The hiring process for this position is now closed. But the other part of the post is still very relevant. Happy reading! (18/11/2016)

I am very happy to announce that I will be hiring first PhD student. A lot will be expected of him or her, and I plan on giving a lot in return. I though I would write a quick note to explain what my exceptions are and how I see my role in his or her professional development.


Dear applicant,

You are the first PhD student that I will hire directly. You will be the first PhD student to work exclusively on projects that spans from my thinking and my vision. You will be the first that I train from day 1 until day 1460 (perhaps more?). And you will be the first to carry the weight of developing some of my bourgeoning ideas into beautiful experimental proofs. But you will also be the first for whom I will put energy and care in mentoring, training, encouraging, and pushing to step outside the confort zone. Obviously, successful PhD students can come in many shapes and forms. But in this particular situation, under my supervision, I think that a combination of characteristics would make a great fit. Here are a few:

  1. You need to want it. What does this PhD represent for you?  A childhood dream? A placeholder until you get something better? Just a job? We are in this together for at least 4 years. We need to be driven with genuine enthusiasm and passion if we are going to go anywhere.
  2. You will have to be bold, daring, and ambitious. Many of the ideas I am suggesting are mere hypotheses. They will need testing. Many will no lead to much. But a few might give you the occasional adrenaline rush we are all looking for.
  3. You need to look beyond the science. Understand that soft skills are important. Communication, communication, communication.
  4. You need to be entrepreneurial. You will not be joining a large group. Most things will need to be established. You will need to talk with people from upstairs to ask for reagents, go downstairs to use that instrument, email that company for free samples, and go to the neighboring institute to attend their seminars.  In short, you will have to be a do-er.
  5. You need to want to learn and be curious. You will be a PhD student. As such, your main goal will be to expend your knowledge and skill set, while advancing the frontier of science.

But then again, I pledge to be there for you.

  1. I will share with you a vision and guide you through your PhD. I will help you identify the most impactful piece of science you can do.
  2. I will thrive to create the most productive environment possible. I fundraise so that you have the means to work, I bring teams together so that you can collaborate, and I will make sure to remind everyone once in a while that all of this should be fun!
  3. I will set standards on the quality of the work. I will give you feedback on experimental planning, data analysis, hypothesis formulation, and communication.  And I will do so in a timely manner.
  4. I will give you the scientific training you need to become a professional researcher. You will become an expert in a scientific field, know how to design experiments, interpret results, and plan ahead.
  5. I will open your horizons. I will send you to conferences as much as possible, discuss Open Science, science policy, connect you with startups and companies-related projects when the opportunity arises.

One Response to “New PhD position – Here’s what you should know”

  1. Teresa

    I am a researcher from the Naples University “Federico II”. I started this experience a bit ‘by chance, a little’ out of curiosity, after completing my degree thesis, my professor asked me to follow a research project, I was excited, I had spent a year in the laboratory to prepare the degree thesis, and that environment, the atmosphere, the desire to discover and joy for small achievements, they did me a great desire to continue. I never thought I could be so much pleasure, do research had never been in the top five of the things I wanted to do when I would have been “great”, and yet, now I feel more empty without those small achievements, but also defeats, daily and they push you to do, to discover and understand more. Today I can firmly say that this is my way, and I will try in every way to pursue it.

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