We're a little crazy, about science!

Major milestone 1 (of 3)

The good news, like it or not today I will have less work to do! The bad news is that I’m sort of up against the wire here. As promised, it’s all deadlines all the time for the next week. While this may not be the most useful or exciting read, it certainly is going to be a dramatic finish (see: train wreak). Today for simplicity since there’s so much to do and literally only days to do it, let’s go over what I have to do today and exactly where I am in all of that work. Spoiler, it’s not looking pretty.

There’s a lot of balls in the air and I’m not certain I’ll be able to catch them all. I think the best way to do this is to make a nice numbered list and then talk about the progress for each one that way we can see how I’m doing overall. Some of it is good, some of it is bad, some of it is extremely bad. Still, I have hope because I still have… checks time, oh about 8 hours or so to finish. That said, it’s on to the list:

  1. Homework 5 for my statistics class
  2. Surprise funding proposal
  3. Undergrad conference paper
  4. Data for my Co-PI

That’s the big four things that MUST be done today like it or not. Now I have other projects due (Wednesday and Friday) that need my attention while I’m working on all this, so there’s a lot of going back and forth. That said, most of my focus, aside from this brief pause to give my live update and destress for a minute (or at least distract myself for a moment), will be on the four things listed, but some of those things are more done than others. We can talk about it in order, since that seems like a good of a way as any.

The homework, this class has been brutal. I don’t understand why they decided to swamp us with homework like this. We get weekly mini-assignments due the same day, homework every two weeks, and a major project due every month. If any one of those things got dropped (well in particular the homework) this class would’ve been great and there would be no big issues. Instead the second I finish one thing, another needs my attention.

Right now I’m focused on getting the big project done since all three parts are worth 60% of the grade for this class. The rest of the score goes like this, 30% is homework, and 10% is for those weekly assignments. Basically I could do 100% on everything, but not bother with this third part of the project and barely (possibly if I don’t get an extra penalty for just blowing it off) pass the class. So the focus is definitely on the project! The good news is the homework is done. I did it over the weekend in-between some other project switching. There’s been a lot of late nights around here, but sleep is important so I still get a minimum of 6 hours, any less and I’ll be dead and can’t get work done, so balance is key here.

My surprise funding proposal. Now that was a surprise and in the most inopportune time no less. I was already stressed about all the other work and then that got dropped on me. Well I’m happy to say that I finished the draft proposal and sent it off… I’ve gotten no response from my main-PI. So I sent it a second time… still no response. Finally, I sent it again this morning to him… again… still no response. Frankly, I’m not sure what’s going on. Hopefully I didn’t put all that work into writing a 6 page proposal on an incredibly short notice, only to have it not be submitted. It’s a very confusing moment for me in that regard. I’m going to hold off on passing any sort of judgement about it until tomorrow though because he could be doing a lot of editing or behind the scenes stuff that I’m not aware of. I’m not a PI so my name (as usual) goes nowhere near it.

One of my responsibilities as a PhD candidate is to mentor undergrad students and I take that job incredibly seriously. So much so that I meet pretty regularly with them, once a week or every other week usually. Since one of the undergrads was super motivated to work on projects (we found her paid funding for two summers now!) she has been doing a lot of incredible work in design engineering, even though she’s a biomedical engineer (student I guess). She wanted to work with the lab until graduation so we came up with a roadmap for her to get the full “research experience” which included submitting a couple conference papers and maybe even a journal paper if she was up to it. Did I mention she was super sharp? Because she is. Long story short, she did an experiment I helped her design, she collected and analyzed the data, and today we’re submitting it to a conference.

There’s been a lot of back and forth making sure she was ready to submit and I told her to set up her account and fill out all the pre-submission form stuff last night so all she had to do today was upload and hit submit (it’s way less stressful that way). So after we hear back from my main-PI… assuming we hear back. She will make any changes he suggests to the paper and we’ll be sending it off. It’s only mildly stressing me out because he’s been MIA for a few days now so I don’t know what’s going on. We can’t submit it without his blessing though, so now we wait. I’ve been frantically refreshing my email hoping to get a response, we’ll see what happens.

Lastly, the data for my Co-PI because I’m an idiot and really wanted to do this project even though I have 50 million other things to do (more on that here)!!! Today was supposed to be the day I sent off my preliminary findings, instead I emailed him over the weekend letting him know that wasn’t going to happen. Something had to give unfortunately. Thankfully it’s not a super “real” deadline, it was more of a self imposed or at least an agreed upon deadline. So that’s totally off my plate now.

Overall, major milestone 1 was a semi-success. I still have a lot of loose ends to tie up and things to get sorted. I’m anxious about the next major milestone (Wednesday). Now that I have all this in writing, I need to get back to things. The statistics project is stressing me out and I have a lot to figure out between now and the due date so I’m not sure how well I’ll complete it. It’s a single (incredibly complex) figure and five tables worth of data. I have the tables, but no figure. So time to figure that out (see what I did there?) and with a little luck I can hit that milestone too. There are other things due Wednesday, but we can talk about that then.

Now, time to check off things on my to do list. Like writing this post, see getting things done already!


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