We're a little crazy, about science!

Day #100: Graduating lab members

Day 100 - PhD defense offense

Image from: xkcd.com

Wow, time flies, we’re already on day 100. Still not half way done, but it certainly doesn’t feel like 100 days of writing. Today has been a busy day, which is why I’m writing so late. With the end of the term comes other projects that need to be addressed, namely my qualifying exam, final exams, and other lab members having their Ph.D defense. Yep, we have not one, not two, but three people defending their Ph.D this term.

This is a huge step, we’re going to have (potentially) three people graduating all of whom are defending in the next week. It’s a huge milestone and a big accomplishment, for them this moment has been 5-6 years in the making. I’m excited to see the progression and to watch people graduate, but there is also a few concerns.

With the senior grad students leaving us there is a huge brain drain. We’re losing a lot of talent and even more knowledge. Now, they do their best to mitigate this by leaving documentation, data, code, etc. However, it’s not quite the same as being able to turn to someone for advice or to get something explained to you.

Frankly, I’m equal parts excited and sad. Sure, these are people I’ve only known a year and a few months, but these are people I’ve grown close to and people who I’ve asked questions from or pitched ideas to. It’s scary not to have that sounding board anymore to make sure what I’m saying makes sense or that it is even reasonable.

Basically the next week will bring a lot of change. I’ll go from being one of the newer students to being one of the more senior students in the lab, a title I definitely don’t feel like I’ve earned and certainly one I don’t think I’m ready for. In the end there is a bit of selfishness and fear, but I guess it’s part of the growing process. I just hope that I mentor others the way I was mentored, I just don’t feel like I have that knowledge base yet and it’s scary. I don’t want to give a bad suggestion, or poor advice.

It seems like I’ve been saying this a lot, but really only time will tell. I look forward to getting to the end of my Ph.D program, but really I’m more excited about all the learning that I will be doing between now and then. In the meantime, I will try to follow the example that was given to me.

Until next time, don’t stop learning!

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