A Guide to Academia

These days, when even the competition to gain an undergraduate degree is fierce, pursuing academic career can seem nearly impossible.

Drawing from experience as a college advisor, undergraduate instructor, PhD committee member, and mentor for graduate, undergraduate and high school students, Prosanta Chakrabarty has written a concise, practical guide to pursuing an academic career. A Guide to Academia: Getting into and Surviving Grad School, Postdocs and a Research Job advises students how to navigate the various stages of a career in academia, highlighting potential obstacles and suggesting strategies for conquering these obstacles.

With his recently published book in mind, we sat asked Dr. Chakraberty to discuss some of the experiences and inspirations that persuaded him to write this book.

  • What inspired you to write A Guide to Academia?
  • I was inspired by my own start (and false-starts) on the road to becoming an academic. I’ve always wanted to be a scientist but I didn’t always know the right path to becoming one. As an undergrad, I wasn’t sure how to apply for graduate schools or what I needed to do to have a good chance of getting in. As a graduate student, I wasn’t sure how I would figure out a topic for my thesis or how best to balance my time between teaching and my research. As a postdoc, I wasn’t sure how I could get a job or how to handle an interview. As an assistant professor, I wasn’t sure how best to spend start-up funds and build a lab. I wanted to write this book to help all the other people in those positions now and hopefully guide them to the best path towards success. Read more here! ⇒

Simple 3-D Grid Structure Underlying Complexity of Primate Brain

How do you build a brain? In the March 30 issue of Science a team of investigators presents a surprising answer, reporting their discovery of a remarkably simple organizational structure in the brains of humans and other primates. Employing sophisticated mathematical analysis of advanced imaging data, they found that the pathways carrying neural signals through the brain are arranged not in a disorganized tangle but in a curved, three-dimensional grid. Continue reading

Writing a Good Review

I was once told “writing a review is relatively straightforward way into the literature, so it’s often the kind of paper on which PhD students ‘cut their teeth’”. “Hmm…” I thought. And the more I see of reviews (as Editor of a reviews and features journal), the more I disagree that a good review is straightforward. Technically it might be straightforward for someone with a once-in-a-lifetime overview of the current literature – such as a PhD student just about to write-up her/his thesis: technically in the sense of cataloguing the relevant literature. But is that a review? Maybe, but it would be a bit boring by most standards. Read more here! ⇒