Friday, August 30, 2013

Weekly Lab Meeting.. AKA the firing squad

Weekly lab meetings (WLM) are a common occurrence in university's around the globe. These meetings give the presenter a chance to practice your presentation skills, brag or lament your current research progress and be the center of attention for a week. This "honor" passes around the group each week with someone else being the vic...presenter. Basically this is grad school hazing.

Friday is my lab's weekly meetings, we actually combine forces with another lab that does similar research. This is both good and bad. It is good because it spreads out the time between each person's presentations. It is bad because there are more people to shoot questions at you.

This was my first real experience with WLM, last week we did an introductory round robin. "Hi my name is ______ and I'm a science-holic." So I had never seen the epic brutality of this rite of passage. Two PI's in the room means twice the highly trained and highly critical set of eyes and ears to eviscerate your presentation. They are highly detailed oriented and inquisitive. They will stop you in the middle and make you go back as they are still thinking about 3 slides ago. I am thinking this technique is to toss questions out rapidly until it breaks the students prepared shield (aka PowerPoint) down which rattles and throws the grad students off their game. And from the look on my labmate presenter's face it worked.

I am sure this is presentation boot camp. They apply the pressure and we break behind the closed doors of lab meeting so that at our defense/professional meetings we are unbreakable.  I never liked the idea of boot camp...

3 weeks til I face the squad. Shields up, red alert!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Laboratory Catchup

Having launched this blog a little later than I was expecting, I have a few blurbs I wrote on my computer but never posted. So I'm going to post a few of them to help sum up my first month.

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Lab Catchup - originally written Aug 12

I have a MS in Marine Biology and Biochemistry. I've done research on coral reefs all over the world! I'm an accomplished scientist with first author paper and a few secondary authors. Despite all of that, in this new lab I feel like an undergraduate starting her first day in the sciences! All the little details of  proper laboratory research have been replaced with child rearing techniques. I have to ask for help with almost everything. My training is in photosynthetic biology, and while I've always loved molecular biology, I've done very little of it. This new lab is all about molecular techniques. It's a steep learning curve.

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Update: almost 2 weeks later the times that I feel like a moron are significantly less than the times I feel like I know what I am doing. I've been bounced around on 3 different projects this month but I have one that seems to be growing. I like the days I know what I'm doing and how to do it when I walk into the lab. This current project is that way, I have learned the 4 techniques I need to process my samples and analyze the data without needing any assistance. Makes for much nicer days in lab, I feel productive and independent! :)

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

First Post - Background

Greetings all! If you are here for this my inaugural post you must be connected to me in the real world and care about me enough to read this! For that I say THANK YOU! For those of you who stumble upon this post from some other source WELCOME!!! This blog is going to chronicle my attempt at obtaining my PhD and you are cordially invited to journey along with me.

First a little background. I've wanted to be a scientist for almost as long as I can remember. As I grew up I realized how much I enjoy teaching people new things and decided I would try to merge my enthusiasm for science and my love of education. After getting a nice BS in Biology, I moved onward to get my PhD in Marine Biology (become a marine biology - check that off the bucket list!). Well life, as it often does, had other ideas and during my studies I became pregnant with my son which bucked me out of the PhD and quickly into a MS. The time I found out to the time I was defending a MS I never really wanted was 4 months. Fast forward a few years and I have a beautiful boy and decide to try and get back into the field. I was fortunate enough to find a job teaching science at a local for profit college, only one class at first but built to 2-4 a quarter. I spent 3 years doing that and remembered how much I truly do love teaching, especially at the collegiate level. Unfortunately teaching part time at a local college is not going to pay the bills. Having never fully given up on getting a PhD and that coveted tenure track teaching job, I decided to try going back to school! So here I am, a month ago me and my first grader moved to a new city, 28 days ago I started my PhD in biology. I'm working in a plant biology lab that uses molecular techniques to chase down what occurs during abiotic stress.

Which brings us to this blog. I am hoping that over the next few years I can chronicle the ups and downs of life as a PhD student and single Mom. Sometimes this will be venting, sometimes it will be celebrating, I'm hoping there will be laughs to be found in the posts that follow. I make no promises but I hope you find some good stories and maybe learn something along the way. If you made it this far, I hope you'll keep checking this page. Feel free to leave comments, I love meeting new people :)