The main event
Well tomorrow is D-day, proposal defense day that is. Technically there will be one more defense day after that, my actual PhD defense. The difference being, when that’s all done I’ll have a piece of paper to show for my efforts. That won’t come until next year… hopefully. But in the meantime, tomorrow is the (other) big day and I’m getting just a touch nervous! After all, it’s only the next year or so of my life I’m laying out for my committee members, what could go wrong?
Well good news, tomorrow is the big day and if you haven’t gotten the link to the event and wanted to attend I apologize! Feel free to drop me a line (via email, twitter, carrier pigeon, whatever works for you) and I’ll get you a link so you can attend virtually. I promise it will be an interesting event, at least that’s the plan anyway. If you’re a fan of neuroscience, neuroengineering, the spinal cord, or are just really curious, this would probably be something enjoyable. I promise to make horrible jokes, I also apologize in advance for the horrible jokes. I suffer from a humor deficiency that appears to be incurable.
The past few days have been a whirlwind of events, so tomorrow is extra stressful because I didn’t get all the practice in that I wish I could’ve done. I will be practicing tonight, solo (e.g, to my cats), to make sure everything goes semi-smoothly. As for what happens tomorrow, well it’s anyone’s guess. I’ve only spent years thinking about this and working hard to convince people what I’m proposing to do is possible, so this will be the first step in a long journey of discovery. I’ll touch on what I’ve done and what I plan to do. Mostly I’m going to talk about why this work is important.
Trust me when I say it’s important. Spinal cord injury (SCI) research is paramount to help people recover from injury. For those unaware, and I will be saying this explicitly tomorrow, the average life expectancy after SCI has not improved since the 1980’s. It’s a sad fact and hints to the complexity of the spinal cord. We tend to think of the brain as the most complex thing in the body and to a certain extent it is, but the brain and spinal cord are made up of the same “stuff” so to me the spinal cord is just the tail of the brain, it’s a brain tail or a sausage brain.
See bad jokes.
Tomorrow will give a lot of very good reasons for why we need to start looking at things from different perspectives and try things that people think can’t be done. If you don’t look, you’ll never find anything and even if my project fails, well we advanced the science by finding that wall, now didn’t we? I’m not worried about failure here, but that is the “boring” outcome, the exciting outcome would be doing something people thought was impossible. THAT would be incredibly exciting and it’s the kind of thing I signed up to do when I became a scientist.
Shifting gears slightly, this week in particular has been very good to me in terms of research. We finally did it, I got my first “big idea” dataset. It’s not the ideal case, but it was a solid data collection session and while minor things went wrong, I got enough data to do a lot of interesting things with. There are some issues with the data that I’m trying to figure out, but it was a good start to the project. I’m particularly excited to see what we have and over the next few days/week if I start posting exciting, but cryptic topics you know why.
For now though, I’m just tired, so very tired! Since we had a super early start today, we managed to finish most (all) of our work today somewhat early, meaning I should have plenty of time this evening to prep for tomorrow. I won’t be writing tomorrow’s post today (I rarely do that anyway), so the next post will be talking about the aftermath from the dissertation proposal. That will be an interesting recap I’m sure.
With that, wish me luck! It’s going to be an interesting end to the week.