Navels professionally gazed

This is beginning to sound a bit like a broken record, but I seriously haven't had that much time to sit down and hammer away at the keyboard to talk about what's been going on here. I'm usually back too late, or just too plain tired to get something which even has the vaguest semblance of structure and coherence out on to the big bad internet.

It's not as if I've got a shortage of things to talk about either. I've been thinking big things here. Thinking hard. Asking some tough questions. Coming up with some interesting (if not flawed) ideas and theories. It's just I can't really articulate them all that quickly when I type them out. I dream of the day where I can just sit in front of a keyboard, and in a stream of consciousness, produce something readable. Instead, everything has to go through several reviews, and quite often the stuff I've typed up never makes it out.

Anyway, one thing I'm pretty certain of is the lack of career potential in bioinformatics in Australia. As you might know, this is what I'm doing at the moment. The realisation comes from looking at what is going on in the field at the moment - who the big players are, which companies are established here (hint - I've worked for the one company that did bioinformatics in any serious way) and what the funding options are like. It actually looks really bleak for bioinformatics in Australia in my opinion, and why it always pays to have an exit strategy. If I was planning to continue my run in bioinformatics, I'd probably have to think about relocating on a much more permanent basis to Europe or the United States. Especially if I wish to remain in Academia, and play the funding game. Truth is, after what would be over 8 years of academia (interspersed by 2 years of commercial work), I've seen enough of how the funding game is, and I don't see it as something which is inherently winnable. The other thing is, after a while, I'm planning to come back to Australia permanently. I'd like to have something to do here which doesn't involve writing grants (which will probably be denied).

In the end, what this means is that you need to go back out into the big bad commercial world. Here's where the irony kicks in though. There's a lot of respect for the (purely academic) PhD degree. I'm not exactly sure why, but it's there. So you really need to have a PhD if you're going to be throwing screwball ideas around. Or at least, that's the current thinking. Get the degree, and get out into the big bad world as soon as possible.

This line of thought harks back to my What's up with science? post from a while back (most optimistically titled Part 1). There are really a lot of cool start up companies out there which deliver the intellectual stimulation you need from a job, while paying you a fair amount for the work you're doing. Is there a ceiling which you're going to hit if you don't have a PhD? Maybe the PhD preference is purely made up, and the truth of the matter is that PhD students are just killing time until they figure out what they want to do.


Ok, that was a bit ranty, totally unoriginal, but I needed to get that out there. For my German friends, I think I managed to burn myself at the beach today. I'm looking a healthy shade of red at the moment, and I may pay for this in a serious way not only tomorrow, but for the rest of the week. Wholly worth it though.

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