Hugh Pickens writes writes: "Jessica Palmer has an interesting post about the miseries of STEM [science, technology, engineering, and math] graduate students and makes the case that of all grad programs, those in biology are particularly miserable. One basic problem stems from too many biology Ph.D.s and not enough funding, leading to an immensely cutthroat environment that is psychologically damaging to boot. But the main problem is that most of the skills you learn in biology, especially biomedical sciences are only useful in the biomedical sciences and that most grad students don't learn enough 'generalist' skills, such as high level math or serious programming skills, to have other career alternatives if academia doesn't work out. "A decade ago, sequencing was a Ph.D. activity, or at least, an activity supervised very closely by a Ph.D.," writes Mike the Mad Biologist. "Now, it's largely automated, and the machines are mostly run by technicians with bachelors degrees." The solution? "Within your research, you should focus as much as you can on learning broadly applicable skills — programming, statistics, how to handle large datasets," writes Palmer. "Later on, your obscure skills will impress nonscientists, but it's your transferable skills that will make them want to hire you, and help them envision what you could do for their organization.""
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