We're a little crazy, about science!

Major milestone 2 (of 3)

Can’t stop now. We’re at what I’m calling major milestone 2 of 3. Yep, yet another batch of stuff is due today. I’m not super thrilled with all this and I still have so much to do before Friday I want to scream. As with major milestone 1 (here), we’re going over what I have done (spoiler not enough), what I need to do (a whole lot), and the plan to get it finished (cry for a few hours). Let’s just dive into it since there isn’t a whole lot of time (for me anyway).

This has probably been the most stressful week (it feels like years) for me in my journey to a PhD since I started. Monday was the first deadline for a lot of the stuff I need to do and we hit it gracefully. By gracefully I mean not gracefully at all. It was close, incredibly close. I spent all of yesterday trying to magically time travel backwards just so I would have more time to hit this milestone with a little more sanity. That didn’t happen. Let’s go through what is due today and where I am. Just like last time we can put this in list format first since that seems to work best. Here’s the OH GOD ALEX IS GOING TO DIE list:

  1. Statistics project part 3 (total project worth 60% of my grade)
  2. Statistics presentation slides
  3. Experiment I’m not a fan of (here) results
  4. A whole lot of writing for the experiment I’m not a fan of (explained below)

The list is longer than that unfortunately, but this is the major points. Really (1) and (2) are the main points. The rest is secondary for the moment. Okay not really, but I really, really need to finish the first two things on the list and I don’t think it’s going to happen.

I’ve been complaining about this stats class forever now and this week is the end of it (finally). The project was to reproduce different figures in a manuscript that the instructor’s lab published (or is in review, I’m not sure). Each part of the three parts for this project was for us to take the dataset they used and perform the statistics they did in the manuscript and finally reproduce the figures. Each part of this project pretty much went the same way, a week or so before it’s due the instructor realized that part of what he was asking for couldn’t be done, or couldn’t be done easily so they would issue code/data/instructions/etc. to get the result they were asking for. This was no different but we also found out the dataset we used for part three wasn’t the exact dataset they used in the manuscript so once again we’re somewhat reproducing figures without any clue on how to reproduce them.

It always ends the same way, with frantic requests from the instructor to just turn in something. This time we can’t get an extension on the project deadline unfortunately, it’s set in stone because it’s the end of the term. Well at least I’m close… sort of. If you squint really hard. Part three was probably the most difficult of the parts that we did and that’s saying something. We had to reproduce not only the figure, but a bunch of tables to go with it. I’ve got like ~90% of the tables even though none of my data lines up with their tables and the TA for the class is having the same issues so we don’t know what’s going on. I plan on turning in what I have, but no promises it will be completed.

The slides for the project are far less complicated thankfully. All we were tasked to do was put all three parts of the project into a nice little PowerPoint presentation. No need for anything fancy, just part one on a single slide, part two on the next, and part 3 on the last six (1 for the figure and 5 for the tables, I mentioned there was five tables right? Because there are five tables).

The other major project due in about 30 minutes is the results from my experiment. That has been going slightly better than the project thankfully and I am happy to say that as of incredibly late last night or incredibly early this morning (depending on how you want to look at it) I have results that make sense! Doing research is hard and I was hoping to take the easy way to get it done. I needed to segment the data I had and align it to the electrical pulse we were using. Since I knew the timing between pulses I thought I could just segment using that, but of course it didn’t align nicely like it should so instead I needed to painfully and in the most complicated way humanly possible I had to get the trigger location (which is sent to the software when the stimulus occurs) to align everything using that.

The problem was the data I had was from 10 trials so I needed the trigger information for each trial, segment each trial, then smash it all together in the order the unsegmented data was in. It was not easy, it was not fun, it was an exercise in torturing myself because I was halfway through and it would’ve been more work to go back and just start from scratch, but I did it. I don’t have the presentation done and I got a lovely reminder of more work I need to do for Friday, but at least I got this part done.

So yeah, lots to do still for today and not a lot of time remaining. With some luck I’ll barely make it, but we’ll see. The stats class has a discord channel so it’s nice to see everyone else flailing too. Sometimes I feel like I’m the only one who struggles with this stuff, it was a nice surprise to see that wasn’t the case.

Tomorrow I’ll explain the cryptic I’ve got more work to do for Friday sentence above. Basically I got even more thrown at me because I forgot a deadline. It’s okay, it’s not like I’m busy or anything…

To a anyone else in school, good luck!

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