Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Maybe four years was not long enough

In addition to the fainting woman, there was another faculty candidate whom I vividly remember. Several of us from the lab went to her seminar even though she was applying for a job in the physics department because her graduate research had been on block copolymers which was a primary focus of our lab as well. Once again, I don’t really remember her talk much. What I do remember, however, is that she got her Ph.D. in four years.

Impressed? Don’t be. First of all, having a Ph.D. is far, far less impressive than people who don’t have Ph.D.’s think. The first thing to go in grad school is your respect for the degree. And second of all, it’s fairly obnoxious to mention an accomplishment, any accomplishment, every five minutes. As I said, I forget what her talk was about, but it went something like this: “Hello, my name is Only Four Years. I got my Ph.D. in four years. In the lab, I studied block copolymers, but only for four years, because that’s all the time I needed to get my Ph.D. Just the four years. So, block copolymers, which I studied for four years before earning my Ph.D., are really cool and useful. Much like a Ph.D. which I got in four years.”

But here’s the thing. After her talk, I would say that her answers to at least half of the questions posed by the audience were, “I did not have time to examine that.” Sure, she usually elaborated a bit and theorized as to what would have happened had she examined whatever the question was about, but the point remains that she didn’t actually examine it. At this point, The Doktah nudged me, rudely awakening me I expect, and whispered, “Maybe she should have taken more than four years and looked at a few of these questions!” Because, I don’t know if I mentioned this, but this particular speaker earned a Ph.D. in only four years.

She did not get the job.

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