Confessions from a postdoc

Updated: Feb 10, 2020

Hello, my name is Sara and I am a postdoctoral researcher.

Not too long ago, I was also a PhD student. As such, I went through laborious experiments, precise protocols, small and big meetings, article reading-marathons, and the list goes on. That was OK because I expected it. What I was not prepared for, was the parallel training I would be going through and that nobody mentioned before. I was not ready to feel overwhelmed by work, neither to doubt my own capacity. I was not ready to feel alone, neither to feel that failure was coming to get me. Of course, all those feelings are part of life. But it would seem or feel that they come in bigger longer-termed doses when one is a PhD student.

Luckily, I met a lot of people in the process. Some of them were great supervisors, others were friendly colleagues and loving family members, and also some others were random strangers popping in at the right moment. Through kind comments, hilarious moments, hugs, coffee and ice-cream breaks, awe and excitement, they were a constant reminder of what I really was: an adventurous, brave, smart knowledge seeker. And so are you!

Now, I want to be that reminder for you. Through my article series "Confessions from a postdoc", I hope to trigger dialogue on those subjects we are often scared to talk about openly out of fear to look weak or unfit for science.

By talking boldly about the painful, frustrating or annoying experiences I went through as a PhD candidate, I aim for you to stop feeling you are surviving, and rather start fully living your PhD! I wish for you to be able to reassign to the PhD its real role, that of just a step of your biggest and most exciting project: life!

Photo taken the morning of Sara's PhD defense. It proves that PhD is not your life, just a tiny step of it!

Dr. Sara M. Ayala Mariscal obtained her PhD on January 2018 from the University Paul Sabatier Toulouse III in France. She is currently a postdoctoral researcher at the Leibniz Institute for Molecular Pharmacology in Berlin. When she is not exploring the molecular mechanism of neurodegenerative diseases or tutoring students, you can find her at the ballroom, the yoga studio or strolling the streets of Berlin.

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