We're a little crazy, about science!

The last experiment!

Today’s the day! It’s the last experiment for our R21 grant, we had our first set of experiments last week and today we’re completing the final experiment today. Hopefully we’ll have some good results for our grant, I got done processing some data last night and if I didn’t make an error the results were slightly underwhelming, but we’ll have to see I guess. There’s still a lot of things I need to check so I’m not too worried, okay slightly (very) worried…

Yet another day in the life of a PhD candidate. Things are moving fast and let me say it is packed for the day. We had a last minute experiment scheduled for today, our postdoc who is technically not officially with the lab until they do the onboarding, will be the subject. As I always say that’s the peril of working in a non-invasive lab, you end up being part of the experiments more often than not. So we have our third subject and with it, just enough data to get our grant proposal finished.

My Co-PI is pushing me to have the semi-final draft done this Friday, so I’m rushing to get data processed, plots made, and writing done. If we ignore the fact that I have classes, outreach, mentoring, and other writing to do it’s not so bad. All together however, well it’s a lot. Still we push forward and I’m currently editing the draft and making some pretty plots with some of the good data we have. I’m excited to see what the grant looks like when we’re doing writing it, my Co-PI has really, really gotten into this and it has me feeling pretty good about the project.

So lets review the plan for the day since we’re talking experiments here. First, I have class and apparently a writing assignment attached to it. Afterwards, I should be rushing into the lab to get the equipment ready. If it takes more than an hour I’m going to be behind schedule, but sometimes that happens. Then I need to attach all the electrodes to my subject, that takes about another hour, then finally we can get started on the experiment itself, which takes roughly two hours. Finally we have cleanup, which takes roughly an hour, sometimes two. If we add all that up we’re looking at 5-6 hours for one experiment and puts me late in the evening since I have class and what not in the morning and afternoon.

This also means that setup and teardown for the experiment take significantly longer than the experiment itself. That’s not always the case, but for experiments I do, that is the normal progression. In fairness, these are actually faster than a lot of the other experiments I end up doing. My experiments are actually a lot quicker to set up than some of my colleagues and they are stationary whereas a lot of other experiments involve walking or even handbuilt courses (stairs, ramps, etc) so I can’t complain too much really.

Okay so I guess I should say that I finally got to look at some of the data I haven’t been able to process easily. I got the initial results and things aren’t looking exactly happy. Rather, I see an effect, it’s just not as prominent as I was expecting. This could be due to my code, this could be due to a lot of things, this could mean that I genuinely really don’t have what I think I had (at least in this specific case). I won’t know more until I do a deeper analysis of the data and review my code.

The first glance at my outputs suggested everything was correct, but that may not actually be the case. Basically I’m a bit nervous about the initial findings and what that means for my PhD progress, I can retool my plan to fit what we do know for sure we have, but I really wanted this particular part of the project to work so it’s a little disappointing. Maybe I have something, maybe I don’t I wish I could say we for sure had something or for sure didn’t have something, but there’s just way too many unknowns


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