Dr. Karen Bell, PhD in Entomology from the University of Queensland
Current postdoc at Emory University in the lab of Dr. Berry Brosi
PSW: When did you begin making moves towards a post-doc position (i.e. talking with potential mentors, researching grant funding, etc.)?
KB: I was working in a temporary research position outside of the university system (a botanic garden), and realized that funding for research in these organizations was limited, and that I would be better able to do the research I wanted if I returned to the university system, at least for a few years until I gained more experience. I started making moves towards a post-doc when I was about 4 months from the end of the job contract at the botanic gardens.
PSW: Did you receive funding from a mentor, grant organization, or the university? If one of the second 2, who were you funded by?
KB: My post-doc position is funded by a grant from the Army Research Office. The grant was already available when I applied for the position. I also considered applying for grants that could be taken up at the botanic gardens where I was working, but there were very few available, and none of my mentors were eligible for any of the grant schemes.
PSW: How has your family life influenced your postdoc position?
KB: I was more reluctant to relocate to start a post-doc because my parents and grandparents are getting older, and I would like to spend more time with them. I would have started a post-doc earlier otherwise.
PSW: What skills or experiences are you looking to gain from your postdoc?
KB: I would like to gain technical skills that can be applied to research projects in my area of interest. I’m also looking to gain experience in writing grant applications, and supervising students. This would give me more options applying for positions where I can do the research I want to do.
PSW: How did your experiences in graduate school help you gain skills for your postdoc?
KB: I gained the technical skills I needed for continuing my research (although over the years these skills became obsolete). I wish I had gained more skills relevant to planning future research projects, and planning for career development.
PSW: How long (ideally) do you plan on being a post-doc? What are your ultimate career goals?
KB: I hope to get an academic position before my current post-doc position finishes. I would like to work as a professor for 10-15 years, to develop a good research and teaching career. In my later years, I would like to work in a museum, botanic garden, or other research-only position, in a slightly lower pressure work environment.
PSW: Any other thoughts on being a post-doc or advice to graduate students on the way to postdoc-ing?
KB: Know what you want to do next, because time goes quickly.