Make or break

Published March 01 2017

With lots of data in hand,
I yearn for them to make sense.
Count on no one to understand,
Publish or perish — that’s common sense.

One postdoc appointment after another,
Craving for clarity in my academic prospect
And the bandwidth to go further.
If only I can turn back the clock, in retrospect.

I would perhaps take the industrial route.
Far less pressure to publish,
My hard work would still bear fruit,
Even a career I’d relish.

A career in a core facility?
Academics get the thrills and spills,
But I enjoy greater job stability,
And they may owe their success to my skills.

Might also consider science writing,
Instead of being too much an idealist.
Could that have been my calling?
Told of my flair for engaging nonscientists.

A passion to shape the society through research,
To advocate for improved scientific efficiency
As a liaison officer in research.
Another possible career path — science policy.

My love for science fiction —
It’s often quite easy to spin a tale,
And it’s become an addiction.
Could have been led by that without fail?
Need extra rigor
To keep my passion burning.
Of course I’m eager
To do the soul-searching.

Is the bigger picture still in sight?
Is it not a failure but a test of character?
Perhaps the final battle is worth a fight.
Which means my best simply has to get better.

Vivian Tang Vivian Tang is a graduate student at the School of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at the University of Western Australia.