Law to biology in about 900 easy steps with help from Askme April 15, 2009 1:32 PM   Subscribe

Local Askme Girl Makes Good [Thanks everyone!]

More than three years ago, I started getting serious about transitioning from being a lawyer to being a life scientist. And beginning in October of 2006, I started going to AskMe for advice about the process. Often, my questions came from a place of incomplete understanding, but AskMe never failed to straighten me out and put me on the right path.

About an hour ago, I accepted an admission-and-fellowship offer from the University of Washington. I'll be starting my Ph.D in biology this fall.

I can say unreservedly that AskMe's guidance got me here. Because of folks like ObeyScient, Good Brain, and others, I knew to focus on networking with faculty and doing research. That (now unsuprisingly) turned out to be absolutely key. In addition to that, AskMe's saved me from wasting time on a second bachelor's degree, and on trying to supplement my (future) fellowship income by trying to be a part-time patent attorney. It's also given me great recommendations for self-study resources.

And beyond those specifics, I've got to say, it's been unbelievably great to know that AskMe's there-- for reality checks, for solid answers to obscure questions, for everything. Leaving my law career for a life in biology was (and continues to be) a real step into the wilderness. Figuring out the logistics has been stressful and truly confounding at times, for both my spouse and for me. The availability of AskMe has helped us with that a lot.

So thanks, everyone. Thanks, thanks, thanks, thanks, thanks. I know that I'm not really a scientist yet. I know that all of the hardest stuff is still ahead, and that the next few years will bring anxiety, doubts, freakouts, and buckets of stress, along with all the anticipated awesomeness. Still, guys-- I'm grateful. Gratitude and AskMe love are pretty much leaking out of my every pore right now.

I don't really know how to end this big, embarrassing love-gush, so I think I'll just finish by linking to a picture of a wombat. They have armored butts, you know? I learned that. From studying biology. Ok. Need a drink now. Hugs. Big, big, big ones. From wombats. With Ph.Ds.
posted by palmcorder_yajna to MetaFilter-Related at 1:32 PM (67 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite

Wow. Fantastic!
posted by R. Mutt at 1:45 PM on April 15, 2009

This pleases me.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 1:45 PM on April 15, 2009

Awww. I look forward to reading your grad student crises-related AskMes in the future after hearing that warm and fuzzy story. Congratulations!
posted by booknerd at 1:47 PM on April 15, 2009 [2 favorites]

As one beginning PhD to another, let me say congrats. Hopefully we can help each other through the coming stress and insanity of this mess - even though I'll be over on the Arts side of the Arts and Sciences divide in History.
posted by strixus at 1:58 PM on April 15, 2009

Yay, congratulations!

and here's another wombat
posted by UbuRoivas at 1:58 PM on April 15, 2009

MetaTalk: Armored butts.

posted by loquacious at 1:58 PM on April 15, 2009

I look forward to reading your grad student crises-related AskMes in the future after hearing that warm and fuzzy story

i don't know about that. palmcorder was a lawyer. i bet any "crises" will feel like minor, colorful idiosyncracies compared to the miseries of the legal profession.
posted by The ____ of Justice at 2:00 PM on April 15, 2009

Cheers! And I shall give you this picture of a wombat in a hat in return.
posted by jabberjaw at 2:01 PM on April 15, 2009 [1 favorite]

You don't have permission to access /index_files/wombat_in_a_hat.jpg on this server.

When wombats are outlawed....
posted by lukemeister at 2:04 PM on April 15, 2009 [1 favorite]

But will UW issue you one of these?
posted by Rumple at 2:08 PM on April 15, 2009

Cherish this feeling, sear it into your memory now, because it will be all you have to warm yourself with on the long, slow march across the blizzard-enveloped, bone-chilling, frozen tundra that is grad school.
posted by Durin's Bane at 2:10 PM on April 15, 2009 [2 favorites]

posted by Science! at 2:10 PM on April 15, 2009


I see you as the leading light in the future Wombat Genome Project.
posted by lukemeister at 2:11 PM on April 15, 2009

Congrats! You'll need this and this.
posted by The White Hat at 2:14 PM on April 15, 2009

Fuck P. Yeah! (dot com.)
posted by By The Grace of God at 2:20 PM on April 15, 2009

Hooray, thanks for letting us know. Here is my favorite wombat photo.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:23 PM on April 15, 2009

Someone got their five bucks worth.
posted by gman at 2:28 PM on April 15, 2009

Holy crap. Wombats are big.
posted by Science! at 2:29 PM on April 15, 2009 [1 favorite]

Awesome! Good luck.

Also, here's a womb bat.
posted by yeti at 2:29 PM on April 15, 2009

Is it really a 'wisdom of wombats'?
posted by lukemeister at 2:30 PM on April 15, 2009

I'm always glad when my cousin can help people out.
posted by Meta Filter at 2:38 PM on April 15, 2009 [1 favorite]

Awesome and congratulations on your acceptance. Wombat. Wait, what?
posted by Pax at 2:41 PM on April 15, 2009

I'm always glad when my cousin can help people out.
posted by Meta Filter

My comment above was actually directed at you.
posted by gman at 2:43 PM on April 15, 2009

Things are indeed better with a wombat.

posted by ocherdraco at 2:44 PM on April 15, 2009

[this is good]
posted by dg at 2:47 PM on April 15, 2009

Yay! Congrats, palmcorder_yajna!
posted by Zed at 3:12 PM on April 15, 2009

@: Well, here he is.
posted by jabberjaw at 3:15 PM on April 15, 2009 [1 favorite]

Congratulations, and thanks for all the wombats!
posted by languagehat at 3:16 PM on April 15, 2009

Aww that wombat is adorable. Congratulations!!!!
posted by spec80 at 3:16 PM on April 15, 2009


oh wait
posted by jtron at 3:25 PM on April 15, 2009

That's a wombat???

Congrats palmcorder!
posted by Mister_A at 3:29 PM on April 15, 2009


Ye olde English wombats for thee
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 3:33 PM on April 15, 2009

Awesome. welcome to the world of biology!
posted by special-k at 3:35 PM on April 15, 2009

Congratulations, and I hope you'll still think it was good advice when you're in the throes of graduate school!
posted by Quietgal at 3:37 PM on April 15, 2009



posted by rtha at 3:38 PM on April 15, 2009

I have a stuffed wombat. I love that guy.
posted by SpacemanStix at 3:44 PM on April 15, 2009

When attacked, wombats dive into a nearby tunnel, using their rump to block a pursuing attacker
posted by KokuRyu at 3:46 PM on April 15, 2009

The wombat in jessmyn's photo looks...uncertain.
posted by rtha at 4:05 PM on April 15, 2009 [1 favorite]

I read my son Diary of a Wombat quite a bit. Here is the story of Mothball the Wombat that inspired the book.

I hope my son will grow up to be a Lawyer/Scientist like you! Good luck!
posted by anastasiav at 4:38 PM on April 15, 2009

What's this about batman?
posted by cortex (staff) at 4:52 PM on April 15, 2009


R. Mutt is a girl?
posted by deborah at 5:04 PM on April 15, 2009 [1 favorite]

Congratulations and welcome to the UW! I really love it here and I think it is a great environment for the grad students too. Drop me a MeMail if you have any questions.
posted by grouse at 5:08 PM on April 15, 2009

viva ph.d! viva wombats!
posted by lia at 5:24 PM on April 15, 2009

Wombats aren't all that cute. They've got motherin' big claws, and weigh like they're made from leftover neutron star material. Somewhere I've got a pic of a friend's Holden Commodore that hit a wombat at 120kph - the car was a write-off; the wombat waddled away into the bush.

Regardless, congrats!
posted by Pinback at 5:27 PM on April 15, 2009

Awesome. That took courage! Best of luck to you.
posted by Miko at 5:29 PM on April 15, 2009

Well done and good luck. Death of a Wombat.
posted by tellurian at 5:39 PM on April 15, 2009 [1 favorite]

Best of luck with the Ph.D! As someone who has recently finished one, (in a totally unrelated fine arts field) I know what a big decision going back to school can be but also the many advantages that you have starting on this with some life experience behind you.
posted by ob at 5:58 PM on April 15, 2009

I'm all for PhDs in biology. I imagine that a lot of the skills you gained as an attorney will help too, much of PhD work is about being organised and dealing with details. Congratulations.
posted by shelleycat at 6:10 PM on April 15, 2009

Congrats. You're officially qualified to start reading PhD comics now.

You may not get them all at first, but you will. Oh yes, you will.

Oh, and on a completely serious note, bookmark this page and read it often. Some days it might be the only thought that keeps you going.
posted by chrisamiller at 6:35 PM on April 15, 2009

One less lawyer!

Good luck. Hope you get an A in all your classes.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 10:07 PM on April 15, 2009

As long as we're talking about wombats and webcomics...Digger! (And congrats!)
posted by teremala at 12:22 AM on April 16, 2009

What a lovely bouquet of marsupials!

Alright. I've bookmarked PhD comics, Digger, and the "Better with a Wombat" Flickr group. I've laid in a goodly supply of ramen (actually, I had a preexisting supply of ramen), and now I've got a Firefox window full of MeTa good wishes. I guess I'm ready to roll.

I know I said it already, but seriously-- y'all are the best. Thanks again.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 1:28 AM on April 16, 2009

Holy crap. Wombats are big.

They can run around 45 km/h when they get going, too.
posted by rodgerd at 1:42 AM on April 16, 2009


I find AskMe especially good on the life-planning questions -- and maybe especially especially good on questions of graduate education.
posted by fourcheesemac at 4:58 AM on April 16, 2009 the world needs any more scientists, what with the huge lawyer shortage and everything...

posted by inigo2 at 5:19 AM on April 16, 2009

Congrats: YANAL
posted by Potomac Avenue at 7:11 AM on April 16, 2009 [1 favorite]

Hmm, The Wombatman... Cape, mask, armored butt.

I think a new breed of street vigilante might have just been born.

Also, congratulations p_y! It sounds like you are taking a big, exciting step, and I hope you enjoy every minute of it!
posted by quin at 7:45 AM on April 16, 2009

The Wombatman will need a sidekick... Bluebird? Nay! Finch! But his real name must be Atticus.
posted by owtytrof at 10:14 AM on April 16, 2009

Don't forget Our instructions for the new wombats:

Lasers shooting from the eyes are mandatory. Jetpacks built into the butt are desirable but optional.

Good luck!
posted by the Cabal at 12:14 PM on April 16, 2009


The Finch (aka Atticus) would have some rarified, courtroom-based superpower-- like maybe he could psychically summon big swarms of jurists at will, resulting in his enemies being either held in contempt of court or (with a big enough swarm) suffocated by billows of black judicial robe nylon or being pounded into submission by gavels. (This tactic would only succeed, however, if The Finch could make a brief and compelling argument during the summoning. If he couldn't, he'd stand a chance of getting pummeled by the jurists himself. )

As a child not yet able to control his power, he would have been constantly covered with gavel-bruises. Numerous foster placements would have resulted. Then, at the age of 13, during a particularly intense, hormonally-mediated judge-swarm, Atticus would find himself staring into the eyes of the judge in his own, ongoing dependency-and-neglect case. This judge (a semi-retired eminence with a giant red perm, cigarette-stained fingers, and a habit of issuing edicts to her staff while sitting on the commode in her chambers) would snap out of her berzerker rage and find a bloody gavel in her hands. Still confused, and with with tears streaming down her face, she would turn her mallet-o'-justice on her fellows members of the bench and scatter them like so many crows. Atticus, with broken ribs, broken fingers, and a mild concussion, would credit her with saving his life. In the ensuing years, she would secretly teach Atticus the rules of evidence and civil procedure, thus guiding the boy out of the contusions and confusions of adolescence into a powerful-but-still-somewhat-befuddled superhero adulthood.

As a young man, the Finch would struggle mightily against the idea of becoming an actual attorney, and would actually make an effort to become an ethnomusicologist. But then, one day while studying guitar in Alhambra, he would get word that his mentor had been removed from the bench for corruption. He would immediately fly home, only to find that, unable to face the shame of being indicted, she had committed suicide. He would enter the legal profession determined to clear her name, but would eventually find that the all of the allegations against her were true, and that they'd only scratched the surface. He would then rededicate his life-- this time to righting the wrongs she'd done to others.

In the decades following the judge's death, he would receive occasional, cryptic spirit-visits from her-- always accompanied by a cloud of Dunhill smoke, and always as a brassy, coughing voice bellowing out from the W.C. In an attempt to capture an image of her spirit, he would set up a hidden camera in his office bathroom. When discovered years later by female employees, the camera and its footage would become the subject of a large and expensive lawsuit. The case would drag on for years and years, and would slowly suck all of the juice out of his legal practice and his professional reputation. Eventually, he would be forced to close up shop and become a superhero full-time.

In addition to the judge-summoning thing, Finch would have a good singing voice, and he would be able to fly, in a sort of tragic, hopping way. (He'd have been a great flier as a youngster, but years of steak, cheese grits, and bourbon would have taken their toll. He'd spend his early forties despairingly switching from diet to diet. Eventually, he'd determine that the only way to lose weight and keep it off would be to subsist on nuts, berries, and self-caught insects. This knowledge would embitter him in a way that none of his life's prior struggles and tragedies ever did.)

The Wombatman, unlike the Finch, would be a mild, quiet, and basically contented sort. His superpowers would include tunnelling, gnawing, and crushing things with his mighty, panzer-like keister. A much stronger, more stable, and less accident-prone hero than the Finch, the Wombatman, when left to his own devices, would spend his days sitting at home playing X-Box, eating carrots, and occasionally grubbing around in his root cellar. It would take the Finch, with his powerful sense of fairness and social justice, to get Wombatman out the door and into the streets to fight crime.

The Finch was the Wombatman's attorney long before he was his sidekick. The Wombatman first came to the Finch for help resolving a child support arrearage for a six-year-old daughter he'd never met. Over the years, as the arrearage case become more and more complicated, the daughter (named Kelvinanne) would develop into an electrical engineering prodigy. By age fourteen, she would quit school and start her own boutique defense consulting business, which would quickly make her very rich indeed. The combination of hormones and financial independance would render Kelvinanne quite unable to deal with living in her mother's house; this would prompt her to seek out the Wombatman. Impressed by both her father's superpowers and his X-Box skills, she would immediately move in and pay off the child support arreage herself. In exchange for clearing his debts, the Wombatman would agree to be a human crash-test dummy for his daughter, helping her to work out the kinks in the designs of the most advanced and most secret of her high-tech military devices. This would allow the Wombatman access to the jet pack, the eye lasers, and all the other gadgetry a fashionable supermarsupial-about-town needs to have.

When the Finch is forced to sell his house to pay the massive attorney's fees generated in defense of the toilet-camera case, the Wombatman and Kelvinanne invite him to move in.

And so it begins. . . .
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 2:05 PM on April 16, 2009 [12 favorites]

Are you sure you shouldn't be writing comic books, palmcorder? Maybe that can be your side gig. That was fantastic.
posted by owtytrof at 2:29 PM on April 16, 2009

(Of course, if I had a bunch of sex-starved Australians eyeing me up, I could make a fair turn of pace, too.)
posted by rodgerd at 4:44 PM on April 16, 2009

If we're sex-starved, it's only because the kiwis come over here & muscle in on our sheep.
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:05 PM on April 16, 2009

posted by UbuRoivas at 5:05 PM on April 16, 2009

yayyyyyy for you, and yayyyyyyy for AskMe. I wish more people would share stories like this. (hugs)
posted by crazyray at 12:13 AM on April 17, 2009

posted by beefetish at 3:38 PM on April 17, 2009


Though, of course, this means we still can't drink that f*$#ing bottle of Yazi. /incomprehensible aside
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 4:29 PM on April 17, 2009

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