When a fancy scientist goes to another university, part of their payment for a free lunch includes having to endure a lab tour and also give a talk to anyone who is required to listen. Lab tours have always been a bit of a mystery to me. A lab looks like a lab. Sure, sometimes there’s a fancy bit of equipment in there and you get to see it. But it takes me back to the times when I was over my friends house and they wouldn’t shut up about their commodore 64, I get it, you’re a rich twat who likes to show off and your room smells funny, like socks and old cum.
Before the talk, a reluctant post-doc (who’s been coerced into organising talks) will say a few words about the speaker. It’s their science obituary. They will typically list they awards and achievements, how much money they have been awarded over the course of their career. My favourite thing to do is to look at the expressions on the visiting academics face. They’ll typically fall into two categories:
- Embarrassment. This academic want’s this person to shut up as soon as possible. They don’t want their best bits talked about. Perhaps it’s because what they don’t list on their intro is all of the stuff they didn’t get – I’m sure that would make for a much more interesting introduction.
- Smug orgasm. This academic fucking loves it. They don’t want it to stop. You can see that it’s taking all of their effort not to chest bump someone, lick them on their face and roar at the audience.
The thing is, all of the stuff they talk about is really boring. I suppose it’s meant to inspire me, but all it does is make it perfectly clear of how much I’m lacking in the ol’ science department – like hearing “is it in yet?”.
So, here’s my template for the sorts of information that I want included and I encourage you to use it when you next give an academic introduction:
Ladies and gentlemen. It’s with reserved excitement that I introduce [insert full name here – leave out title, it annoys them]. [Name] has been a [job title] at [place of work] for [this long].
Since receiving their PhD in [year of graduation] they have been wondering randomly through the academic system hoping that [their research topic] remained popular, and topical enough, to receive funding. They have applied for [number of grants applied] grants and received [number actually obtained] making a [percentage] % success rate.
They have considered giving up science [number of times very sad] but continue to fight their way through competitive grant applications because they are too far in to give up. And no one will pay them to [their favorite hobby].
In their spare time they like to take [their favourite recreational drug] with friends which helps numb the pain and dull the internal dialogue. They trim their pubes [this many] times a year because [insert reason].
Please join me in welcoming [invent nickname for them] who will speak on [mispronounced title of talk]. [nickname] has encouraged me to stop them after 45 minutes, regardless of if they are actually finished, because that’s how long any one person can listen to anything, let alone [topic] which only excites [the person that invited them] and [take a guess at how many people in the audience like the topic] people in this room.
Over to you [nickname].
There you have it. Sounds much more interesting, right?
Respond with what your introduction would be in the comments. That’ll be really fucking interesting…
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