Thursday, January 13, 2011

So long Vanderbilt, and thanks for all the fish!

After finishing the final revisions on my dissertation I was reminded of this spot-on graphical guide to what a Ph.D. is really all about.

Now that I'm finished, I'm leaving Vanderbilt to start a postdoc in genetic epidemiology with Dr. Loic Le Marchand at the University of Hawaii Cancer Center. Posts may be sparse over the next few weeks, but I plan on blogging as usual once I'm set up at my postdoc. Because I won't have the same level of statistical and bioinformatics support in Hawaii that I have now, I'll have much to figure out on my own, so I'll have even more to write about here. But for now, enjoy this Illustrated guide to a Ph.D., reproduced with permission from Matt Might, and follow me on Twitter (@genetics_blog).


Imagine a circle that contains all of human knowledge:

By the time you finish elementary school, you know a little:

By the time you finish high school, you know a bit more:

With a bachelor's degree, you gain a specialty:

A master's degree deepens that specialty:

Reading research papers takes you to the edge of human knowledge:

Once you're at the boundary, you focus:

You push at the boundary for a few years:

Until one day, the boundary gives way:

And, that dent you've made is called a Ph.D.:

Of course, the world looks different to you now:

So, don't forget the bigger picture:

Keep pushing!


  1. Good luck and Congratulations! Do not forget about us, the readers of the blog!

  2. Stephen:
    Congratulations and best wishes for a meaningful experience.

    Stephen and Will:
    Your blog has been extremely helpful. Hopefully the dolphins will stay with us (or visit frequently).

  3. That.
    And most correct. Very nicely illustrated, Stephen. Good luck in Hawaii and keep on posting.

  4. Congratulations! Enjoy your new position, I'm sure it will be rewarding for you.

  5. Congratulations and best of luck! I have found the post-doc phase of life to be the oddest yet. I look forward to your reflections and musings of the experience!

  6. After my PhD I decided to grow other branches, trying to look like a star or a splash instead. This is frowned upon, but it feels so good :)


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