We are all on a path

Follow up to the post about works in progress from a couple of days ago.

Today, the prof who is the teaching-primary faculty member I referred to in that post stopped by to say hi to me. We chatted a bit about teaching stuff. I asked her if she could come and sit in on a lecture I’m giving on Weds this week and offer me her insight. I particularly wanted to know about my powerpoint design and whether research talk design really translates that easily into basic science teaching for medical students design. She said sure, and then asked if I would do the same for her. I laughed, but she was serious.

Her words of wisdom to me: we are all on a path. If we’ve reached the destination we’re on the wrong path. Because, as is true for any good scientific project, experiment or dataset, if the current path doesn’t suggest the next one, then you’re doing it wrong. And if you are not enjoying the path, get the hell off it.

Alternative perspective: Once, in a previous life, when I was doing some evolutionary biology, I took a class from David Raup, a relatively famous paleontologist (at least to some). His father had been a relatively famous botanist. Dave told the story that when he passed his Oral Exams for his PhD he told his father: “well, I’ve finally passed my last exam”. And his father replied, “no, that’s just your first”.

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