My area of research is thermal spray modeling. I have used various places' modeling techniques to simulate the process. I have a decent amount of publications in decent journals. I have collaborated with people from other universities and research institutions. But as a postdoc, I feel ignorant about other related fields.

I received a postdoc interview invitation the other day. They forwarded me few papers to study before the interview. The PIs field of research is related but still distinct from my expertise. They work in additive manufacturing.

I was reading their work and it seemed so rigorous and well researched. I have published in the same journal as they have, and our research area was different. However, I felt I could never write such an excellent paper or even work so rigorously.

Now, I don't know if I can perform confidently in the interview knowing I am not intelligent enough to perform well in their research topic. I am even having a hard time understanding their paper.

Is this normal or I am just too dumb to be in academia or research world in general?

  • 1
    It's (sadly) a very normal feeling. I think you should try searching this site for "impostor syndrome". May 28, 2021 at 8:51
  • 3
    It's good to be impressed by potential colleagues - working with them would help you learn those skills. But what you really want from those papers is an understanding of what they are working on. Are there ways in which your expertise and skills could take the work in new directions. You can talk about those ideas in the interview.
    – JenB
    May 28, 2021 at 9:42
  • 5
    If you meet excellent people, there are three responses: 1. envy them. 2. become depressed because of them. 3. learn from them. I recommend 3. Not by chance there is this saying, paraphrased, surround yourself with excellence and it will permeate you. May 28, 2021 at 10:45


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