All entries for September 2013

September 24, 2013

PhD meetings

Meetings.......I find them helpful but also slightly stressful!

On the one hand, they give me the information I need to make progress in my research (so they are a necessary evil!).

On the other hand, I have to spend time preparing for them, checking I know the information I need to know, deciding what to bring to the meeting, what topics I need to discuss and what outcomes I want.

Then there is the after meeting feeling.......for me this is a mixture of:

- a mind buzzing with everything we discussed that I now need to write down while it is fresh in my mind and start planning work based on it.

- relief that the meeting is done and I can get back to my work.

- a sense of wondering why I was nervous about the meeting as it all went fine.

-tiredness after preparing for and having the meeting, after which there are a few minutes thinking about all the work that still needs to be done!

I can't moan though, meetings where you don't contribute anything you usually don't gain anything from attending, so having a meeting today has reminded me why it's important to have them and prepare for them to make the most out of them!

How do meetings feel for you?

September 18, 2013

The struggle continues…....

Rather than keeping you hanging, I thought I'd let you know how those results were.....

Hmmm.....well they were.....interesting? I wasn't sure what was going on, so had another go with some tweaks and still got an unexpected result. So me and my supervisor sat down and went through everything to look for the answer, and after 30 minutes of pulling faces and head scratching we found 1 error and 1 way to improve what I was doing anyway, so I am now awaiting the arrival of the items we have had to correctly re-order to continue my quest.

So, I think this proves a point I mention quite often to others- in a PhD, especially a research one, things don't always go to plan! I was actually happier to find that we had made a mistake and be able to see not only how to rectifiy that but also how to improve things as a success! It is worse when you think you have everything right and still things aren't working!

The key here is not feel upset or angry - it doesn't help and just wastes your time and energy. Instead I am happy to plod along in the knowledge that we'll get there in the end! So, the quest continues!

September 16, 2013

Please pray for me and a day in my PhD!

Hi all,

Another Monday flys around and I find myself sat at my desk, mind whirring, thinking of what I need to get done this week, in what order, who I need to speak to and what I need to chase up. So, I spent my first hour flying through the e-mails that have appeared since Friday and getting myself up to date with what I need to do in the lab.

I then spent half an hour talking to one of my supervisors, most of which was a discussion about things we could buy for the lab and grand plans, followed by four hours flapping around in the lab setting up my work for the day. By mid-afternoon, I needed a ham sandwich and a helping of facebook and BBC news, followed by more e-mails and trying to finish off a few small tasks whilst wondering where the day had actually gone.

I am now finishing the day waiting for my precious gel to run and tell me that everything is going to be ok. I'll let you know how it goes in my next blog.......hopefully I will look at it and something will make the mean time......cross your fingers for me!

September 13, 2013

Life post–PhD

This week I have started to think more about life post-PhD. As I am coming towards the end of year 3 of 4, I am becoming increasingly aware of the need to think more about what I want to do next. I have been on some courses to consider career options and look at my strengths and weaknesses and I think these have definitely helped me understand the process of job applications and interviews much better. However, I'm still not set on one particular career path- its all still a bit fuzzy!

To be honest, I have never really understood people who know exactly what they want to do. I have always made decisions based on what I am interested in and enjoy doing, as I feel this is really important if you are going to be both successful and happy in any particular role. On reflection I have been quite lucky as things have fallen into place for me at the right time so far, but my need to plan and organise makes this option very nerve-racking for me!

On the one hand I could stay in academia- I have enjoyed my MSc and PhD and I like the independence and flexibility an academic life can offer. However, I am aware of the need to obtain regular funding, of short post-docs and all the additional teaching responsibilities that come with being an academic, so it's difficult to know if I would be happy with this!

The alternative is to move out of direct research and into maybe an admistrative or research support role. I think I would enjoy a change, but I don't know if I would become bored after a short time and seek the challenge and pressure of an academic role again!

So, it seems like there are lots of job options out there, but the number of jobs is variable in the current economic climate. People often ask me what I am going to do after my PhD and they expect a specific job title. It is sometimes difficult to explain that a PhD leaves many options and not just one!

Ah, more thinking to be done I suppose!

September 05, 2013

Labbing, conferencing, general flapping…..

Hi all,

Where has the time gone?! September already and now I have started to see the adverts for Christmas in the shops argh!

I say this as come October I am in the fourth and final year of my PhD!!!!! My supervisors seem to be happy with how everything is progressing and I think I know things will work out well for this last year, but that doesn't stop me from worrying about it!

I think there is an inherent pressure you put on yourself doing a PhD, as personally, I feel it is my responsibility to get the project successfully completed, so any failure within it is difficult not to take personally and I always feel the need to go that extra bit further as it is my work and so I care deeply about its success.

Time has also flown by since my last blog post as I have been sending lots of e-mails, speaking to lots of sales and technical staff from scientific companies about products for my industrial placement work and attending the Society for General Microbiology's Autumn conference where I presented a poster which you can see at:

Despite the general faff of attending a conference i.e. travel, what to bring etc I really enjoyed the opportunity to visit another university campus and speak to some new people. I also felt good about being able to make more people aware of my research! There are lots of opportunities to attend conferences amd courses as a PhD student, and plenty of travel grants awarded by relevant societies that you can join to cover costs your PhD funding doesn't so I would highly recommend it!

The next few weeks are going to be busy PhD ones! I have some undergraduate demonstrating, another symposium based at Warwick that I am presenting a poster at, a writing course, a Vitae Gradschool, plus my work as an IGGY student mentor in addition to lab work to prepare 400 samples for sequencing and then work in Somerset come November for my industrial placement!

So, right now is both an exciting and nerve-racking time in my PhD! Watch this space for more reports on how things go!

September 2013

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