Superhero Ph.D.

My husband and I participated in a local Superhero 5K last month to benefit Relay for Life and the American Cancer Society. Since we procrastinated on developing elaborate costumes, we just decided to make up superhero versions of our everyday professions (chef and postdoc) and wear things we already owned. What we lacked in costume design*, we made up for in character development. I’ve shared this character fact sheet before with my Facebook friends, but it provides some insights into the way science is done that will be both entertaining and useful for future discussion topics here on this blog. It is meant to be humorous, but its accuracy also makes it a little bit sad. I can also say that it is award-winning because we won a free T-shirt and travel coffee mug for our characters in a category that I’m sure was made up on the spot to accommodate us. So take that everyone-else-who-showed-up-in-a-superman-tshirt-and-tutu! The organizers really should not have been that surprised when the chick with a lab coat and glasses handed them character profiles at registration.

Superhero Fact Sheet: Dr. PhD

Alter ego: Postdoc Johnna Roose

Tag line: “Publishing Hypothesizing Defense” Solving the world’s problems using logic and experimentation

Special powers: Critical thinking, biochemistry, obtaining grant funding and answering questions about where things are in the lab and how they work

Transportation: The Research Vessel The Thesis Dissertation (voyages seem like they’ll never end!)

Sidekicks and Associates: Graduate Assistant, Undergrad Pre-Med Minion, Laboratory Technician, The Professor

Nemeses: The Unknown and his underlings experimental error and statistical uncertainty

Backstory (read with the gravitas of a movie-trailer voice-over): In a world where everyone thinks they already know everything from the internet and movies, a select few, known only as PhDs, pursue new knowledge using the formula of the scientific method. From the depths of forgotten labs in ivory towers, these PhDs toil away delving deeper into the mysteries of our physical world in hopes of curing its ills. Our leader (Nobel Laureate, a professor whose tenure pre-dates WWII, controls funding decisions for research directives) issues a call for proposals that we receive via e-mail. At that point, we summon all of our powers (hypotheses, preliminary results, broader impacts, graduate assistants) and fight each other in a battle royale to obtain grant funding. While many enter the octagon of panel review, there can be only one (in ten funded). Dr. PhD is one of these 10%. Her research project is safe for now… until next time peer review.

Skills Breakdown (ala video game character point spread):

Speed 20

Endurance 50

Agility 30

Biochemistry knowledge 99

Attention to detail 99

Creative genius 99 (but only intermittently)


Who knows, maybe Dr. Ph.D. Postdoc will have other adventures on this blog!


*I do not recommend running any distance in a lab coat and nitrile gloves- especially on a humid May morning in Louisiana. My husband would also not recommend running in a chefcoat.

Superhero Fact Sheet: SuperChef

Alter ego: Sammy’s Manager Nathan Roose

Tag line: “Serving up Savory Valor, Salty Humor, Sour Justice and Sweet Vengeance”

Special powers: Recipe Creation, Secret Ingredients, Lightening Fast Vegetable Chopping

Transportation: The Food Truck Spicy Submarine (serves hero sandwiches)

Sidekicks and Associates: The High Schooler Hostess, Double-shift server, Hungover Prep Cook, I-need-a-smoke-break dishwasher, The I-know-more-than-you Sous Chef

Nemeses: The Picky-Eater Food Critic, The I’ll-have-this-menu-item-with-these-ten-modifications-please customer and The Walk-in-party-of-40 Gang

Backstory (read with the gravitas of a movie-trailer voice-over): Forged out of the boiling deep fryer (no really, ask him about it), the SuperChef uses the Earth’s natural elements of fire, water, meat and vegetables to serve your table with hot (unless you ordered salad) and delicious food. His knives are honed on the whetstone of glory. His apron is covered in the spills of kitchen battles for ultimate flavor. Under his toque resides the genius to create mouthwatering dishes and to derive a work schedule to accommodate the 95% of his staff that has requested off for Southern University’s homecoming. Early in the morning on his day off, his cell phone is alight with text messages saying the line cook didn’t make bail, ticket times are over 40 minutes, and I don’t know to replace the receipt paper in the register. Hearing the desperate pleas of the morning line manager, SuperChef springs into action, “I’m on my way!”

Skills Breakdown:

Speed 60%                                                          Knife skills 99%

Endurance 80%                                                 Flavor awareness 99%

Agility 50%                                                          Customer service 99%

UPDATE: If you liked this post, check out the continued adventures of Dr. PhD in other posts by searching ‘superhero’ in the search wiki on the homepage.


7 thoughts on “Superhero Ph.D.

  1. Pingback: Science, Pandas and Kung Fu | New Under The Sun Blog

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  5. Pingback: Sidekick (Cont’d Adventures of Superhero PhD) | New Under The Sun Blog

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