Saturday, 10 August 2013

It's been awhile/The importance of a name in science

So, it’s been awhile since I wrote a new blog post. I’ve been very busy in the lab and at home since I last wrote. My first paper of my PhD was published at PLoS One in the spring, and just after my paper came out I advanced to candidacy in my PhD program. I attended both the Canadian Society of Immunology and the Canadian Association of HIV Research conferences, and many people were interested in the humanized mice, which I have just started making. I also have been working at a biotech company through the MITACS-Accelerate program. I’m looking into extending my biotech intership for at least another 6 months, and am taking on a TA-ship for the fall. I’ve also taken my first trip to Europe (it was only 10 years in the making) and am now planning my wedding for spring next year!

I’ve been thinking about this blog recently and what I wanted it to be about. I’ve decided to stick with my interests, but it won’t just be about science and cupcaking anymore. As I am trying to get back into my old hobbies and develop new ones, the blog will range from cool science papers, book reviews, recipes, and anything else that I think is amazing.

Today, though, an issue I have been thinking about a lot . . . The importance of a name in science
Since I am going to be married soon, I have been thinking a lot about what name I will use after I am married. All my non-scientist friends that have recently married have just hyphenated their last name, but I have never been a fan of hyphenated names – and my last name and my fiancĂ©’s last name don’t really sound good together. I feel like there is a huge pressure on women in science to keep their name after marriage. A large number of the female students in my program are married, and all of them have kept their name. As a young scientist trying to establish a career, I can understand the desire to have all your accomplishments linked to one name, that having to list 2 names on your CV may be a disadvantage, and to wonder what would happen in the event your marriage fails. It does make me feel bad to consider what will happen if my fiancĂ© and I divorce someday, especially given that we haven’t even married yet, but this name issue is occurring during the time when I am starting to establish my career, and whatever name I pick will be the one I firmly establish myself with. I have published 2 papers and a video protocol with my maiden name. Is that enough to justify keeping it? It means a lot to my husband that I take his name – is that enough to justify changing it? Should I add his name to the end of mine (no hyphen) and use my maiden name for science, my married name personally? Will that be too confusing? And then I turn to PubMed to input both my maiden and married name. Although neither last name is common, 241 results come up for my maiden name, exactly 3 of which are actually mine. My paper from June 2013 has already been bumped to #2, following a the publication of a newer paper by a "name twin" and my paper from 2012 is #8. I may get lost in among the other Farr,C_’s. A quick search of my married name reveals a grand total of 3 papers – none of which have an author with the same initials, just the same last name. Is this the way to go? Will I be looked down upon for changing my name upon marriage? Or will the uniqueness of my new name be a benefit for the future? Does PubMed searchability even matter when trying to establish a career? And, do I really want to give up my spot in alphabetical order from the early start to the very end? :P

CF or CZ or CFZ