Feeling old

My first ever student successfully defended his PhD yesterday.
When I say “my” student I mean that he was officially my PI’s student, but I supervised him in the lab for his first year or two and helped him with the short-term development of his project. I also crushed his soul edited his first contributions to the scientific literature. It goes without saying that I am immensely proud of him!
The cohort of grad students who joined my department shortly after I began my first postdoc are starting to graduate and move on… and here’s me on my third job since those days!
The remaining question though is whether I should now address my former student as “Doctor Little Mark”, or as “Little Doctor Mark”.

About Cath@VWXYNot?

"one of the sillier science bloggers [...] I thought I should give a warning to the more staid members of the community." - Bob O'Hara, December 2010
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20 Responses to Feeling old

  1. Richard P. Grant says:

    ‘Oi, you,’ I find to be quite sufficient.

  2. Caryn Shechtman says:

    I like Doctor Little Mark. Little Doctor Mark implies there is a larger Doctor Mark somewhere around… is there?

  3. Cath Ennis says:

    No, but there is a “Big Mark” who is not a doctor (he’s my husband).
    After the Big Mark and Little Mark distinction was put into place, a new Mark joined my department. When he met Little Mark he asked if he could be Big Mark, but was told “sorry, we’ve already got one of those”. He asked to be called “Tall Mark”, but the one that stuck is “English Mark”.

  4. steffi suhr says:

    Ah, Cath… thanks for sharing that you ‘feel old’ – since I’m a little older, I feel ancient now. And very tired.

  5. Richard P. Grant says:

    I think you missed an opportunity there to call him Mark 3.
    Not to be confused with Mach 3, natch.

  6. Richard Wintle says:

    Or, depending on hair colour, “dark Mark”.
    /Harry Potter

  7. Cath Ennis says:

    HAH! My husband is the darkest of the three, so I will have to call him that. Although he hasn’t read the books or seen the movies and will have no idea what I’m talking about.
    I briefly called him Mark mark II, having dated another Mark when I was 18, but it did not prove popular.
    Steffi, eh? I couldn’t hear you. Can you come a little closer please, dear, and speak up a bit.

  8. Mike Fowler says:

    Congrats, Cath. My first one will defend at the end of October. Then he’ll be set loose to roam amongst big and little people all around the scientific community.
    Lock up your pipettes. God help us all.

  9. Henry Gee says:

    Old? Old? You young whippersnappers have absolutely no idea.
    You know you’re old when…

    A good morning is when you wake up and feel the absence of pain.

    Your kids go to bed after you do.

    You have to bite your lip in case you preface any statement to younger colleagues with ‘I remember when …’ or ‘when I was your age …’

    Attractive young women start smiling at you indulgently, realizing that you’re older than their dads and therefore unlikely to be a sexual predator. (The last time I was smiled at by attractive young women it was because I was pushing a buggy/ had a baby in a papoose).

    Many years ago, my sister and I were sitting in the back of the car, wondering aloud whether our father (the driver) was ‘middle-aged’.
    He was 36.

  10. Åsa Karlström says:

    Henry: The last sentence killed me. HAHA! I am almost middle aged then, according to Young Mr Gee…. 🙂
    Cath: I would feel so proud if I was you. I remember running into my first undergraduate students a few years back and then they told me that they had a proper job base on their degree. I wondered what my graduate years counted as…. but it must have been fun with Dr Little 🙂

  11. Austin Elliott says:

    I did my PhD in a lab where the familiar (and perhaps in some cases slightly ironic) form of address from any member to another was “Prof”. At the time no-one in the lab was a real full Professor.
    “Boy Wonder” also seems a suitable nickname in the particular circumstances you describe.
    PS I second everything Henry says about ageing, except that due to my late start at parenting my children are still young enough to go to bed before me.

  12. Richard Wintle says:

    Can we add “electronic gizmos that come without proper printed manuals infuriate you” to the list of signs and symptoms? Or is it just me?

  13. Cath Ennis says:

    Good luck to your student, Mike!
    Henry, I think using the term “young whippersnappers” is another sign.
    Åsa, that must have been a good feeling too! I once supervised a summer student who is now fully qualified as a doctor and practising medicine in Calgary… now that is scary!
    Austin, that sounds confusing! And I’ve only ever heard “boy wonder” used sarcastically!
    Richard, apparently I’m old too then.

  14. Austin Elliott says:

    “Austin, that sounds confusing!”
    We used to think of it as egalitarian, Cath…! But then we were all leftie types in that lab, except for our one MD PhD student who was more of a natural Tory (conservative).
    I think “Boy Wonder” can have a whole range of nuances from affectionately (and only slightly mocking, if at all) all the way to flat-our sarcastic. Within the family we have sometimes used it as a nickname for my (far more successful than me) younger brother.

  15. Svetlana Pertsovich says:

    In these latter days I started to think that the ageing of scientist (real ageing, but not only feeling old) is a state, when a person more readily spends time in chats with colleagues, than in real scientific work. Thus blogging/networking – so modish thing now! – is another sign of ageing… 😉

  16. Cath Ennis says:

    Bloody Tories doctors.
    Svetlana, that’s quite possibly true, although a quick poll of Nature Network users would probably uncover some dissenting voices on that opinion 😉

  17. Heather Etchevers says:

    Heh. I’m kind of in agreement with Svetlana.

  18. Austin Elliott says:

    Well, as a partial defence, I reckon I’m a better blogger / networker than I am/was a scientist..!
    But perhaps that’s my age.

  19. Ian Brooks says:

    I have a Big Mark too. 14stone, 6’5″ black kickboxer. His emergency name is ‘Mark! Help!’
    I bumped into my undergrad assistant a while back. Proud owner of a new PhD and starting his first postdoc. I felt very old…

  20. Svetlana Pertsovich says:

    I don’t still see the reasons to think so, Austin.
    Look at this:
    Is it the worthy result of your blogger’s/skeptic’s activity? The second loss in this case? Moreover, two successive losses in the case, despite of the fact that there were ALL chances to win the case!
    What is it? Simply – silliness, or hidden treachery?… 🙁
    In any case – this business is organized wrongly, so in its current form it is not best sphere of usage of our talents and reason. And I am disappointed and upset.
    Come back to Science, Austin. It is your defence and your victory. Firstly, it is more strong opposition against endarkenment (yep! Because it is the Enlightenment in its clearest and best form!). Secondly, it is best field for talented scientist. And if I envy you, then – only because of your research experience and possibility. You worked in wonderful fields! Mitochondrial bioenergetics! Resplendid field! It is the first sphere, where I started my life in the fundamental Science. Biophysics, ion channels! It is fantastic! Further – physiology! The soul is singing!
    Oh, no…. This lad doesn’t understand his happiness! 🙂
    I don’t want to say that now you don’t work properly. You work well. But you can work much more better and to achieve brilliant results.

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