We're a little crazy, about science!

Experiment Results

It’s been a crazy week, more so than usual! The R21 grant I’m writing is due to my Co-PI today, it’s our self imposed deadline. It’s not THE deadline, but it might as well be in my mind. I’ve processed most of the data from the experiments and yesterday I said we would talk about the result from finding an error in my code. Well let’s talk about it!

Lately I’ve been trying to start my posts off with an introduction about myself. If you’re new around these parts, welcome and this is my daily blog about my life as a PhD candidate. I’ve been doing this for about a year and a half now, I’m almost three years into my program, and I will be graduating (ideally) in two more years (check the 365 days of academia categories for more of my posts the link is for year two, but I have a different category for year one). You’ll find a whole range of topics from woodworking/DIY to my battle with my mental health and a whole lot of school related stuff. My research is a cross between studying the brain and studying the spinal cord, but we do it all non-invasively so I get experimented on from time to time (like this one). I’m pioneering something I call my “super secret” technique and with a little luck, it won’t be a secret for very long.

Now that everyone is caught up, two days ago I had some results using my “super secret” technique. They were… less than ideal. If the effect was there, it was so small it might as well have been nothing. It was a tiring day for me and I was debating about just calling it quits, changing gears, and finding a new path to my degree. However, yesterday I found an error in my code. I was literally looking for the data in the wrong spots, so of course I found nothing. Since it was an easy fix, I solved the problem and went to work on processing the entire dataset to see if there was anything of value and not just the small bits that I was interested in.

It was work, mostly for my computer, but I needed to verify that something was there before I started segmenting the data so I knew if I had something prior. Since that segmentation involved a second piece of code and was freshly written I couldn’t be sure that there wasn’t an error in that as well. Better to look at a large chunk of the data for the thing I want instead of trying to pull it out specifically only to remove the wrong chunk. It also meant that I needed to do some extra work to get everything set up for the full dataset. I basically had to write some code to mark in my plots where to look so I wasn’t just guessing, not the easiest thing to do, but something that I could quickly verify was correct.

Well I have the result! And… I found nothing. That’s science sometimes you get your dreams crushed and have to start over.

Okay, I lied I just really wanted do that. We actually found something!!!!! It’s not as perfect as my qualifying exam data, but it’s definitely there! So now I need to average the data across trials and hopefully that will make the effect more noticable. Yeah, big news and hopefully this will convince my Co-PI once and for all that this is valid. He looked over the data I sent and is officially reserving judgement (aka dream crushing) for after I finish processing everything, which will probably be a few more days at least.


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