Please immediately note the hint of sarcasm in this title. What academic year would be complete without the harrowing prospect of end-of-year exams, which, this year, happen to also be finals? … Well, exactly. Any old academic year would be fine without. But alas, that is not how the system works. So on top of being judged on the basis of our lab project/dissertation/viva voce examination we also need to take two written exams, which are worth 50% of our mark.
To ease the transition from dissertation writing and editing into revision I thought I would start with something fun/potentially useless that can be classed as elaborate procrastination:
As mentioned previously, some of our teaching was provided in the format of seminars discussing landmark papers – papers that have shaped the way biologists think about their areas of research and that have had lasting, even if sometimes subconscious, effects. Several of the professors emphasised the importance of understanding these papers within their historical contexts, which is, I would contest, not something we scientists normally think about. Therefore I decided to look for a tool that would allow easy creation of a timeline like the one shown above and the only free app I could find in the store is simply called Timeline 3D. Right, well, and I just realised that on top of procrastinating by colour-coding different landmark papers I’ve now also spent a good fifteen minutes writing this blog post. If anyone else has well-disguised procrastination tools, please do share…
P.S.: Another way to pretend like you’re doing something useful – attend the departmental seminar given by a Nobel prize laureate, Jules Hoffmann. I was pleased to hear that he was appreciative of all of his collaborators and acknowledged his students and post-docs; something he seems to share with another Nobel prize winner, Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard, who gave a seminar a few weeks ago. Based on these examples I was about to draw the conclusion that a couple of the marks of great scientists are a) their willingness to acknowledge co-workers and b) to some extent their modesty (granted, this one doesn’t apply to other Nobel laureates I’ve encountered [e.g. James Watson]). However, as I was reading about Jules Hoffmann I very quickly came across this blog written by Bruno Lemaitre, a former research associate in Hoffmann’s lab, claiming that most, if not all, the award-winning work was conducted by him without encouragement/help from Hoffmann. Now what to believe?!