Saturday, January 23, 2010

The Grad Student's Creed, Part 1

Fig 1. Creed. No, not that one! Man, the graphics department here sucks.

1. I will not be a smartass towards my PI, even when s/he is oblivious.*

2. I will not get into arguments with my fellow students over technicalities of technique.

3. I will not gossip about others in the department, even if it's toooootally scandalous!

4. I will write.

5. I will write.

6. I will write.

7. I will not procrastinate on sending emails.

8. I will ask for help.

(to be continued...)

* Not admitting anything (...yet), but I need the reinforcement.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Committee Meeting Scheduling Fail!


So I knew that scheduling committee meetings was going to be tricky, but I had no idea just how true that was.

So far there is no time in a 3 week period when I can get all 3 of them in a room together.

Oh well, not an insurmountable problem. Just annoying.

For the record, I'm using to do this (as suggested by some of my fellow students) The name is awful and I hate the emails it sends, but it appears to work.

Now if only the calendar gods will cooperate.

Research proceeds. No complaints.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Grad Student Psychology: I'm a lucky sunnuvabitch, now I have to step up

Warning: I've tried my hardest not to make this post whiny, but it might enrage you anyway. Readers with heart conditions, the elderly, pregnant women, and those with compromised immune systems are encouraged to exercise caution.

I have been very lucky.

I got into research relatively early in my undergrad (although this was by my own effort, there was certainly some luck involved in it to working out, especially since I had (have?) no idea what I was doing.) I worked in a variety of fields on some solid projects (and some not so much, but whatever). One of these brought me in to contact with a faculty member from BRU, who graciously agreed to write me a reference letter, which is probably how...

I was accepted into a graduate program I was probably unqualified for. (on paper anyway. As I understand these things though, that may not mean that much, so maybe this isn't that big a deal. But my background is definitely a little odd)

I had extremely positive rotation experiences. One got my name on a paper, and another even produced real data (gasp) that is resulting in follow-up experiments (shock, horror), and none with absolute failures (the one that produced the least, science-wise, was also the one most out of my field of experience, so I learned lots that will probably come in handy some day.)

Finally, I've joined a lab at a time when the larger project I am part of is just taking off, and it's well placed in a context that is relatively less-studied (since I keep running in to questions the answer to which is "no one really knows") but important (judging by some recent reviews. But there's probably observation bias there). And our approach will add a lot. I think. As well, the PI is fair but demanding, and supports his students well. The members of the lab are, nearly to a person, pretty kickass, supportive and helpful, and a riot to work with.

In fact, it seems like everything is perfectly set up for me to do some great work.

Which means it's all up to me now: I can't hide behind circumstances not being optimal or the fact that no one really expects much of me. The science won't be easy, there are some non-trivial problems to solve on every side (as in, I'm still not sure if this is mathematically possible, much less realistically feasible), and parts of it depend on skills that I don't think I'm that good at yet. So I'm really not confident that I'll be able to make this work. Which is kind of scary.

If I'm going to get through the next ~6-12 months with anything resembling success (which does not mean "lack of failure"--I understand that failing regularly is part of the game :) I need to get over myself & my fear of failing. At the very least, I need to stop it from preventing me from getting shit done.

If anything, this is what could most likely trip me up. So that's why this is here. It's my public kick in the pants to (hopefully) prevent me from sabotaging myself. Yaaaay.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Obvious post #267

On the plus side, no one could ever accuse my boss of not being clear about what he wants from me.

On the minus side, he wants an update and I'm not done as much as I wanted.

In the long term I think I'm well off, but right now...FML.

Update: predictably, I was totally overreacting and I apparently know what I'm doing (mostly). Onward! Added 'whine' tag because this merits it.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Lesson learned

Every time I go home for a holiday I feel more disconnected from the rest of my family members. I guess this is what they call "growing up"