When was the last time you were stuck on a research problem? Did you work your way out by trying the same approach over and over again? Probably not. And if you did, I’m guessing you’re still stuck on your research problem.
We all need to take a step back sometimes, to look at our work from a fresh angle. Your best resource for solving a particularly pesky problem might be the new postbac sitting at the desk next to you. Most early-career recruits have an uncanny ability to “think outside the box,” maybe because the NIH attracts the brightest of the bunch (in my opinion), but most likely because they’re not boxed in by current dogma.
This issue begins our three part series on “thinking outside the box.” We’ll explore this topic from the postbac to PI perspective, and all levels in between. I can’t think of a better way to start than with reflections from our Investigator Mentor of the Year, Dr. Tamás Balla. His words steer to the core of what it means to be a scientist, and how remaining open to all possibilities is something that defines the profession.
To get to a point where you are questioning dogma, you have to know what the dogma is. Postbac Leana Ramos offers her thoughts, based on her own experiences and discussions with others, about strategies that have helped her decipher “what’s in the box.” Her article is especially relevant for fellows who are mentoring early career trainees, as it’s easy to forget what it’s like to be new to research.
On a final note, I want to draw your attention to an upcoming opportunity organized by the NICHD Office of Education. For the first time, NICHD fellows will have access to The Business of Science, a certificate program led by the SciPhD group, designed for fellows and graduate students who are interested in a career in industry. Check out the November announcements for more information!
Your Editor in Chief,
Shana R. Spindler, PhD
Please send questions and comments to our editor at Shana.Spindler@gmail.com.