Making the Decision Later in Life

Lynda B. Williams, PhD: Making the Decision Later in Life

How to sustain taking time off and pursuing the PhD later in life.

Video Transcript

Dr. Lynda B. Williams's Bio

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Transcript: THE_TITLE

Well there wasn't a decision moment because I wanted to have a baby. So as soon as I finished my master's that was my goal was to get pregnant. When my husband started his job, I was six months pregnant, and we were ready to roll. I was able to get a grant so I could work quarter time when the kids were young and then go to half-time and three-quarter time. While they were young, I never worked more than three-quarter time, but I was doing my own research. I was publishing papers. I was getting grants. I was going to meetings and keeping known in science.

When I decided to get the PhD was after I had been here, and I was on my-oh let's see. I'd been funded for ten years by the Department of Energy and the program director said, "Why don't you just get a PhD? You've already done two or three of them." So I said, "You think I should?" He said, "I know you should. It would make it easier for us to fund you if you had a PhD." It was at his encouragement that I said, "Okay, will you pay for it?" [Laughter] Of course they couldn't pay for my PhD, but they did pay me to work for them while I was doing my PhD, so money wasn't a problem. My research project was my PhD project, so it sort of condensed everything into, okay I get this DOE funded project. I do it, and I get a PhD at the same time. It was pretty ideal. In that regard, I was lucky.

But funding is really hard now, and it's much more difficult now that we're at war and the National Science Foundation doesn't have as much money. I'm forced to go out to National Institutes of Health, Department of Energy and National Science Foundation to get my support, which I have right now, but that's three completely different projects. They pull me in three different directions. I'm not a faculty member, so I'm not exposed to students. It's hard for me to get good students to come and work on these projects when I'm not teaching their classes. That's sort of a difficulty with taking this path. You have to get a balance between bringing in enough money so you can have more than a graduate student income in your lifetime, but also balancing the workload. That's more difficult.

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