July 23, 2009

Science personality test

In 2005, The Science Advisory Board developed a personality test for scientists. It was published in Science, Nature, and a plethora of other journals. Although the personality test has since been removed from the TSAB website, I thought the breakdown of archetypal researchers merited a few cynical comments from a graduate student point of view.

Leader: When others follow, you lead [to the bar or events with free food]. During lab meetings, you suggest off-the-wall experiments that cause your labmates to roll their eyes and ignore you. Your PI applauds your creativity, but will claim your ideas as his own in grants and departmental functions. Your confidence in yourself will be crushed during prelims.

Explorer: You enjoy new terrain (non-research buildings) and adventures (undergrad parties). During lab meetings, you plan your next vacation while simultaneously reading the news. Your labmates think you're lazy, but you do just enough work to not get reprimanded. Your attitude: If it isn't broken, don't fix it.  

Organizer: You come to lab meetings with a list of updates and questions. You are frustrated that fellow graduate students take advantage of your generosity. Your PI treats you like the lab manager, but without the better pay or benefits. You debate whether you should've been a stay-at-home mom.

Enthusiast: You love science. Your workweek excels 40 hours by Wednesday and you never take vacation. During lab meetings, you're updating your lab notebook and planning out tomorrow's set of experiments. Your PI thinks your the model graduate student and loves giving you side projects. Watch out though -- You'll be burned out by the end of your 2nd year.