Success! 10 of 10 dissertation experiments
It has been a struggle and I really, really don’t want to ever have to do something like that again, but after a few short weeks (well what feels like short), I now have 10 out of 10 of the datasets needed for my first aim. Will there be an aim 2 data collection? Maybe, if what I’m proposing turns out to actually work. In any case, this is now done and I can focus on the next step.
Wow am I exhausted. It really does feel like it was only yesterday that I started data collection in ernest, but if I’m not experiencing what a person feels like after they ran a marathon, I don’t know what the hell I’m feeling. Like everything hurts and I just want to sleep for about a week. I wish this was the end, you know? Oh look at that, got all the data, woo celebrate. But really this is just the beginning. Now that I have the data, I need to do something with it. It will be important to see if there’s anything to show for all the efforts.
The good news is the data collection portion is the most physically draining part. Not that sitting at a computer for hours at a time isn’t tiring, but it’s a different kind of tired, at least for me. I don’t know what it is about standing in roughly the same place for 8+ hours that makes a person so tired, but man do I feel it. It probably doesn’t help that in an experiment you have to keep track of about a dozen different things, moreso for mine. In fact, I was using two different computers to collect all my data since one just wasn’t going to do it for me. So much work, so many wires.
Okay, so let’s just talk quickly about how today went. It went surprisingly smooth and I really needed it to go smoothly. I got in several hours prior to the start of our first experiment, setup the equipment, organized everything, basically did every last bit of prep I could for both experiments before we got started. There was a lot of organizing involved, so my day started about 2 hours prior to the first experiment and ended about 2 hours after the last experiment, so it’s been roughly a 10 hour day for me.
Overall the first experiment went off without too many issues, the second had some minor technical issues, but luckily those came up at ideal times (as in, not actively testing something) so it didn’t completely ruin anything. So like I said, today went as well as we could expect. Impedances played nicely after realizing the problem was oxidation on the sensors, so a quick abrasive clean and they weren’t perfect, but they were much, much better and as close to perfect as you could hope for.
My participants today were from the hospital lab, so they already knew what I was asking them to do, which saved a lot of time because I didn’t have to explain anything outside of the tasks they would do and the general structure of the experiment itself. Plus between the three of us, myself and the two people lending me a hand (here), we found a good flow and things moved pretty seamlessly. While there wasn’t a large break between experiments, there was enough time to get the equipment cleaned and prepped for the second experiment, like timed about as perfect as you could hope for. So we managed to get each experiment done in roughly 2.5 hours instead of the 3-5 hours the first few took.
Now that data collection is done, I’m switching gears to the data analysis portion of the process. This normally would take several months, but since I’m on a time crunch thanks to the DARPA Risers conference coming, I need to hit the ground running. I probably won’t be able to have it all processed and pretty by the time the conference rolls around. It won’t be publication ready, but I can at least get it to the point that we know if this works or not. If it does work, I can show some really cool stuff. If not, well then I guess that’s something too.
For tonight and probably tomorrow, I’m going to be on the recovery side of things. I need to take a day to myself before we start unraveling the mysteries of the data I have. So if you’ll excuse the abrupt ending to this post, I’m going to sleep for a year or so.