike Crawford, MadSci Admin
Area of science: Medicine
ID: 925266375.Me

Name: Michael J. Crawford, Ph.D.
Title:  Postdoctoral Fellow
Job location: University of Pennsylvania

1. What are your job requirements?  Undergraduate degree (generally in the 
sciences) and some research experience going into graduate school.  Then, 
successful completion of graduate school training--including writing and 
defending a thesis (generally, a thesis consists of ~3 to 4 published papers). 

2. What does a normal working day involve?  Will vary from day to day (part of 
the fun of research)  Often experiments will involve DNA manipulation.  I also 
do pharmacological (drug) experiments to determine which chemical compounds can 
inhibit the growth of infectious diseases.  

3. What are your hours of work?  Usually about 9:30 to 5:30, but can go longer 
on some days--occasional weekend work.  I set my own schedule, so it is 

4. What type of people do you work with?  I have a boss, who is the primary 
invesigator of the lab (I hope to have my own lab sometime soon).  Other 
postdoctoral fellows, graduate students, and undergraduate students.  We all get 
along very well (usually).

5. What type of environment do you work in?  Research laboratory involving 
infectious diseases.  I have my own desk and work area as do the others in the 

6. What type of tools or skills do you use?  Basic tools of science (beakers, 
flasks, all that geeky stuff) up to argon lasers and electron microscopes for 
visualizing the cells that I work with.  Do a lot of reading and writing.  Often 
the most successful in getting funding for their projects are those who can 
write well. 

7. What type of on the job training is required?  As an undergraduate, you can 
learn the basic skills of whatever instruments you use, but you won’t really 
know why they are used.  During graduate school, you learn why and begin to 
become more independent.  Where I’m at (and beyond), it’s more about planning 
experiments for yourself and those you hire to carry them out.

8. How did you become hired for this position?  Contacted this lab through my 
previous boss in graduate school.  I Was called out for an interview (which 
involved giving a formal presentation of my previous research and speaking with 
the members of the lab), then offered the job.

9. What should someone starting off expect to get paid?  I’m ~30K a year, the 
next level--a principal investigator in an academic institution will get ~60K/
yr, while a principal investigator in a drug company can get ~80+K/yr starting 

10.What do you like most about your career?  I am pretty independent in what I 
chose to work on (as long as I can get funding for it).  Also, my boss and 
coworkers are smart and helpful.  Do not underestimate the importance having 
intelligent, hard-working coworkers—-you’ll find yourself rising (or stooping) 
to their level quickly.

11.The least?  Probably the low pay—although it’s getting better.  Research can 
also be frustrating at times—-a lot of failure before success.

12.What is your advice for future workers?  As with most careers, it’s critical 
to actually try the job before deciding on it.  Must be able to work 
independently, and realize that you will fail often—-this last point is hard for 
some to overcome, especially if they’ve gotten used to success in the classroom.  
However, the times you are successful are great—-you are often seeing results 
that no human has ever seen before.  Again, as with most careers, those who can 
best organize their time will have a leg up.

Give me an email, if you need more info.

Michael Crawford  

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