Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Your research is too applicable?

I got my first official rejection letter.  From my top school.

In my company, when I hire one candidate over another, I can only tell the rejected candidate that we had to go with someone else.  A very generic statement since legal says we can't give reasons (I'll never understand this legal shit).  My rejection letter today was interesting.  It said a bunch of generic crap then, "The search committee determined your research was is too clinically applicable."  The job posting was for a bioengineering faculty member that could work directly with the local medical school to develop new therapies.  This is perfect for me since I've already launched medical products that are saving, on average, 200 lives per hour (according to statistics I got last week).

I have very strong opinions about the difference between science and engineering.  My views might be misguided but I consider scientists as those that search for a better understanding of the universe.  Engineers apply this understand with existing technologies, and scigineers perform some combination of understanding the universe and building things outside of just research devices.  PhDs in bioengineering usually fall into either science or scigineering.  The ones that fell into bioscience may have well just majored in biology.  These bioengineers piss me off because I feel like it should be a requirement that if you have a PhD in ANY type of engineering, that you should be able to solve a first-order differential equation.  Those that do only core biology research for their PhD in bioengineering don't deserve it.  Sorry, you should switch majors.  I've met far too many that can't solve dy/dx=x.  And that really pisses me off if you have a PhD in engineering.  It's a personal opinion that a lot of people hate, but good math skills and engineering are supposed to go hand-in-hand.

My application packet had a lot of scigineering: using new experimental techniques and the data from the novel techniques to drive new types of medical device design.  A strong marriage (non-Hollywood) of science and engineering.  Shit, my official job title is Senior Principal Bioengineering Scientist.  I work in hospitals, develop new therapies, pitch them to the board, do science to understand the problem, and create therapies and save lives.  This is what I'm great at.  So why does the search committee think my research is too applied for a position that works with hospitals to create new therapies?  I understand the search for knowledge, and I have a shitload of fun doing those types of projects, but as engineers, aren't we supposed to have applied research?  Isn't the current biomedical funding landscape better built for applied research?  I was certain this school would be interested given the clinical collaboration they're looking for!  Oh well...


  1. I agree so much with the math statement! Every engineering discipline has calculus, and there should be some kind of exit exam before walking away with an engineering degree

  2. I wouldn't read too much into those letters. People dismiss candidates for all sorts of funky reasons, political, laziness of search cte members, the fact that someone doing something similar is very territorial, etc. You do what you do, and I am sure there will be places where you will be a great match. Just hang in there.

  3. I thought I shouldn't take these too seriously. It was just weird that it was so specific. In industry, legal would've kicked my butt for getting specific in my rejection. I'll keep my head up and hope some of my other top schools reach out!