We're a little crazy, about science!

Another week in review

A week ago exactly I gave a review of the week I had and a look at the week coming up. I thought it was so much fun I’m doing it again, because that’s what passes for fun around here. Who knows maybe I’ll do this regularly! Basically a lot has happened this week and now is a good time to catch everyone up on some of the oddball things I’ve done and things I may have missed in favor of freaking out about the work I’m doing. So let’s just jump into my semi-traditional introduction, then we can look back and ahead. It’s fun for everyone!

It feels weird giving an intro at semi regular intervals. I mean there’s a whole about the labs section that I talk about me in, but what the heck. I’m a third year PhD candidate focusing on neuroengineering. My BS and MS are in mechanical engineering and for the past two years I’ve been blogging daily about the long agonizing road to my PhD. Why? Well for posterity mostly. I’m not one to look back, but it’s nice to have memories solidly recorded somewhere. It’s also helpful to others who are making the same journey or at least thinking about it. That’s what I’ve been told anyway! So thanks to those of you who drop me a line, even if I can’t find the time to respond! Not every day is exciting, but even only being into the second year of this project I am really glad I made the semi-sane choice to do it. We have about two years left until the big graduation day (or so I hope), meaning plenty more things to write about… I think.

Let’s start off with the win of the week! I’m giving a talk at the 7th annual BRAIN initiative investigators meeting! Yep I once again managed to fool people into believing I know what I’m talking about. I get a four minute (thankfully pre-recorded) talk on my research and there will be a Q&A afterwards (more here). That’s the good news, the bad news is I need to prepare everything for the meeting and technically speaking I’m not done with the analysis I’m doing… so yeah that could be awkward. There should be enough time to get everything done though and frankly I have most of the basic stuff done so I won’t be showing up empty handed even if I stopped working on the project tomorrow.

Speaking of that project, for those interested this is that awful experiment I did back in September of last year (more here) and the analysis was put on pause in January so I could focus on my R21 grant (more here) ghost writing (not a PI, so my name doesn’t touch the grant even though I wrote it). For the past month I’ve been stuck in a special kind of hell, one where each week I am asked to give a presentation on the data I’ve processed and things I’ve changed from the prior week’s meeting.

During our meeting this last week I gave my usual presentation after doing an analysis I had never done before, with no guidance, and no clue on what I should be getting back. Somehow I managed to do it (more here) and it didn’t turn out completely terrible. There was a few things I was asked to fix and conventions I didn’t know existed that I should’ve been using, but overall I can’t complain about the results and I was happy with the feedback I got until I was given — yet again — the assignment for the next week.

Which leads us into the upcoming week. My main-PI has tasked me with fixing a lot of this stuff and getting it to him by Monday. Yes this Monday, as in the one two days from this writing. No, I’m not thrilled about this, but he has another commitment so our lab meeting (I’m assuming, it hasn’t been said for sure) is cancelled this next week. Which means I get out of presenting, but it also means less time to get all this done and done correctly. I’m a little nervous since I haven’t started yet and he’s asking for a lot in a little amount of time, but I we’ll see what happens when Monday rolls around. That reminds me, Monday is already shaping up to be busy. I’m going to be spending the full day doing experiments at the hospital so I won’t have any time to meet with my main-PI that day, hopefully that won’t be an issue (it won’t, but you never know).

Lastly, my statistics homework was due today. I say was because I finished it and turned it in yesterday only to find out during the class that the date was wrong and it’s due next week… joy. That gives me an extra week to focus on the project I guess or more likely focus on the stuff for my main-PI since that’s eating a lot of time. It’s all a big juggling act these days, finding time to do the stuff I need to do means also putting off the stuff that can wait, which has been stressful.

Overall this past week has been one of the busier ones for me. The statistics class wasn’t a mistake, but if I had known the workload that came with it I would’ve passed. In any case the term is almost over then it’s all research all the time. Seriously, after this course I’ve completed all my degree requirements so there’s nothing left for me to do besides focus on my research. The extra time will be useful because there are several studies happening over the summer and I hope to finish the project my main-PI has me focusing on so I can do my proposal defense in the fall. That means I would more than likely not graduate until fall of the following year or even in the spring of that school year (basically two years from now). That puts me on track to finish in 5 years, the average time it takes to do a PhD, but longer than my Co-PI probably would’ve liked.

Well that’s the recap for the week and a small look ahead. I’ve also got a paper in review and a lot of other things in the works, but this is the most pressing stuff so we’ll talk about all that once I get some sort of update. For now I should probably stop trying to distract myself with the blog and get some work done. Until tomorrow!

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