I thought I’d come up with something close to my heart.  It has been over six years I finished my PhD.  And yes, there were ups and downs like any PhD fellow.  During my PhD and Postdoc, I have been privileged to have mentored several graduate researchers and advised them the pitfalls and provided some suggestions to make a successful PhD. Oftentimes, the current generation of PhD researchers fail to follow some rules or etiquettes whence their PhD. I don’t mean that not all would fall under this line but many of those whom I have mentored, are pretty good, intelligent, think independently and yet miss some very basic and important things in converting their thoughts into actions. These suggestions are specifically aimed at researchers from Indian sub-continent although a few points might match with the western perspective.

1. Understand the problem:  Ask the Whys’, Wheres’, Whichs’ and Whens’

If your supervisor or mentor gives you the problem, just try asking the Whs and probably you would have an answer for the other – ‘How.’  And importantly also the ‘Wh.. NOTs’ as well, viz.  why not this, why not that? where is this not applied?

2.   Don’t give up!

Many a time, you may not be an expert in things.  Making an attempt is always a nice thing to start your research (sub-)topic. This will provide you avenues to continue working on the problem.  Don’t ever give up unless it is beyond the capacity.  If incapacitated, take the next step.  You are not alone failing every time.

3. Learn to collaborate NOT compete

  This is  a very important step whence your PhD. Perhaps, this should be your epitome of success in setting your career goals for the next few years until you take up a tenure-track position or if you plan to move to industry.  You tend to meet people from different backgrounds. Some are above your expectations  ( the other way is you might be par their expectations or less?).  This should set your twinkle.  Join their group, be prepared for inviting them for a cup of coffee/tea meetings, share your ideas, bring enthusiasm to learn and collaborate.  And importantly, forget to “compete”  with your colleague.  You are not asked to win a PhD but you are working to win for a PhD.   Get the difference?

4. Keep positive frame of mind

Have you ever invited negativity?  Of course we are all humans, we do that.  Then you might be wondering what is this positive frame of mind.  Learn to invite positive thoughts.  For every work you do or drive,  keep positive vibes which will allow you to focus on positive life.

5. Don’t be workaholic. 

Working for 15 hours a day doesn’t allow you to make an effective PhD.  Perhaps working for ‘time-honored’ hours gives you a good PhD.  When you are at work, stay focused, keep away your mobile phones, gadgets and social bookmark penning! Make a strict time frame in using them for a few minutes every three hours.   It ain’t taking you away.  You could still keep your mind afresh.

6. Start early! keep  and wake-up early!

Many of my mentees and colleagues have had sleep disorders. I find their skype notifications and a few e-mailing midnight.  Wonder how I knew this?  Sorry  I was as well a victim of this, but I am a changed man today.  I realized what and how it takes to have a good seven hours sleep especially between 10 PM and 4 AM.   Common, don’t invite troubles for the doctors and police to fire an alarm at PhD fellows please.  We need effective PhDs and you should be among them!

7. Friends, Family and Fun

Keep a day off from your lab work and spend some time with your family.  This generation uses a lot of time on mobile phones and gadgets.  You might be getting drained.  Your poor brain and body needs rest.  Don’t you dare to spend time at work seven days a week!  Discuss your thoughts and challenges with a non-biologist or a person who is completely new to your field.  You know what?   you will get some wonderful ideas from them.  Please mark my words!

8. Tomorrow never dies!

I am not talking about the movie! You might have a bad day at work.  I had countless and they are aashirvad  ( blessings in disguise) .  Just go out and freak yourself. Have a good cup of coffee or drink and remember to start your day next again on a bright note. Don’t forget to brood and discuss with your colleagues/boss  the solutions on your project for the bad day you had.  Stop  don’t reveal them your day out, that is a secret you know 😉   After all these solutions will allow you to make a every day report for your eventual PhD

9. Accept your mistakes.

To err is human, Did a great mistake at work?  Just accept it and go on.  Listen to the advices and suggestions ( … and perhaps scoldings/brats).  And the greatest thing you could do is not to commit the same mistake again! And don’t blame your computer algorithm or your gadget, after all the programs are written by humans like you and me!

10. Pass on the baton!

You might have been done with a successful PhD.  Of course apart from acknowledgments, frequent e mails what do you think is the best gift you could give back to your mentors?  A good application of your PhD?  a good scientific career next?  To me, it is raising a person like you.  Pass on the baton, don’t forget that! after all, you reaped benefits from your Guru.  There are many people waiting for their Gurus as well!

 All the best!


NCBI Insights

The NCBI Eukaryotic Genome Annotation Pipeline now includes the prediction of more non-coding RNAs. Starting with software release 8.0, rRNAs, snRNAs and snoRNAs are predicted by searching eukaryotic genomes with HMM models from RFAM. Below is an example of a rRNA cassette predicted in maize Annotation Release 102. These new small RNA types come in addition to the miRNAs and tRNAs that have long been annotated by the pipeline.

rRNA cassette on maize scaffold NW_017972167.1 of assembly B73 RefGen_v4Fig.1: rRNA cassette on maize scaffold NW_017972167.1 of assembly B73 RefGen_v4. The top track displays the annotated 18S, 5.8S and 28S rRNA subunits in Annotation Release 102. These three genes were missing from the previous annotation, and replaced incorrect non-coding gene predictions (see Annotation Release 101, middle track). The bottom track shows the repeats identified by RepeatMasker. The boundaries of the rRNA repeats match precisely the predicted 18S and 28S rRNA genes.

See what we are annotating now on…

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A man was born on October 2, 1869. None knew the worth of him. Three decades later, he was limelighted for achievements. And a few days later, he was called a great soul or ‘Mahatama.’ Days passed, he pondered, rather thought deeply, “The woes of Mahatmas are known to Mahatmas alone.” Then on, several great people if NOT souls arose on earth. The Indian think tank became wiser and wiser. There was indeed a Gandhian influence, thought, debate, but only to the anvil of unsacred action, not at the sanctity of implementation. Today as we begin to celebrate the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma, we aimed to bring ‘Swachch Bharat’ into action. Can we not together join hands for this great man who taught us the principles of life and put this into practice? We should. Let us not forget that we have inherited his legacy and it is time, we followed and continue practise his principles.

Jai Hind. Mahatma Gandhiji ki Jai

A very useful and interesting one!

NCBI Insights

This blog post is intended for geneticists and dataflow engineers who need to compare genetic variants.

Have you ever tried to determine if two genetic variants are the same? If so, you’re not alone. There are competing ways to represent variants, handling ambiguous assignments, as well as reconciling updates to underlying sequence models. To help you with these problems, we’re introducing a new set of web services for comparing and grouping variants.

View original post 650 more words

Yes, we bade good-bye to the year 2016.  Season’s greetings and best wishes for the new year 2017.  Resolutions, Re-promises and Raining ideas, of course would be a part of your scientific career every year.  But to those who are in the early career phase and are working towards a good scientific temperament, I ‘d encourage you to consider the following.  Wondering why “Ten,” if they could be more ( or even less)?  Our human intuition listens to such scores🙂

  1.  Live up-to your expectations:  Yes, not your mentor’s or well-wishers’.  But yourself. Sometimes, we miss that and it is time, we watch out on the things what we have overlooked when we had resolutions set for last year.
  2.  Review an article:   We overlook writing research reviews and to those who have never ventured writing a review, please write the one.  It is a learning experience.
  3. Bring thoughts at your best: Be positive.  keep your mind active.  Accept criticism and move ahead.  There are people amidst us who suggest us.  Please take it, accept it and try to implement it if your heart says so.
  4. Keep smiling:  How many of us keep smiling and have  a healthy laugh every day? We could count on with fingers.  A lot of time invariably seem to be spent on keeping your head down and swiping your fingers with your phone ( I don’t use cellular phones, thanks heavens!). It might sound bit proactive, but please reconsider showing your healthy smile before you go to sleep.  Your family members need you amidst your busy schedules. 
  5.  Review other articles: If you think you have gained enough experience, why not review other articles on journal board?   And yes, get incentives with Publons.com and ensure you share your peer-reviews.
  6. Open: Open your key deliverables to the world. Bring it wide open, ensure they comment on (y)our thoughts, ideas that we necessitate it for future use.
  7. Donate:  Please donate your time and energy for scientific causes.  Please post news in public fora that you think could be shared.
  8. Stop the peer-pressure:  Ask for a transparent opinion.  Being open doesn’t mean that you are transparent. Invite your peers for an open discussion and share your thoughts, disagree in an agreeable way.
  9. Payback: Please ensure you use payback loyalty program ( if you are in India) where you can earn points for every (even scientific) shopping you make.  And don’t stop there, please convert those points for donating it to less-privileged.  needless to mention, this is same as spending your miles when you fly
  10. Calendar: Prioritize your calendar.   I keep reminded of one quote, that goes on saying, “Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.”   How true!  Isn’t it?

Yesterday I had been to a cobbler whom I knew once and is a Tobbaco addict.  I was not happy with my effort on putting my hand at work and so thought of getting my shoe shined and get an inner sole as well for which he advised me to get it done last time for a mere 30 INR.

I thought I’d ask him to stop chewing Tobacco on the condition that I will get my shoes repaired with him.  At first instance, he smiled with his red (tobacco) mouth and immediately as if he has gained consciousness threw at me several questions:

Sir, If the shoe doesn’t shine for next few days or the inner sole does wear, you may give the money back.  After several deliberations,  he agreed that he’d stop using Tobacco but insisted that he is not agreeing to this for the money he is earning, but the confidence that he has on/for his job.

I came back silently as if I was defeated.  This begs me a question if we can take this analogy:

As researchers, we are compounded with problems, viz.  rebuttals, peer-review, justifications, making changes to the works, writing grants etc., Sometimes the stance we take on our proposals, the commitment we keep towards meeting deadlines, can we ever reach out to that confidence level such persons like this have?

There is a good for thought for us and for him, it is food for thought!
PS:  Today,  I checked with him  and I am glad he lived up to his promise. I am glad 🙂