We're a little crazy, about science!

Day 264: Summer Research

EEG cap

Pay no attention to my messy desk… instead look at the cool EEG cap I set up.

It’s supposed to be a busy summer for me. With the pandemic going on, I’m not sure how that will play out. Since we don’t know yet, let’s talk about how it was planned and then we can discuss how that changed thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. This may be bad as far as my research timeline… maybe.

At the start of my PhD, I had a patchwork of funding handed to me. You should never pay for your PhD, ever. The initial funding was going to hold me over until I could apply for fellowships and secure funding for the project that I wanted to do. When I came on to the lab I was unsure of what that project would be, so it was nice to have a little time to think about it. This was an entirely different field, so I had no idea what I wanted, much less what was available to me.

Some of the funds secured for me came with a project that I don’t much care for, neither does my Co-PI who is (unfortunately) part of this project. We finally started doing the experiment about a week before the US shut down. It was very frustrating. So now we have a non-cost extension to get the work done because we don’t have any clue when we can start experimenting again with people who do not work in the hospital. This also pushed back another experiment we were doing that I particularly liked.

For those of you keeping count that’s two separate projects, but wait there’s more! Over the summer I need(ed) to collect data for my PhD proposal defense. I am required to 1.) do an experiment on the thing I want to do my PhD work on. 2.) Write a journal paper on the thing I want to do my PhD on 3.) Get it published 4.) Defend my PhD proposal.

That last bit, the PhD proposal defense, that was going to happen at the end of the year, so I was running on a tight, but somewhat efficient schedule. You see, after I signed on to the program I found exactly what I want to focus my PhD on, it only took me a few months to figure out and I did a feasibility study for my qualifying exam. Because it looks like the technique I’ve come up with is legitimate, we are going to do a full experiment with an n of 10 or so (my feasibility study was with a single subject or an n of 1).

This take time, energy, money, blah, blah, blah. So that’s three experiments that I have on my plate, but wait there’s still more! In my class this term we performed some work and wrote a journal paper that we are trying to get published. So let’s toss that on the list of things I need to do. But wait… you guessed it, more. I also have my Master’s work which has been infuriatingly slow to get published and with the COVID-19 outbreak having a direct impact on one of the co-authors I don’t know when that will happen.

For those keeping count that is 3 experiments, 2 journal papers, and a partridge in a pear tree. To add further to this mess of things (because of course there is more), we have the summer program with undergrad students. So I will potentially be teaching a few classes on things like 3D printing and/or solid modeling. Why not? I mean what else was I going to do with my checks notes … free … time? What the hell is free time?

All this to say that with COVID-19 and our new normal, everything may get pushed back by months or even a year. I really don’t want to drag out starting my research more than I have to. There is a lot of things I want to explore in my research topic so getting started and making sure that my feasibility study results hold is of the highest importance to me right now. If it turns out that what I found in my initial study was some sort of artifact or error, I need to know as soon as possible so I can retool my area of research. I hope it works out, but there’s only one way to find out and it would be nice to be able to start answering that question soon.

But enough about us, what about you?

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