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The Black Hole

Quarterly Summary – Life choices in (and out of) academia


This quarter, although we didn’t really plan a theme prospectively, the majority of our posts have focused on the critical decision making process of early career researchers at the end of their training or the beginning of their independence.

Jonathan has collated a particularly insightful series of stories from colleagues of his about the varied career trajectories of young scientists in a highly uncertain economic climate. Reading stories from other people charting their journey can often help with making your own similar or dissimilar decisions – thanks to those who have shared with Jonathan.

On my side, most of the efforts (writing and non-writing) have been focused on the 3.5 month parental leave from which I have recently emerged. My overall thoughts are perhaps best encapsulated in the recent post Reflections from a male scientist on parental leave, but the other two posts have some side stories that readers may find interesting. The differences between countries, institutes, and colleague opinion are so varied within academia that it is extremely difficult to generalise, but one thing is very clear – the changing human resources of scientific research have made it such that we are older when we get our first pot of money for an independent lab and this means more houses, more life partners, and more babies – life circumstances that still disproportionately lead women to leave academic science. Much work remains.

Articles written this quarter:



Dave also continued to write for Signals blog, this time on the 10th anniversary of the discovery of iPS cells.

We hope you’ve all enjoyed reading and as always, encourage you to bring issues to our attention and consider writing your own piece to feature on the site.

David Kent
Dr. David Kent is a principal investigator at the York Biomedical Research Institute at the University of York, York, UK. He trained at Western University and the University of British Columbia before spending 10 years at the University of Cambridge, UK where he ran his research group until 2019. His laboratory's research focuses on the fundamental biology of blood stem cells and how changes in their regulation lead to cancers. David has a long history of public engagement and outreach including the creation of The Black Hole in 2009.
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