Real Life

Real Life is your chance to meet the more senior members of iPQB and ask them the questions that will get you through grad school. It is an open forum, but vaguely structured around two topics: life outside of work and work.

This event will be held on Sept 13th at the end of the day!

  • Is it a good idea to have two PIs? 
  • What is it like to be in a brand new lab? 
  • What if I don't want to be an Academic Researcher? What if I do?
  • Show me a good bar! 
  • Where is a good place to hike?
  • What's the best restaurant in the city?
  • How should I choose my rotations?
  • Anybody play music?


Fun stuff around SF

Some useful links

Imposter syndrome & mental health

  • It may be helpful to join HOUSING-INFO listserv if you can.
  • On-campus Housing
    • Mission Bay Housing gives preference to incoming graduate students and is quite cheap relative to the surrounding area
  • Off-campus Housing:
    • Some new apartment buildings in the area have low-income housing that students can apply to live in
    • Craigslist is where many people find their living situations, but ask other students too! There’s always a chance that someone knows of a place opening up.
  • Rent:
    • Current students pay anything from $700 to $1400+ a month for rent. It is not too hard to live comfortably on our stipend in the city.

Cost of living supplement, food security & child care support

  • Shuttles: SUPER USEFUL.
  • Parking: $109 a month to park on campus. You will want the MBS parking pass. You can park in the 3rd St parking garage on weekends, or at night (between 4:45pm and 8:45am). Volta and Chargepoint chargers are available in the parking garages.

CA State Residency
  • Be sure to take care of this before your first year is over!!! If you enter the summer before your second year without establishing residency, the school will charge you $5k out-of-state tuition per quarter, and you will have to pay it. 
  • I would email Julia and/or Rebecca telling them that you will need to petition for a change of residency in the coming year, and to please keep you updated on when to submit the petition.
  • The form and more information is available here.

Hours & vacation
  • A PhD takes about 1e6 hours of work, but there is serious ongoing debate about how much time one “should” spend in lab
  • Advice from some postdocs:
    • Take small breaks every so often, like 3-day weekends, it breaks up the year and will keep you refreshed
    • Keep focused on your research, but don’t work 12 hour days every day. You will burn out and it won’t be worth it.

Academic stuff

  • iPQB retreat: Around June of every year, 2 day sessions near the Presidio.
  • QBC retreat: Around November of every year, at Asilomar.

Life outside of school

Taxes & savings
  • We cannot give official tax advice, but we can talk about what we personally do every year. Ask us!
  • Tamas has a great blog post about it
  • Contributing to a Roth for incoming students: If you were employed in 2017 (will receive a 2017 W2, for example), you can still contribute to a Roth IRA for the tax year of 2017. Afterwards, you cannot, to the best of our knowledge, since our stipend is taxable, unearned income.

Email & security & software
  • Your laptops are 13" MBPs running Sierra, and are set up with many scientific packages that you will need for bootcamp. You will receive these on the first day of bootcamp (September 1).
  • UCSF email: Officially, UCSF email no longer forwards or allows IMAP POP3 etc. This is due to patient information security concerns. If you are unhappy with your email access situation, ask other students what they do to check their email.
  • Device Encryption: For similar security reasons, UCSF IT has a page on device encryption. But before encrypting your personal device please talk to the people involved with setting up your laptops (Daniel Asarnow, Ben Barad).
  • Free software:


Career office and internships


Student groups to think about
  • Women in QBC
  • SACNAS (Society for the Advancement of Chicanos & Native Americans in Science)
  • S4D (Scientists for Diversity)
  • GQA (Graduate Queer Alliance)
  • WiLS (Women in Life Science)