We're a little crazy, about science!

A look ahead

With the weather trying to kill everyone, the pandemic trying to kill everyone, and just life in general I feel like things are moving…. slooooow. I have a weekly meeting with my main-PI who reminded me that I’m behind and while he agreed it was probably due in part to the pandemic, it’s time to try and catch up. There is a lot going externally and internally, but I’m hoping that by covering a few things here I will have a nice little list I can refer back on and keep me on track. That’s the idea anyway.

You’re now tuned to the riveting story, As the PhD turns. If you’re just catching this, then joking aside this is my daily blog about my PhD progress. A PhD is a journey and no two PhD journeys will be the same, but the hope is to give a detailed look at my path. Some of it is for me, some of it is just so others can know what it’s like. I’m a third year PhD candidate in neuroengineering and I’m developing a new technique (my “super secret” technique) to help people with spinal cord injury. I’ve been blogging about my journey for two years now and have anywhere from 1 to 2 years left, depending on who you ask! I think it’s going to be longer, but you never know. It’s probably closer to two years than one year though!

I’ve touched on my issue previously, but I’m lacking in publications! It’s not fun when I have three journal papers I’m working on, one in review, one still being edited and one of those being resubmitted yet again here soon (hopefully). However, I need to get the data analysis done for an experiment I did back in October (which I was not a big fan of). The analysis has been long, challenging, and I hate it. Maybe it’s my visceral reaction to the whole situation which has kept me from completing the analysis, maybe it’s the fact that I almost froze to death, or that I didn’t have power last week and barely had water back yesterday, but I’ve made almost zero progress on it since December.

I just need to get it done basically. There’s a lot of analysis that needs to happen before I can publish it, there’s functional connectivity work (seeing which parts of the brain influence other parts) and there are a whole lot of data alignment issues to solve. It isn’t an impossible task by any stretch, I just haven’t done it because it’s not straightforward. Yes I’m complaining, this post is all complaining, sorry.

So the big to-do list, the short version, because the long version would be awful:

  1. Finish processing the data, there was one subject in particular where the data looked bad. That needs to be addressed and soon.
  2. Align the EMG data (data from muscles) with the EEG data, this isn’t so bad, but it involves a few annoying things so I haven’t done it yet.
  3. Make sure my functional connectivity code is working properly. The experiment I did had 3 different conditions (if I recall correctly), if my code is correct then I didn’t find significant differences between the conditions so that is… umm not good? It just means nothing changed, so I guess it’s neither good nor bad, it just is.
  4. Write yet another paper… seriously. I’ve been doing a lot of writing, mostly grant stuff and it’s been a challenge! I’ve written so much and I just want to stop for a minute (without some external force trying to kill me), but I guess that’s the nature of a PhD.

Okay so four things, four very long things that need to happen. In the background, I have homework and what not to do, along with experiments for my fellowship that I need to attend, but I am aiming to get one thing done a week with (4) starting at week 4. It’s a long list of things and even though it looks short that list is a lot of work. I’m hopeful that I will get through it without any issue. My main concern is the initial findings weren’t spectacular and we don’t publish “null” results so this may fall flat or we may be able to say that X doesn’t cause significant changes in Y. That would be useful, but I’m concerned it isn’t journal paper worthy news.

Maybe it’s the repeated rejections with my robot paper, but I feel like I’ve gotten a little publishing anxiety going on. In any case, there’s work to do and not a lot of time to do it, so I should probably stop complaining and start screaming at my computer when my code decides it doesn’t want to work properly. In other words, it’s time to do some science. To anyone else with a to-do list from hell, I empathize, really I do.


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