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Update.

Hi there.

Guess I took the “procrastinator” title a bit too seriously.

In the last post I was beginning to think about finishing my experiments and writing my thesis. Well… it’s been over seven months since then and all I can say is that I’m no longer thinking about it.

Mid-August was the time for my obligated leave and this of course meant: “start writing and don’t get distracted by the experiments of your peers” (which I must say I often do). It began with due dates my PI set so that I would send drafts of the Introduction and Materials and Methods. I barely finished in time. I realised that experiments weren’t the only distraction. Everything was a distraction. It seemed as if I just didn’t want to finish. But if I think about it, it was/is true. Once I graduate it will be time to make a decision about my future. But more on that on another day.

When I was in the middle of getting the figures ready for me to write the Results part of my thesis I reached a point where I simply couldn’t move forward. Alone at home in front of the keyboard I realised the issue was within me. I had been feeling less than average for a while and I took a dive into a pool of experiments and forgot all about it. Instead of a solution it was a way of keeping my mind occupied so I would avoid thinking there even was a problem.  This time away from the bench eventually became the mirror I feared all along and it made me pay attention to issues that had been pushed aside for quite a while now. I’m not sure if I should get into this or not in here, but I’ll just say it was about time I paid a little attention to myself.

With all this going on in my head I didn’t finish in time for the next due dates. Although I feel close to my PI (being young and all) it never occurred to me to talk about personal issues with her. But I wanted to explain that there was a reason for the time it was taking me to finish. And it all went well, said I could take my time but should try to finish soon anyway.

That’s all I’m sharing today. Thanks for reading, I’m not so great narrating but I’m working on it.

Take care.

This post would be a  next episode if last week I had written “To be continued“. Let’s say I did.

Meeting went well. Not at all as I expected though.

I was going through the slides presenting the results I have so far. All was going well. Had recycled a slide I liked from a previous presentation of mine. Turns out it was animated and when I clicked next it unveiled a different set of proteins I was not prepared to talk about (Said a couple of words about it and moved on).

Once I had finished, questions and comments begun. That I should have added more intro (though it was just results I was presenting), that I should mention this or that. How would I compare my results to previous findings. How could I solve problem X that I came across last month. Etc.

The final one was If you had to wrap this up right now, what experiment would you like to add. Then came the unexpected suggestion that I should start thinking about finishing my thesis with what I have and just a few more things.

Talk about a bucket of cold water over my head. Didn’t hear no angels sing hallelujah and the skies didn’t clear (that I know of). I should have been glad and instead it felt like they were taking my baby away (Claire from LOST comes to mind, sorry for the fan reference). I’ve been told I have what’s expected from an undergrad in my field, guess I just got a little carried away.

It probably was about time. I was feeling too comfortable in here and I’m just an undergrad. I should leave and know the world first, or at least a different place. And need some time to ponder the decision of applying for a PhD.

In about two months I should be thinking about writing my thesis. (Chills up and down my spine).

That’s it for now.

I wish everyone has “Geschick, Geduld, Geld and Glück” in their career.

Oh! Since it relates to what I’m talking about… In Nature Neuroscience (March issue), the choice for Book Review was So you want to be a scientist? by Philip A Schwartzkroin. I should take a look at this book soon.

Achoo!

"Piled Higher and Deeper" by Jorge Cham http://www.phdcomics.com

It’s allergy season at PHDComics and I just caught a cold. Coincidence? Don’t think so.

"Piled Higher and Deeper" by Jorge Cham http://www.phdcomics.com

Cecilia, the chocolate-loving/physics grad-student/ hardworking-TA/ eternally on the verge of writing her thesis character has a newly developed allergy. As her doctor explained, the allergen causing this immune reaction in no other than her own (unfinished) thesis. Her immune system was weakened by her exposure to the fact that everyone else is graduating. Moreover, her proximity to graduation day has exposed her to an environment she had been neglecting all these years. REALITY. She lives in the reality-free bubble of academia a.k.a. grad school.

I’m going through something similar. As I already said I’m in “undergrad-school”. Nowadays my thesis looks nothing like the project that was sent out when I started. But my PI feels I should not mourn over this and start compiling all the data and results I do have. And it should be noted that they’re of varied nature. I think I have an undiagnosed attention disorder. I get interested with everyone’s experiments (sometimes even more so than my own). So getting things done has been difficult. Not everything is my fault though. We had some trouble on the way cause the plasmids in which I had to insert my fragment-of-interest lacked the restriction sites that flanked the sequence.

I’m actually presenting an overview of my thesis over-the-years this week at the lab meeting. That should be interesting. Got a personal meeting this afternoon with my PI to discuss this.

I’m beginning to think it doesn’t really bother me if it takes more time to finish. Probably cause I don’t wanna face the whole what next?. Working or studying. I used to have everything so clear, now I’m not sure. Don’t wanna “work” and do wanna study. But when, what and where?  are questions that get closer everyday. Thanks to Steph @ scwai I know that if things change in the way, a PhD will not be wasted and there are other options aside from research.

That’s it for today.

Take care good reader.

Bad Day.

Empty filmsToday I’m just venting. I need a shrink and since both my folks are members of the aforementioned profession I decided it will take a while before I ask for some therapy.

9PM and just left the lab, not the first time by the way. But any scientist who reads this might think what else is new, “been there done that”. Ok not a big deal by itself. Today I got a bit frustrated cause a simple experiment I was trying to do didn’t turn out to be so simple for me. Times like those are the ones that make me reconsider my being here altogether. “How can I be a good scientist if I can’t get this thing right”. I’m great with the theory once I study enough about it. I can find new protocols and aproaches some researcher used in a recent or old paper. I enjoy brainstorming about possible explanations for new results. Maybe I’m not above PhD level, but for an undergrad I fight with a strong fist.

A couple of sunrises ago I started thinking that maybe I spend so much time at the lab (even after I’m done with experiments) because there’s something I don’t want to face at home. Even some weekends I stop by to check on my cells and end up staying for various hours.

I got friends, not many but enough. Some of them are back in my home town, others left to study couple of states away and some are here. I don’t consider myself as a social person even though I am. I’m kind, helpful, considered, thoughtful, etc. I’ve been president and vicepresident of the student body (of my major). I’m what everyone would consider a social person, politically correct and all. Therefore everyone thinks I’m happy about it. What comes down apparently is that it’s not enough for me for some reason. I’m short in romance, got the spirit lack the someone to pour it on.

I keep on searching for something to blame. Once in a while I realize I’m not entirely happy, try analyzing the source of the problem and in the process I just forget and move on for a while.

One thing that pushes me back a bit is that I don’t tolerate failure too well. And being in a field that exposes you to (paper) rejection, failed experiments from time to time and the bad temper of a percentage of your colleages pretty much says you must be thick skinned.

(That was something I wrote last tuesday, now I’m doing much better.)

On campus.

Day one!

Welcome! I intend to write as often as my schedule and lazy soul allow me. Hopefully it will become updated in a weekly basis, but for now let’s see how it goes.

To introduce myself I can tell you that I’m an undergraduate Biochem student. Have ventured through various chemistry, physics and microbiology classes among others. And I’ve enjoyed Cell bio, molecular bio and biochem of course. Right now I’m done with classes and halfway through my thesis.

My first thought and goal since I applied has been I love this (except for those semesters studying physics or physical chemistry) and I want to do research after graduating. Which of course meant “PhD” first. Third year studying and realized probably will have to get a postdoctoral degree. (Then I heard: –With all those degrees no-one will ever hire you!) But I just kept on going.

Once I passed all my classes and started working at my current lab hoping I’d find a thesis topic I finally felt at home. Hours at the lab, experiments, growing cells and couple more hours at the confocal microscope. Everything seemed, well, everything I was hoping it would be. Except for the occasional encounter with some PhD student who looked down on me and tried to kick me out of the cell culture room (cause I was a bit slow, must admit it).

Meetings, journal clubs, seminars all things I enjoy.

But now that I got used to this routine thoughts come to mind. Am I spending too much time at the lab?. Do I have a life (or want one)? Few friends of mine live outside the “science circle”, and lately for one reason or another I’ve stopped spending time with them, calling, etc. I’m lazy that’s one reason, but lots of times I get home really tired.

Anyway, got me thinking about my priorities. Lab, sleep, friends. Doesn’t seem right. And where’s me in that list? And what will happen once I start graduate school. I need to get things clear before signing into the next step in my career.

Lab or life? Science or a life? Is there a way to balance them out? I heard research is a job where you can’t work 8 to 6 and forget your troubles once you’re home. You keep on thinking about it. – Is there another way I can solve this problem? Or…that result we got today was unexpected, what could it mean for my hypothesis.? Or how could I modify that experiment I read in paper x so I can perform it in our model? So many things that can invade your “relaxing time”. I’m not saying you hate it, it’s the opposite, you might have fun thinking about it at home. That’s what concerns me. Is it healthy? Is it what I want? Is there a way to turn the switch off.

As you can see I complain a lot. But if you met me you’d know I love this. And would probably want to hear about your research too. I just don’t want to finally see the day when I look back and regret not wasting my time on other things. The day I’m fed up with everything and just want out. As maybe happened to some professors that seem bitter and angry.

I’ll lighten up with the days. Just needed to get this off my chest.

Take care and thanks for reading.