Saturday, March 2, 2013

Why I suck at this...

So for the past, oh, 8 months or so, I've been helping a colleague's undergraduate researcher.  I've been teaching her how to read a scientific publication, reviewing the literature with her, answering her questions on her analysis, and it's been going incredibly well.

It only just - literally just last night - occurred to me that although my colleague is thrilled with the progress and has been encouraging me in my efforts with her, I never asked whether or not I will be on the resulting publication.

Now, it might have to be an "ideas thing," right?  Not so.  Same collegue was showing me some fossils, and I suggested that the fossil looked remarkably like a spearhead that was used by the ancient Native Americans to spear fish.  He said, "Wonderful!"  Later, he asked me all sorts of math questions and I fixed his equations for him.

Not only did he publish without me, he got a patent on the idea as well.  He did include me in the acknowledgements, but in science that's worth exactly nothing.

This has happened multiple times.

Another thing that keeps happening is that I get put on Herculan projects.  Like my MS.

My advisor (to another student): You can get your PhD in trace fossils!  Smear some algae on bathroom tiles and take pictures of the patterns they make.

My advisor (to a different student): You can get your PhD in cave fossil preservation!  Mix some bat feces with some cleaned bones from owl pellets and record how they rot.

My advisor to me: You can get your MS in fossil analysis!  Build an artificial intelligence system to define fossil traces.  On your own.  With no help.  (Because I know buckets about bat shit and snail trails but I know literally jack about modern computer science.)

It vaguely reminds me of that old joke that ends with "Spell chrysanthemum."

And that's my ripping about my job for today.


Smile!  Awesomeness does exist.  Graffiti artist + cathedral ceiling = coolest cross cultural art ever.


  1. Yeah. In a different venue, I'm sort of in the same boat. I may, or may not get paid for some work I'm doing.

    1. Well, now I feel like a jerk. Because rather than being passive-aggressive, I just sent the guy an email. And he said "Of course. Definitely one paper, possibly two."

      I have a dream. A dream of being a mere co-author, not first author. Nothing I have ever done have I EVER not been lead author. Which in one way is awesome (most times people at my level are mere co-authors, not lead authors.) But my research... is weird and I'm alone slogging it 99% of the time.

    2. Wow. Totally should have proofread that.

      "I'm always a lead author, not a mere coauthor" is what I meant.

      Must... sleep... tonight...