PhD in Progress Podcast

PhD 021: Post-doctoral Life and the European Experience with Aleksandra Badura

August 19th, 2015

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This week we talk to Aleksandra Badura, a neuroscience post-doctoral researcher at Princeton University about the post-doc life and differences between the US and European PhD programs.

(This episode was recorded a LONG time ago. We have all since defended and will catch up on the

  • Coming to the US from Europe to be a post-doctoral researcher
  • The “importance” of brand when accepting positions
  • Choosing a post-doc laboratory
  • Parallels between business world and academia
  • Job security
  • Applying for fellowships is vital for success in research fields
  • Differences between European counties and US in PhD training
    • Fewer courses in PhD program in Europe
    • Masters degree (~2 years) is mandatory before pursuing a PhD
    • Fewer European programs have a rotation system
    • Work/life balance
  • Considering starting a family
  • There is no magic end point to your career

Do you have more questions about being a post-doc? Get in touch with us by emailing or leaving a comment on

If you’d like to help out the show, the best way to do so is to leave an honest rating and review in the iTunes store. You can find the link in the show notes or just tap our logo to find the link. Each rating and review helps boost our visibility, so thank you!

You can also help contribute to the costs of producing and distributing the show by backing us at , where even 1 dollar a month supports the show.

Also, let us know you’re listening! Say hi on Twitter. We’re @PhDPodcast.

Finally, all this information and more can be found at PhD in

[Episode Card Image adapted from Flickr User Moyan Brenn‘s Image]

PhD 020: Dr. Ben McNeil on the Creativity Deficit in Science and

May 15th, 2015


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Dr. Benjamin McNeil is a Senior Lecturer at University of New South Wales and creator of He wrote this piece for Ars Technica titled “Is there a creativity deficit in science?”

  • What are the hurdles to professors getting funding?
  • How can we pursue projects that might not have an immediately apparent payoff?
  • How did the coupling of scientific “failure” and personal “failure” develop?
  • To what extent do corporations have a role in scientific research and endeavors?
  • How science can connect with society?
  • Organizations as platforms to raise money for your research
  • We revisit “secret learning” and “new knowledge” (i.e. negative results and/or failures)

Thanks to Ben McNeil again for a great show and interview. You can reach him at Definitely check out to see some current projects and give your own projects a shot.

If you have any comments or questions, stop by and leave a comment. You can also email us at or on Twitter @PhDPodcast.

You can also help support the show in a few different ways. Follow the link in the show notes to leave an honest rating and review in the iTunes store. This goes a long way to spread the word of our show to people who haven’t heard it yet.

And if you are interested in helping with the financial aspects of producing and hosting this show, you can become a Patron at, where even a dollar a month helps pay for making each episode. Thanks to Masha E. for becoming the latest patron!

As always, you can find all this information and everything we discussed today at


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

PhD 019: Starting an “Alternative” Career Symposium at Your Institution with Mark Esposito

April 30th, 2015

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A very special thank you to Mark Esposito who also runs the Breaking Bio blog found at


Mark wrote a guide about creating the career symposium you heard in this show at

Discussion points:

  • Understanding your career path and constantly questioning your goals
  • Problems with tenure track positions as the default
  • How do we approach learning about “alternative careers”
  • Steps in initiating a career symposium:
    • 1) Raise money via internal and external grants or donations
    • 2) Connect with potential speakers/guests
      • Ask faculty
      • Use LinkedIn or call companies
      • Ask departmental office
      • Location can be important
    • 3) Logistics for travel arrangement, room availability
  • Career areas addressed at the symposium held at Princeton’s Department of Molecular Biology:
    • Policy
    • Education
    • Industry R&D
    • Law
    • Science Communication
  • Related Episodes:

A very special thanks to Mark Esposito. You can find some great, accessible science posts by Mark at We hope you can take some of his advice and start discussions of alternative careers at your school. He was nice enough to write up a summary and supporting materials that you can find at

If you enjoy the show, please help support us. The best way to do this is to leave an honest review and rating in the iTunes store. Any comments you have will go a long way to spread the popularity of the show. Also get in touch with us on Twitter @PhDPodcast

If you’re a big fan and want to help increase the quality of recording and distribution, definitely consider becoming a patron by supporting us at . Even $2 gets us closer to adequate hosting space and equipment. Thanks to Ben McNeil and Sally Ponchak who are currently supporting us.


[Image used under Creative Commons licensing and adapted from original by US Dept. of Education]

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.