PhD in Progress Podcast

PhDs No Longer In Progress… but the Show Will Go On

March 24th, 2015

photoWe are happy to announce that Kelly, Nikhil, and me (Jason) have all finished our PhD studies and are now doctors! Within the span of 1 month, the PhD in Progress crew went from 1 PhD alum (Dr. Abigail) to 4. Because this all took place February through March, this past fall and winter were absolute chaos for recording and producing new episodes.

However, the audience support and feedback for the show never waned. With the new wave of accepted grad students (congratulations!) starting this summer/fall, we know there is an increased demand for the show. We will be releasing 3-4 previously recorded episodes in the next few weeks! Topics will include starting a career symposium at your school, postdoctoral positions, and funding your own research ideas.

This brings us to the next question: What is next for the show? We are playing around with ideas but would really love to hear what you all have to say. Should this become a more interview-based show, hearing individuals’ stories across all fields and careers? Is it better to track the career progress and insights of the hosts? Would you prefer we pass the torch to current graduate students? We’re open to it all, so leave your comments below or email us.

And thank you. This project meant a lot to all of us and really provided a platform to help others. Each of us is grateful that our trial run went so well. Now it’s time to make improvements!

See you soon,

PhD 018: Engineering Management, Industry, and Informational Interviews with Kyle Imatani

November 13th, 2014

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Discussion points:

  • What are informational interviews?
  • Understanding what you’re interested in
  • Keeping a casual conversation
  • Learning about prospects of the company, the culture, how promotions work
  • Overcoming being hesitant
  • How did you jump into informational interviewing
  • Strategies:
    • Leveraging Alumni Network
    • Being earnest
  • What roles with companies do PhDs tend to have?
  • It is a challenge for PhDs to get involed in industry
  • Roles outside of the research


If you have any comments or suggestions about the show, definitely send us an e-mail at

We’re also on Twitter @phdpodcast. I love interacting with all of you there, so please say hi.

Our fund sourcing to cover costs associated with the show is up and running. If you’d like more information about supporting us, please stop by or click the PayPal donation button on our site.
Even a couple of dollars goes a long way towards contributing to the show.

I really want to thank all the listeners again. You’ve been so encouraging. Outside of donating, you can also help us by leaving a rating and review in the iTunes store. We’ll read them on the show, especially the funny ones.

[Episode card adapted from an image by Flickr user Wonderlane and used under the Creative Commons license]

PhD 017: “We’re NOT Morons!” – Facing Impostor Syndrome

October 3rd, 2014

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[Episode card image adapted from a Flickr photo by Derek Mindler, used under the Creative Commons]

If you would like to donate to help cover costs, please click here.This week we have a friendly dialogue about facing Impostor Syndrome and how it has appeared in our lives.


We’ve started something new! So far, all of the funding for this show has come out of my own pocket. To help cover the costs, I’ve started a Patreon campaign where you can pledge to help out the show. I’ve also placed a PayPal Donation button on the site.  The show will ALWAYS be free but if you would like to help us cover costs and improve the quality of our show, please consider contributing via

Another great way to support the show is to leave a review in the iTunes store. This is very important because it boosts visibility of our show. Please take 30 seconds to leave an honest rating and review. We’d really appreciate it!

iTunes user dgr- two left a 5 star review,  saying:

“I’d recommend this podcast to any current or prospective graduate students- the speakers always keep the topics fresh and interesting. My only complaint is that while there were two episodes about finding non-academic jobs after school, there hasn’t been anything yet about pursuing postdoctoral or tenure track positions”.

Thank you for the review and we’ll work on getting together a postdoc episode.

Finally, we’re very active on Twitter @PhDPodcast so say hi to us there or e-mail us at


PhD 016: Mental Health Awareness and Treatment as a Grad Student

September 23rd, 2014

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[Episode card image adapted from a Flickr photo by Bhernandez, used under the Creative Commons]

Questions asked:
What is a “lifeguard”?
How did you decide to seek help?
What does help look like?
How is mental illness perceived in graduate school?
Am I alone if I seek out help?

Mental Illness Awareness Week Oct. 5-11, 2014


Do you have any experiences to share? We’d love to talk about it further in the comments on our show notes at or /mentalhealth .
You can also say hi on Twitter @PhDPodcast or e-mail us at

Finally, If you like the show so far, help us out by sharing with your colleagues and leaving an honest review in the iTunes store.

Xue9983 left a great review saying how isolating grad school can be when you’re an international student trying to learn a whole new culture, presenting research in a different language, and dealing with the ignorance and arrogance of people: “So I am glad that I found this podcast when I was struggling through those things, questioning myself and why am I doing this PhD stuff. It is a friendly and helpful podcast. Keep up the good work!”

Thanks Xue. That really means a lot to us and we hope to record an episode about international students soon.


PhD 015: Financial Basics- Priorities, Budgets, and Credit with Patricia Berhau

September 10th, 2014

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Patricia Berhau is an ISLES Asset Building Coordinator who works primarily with moderate and low-income people. She encourages graduate students to remember that their income-level is only temporary as their income potential is much higher in the long-run.

[Episode Card uses a Flickr image by under Creative Commons licensing]

Important reminders:

  • It’s all the irregular things that are budget busters.
  • Budget! Knowing where your money goes is crucial to being financially healthy.
  • for organizing your accounts and budgets
  • Get a copy of your credit report! You’re entitled to a free credit report from each of the bureaus per year. Your credit report and score dictate your borrowing potential.
  • If you feel that you want to borrow money at some point, be conscious of your credit handling.

“Make a Resolution to Budget? Here Are Some Apps to Help” by Tara Siegel Bernard – New York Times – Jan 3, 2014


Popular Financial Advice:

The PhD in Progress Podcast Feed is Restored!

September 8th, 2014

SEASON 2 starts this week! We’re back from crazy summer studies and travels. Get ready for some discussion on financial basics, mental health, and Imposter Syndrome.

If you’d like an e-mail when the newest podcast episodes are posted, register here.


And more good news:
Have you had an issue seeing all of the episodes in your iTunes, Stitcher, or other podcast feed? We have too.

That issue has been fixed! Thanks for sending in your comments on that problem. You probably have not missed any new episodes but check just in case.


IceBucketFinally, I wrote an article for the GradHacker blog called
“Learning from #IceBucketChallenge: Views of a Biomedical Researcher”. I’ve gotten
great feedback saying that it summed up the thoughts of many of my peers concerning the recent ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.

I hope you had a great summer. Let the semester begin!


[Image by Flickr user Anthony Quintano and used under the Creative Commons license]


PhD 014: “12 Years A Graduate Student” with Parag Gupta

August 15th, 2014

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This week, Jason talks to Parag Gupta, 12th-year materials science and mechanical engineering PhD student at Northwestern University about his perspective on graduate school and learning from mistakes.


PhD 013: Parenting and Raising a Family as a Graduate Student with Jessica Rowland Williams

July 17th, 2014

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This week, Jason and Kelly talk to Princeton University graduate student Jessica Rowland Williams about starting graduate school with a child and deciding to raise a family.


DO YOU have 10 seconds to help us acheive our goal? We would love 50 reviews and ratings in the iTunes store. When we reach 50 reviews or 100 ratings, we’ll release a bonus outtake episode to everyone AND one reviewer will be randomly selected to either join us on the show via Skype or we’ll use his or her topic suggestion.

PhD 012: Tools, Tips, and Strategies to Increase Your Productivity (Part 1)

July 9th, 2014

We have a new goal only YOU can help us achieve: we would love 50 reviews and ratings in the iTunes store. When we reach 50 reviews or 100 ratings, we’ll release a bonus outtake episode to everyone AND one reviewer will be randomly selected to either join us on the show via Skype or we’ll use his or her topic suggestion.

Productivity Web Tools for Graduate Students

July 4th, 2014

“Productivity” can be a hairy subject. The goal is to get the best results out of your time investment but not become a fully automated robotic cyborg with the sole mission of completing task after task. With this in mind, we want to introduce a few resources we find useful in our own searches to get the most out of the time we spend working and living.

Why be “more productive”? What are the pitfalls? Doesn’t it seem a little pointless?
I recommend visiting A Year of Productivity, where Chris Bailey chronicles his experiences of living out different methods of being productive. Not everything works but it is interesting reading his thoughts while living in nearly complete isolation for 10 days or drinking only water for a month.

We recommend not trying a full makeover in a short amount of time. This might cause burn out and much discomfort in your personal life. Try a method or a tool for a bit, see how it might fit into your life and your goals, then move on.

Software and Website Tools

  • Papers (34 for students) 

    PapersIconThis was my first PDF management program and I loved it. My friend called “iTunes for academic research”. If your research articles are all over your computer or just lazily thrown into a single folder, Papers can help you organize it by reading the metadata of the PDF files. It can rename your files (e.g. “Smith_2014″) and you can place them into different reading lists.
    The program started off as Mac only and remained the best Mac solution for a while. If there is something much better, let me know!
    The full retail price is €71 but it is 34 for students.  Again, I have not used this program for the last few years but it now available for PC and can be used cross platform with your current iOS devices.


  • Mendeley (free)
    After I switched to my MendeleyIconcurrent Windows PC laptop, I bemoaned the fact that Papers for Windows really was not that great. However, people used Mendeley. I’m happy to say that over the last 2-3 years, Mendeley has become a MUCH better program than it was.
    Mendeley and Papers both fill the same functional role: organize and catalog all of your PDF based resources. Mendeley, however, is free. You can save your library to the cloud and then have your iPad or other computers sync with it. When I travel, now I load up on research papers and just have to bring my iPad.


  • Google Calendar (free)
    GoogleGoogle Calendar is invaluable. There really are way too many uses for it, whether it be tracking your work or coordinating dinner with your family.
    There are a ton of articles out there on taking advantage of Google calendar


  • Mint (free)
    MintPeople who are uneasy or scared about their financial situation are often distracted and cannot do their best work.Are your finances all in a mess? Do you even know how much money you have to your name? No fear, Mint’s web application (which also syncs with your mobile devices) can help set you straight.
    For me, the budgeting tool has been a great asset. By staying on budget, I cut down on the amount of choices I need to make on a daily basis, and direct that brain power towards achieving my goals.One warning: If you’re worried about much of your personal finance information being on one site, you may prefer the numerous other offline products available. I have personally not run into any trouble with but I’m also aware that nothing is ever completely safe on the internet.