Happy new year! Here’s what I’ve been up to for the last two months and a summary of the year as a whole 🙂
The vast majority of my last two months has been planning, organising, and starting my pilot experiment. As a side note I WILL furnish you with details of my research topic, the techniques involved, and general scientific tidbits but I need to make certain of what I can and cannot say first (science can be so sensitive sometimes…). I’ve been learning a lot about acknowledging and checking the finer details as it is often those which can make us stumble the most! There have been a few set-backs as well such as finding the resources needed to just start the experiment! I’ve also spent quite a bit of time building things from card and plastic which is always fun. Overall it’s been a good few weeks getting my hands dirty (metaphorically and literally) and I’ve really enjoyed being back in a lab again!
On the non-lab side of things I have been busy with writing. Firstly a poster. Every PhD student in the school present a yearly poster of their research (examples of scientific posters to come but if you’re really eager google finds many!) in a group setting. This involves designing a clear way of showing the background, questions, methods, and results in a concise way without too much text. The session involved the whole cohort together in a room where we could chat about our work with each other and members of staff (and drink a decent quantity of wine!). It was a great session and incredibly useful experience for the future as posters are one of the many ways of presenting work at conferences. On the topic of conferences, I will be applying to present a poster at two in the coming year, one in Manchester and the other in Prague, so already having one is useful as it can act as a template for the next ones! Beyond posters and thinking about conferences, I have been planning my literature review (a comprehensive discussion of the background to my topic setting up the ‘whats’ and ‘whys’ of my own work) which I will start writing in the new year. I’ve also been keeping an eye out for funding opportunities and a particularly wonderful one has come up so I am also drafting an application for that to go over with my supervisor.
Just a short comment about jobs. My current position is very convenient but as it would never be enough to support me in the long run I have always kept my eye open for something new. I applied to work in Sainsbury’s, to no avail, and to the new Dominos Pizza, with success! Somewhat annoyingly my smart shoes tore just before so I had a quick panic for new ones! I start this coming weekend and I’m very excited about it; the people seem really nice and who doesn’t like pizza?!
The first 3 months (and past year) in general
Overall, I’ve had a great three months starting my PhD: nice people, great supervisor, feeling like I’m doing something I’m passionate about and have control over, and a really nice area. There’s always a sense of inferiority when you look around at your colleagues (the infamous ‘imposter syndrome’) but I tell myself that that is normal, that everyone experiences it, and to just deal with it. You can always ask questions and none are too small nor stupid as everyone has to learn the ropes at some point. It’s important for that reason to have an understanding supervisor with whom you get along.
All in all, 2013 has been a good year. I had a great time finishing my degree and having something to show for the last four years, my public engagement experiences were incredible, visiting family across the pond was fun, and then the whole experience of moving and settling in in St Andrews. I’m hoping that 2014 will bring ample interesting and exciting opportunities 🙂
In the next couple of months I will be continuing (and hopefully finishing) my pilot experiment, writing my literature review, and applying for funding.
Thanks for reading