Taproot S4E6: Staying Afloat: Time Management in a Sea of Obligations

Our guest for this episode is Dr. Holly Bik. Holly obtained her PhD in Molecular Phylogenetics at the University of Southampton, working with John Lambshead at the Natural History Museum of London in conjunction with the UK National Oceanography Center. She completed postdoctoral appointments with Dr. Kelley Thomas at the University of New Hampshire and Dr. Jonathan Eisen at UC Davis before starting her faculty position. 

In addition to her research, Holly is invested in science communication. She serves as an associate editor for the popular marine blog Deep-Sea News, and maintains an active presence on Twitter (@hollybik). Holly has co-authored a number of peer-reviewed articles on the use of social media and online tools in academia, including “An Introduction to Social Media for Scientists” in PLoS Biology and “Ten Simple Rules for Effective Online Outreach” in PLoS Computational Biology. 

In this episode, we discuss the first paper to come out of Holly’s lab at UC Riverside, entitled “Nematode-associated microbial taxa do not correlate with host phylogeny, geographic region or feeding morphology in marine sediment habitats” (Schuelke et al., 2018). Holly elaborates on the unexpected results from this paper and talks about the many challenges associated with collecting and analyzing marine sediments. 

In addition to the technical aspects of this paper, we also talk about time management and how Holly set aside time to write a draft in one week. She tells us about her 6-month-long personal work/life balance experiment in time-tracking and shares what she learned from this experience. We discuss the concept of Deep Work and why she continues to fill out weekly review worksheets to help manage stress and productivity. 

At the time of this recording, Holly was in the process of moving her lab from UC Riverside to The University of Georgia where she is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Marine Sciences. We talk about the process of moving and the factors Holly considered when making this important career decision. 

Holly explains that it’s important for early career researchers to understand how long things take, and also be okay with the fact that some things are just going to take way longer than you expect.

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Schuelke, T., Pereira, T. J., Hardy, S. M., & Bik, H. M. (2018). Nematode‐associated microbial taxa do not correlate with host phylogeny, geographic region or feeding morphology in marine sediment habitats. Molecular Ecology, 27(8), 1930-1951.


A few of Holly’s Twitter threads:

Data-driven time management


Concept of ‘deep work’


Work-life balance: 



The Monday Motivator – weekly emails that provide positive energy, good vibes, and a productivity tip from the National Center of Faculty Development and Diversity

Cal Newport (author of Deep Work) https://www.calnewport.com/about/ 







The Taproot is the podcast that digs beneath the surface to understand how scientific publications in plant biology are created. In each episode, co-hosts Liz Haswell and Ivan Baxter take a paper from the literature and talk about the story behind the science with one of its authors.

Subscribe to The Taproot podcast on iTunes or Stitcher.

Questions, feedback, suggestions?  Contact us at taproot@plantae.org.


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