This is the first post of a new series I call “Science Stereotypes“. Despite the heterogeneity of the science crowd, I could not resist creating some humorous sub-categories … I’ll describe their phenotypes one-by-one over the next days.
Here comes the 1st category : Sharks
These are the dangerous individuals you need to spot early on during a conference. Be careful, some sharks have the ability to hide their real nature for extended time periods.
Here are some tips to spot them:
- They actually communicate almost exclusively with potential and actual competitors, and people from their sub-sub-field; which means, around 10-15 people tops. Any attempts to attract them to your talk or poster will fail if they cannot see a profit in it.
- They can be opportunistic tough. If they hear a conversation of interest, they will ear drop a bit, and jump right in, disregarding any sense of politeness. Nevertheless, they will keep their poker face on, and not share any of their own research.
- They often go to posters before or after official poster sessions. They can then take snapshots of each poster, write down all juicy details and technical infos without being noticed.
- Sharks don’t drink early in the evening. They will stay alcohol-free while other people get tipsy. This is when they ask a pseudo-anodin series of questions that could make a distracted/drunk person reveal some confidential informations. Without even remembering it the next day. They typically choose weak targets, like a young and naive PhD student, a drunk post-doc; rather then the PI directly. Unless he is even weaker.
How to deal with them ?
As I said, the most important is to spot them quickly, and keep your mask on if you think you’re on their red list. If so, you will probably notice it, because they will track you down, ask about your research in deep details, and keep bringing you drinks.
Stay strong. And take action: play the game pretending you’re not playing it. If you can’t play, escape as fast as you can, nobody wants to be bitten by a shark.