All entries for October 2013

October 17, 2013

General rantings of a PhD student

Sitting here looking back at my last blog, I have absolutely no idea how it has been more than a week since I wrote it- where does the time go?! And why does everything take longer than you expect?!

These last two questions are probably the ones I repeat most often, sometimes to myself and sometimes to the poor souls who share an office with me. One of the major frustrations of a PhD is clock-watching. By this, I mean watching time pass by as you try and get things up and running, understand what the hell you are doing and why and then hit several brick walls in the process. I know when I finish my PhD I will berate myself for times when I worried about my progress and compared myself to others, but this doesn't mean I can't help myself from still doing it.

However, by this stage in my PhD, by stage I mean the last year (ooooh god!), I have started to accept that this is just part of doing a PhD. All I can do is try my best, keep plugging away, trying to make things happen and then write all about them when I run out of time. This is most definitely my current attitude after being delayed in my lab plans by a week rectifying something that worked before and then randomly decided not to. I bet being a post-doc is the same argh!


October 09, 2013

Presenting your work

Hello fellow bloggers!

Yesterday I presented some of my research at a lab meeting and got a bit of a grilling (in my opinion anyway!) so I thought it was worth having a bit of a discussion about.

I always find it a bit tricky answering unexpected questions on the spot, you want to answer quickly and comprehensively, but I find this difficult when an audience is watching. Over time, I have become more comfortable with my research in the sense that I understand more about what I am doing and why. I think my ability and confidence in thinking on the spot has therefore improved. However, I still can't help sometimes feeling a little down after having a meeting where multiple questions have been fired at me and I'm not sure if I answered them as best as I could have.

After yesterdays meeting, I was trying to get on with the rest of my day, but ended up thinking a lot about the questions I had been asked and whether I could have answered them better. This made me feel a little fed up, but I decided to combat this feeling by writing down all the questions I could remember. If I build up a list of questions that people ask me when I present, I can start to not only improve my presentations to make certain points clearer, but also start to recognise the common questions and develop comprehensive answers to them.

This way, I hope I can present with confidence and not develop a fear of impending post-presentation questions! I have tried to put a positive action with what I thought was a negative experience- I don't think I'll ever get such an in-depth grilling outside of my lab meetings and the fact that I get so many questions means I will be better prepared when presenting my research to a wider audience!

So, don't fear the questions! They only allow you to think about your research and its message more carefully!


October 03, 2013

Another day, another to–do list…....

The past week or so has been a very busy one for me, so it seems like a lifetime since my last blog, despite it being only 9 days ago! Hence, I feel it only appropriate to ramble on about what I have been up to!

Last Wednesday was a manic day in the lab, trying to finish testing my sequencing protocol before I spent the rest of my week attending a conference! The tasks I had planned seemed time-consuming but simple enough, although my patience and sanity were tested when I managed to prepare all my samples and then run them all on the wrong program so I had to do them all again argh!

Last Thursday and Friday were spent at Warwick Medical School's Division of Microbiology and Infection Inaugral symposium. It was great to learn more about the research of the newly established group and the lunch wasn't too bad either! The symposium is storified, so you can have a look for yourself at what went on at:

http://bit.ly/17vRMUI

I then whizzed off to Ireland for the weekend to celebrate my nephews christening with my family (where a hair disaster was averted after all the curls decided to fall out of my new hairdo and had to be re-curled at the last minute!)

Monday was a bang back down to Earth, with a catch-up on e-mails and an update of the now every growing to-to list!

This was followed by helping groups of undergraduates take water samples from the River Dene near Wellsbourne on Tuesday. I never knew that standing in a shallow river in a pair of wellies could be such fun!

Wednesday was filled with a writing course at Stoneleigh Park. This reminded me of the importance of communicating science and the key things to think about when doing so- mainly who you are writing for and what they want to know!

So now it's Thursday, and I am finally back in the office catching up. I have lab work to plan, meetings to make notes for, questions to ask, chemicals to order and more helping undergraduates! Better get a move on then.........


October 2013

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