We're a little crazy, about science!

Another new project!

When I think of science, for some reason exploration comes to mind. Hence the picture for today.

In the spirit of making things as hard as I possibly can for myself I’ve gotten a new project to work on from hospital-PI. This was a known thing, but it does (mildly) clash with the idea I recently had. Since I cannot share the idea I had, we can instead talk about this project a bit and why the two will be at odds. I also have a fun update on the big idea project I came up with so I’m shoehorning it in with this post since it’s semi-related.

Since my last publication is now live and everyone can see the stuff I do I can at least say that my research is primarily focused on spinal cord injury and in particular lower-limb movement recovery (e.g., standing, walking, etc.). I find this work incredibly interesting because there’s so much we don’t understand about how we walk/balance and the prevailing thought was this is a brain controlled process, but we have reasons to believe it’s offloaded to the spinal cord, which makes for fun convention overturning science (my favorite kind of science!).

Hospital-PI was awarded a grant to do some work on this specific topic, I mean we have an overabundance of funding right now for this type of research, but one grant in particular needs to be addressed, that’s where I come in. Over the weekend I’m reviewing some data and possibly reworking a protocol for the project. Our lab is special like that, hospital-PI trusts my judgement, so if I say something needs to be changed and give a good reason, we will change it. I’m hoping that won’t be the case though since we already have over half of the dataset we need for this grant.

This means that Mondays are lab meetings, Tuesdays are OR experiments, Wednesdays are now my “big idea” projects, Thursdays are this grant project, and Friday is school related work. This is a problem because no where in that list is data analysis. I don’t like to let data pile up like that, so I’m going to have to try to squeeze in time to do the work in-between everything or on the weekends, which I would like to dedicate that time to my PhD stuff. Since the PhD stuff hasn’t officially started yet, I have time, but that will change very quickly.

Wednesday I said was for the “big idea” project (I talk vaguely about it here), but that’s only partially true. We are doing several phases for this project and across several different populations. Like I said, big idea so big applications. If I hadn’t come up with this, the workload would be more manageable, but I somehow make everything very difficult and have all these ideas that spill out of my head before I realize that they really just mean more work for me.

I’m not complaining though, I will gladly lose sleep to bring “big idea” to reality and I have already had a few late nights. Big idea requires me to make some custom equipment. Hospital-PI gave me a budget and the more he talked, the more he realized the implications and the larger my budget got. Lucky for him, I’m a frugal researcher and I’ve spent less than 10% of what he gave me and as of yesterday I have a working device. I made a prototype with stuff we scrounged from the lab, but the new device looks much more professional and I did extensive testing with it yesterday to great success. It was probably the hardest and most complicated thing I’ve had to hand make, but it works! At least in testing, we need to do some actual experiments with it to verify everything is happy.

In anticipation of all the new work “big idea” will bring, I’m going to attempt to collect the remaining data for the grant project over the next few weeks. That will mean early mornings and late nights on Thursdays when I’m slated to do the data collecting (since it’s my only “free” day to do the work, but it will result in one paper, then when we switch populations, a second paper. For those counting (me, I’m counting) that gives me two papers already lined up for this year, plus robot paper, plus the paper based on this work. That’s just first author papers, I have two second author papers coming out this year almost for certain and hopefully at least one “big idea” paper, if not more!

We’re only eight days into the new year and I’m already slated to publish more this year than I have my entire academic career. It’s going to be hard, exhausting work, but it’s going to be an adventure.

But enough about us, what about you?

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