Profesor Pedro Miguel Echenique z univerze University of the Basque Country je na nedavnem predavanju podal nekaj svojih nasvetov mlademu znanstveniku. Povzetek celotnega predavanja lahko preberete na spletni strani Science: “Advice to a young scientist“.

  • Choose well. When deciding where to do your Ph.D. or postdoc, do not base your decision solely on whether the laboratory has a grant for you or routinely publishes in high-impact journals. Choose “a place where one feels motivated, where one knows that some fascinating things are being done,” Echenique said. Also important is to choose a good supervisor, one who won’t treat you like “cheap labor at the service of a great project,” he added.
  • Learn broadly. Use the early years of your career to learn as many techniques as you can; they will help you tackle an array of problems in the future.
  • Allow yourself to ‘waste time.’ The pressure on today’s young scientists is such that many do not dare to leave their workbench or computer to pursue other professional activities, for fear they are wasting their time. Yet it is important to go to as many seminars as you can.
  • Establish a name for yourself. Young scientists must start making a mark in their field, and many attempt to do so by joining a laboratory that is led by a famous researcher or frequently publishes in high-impact journals. A danger of such an approach is that it could make it difficult to step out of your principal investigator’s shadow; the papers you produce may add to his or her prestige, not yours.
  • Hone your communication skills. Communication is also really important, Echenique said. Learn how to give presentations by taking note of what you liked in other speakers’ talks, and practice in front of peers and mentors. Put yourself in the shoes of the audience, neither over- nor underestimating them, and ask yourself, “if I was there, would what I’m going to tell them really interest me?”

“In spite of all the pressure and anxiety about securing a permanent, independent position, never lose sight of your primary driver, the thing that really got you into science. “It is very important to have permanent positions, of course … but they are a means to an end. The aim of a scientist is to advance knowledge and bring something new. We cannot convert the means into an end, because [otherwise] we are perverting the process,” Echenique said. It is true that luck also plays a role, but “if you … do a serious and good piece of work and you communicate it well, you will have all those things.”