Casey Bergman told students, why they should do PhD in bioinformatics/computational biology.
Our response “Top N Reasons NOT to do a Ph.D. in Bioinformatics/Computational Biology” started with the following paragraph -
Bioinformatics has many layers, as discussed in the following articles.
Unless you can reach Layer 5, you remain a glorified technician in the bigger picture of things. Do you really think that is good enough reason to get a PhD?
The following sad story suggests that we were not unnecessarily negative.
You probably know I desperately want to write up a tool paper last year (*), at that moment my biggest fear was not B in fact, but was the expectation that I would be placed middle-of-no-where in the authorship in their Biology paper. I guessed right.
Not sure if it is normal, but just got very frustrated in this lab. Yesterday ** summoned me to his office, told me that my position was shifted backward (from 2nd to 4th).
The situation is like that. We developed , we used it to discover those **** event, all validated. Among them, the Biology lab already did some work on one of the ** (long before we developed ). They used that as an example to do more in depth work and submitted the *** **. I did the submission phase works. My position was 2nd. The 1st is a former student who devoted his PhD life on it.
The paper came back with revision. Lots of biology questions. I did my part and proposed the Bioinformatics response. I thought it was alright. Yesterday ** told me he had discussed with **** in the **-** meeting, and made a decision to shift me backward, because their lab members worked hard on revision phase and did many experiments. I had no choice and said it is fair.
Maybe it is fair. I do not argue that the wet-lab team deserve important positions because they worked hard. I just couldn’t believe (1) we did well and there was little Bioinformatics related question, (2) then it is my fault to contribute little in this revision phase. I also spent my last 1.5 year on this. If I didn’t propose/argue with them to publish *** independently. Then what do I get now for working on this in this post-doc life?
For wet-lab members, they all have their projects. And mine is to work to help them get things out. Am I a technician?
When they worked hard on wet-lab experiment, do we just sit down and take a nap?
In **’s office, I did not argue at all. I accepted it because it is entirely not up to me, and it was a decision they have already made. **just re- directed the message / informed me. ** re-iterated we are not pet bioinformatician, but I think we are just free-rider in biology’s people eye.
** said to me such decision is to prevent the wet-lab people think we are free-rider, get it their lab and get important position in the paper. And this decision will make them relieve. So basically it means I am the one to be sacrificed for fear of morale hazard in wet-lab team. And by doing so, I can work them the wet-lab team more closely. I have no objection, but again, I know I have lots of morale to spare.
In the same context, readers may also like our other commentary -
Overall, our views remain the same. The university system in USA is mostly an unproductive and government-supported cartel, whose primary purpose is to support the older members at the cost of younger ones. Younger you are, better off you will be by running away from it.