The halfway point
It’s official! As of today I have 5 of 10 datasets collected for my dissertation. There’s still a lot of work going forward for sure, this is just the first step, but it’s a big one. Between the last two days I’ve performed three experiments and I’ve found a few other people to help with the next round. If all goes well, I’ll have all the data for the first aim collected in the next few weeks. So what now?
My dissertation was off to a rocky start. We’re still several months behind schedule, I should’ve had all the data for the project collected and mostly analyzed now. I’ve only got a few months until the DARPA Risers conference and I’m only half done with the data collection, so while things are moving, I certainly haven’t caught up to where I need to be. I’m getting there, but it’s a matter of time, something I don’t have a lot of.
As of right now I could, in theory anyway, finally find the answer to the big question. Does “supper secret technique” or SST actually work? I’m hopeful, I really am. But we don’t know for sure, not yet anyway! I haven’t had time to answer that question and if I’m totally honest, I’m somewhat scared to know the answer. I mean there’s still a chance it could be a false positive or false negative, but I feel like the data I originally collected was so distinct that it’s either going to end up the same way and I’ll see it for sure or I wont.
Regardless if it works or doesn’t, I still have the chance to get my PhD, but the “boring” answer, meaning it doesn’t work, would be, well boring. The exciting answer is that it works, which would be very ideal for a whole lot of reasons, but the biggest is that this would be useful and would have the potential to help a lot of people. That’s the hope anyway. In either case, I still need to finish the data collection and find time to process the data.
Right now, that’s the problem, because if I have time to process the data, I have time to collect the rest of my data and if I have to choose I would rather have the data. I can process data on my own schedule, I cannot collect data on my own schedule. Which is why I haven’t started the data processing (among other reasons). I’m still working out the details, but I’m hopeful that I can wrangle a few more people into the project.
I know at least one person who’s agreed to help that would be a great fit and one of my school labmates has helped me try to find others to finish the data collection. Five more may not seem like a lot, but collecting two datasets in a single day is exhausting (and time consuming) so if I HAVE to do three in one day I will, but I think I can get away with doing two next week in one day, then three over two days the following week.
Once I have all the data collected, then I can start working on processing it and seeing if I can find something within the data that makes all this work worth something. I’ve spent a lot of time and effort writing code for this (and to share with another) project and I’m hopeful that I can smoothly (or as smoothly as possible) process and analyze the data.
The timeline pretty much works like this, collect the rest of the data in the next two weeks. Spend the next month processing it and seeing what we got (at this point I should be able to say conclusively if we have something one way or the other). DARPA Risers will be right around the corner at that point and I need to have my poster and slides (in case I get selected for a talk) done two weeks prior to the conference. The timeline isn’t great, but that’s where I am.
I also need to factor in paper writing, collecting data (again) for aim 2 (ugh…), and obviously writing the dissertation itself. Thankfully the paper will be part of what goes into the paper, so it’s not exactly two separate tasks, but it’s still a lot of time and effort. With a little (a lot) of luck, I will have the first paper (of two ideally) written and submitted by the end of the year.