As I was traveling to Experimental Biology this past weekend with my lab mate and her boyfriend, who is a doctoral student in another health-related department, I shared my thoughts on what grad school should be like. Naturally, the reaction was a laugh, and a "ha, that would be awesome."
Here's my idea.
As researchers in nutrition or exercise science or other health-related fields, we should first and foremost be setting examples of how to live a healthy life to the general population. That means the priorities should be aligned as follows:
- Everyone should have enough time to get at least 8-9 hours of sleep.
- Everyone should have enough time to cook all their own food, with of course allowance for plenty of reheating scraps, as cooking three meals individually every day is not practical for anyone, even a homemaker.
- Everyone should have 3-5 hours per week to exercise.
- Everyone should have 3-5 hours per week to devote to a hobby.
- And finally, everyone should have one hour at the end of the day for relaxation, prayer, meditation, reading, television, or some other suitable way of winding down.
- Then, as becoming of a hard worker, the rest of our time should be spent working.
I have no problem with the idea that we should be hard working, but it seems quite frequently this line of work, and many others, expects this at the expense of things that should be taken for granted, like being able to sleep, exercise, eat healthily, and spend enough scant time having fun just to prevent insanity.
As professional researchers and academics, the priorities should be similar, and "publishing" should fall into the last bullet, but with a clear subjugation to maintaining a commitment to transparency, truth, and scientific integrity.
Of course the way it currently works the entire list often takes a back seat to publishing.
For myself, I do maintain some hobby time, and of course I do blog a bit. I try to blog about what I have to research anyway. For example, my choline series was largely a byproduct of a review on fatty liver that will soon be published in a pretty prestigious nutrition journal, which I'll let you know about when its published. It's also a way for me to wind down sometimes too, even if I have to do research to write a post, because sometimes my mind is going crazy wondering about things, and finding the answers and posting them offers some relief. And I like to help people, and I hope that's what my blog often does.
Read more about the author, Chris Masterjohn, PhD, here.