Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Summer Schedule

Because I am a graduate student, I inevitably get the question "Will you be coming home this summer?" This is a very undergraduate view of Academia. Graduate students do have a summer break, but it is not the type of break of which you are thinking.

Summer is graduate school Wonderland. The halls are quiet, and classes both as a teacher and a student have vanished. For a few precious months we have few to no obligations other than research. It is the time to buckle down and make a mad dash for data. If your project involves field research, these truly are your glory days! You can run through the forest, ford the streams, dive the oceans, collect ALL the samples!! Most graduate students I know look forward to the magic that is summer.
In SUMMMMMMMMMMMMERRRR!!
Disney's Frozen

I, sadly, do not have field research in my current project. My masters work involved copious amounts of SCUBA diving every summer and I do miss that. However, I do get my own Summer Wonderland as my schedule at work will be: research, research, research, research, lab meeting, mandatory graduate student meeting. That's it. No classes to study for, no lectures to prepare, no items to grade, and no classes to attend/teach that interrupt the flow of research. The only things I have to do out of the lab are every Friday for the lunch hour, the grad students are getting together to either a) present their work (one student a week) or b) journal article club, and lab meeting on Friday morning where we will talk about our work. Fin. The rest of the week can be all research all the time! MWAHAHAHA! Ohhh where to begin!
Pretty much exactly how I look
Disney's Emperor's New Groove


This summer, research takes 2 forms: wet lab work and proposal writing. My goal for the summer is to get some pilot studies done and write the introduction to my PhD proposal which will be due next year. Which means I need to actually design the pilot studies! I have some vague ideas, but not exactly sure how to approach them. The research question I have right now is pretty broad, need to narrow it into smaller, manageable questions and then design the workflow.
And this is how I look planning experiments
Disney's Meet the Robinsons




While not as glamorous as doing wet lab work, experimental design is a critical part of research. Every variable must be accounted for so that you are only manipulating what will answer you question. You need to not only know how you are going to collect data but also how you are planning on analyzing the results. A great deal of thought goes into experimental design.. something I need to work on more frequently.

What are your summer plans?

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