Thursday, September 30, 2010


To a good friend who asked if I was high, “Yes, I am. I so am. I’m high on the weather, the picturesque views, the food, the cheese and ah, yes the wine “

YAY! Today is the last day of the conference. It was a great experience. It was nice to put faces to the big names in the field and actually get an idea as to what kind of people they really are. I always used to think that researchers are simple people but not anymore! They/We really are a complex set of people with different temperaments, just like anyone else.

The conference was also an eye opener. I always knew people work hard and I still think so. But now I can also see “science” in a different light. I can see the competition, the “need” to be famous, the dirty politics and of course the facades behind the goody-goody behaviors. I could clearly demarcate the scientific community into three categories:

1)   The Big Sharks: These are the already well-known scientists that poor graduate students like me ooh-aah about. They may be cool and composed but they can get down and dirty as soon as someone encroaches their areas. Not to say they wont do the same. They have their fingers in every possible pie (any project that is “hot”) and want a piece of the action everywhere.

2)   The Small-time Sharks: These are the not so well known scientists but want to get there. They try all possible tactics to get there too. They are at conferences looking for any possible ideas they may be able to poach. They will do all they can to get at people’s unpublished data and see if they can do something about it, to their own benefit of course.

3)   The last category is of course, the Nobody…poor old grad students like me, who don’t really have much of a say in the on goings. They gawk at the speakers and are awed by being in the same room as the great scientists.

And looks can be very deceptive. You can never tell who’s who in a meeting. The tiny little woman in that corner…no, she’s not a grad student. She is actually a big-time shark who can eat you up whole if she finds a flaw in your data. People actually want to turn and run if she stands up during the Q&A session. And the huge fierce looking guy sitting right in the front is actually a grad student. He just looks fierce but he’s harmless. But the small time sharks, you can actually recognize them by the cameras in their hands. In spite of several announcements that say “No photography”, they will take pictures of the slides with flash and all.

Yes, the conference was really an eye-opener. Good or bad, I’m in this for good.
Right now, I’m a nobody. Lets see where I’ll be in a few years from now.


Thinking Cramps said...

Hi, followed your name from my blog. The conference sounds like a great experience! What exactly do you do? And I hope you got time to "chill" in Switzerland. Or Yash Chopra would be very disappointed :)

Maya said...

Oh yeah! I sure did "chill" in Switzerland. Wouldn't dare disappoint Yash Chopra :).
Thanks for dropping by.