Being Welcomed into a Different Lab, Full Speed Experimenting, and Tutoring

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Hey all 🙂

The last two months have just been getting busier and busier now. The most significant things to happen have been my supervisor being off for a while and my being accepted as an honorary member of another lab, getting on with the proper testing portion of my experiment (yay), and kicking off my new tutoring job!

Being welcomed into another lab

A couple of months ago my supervisor took some time off and I was left for the first time to really start pushing for myself. This was fine and understandable of course but the biggest thing for me was that sudden thought of “am I alone for this bit of time?” My supervisor’s style is very much one of ‘discuss ideas then go try something and come back if you’re stuck’ which is good, but they’re still always there if you’re stuck. So I had a smidgen of a worry thinking that somebody wouldn’t be there in the worst case situations. This wasn’t really an issue though, as there is a large support network within an academic community. Firstly, within the lab itself we have other researchers more experienced than myself who gave me some guidance during this time and additionally my secondary supervisor was fully aware of the situation and was attentive to how I was doing (as they always are). Finally though, and perhaps the more novel situation for me, was another lab letting me get more involved with their community. A different lab from a different school research similar topics to myself and have given me suggestions in the past and let me present at their meetings. Since then I’ve started to attend their weekly meetings as often as I can to be a part of their community. Giving back where I was given support myself. I’ve felt very included by this group and greatly appreciate the openness and time given to somebody from elsewhere. I’m finding this support and additional input to be very useful, as no matter how similar research can be people always have a different perspective or interest in what you’re doing. Plus the varying levels of expertise mean that you tend to get different sorts of insights and suggestions from each person too. Overall it’s adding to my ability and confidence as a researcher as well as my experience of research.

Full Speed Experimenting

So after quite a while of planning, setting up, and waiting for space and resources my experiment is finally going! I’m quite excited about this as after two years I’m yet to obtain much data. This has left me feeling a bit conflicted. One the one hand I feel as if I should have something to show from two years of being here but on the other hand I am part-time which means that effectively I’ve only done a year’s worth of work, so I should set my expectations a little lower for now. Either way I’m getting on with things which is great. Estimated completion date is the start of March (but as usual with science this could suddenly change at the drop of a hat) and then there’ll be all of the analysis and writing and hopefully using that to go to conferences and write papers! For the now though I’m spending 4-8 hours every day testing with the determination to get the aforementioned data. I’m sure in my next post my exhaustion will come across but hopefully some excitement due to some results too!

Tutoring!

So In my last post I mentioned a tutoring position coming up. I got the job! The role is ‘academic skills tutor’ which means that I help students with any transferable, non-subject-specific, academic skills such as time management, essay writing, exam revision and anything else you can think of. The job kicked off by my shadowing the other tutors during one-to-one and evening drop-in sessions to get a feel for what is expected, and in the last couple of weeks the training wheels have come off and I’m running on my own! I’m primarily doing an evening drop-in session at the university library. At this, students are able to freely approach with any problems they are experiencing and as long as there’s no queue forming they may get help for as long as is needed. For slightly more demanding struggles or if there are a few students waiting then they are recommended to book an hour-long one-on-one session during the day. It’s a great service and one which I think students should be making more use of. It isn’t the best advertised but I’m working with the team to work out how we can improve this. In the few weeks I’ve been working on my own I’ve seen a range of students covering a range of needs and it’s been thoroughly rewarding so far. I very much hope the service continues to be used and that hopefully in the future a position with more hours comes up!

So that’s it folks. The next two months will involve me continuing to push through this experiment, continuing the tutoring, and hopefully catching a quick break to visit the families over Christmas. See you in the New Year.

Thanks for reading 🙂

BCT

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