We're a little crazy, about science!

The week ahead

For a few weeks I was trying something new and doing a “week in review” well this week is exciting for a lot of reasons so I wanted to look at the week ahead! As usual I cannot give details about what is going to happen or why, but at least I can share my excitement and maybe one day soon I’ll be able to share what we did and point back to this post. So instead of looking back, today we’re looking forward. It’s going to be busy, but hey what else is new?

First the bad news, my car broke. Yep, as if my budget couldn’t get stretched any further I was involved in an accident. A truck in front of me dropped some stuff they were carrying on the road in front of me and it nearly ripped the front bumper right off my car among other damages. The good news is no one was hurt and no one hit me in the process of trying to avoid the stuff. The bad is that the dude driving just ran off and didn’t bother to stop. The insurance is (of course) no help because why would they be? Since there is no video/pictures/etc. there’s not a whole lot anyone can do about catching the guy. Someone sacrifice a small goat in the name of my credit cards please. I can’t get around without my car, so yeah I really need to graduate so I can get paid a normal amount of money. One day…

The good news is that I am going to be distracted enough the next few days that I won’t be incredibly stressed by the whole situation. I mean I’m at like a 10 on the Alex stress scale normally, so what’s a few extra notches?

Anyway the week ahead is looking good. A while back I got to be a student coordinator for the neurotech entrepreneurs workshop, a four day workshop where I got to do some cool stuff, had a lot of fun, and made a lot of great connections (here, here, here, and here). One of the people I met is coming to my Co-PI’s lab to do some experiments with us!

He works in a very similar, if not more spread-out, research area. So spinal cord, neuromodulation, stuff like that. He’s developed stuff with DARPA, does all sorts of invasive and non-invasive research, and is super nice. He attended a virtual conference where my Co-PI was presenting and part of the conference was a game to suggest collaborations between labs and then come up with a presentation. The winners would get a small amount of funding to do the experiment and it looks like we won. I’m not actually sure about that last part, but either way we won in the sense that the proposed collaboration is happening.

For those of you who are new around here, typically we aim to do two experiments a day. Two is our limit and at ~3 hours to do the experiment and an hour for setup and tear down that’s roughly 8 hours for the two as it is, so while two doesn’t sound like a lot, it is. Since he will only be in town for two days, we’re doing three experiments a day which means I’ll be in extra early and leave extra late. Not that I go outside much *gesturing vaguely at the pandemic,* but for the next couple of days I won’t be seeing the sun.

I’m not upset though because the proposed project falls directly adjacent to the work I’m doing for my PhD and more specifically the work will probably be part of the basis for my PhD. I’m super excited to do these experiments. I’m also excited about seeing our collaborator again since it’s been over a year now since we last saw each other.

That is the downside to virtual conferences, we don’t get to connect with researchers the way we used to be able to do when things were in person, but I would gladly do virtual conferences for the rest of my life if it meant an end to COVID and needless (because make no mistake they are needless) deaths.

In any case, I’m thrilled to be part of this and that’s kind of my frustration lately. The stuff my Co-PI does is all super interesting so I want to be a part of all of it. He’s kind of caught on to this, so he’s been trying to temper my excitement, not about this, because this is so close to my dissertation work, but other projects he’s working on. That was part of the, “you should take a break” talk we had a few days ago. I’ve got a lot on my plate and he’s starting to really catch on to the fact.

It’s not a bad thing to have a PI who cares, frankly it’s usually the opposite. But it’s not my fault! Everything we do in the lab is just so fascinating that I want to be a part of it all. That’s probably why I’m trying to write five different journal papers now at the same time, but hey who’s counting. One is done and submitted, another is done (maybe) and will be submitted eventually, and the last three are stuff we’re working on this summer so hopefully soon. If I can pull it off it will be one hell of a good year for me, but the more likely scenario will be that most (probably the 2 that are done and 1 that I’m working on this summer) get published this year and the rest early next year.

And that’s the week ahead! Between now and then I have a bunch of stuff to set up and I have some of the summer interns to get up to speed on the project. Eventually thing’s will slow down. I expect after this week that will be the case, but I feel like I say that to myself every week…


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