We're a little crazy, about science!

The finalized proposal

Well today was kind of a big step, I’ve finalized my proposal, got school-PI’s approval to send it out, and now I’m just waiting for a few people to select their availability so we can schedule the actual defense. I’m just a touch nervous! I still need to modify my slides and of course practice, but we’re now roughly two weeks away from the actual proposal defense!!!

It’s been an eventful couple of days! Yesterday I got word about robot paper and this morning I got word from school-PI that my proposal was ready to submit to my committee. Needless to say, I’m a little excited. While robot paper felt like a sticking point for me, my proposal getting postponed by a whole year was also incredibly stressing. Now that things are moving forward though, I’m excited to take the last few steps to my PhD. There’s still a lot of work to be done, but there isn’t a lot holding me back now.

School-PI and I have had an interesting relationship over the years. Honestly, for awhile I felt like I did something to permanently upset him. I think I just needed to get used to the way he interacts with his students, he’s a hard person to read. Lately it’s felt less like that, which is nice. I’ve been on edge since starting in his lab and hearing that he’s dropped students in the past for not performing. I was worried that would be me, despite the rest of the lab reassuring me that the people he dropped genuinely did not put forth effort.

Well I didn’t get dropped, so that’s a plus. I’m just a touch paranoid I guess, which is evident if you ever see the amount of work I put into the projects I do.

While I’m still waiting to hear back from several of my committee members, right now it looks like I’ll be defending my proposal in roughly two weeks. I had given dates for two and three weeks out, but it looks like everyone who responded will be the first week, so hopefully that trend holds up with the last three. Assuming everyone responds soon, I should be able to formalize the date and let everyone here know when it will be. I’m not sure how to best distribute the zoom link for the proposal defense, but I’ll come up with something between now and then.

Since the date is slowly firming up, I need to get my slides finished and run through everything at least a few times again before I actually do the defense. The sooner I have the slides finished the better it will be for everyone involved, including school-PI, who has already reviewed my slides once. He will want to give final approval to the slides and then have me practice at least once before the big day. I’m still convinced he’s waiting on everyone else to select the availability so he can pick the day/time that works best for him.

Also, since the day is rapidly approaching now and we’re at the point of no return, I need to start scheduling experiments to be performed. Thankfully I have a handful of ready volunteers in the lab willing to help. I’ll be asking around again over the next few weeks and I will probably start collecting data next month or the end of this month if I’m lucky. We have new equipment we purchased specifically for my project, so I’ll have brand new never used electrodes to work with. This is nice because they get slightly oxidized over time making them harder to work with, not impossible, just a longer setup time and I already am anticipating a long setup time for the stuff I’m doing.

EEG setup alone can take upwards of an hour and the total experiment time is three hours, so something needs to give and if I can streamline setup, I can get my data collected within the time window allotted. I will note for my qualifying exam, I did this almost exact experiment and from setup to finish, it took roughly five hours. Actually I think it took longer, but I lost count after five. But that was the first time it was done and the first time I had really worked with the EEG equipment so my setup time is probably going to be a lot faster now… probably.

So at this point it’s death by a thousand little things that need to be done. Slides, experiment checklist, recruitment, keeping up with my committee so I can actually set a date, the list keeps growing. Thankfully once I have the first round of data, things will move quickly. I already have a whole ton of code written that I can reuse for the work and with code like that it doesn’t matter if it’s one dataset or one hundred, the amount of time I need to invest is the same, it’s just a set it and forget it type thing. The second phase will take longer, but I’ve already got some help with that. That’s looking a little too far ahead for now though.

Mostly if we can get through the first round of data collection I can either verify that this works, or find out for certain it doesn’t. If it doesn’t work the whole project collapses down and I’m basically done at that point. It would be the disappointing result, but at least others will learn that, at least with the technology of our time, the thing I’m trying to do just isn’t possible. If it does work, well then I will have made quite a bit of work for me to do between now and this time next year, but at least it will be the fun and exciting result!

Unfortunately I cannot collect data until after my proposal defense, so now that the written proposal has been sent out, it’s only a matter of weeks before I have some concrete answers about “super secret technique.”

To quote Oscar Wilde, “The suspense is terrible. I hope it will last.”


2 responses

  1. Hooray! I have little doubt you’ll do fine at the defense. Fair sailing!

    Did the rest of your committee actually have to push back on School PI, or did he end up relenting on the extra work by himself? I’ve been wondering, since it seems like you didn’t have an issue getting him to approve your final proposal.

    Liked by 1 person

    April 5, 2022 at 8:24 pm

    • Thank you! I’m not too worried about it… yet. I’m sure I’ll freak out the day of!

      Yes and no. We went back and forth on it a LOT! That’s part of the reason there were so many edits. But we’ve finally somewhat settled on an arrangement I think I can live with. My only concern is that I need other people to commit to help and I don’t like to rely on others like that because things happen, so I would’ve preferred to have just enough work for me to do alone instead of enough work for two with three supposedly helping, if that makes sense. I’m half hoping the committee pushes back some or they say it’s too much. If not, well then we’ll have to wait and see.

      Liked by 1 person

      April 6, 2022 at 5:48 pm

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