We're a little crazy, about science!

A new chapter and a look back

We’re looking forward today… while looking back too. I did a big thing! I finished my 365 days of academia goal, it felt too big to do, but here we are. So what’s next? Well we’re going to talk about where we are, where we were, and what’s coming, so let’s get to it!

First let me say, I enjoy my pseudonymity. I’ve shared exactly a single photo of myself since I’ve been writing this blog, but maybe it’s time to come out of the shadows. That’s not happening today, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it did soon, just something I’ve been tossing around really. There are a few things I wanted to do with today’s post though. Namely set the expectations for the next 365 days and take a quick look back at all that I’ve created here.

Let’s talk about 365 days and what it was supposed to be when I first came up with the idea for the project. 365 days of academia was a way for me to share my journey. Sure most of the posts were boring and vague, experiment one, experiment two, sorts of things. A lot of it was probably a repetitive. However, even if some of it is boring, I think it’s good to have a record of things. It’s a fun way to look back and see all the things I’ve done in the past year.

At first it was strictly academic stuff, school work, conferences, things of that nature. Then it turned into something else. It was multifaceted and while most of it involved my schooling journey, it also involved my life and things decidedly unacademic. I’m glad it turned out this way. I’m a person, not some one dimensional character who eats, lives, and breathes his research.

With that, I’m formally announcing that I liked the project so much, I’m doing it again. That’s right, I’m calling it year two. Technically I’m in my third year of my PhD program, but it’s only the second year of 365 days of academia, so it makes sense. There is already a lot of behind the scenes things that are gearing up to happen that will make for interesting reading. I’m well on my way to a few publications and once that happens we can crack open some of the groundwork I’ve had to keep to myself over this past year. Basically year two will be far more exciting since this year was about putting in the work to get the publications going.

So a quick look back. The first few months were posts on my stochastic processes course. It was an interesting time since I wasn’t sure how I wanted to structure the blog in the face of my barely conceived 365 days project. I helped organize a pre pandemic conference, and I got to be a student chair for it, which was a LOT of fun and I STILL think back to it. I hope I get the chance to do another one.

After I got back I decided to write the know your spinal cord series 54 posts covering everything you could possibly want to know about your spinal cord in a way (that I feel) makes it accessible to just about anyone. In fact, I can tell you that the series has been some of the most popular posts I’ve written. Shout out to all my spinal cord nerds out there who made the series so successful.

I also did a BUNCH of critical reviews, okay only 13, but still that feels like a lot when I was writing one every two weeks for a while there. Of course, more recently I’ve been performing my experiments. As in experiments I’ve designed and will advance my PhD. Prior to the pandemic, my main PI and I discussed my timeline for graduation, my plans for the future, and just about everything I needed to do to hit that goal.

What does that timeline look like? Well if all goes well December/January I will defend my PhD dissertation proposal (not to be confused with the actual dissertation!). This will greenlight my research topic and will basically set me up for my actual dissertation defense. Technically I could do this just a few months before my actual dissertation, several people in our lab have done it this way, but I wanted a more traditional timeline for my PhD, get the authentic experience (whatever that means).

So let’s say it takes me some time, but January is when I defend my proposal, how long before I finish my dissertation? Well I would have anywhere from one to two years from the day I defend. Technically I have as long as I want, but no point in dragging it out if I don’t need to. My PI thinks about a year would be enough if I wanted to push it, but I’m thinking a year and a half so I can do a thorough job with everything I want to research.

That puts me graduating right on track in spring or winter term of 2022. All of this to say that I can do my PhD in about 4.5-5 years, which isn’t too bad really especially with a pandemic going on in the background right in the middle of it. If I feel like rushing, I could even get it done sooner, so that would be an option as well, but again pandemic so I don’t know that rushing would be wise.

So that’s the end goal, my PhD in a nutshell. Now that we’re starting my third year in the program, there are going to be a ton of interesting changes around here, so stick around! I’m excited, are you excited? I’m excited!

We’re resetting the clock. This is officially day 1 of 365 days – year two. It’s going to be a fun one.


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