David Edwards

Predicting the future of science and the Ph.D.

As a child, whenever somebody asked me about my future, what I planned on doing when I grew up, I already knew the answer: I was going to be a physician. I enjoyed medicine, I liked helping people, and doctors, as a whole, seemed confident and glamorous. Becoming a physician was a confluence of everything I loved and wanted in a career. The question wasn’t hard, and the answer never changed. Until, that was, I … Read More

Let The Evening Come

This is the beginning of my fourth year of graduate school, that membranous transition period between the eager expectation of third year and the panicked frenzy of fifth year. Many of my older classmates have told me that fourth year was unequivocally their most challenging, the one brimming with more knee-weakening moments of despair, self-doubt and raw frustration than any other. (I know—what an auspicious start to the year. It’s the post-bac equivalent of your … Read More

Only Three Minutes

Let’s pretend you’ve signed up for the Three Minute Thesis. What that means is you’ve got three minutes to explain your thesis—both the results and significance of your project—to a non-scientific audience. Why did you do it? First, it’s good public speaking practice. Second, it’s a great opportunity to express your creativity. While you know that science is wonderfully, elegantly creative, it’s hard to convey that creativity to people outside of science. The crux of … Read More

Why cancer is like the worst employee at your company

Apologies for not blogging in a considerably long time (Even my parents have since stopped bookmarking this page. Sorry, Mom and Dad.). As delayed recompense, I thought I would include an excerpt from a small introductory speech I delivered earlier this week. I was asked to speak about my research for five minutes to a general audience (Five minutes is nothing. Even the most socially uncomfortable scientist can bloviate about their research for hours on … Read More


First off, I want to apologize to the two people who actually remembered I had written here (hi Mom and Dad!) for not writing anything new in, well, almost a year. Things have been uniquely chaotic for me over the past year. I’m reminded of the apocryphal story about a sultan who asked once King Solomon if there was anything that would be universally true in any situation, regardless of whether it was good or … Read More

The Communication of Science, Part One

[As you read by the title, this is Part One in another of my lucky-to-be-nominated-award-winning series of two-part Mega Posts. Sorry, guys. Hopefully, this duology will be less like a continuation of one story and more like two meditations on a single topic. In this post, I’ll talk about the importance of good science communication, and in the next one, I’ll provide some of my favorite examples. Hopefully it’ll be fun for the whole family.] … Read More

Academia vs. Industry: Double-post edition

During job interviews—at least in the tie-wearing, business-jargon-having corporate world—prospective employers generally ask something like: Where do you see yourself in five years? I base this observation on rumor, speculation, and reading Dilbert cartoons, well, because I’m a newly minted grad student. I have no experience with the corporate world. Besides, the career trajectory of a researcher, not unlike Calvinist doctrine, is subject to predestination: I know where I’ll be in five years. Most likely, … Read More

Why I chose PhD, Part Two

This is the long-awaited conclusion to Part One, the fascinating and hackneyed story of my decision to go to graduate school instead of medical school. I apologize for the monumental gap between posts. Graduate school is clearly more difficult and time-consuming than I expected, and studying is always more important than short-form navel-gazing. But I wanted to conclude my first post, if only to prevent this response from becoming my Chinese Democracy—eagerly awaited (*cough, cough*) … Read More

Why I chose PhD, Part One

I know that one of the most egregious writing clichés is opening with a quotation, but I’d like to start with a brief passage from Moby Dick. (I know it sounds pretentious and self-aggrandizing to start like this, but bear with me. And if quoting from the book brings back haunting memories of actually reading it, my apologies.) In the middle of the novel, Captain Ahab is lamenting that he cannot stop his obsession with … Read More



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