Monday, June 30, 2014

Don't go there.

I would never,ever advise anyone to go into my university's PhD program. After six years of hard work, it seems that I've become a successful scientist. I've written two of my own grants which have been awarded funding and have contributed to multiple data papers and a review, not to mention having given many lectures and managing 20+ students in the lab.

However it seems that I still needed to prove myself to my committee, who pulled up an unwritten and uncommunicated rule at the last minute before my thesis was due. I revised the thesis, which I was completely willing to do despite the large amount of stress it caused me, which all of my committee members actively ignored and/or denied. I made seven additional figures and wrote about 10 more pages, but didn't have time to revise the introduction, which was the only thing my advisor read before he threatened to reject it again.

Two of my committee members had stated in multiple conversations that a thesis should merely be a showcase for work that will be turned into publications and not a separate, special holy frail unto itself. These were the two members that told me to be clear, concise and to the point. I would bet my left foot that they were also the ones who pushed for the decision for my edits to be focused almost entirely on enriching my introduction, the only part of the thesis that will not be published. They justified this in saying that it would be a resource to me in years to come. If I hadn't been so exhausted from my oral exam than I would have pointed out that they were asking me to embellish on a topic that I have little to no interest in and very well may not be part of my future after I leave this hellhole.

The most wonderful part of this final assignment is that they did not request a specific number of pages or amount of content, but a time commitment of three weeks.

I am only guaranteed pay for the next eight weeks. When I asked one of my members, who I will need for reccomendations, if it's all right to start applying for post docs, they said that I should focus on my thesis and only apply to any post docs that I REALLY want. Considering the fact that the very intelligent and qualified people I know have been taking between three to six months to find a post doc, this seems like absolute bullshit to me.

I'm tired of these games and of other people acting irresponsiblly with the most important decisions in my life. I intend to stay nearby for a post doc, to be near friends and family, since I now realize that this is what counts. I have serious doubts about persuing a career in acedemia; I had never doubted it until this time because I had always believed that my hard work would pay off in the end. No one said good job or congradtulations after my defense; only one member of my committee acknowledged that I had done a nice job on my presentation. Is the point of a PhD program to wear down, degrade, and discourage the student? Because that's how in feeling here at the end of my journey, which should be the pinnacle of my achievements thus far...but instead I'm feeling quite depressed. In addition, I had previously thought that one of the goals of PhD training was to become independent, but this month I feel like I've been treated more like a child and given more "because we said so" instructions than I have since year 1. Did I mention that my advisor declined to even let my committee read the first draft of my thesis? Even if it had been so bad that it had been rejected, then at least I would have felt like an independent adult and not an idiotic child.

But then again no one cares about helping graduate students maintain a balanced outlook or healthy mental and emotional outlook. It's a trial by fire, and they don't give a shit if you get wrecked in the inferno, just whether you make it or not. They'll deny any residual scarring as well as any accountability. It's a thrilling, backward world on acedemics, and if I had truly known then maybe I never would have set foot here.

posted from Bloggeroid

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Never ever ever on figures for your thesis after you've been drinking. You might want to get more work in before its time for nighty night but IT IS NOT worth it. You'll start looking through your data and realize that one thing is wrong and then investigate and find out that you've left out vast amounts of samples and spend the next two hours fixing them until you realize you've been looking at the wrong spreadsheet (you really need to learn to label those better) and the only real mistake was the much smaller one that you found originally at the beginning of the night.

This post is dedicated to my boyfriend (because for some reason he appreciates me even when I'm grumpy) and caused by Michelle.

posted from Bloggeroid

Thursday, June 12, 2014


Signs that you have been working too long on your thesis

Have staring contests with birds, who you believe wish you ill

Therapist answers your messages abnormally quickly

All you really want, deep down in your soul, is to watch TV

While formatting data, you somehow accidentally create a 67,000KB Excel file

Find yourself singing encouraging messages to yourself in your best opera singer impression

Defying Gravity becomes your favorite song

Sticky notes referring to various points and references cover your walls

Going to the library takes two trips from the car (laptop, keyboard, mouse, cord for second monitor, pens, notepad, printed journal articles, external hard drive, lab notebook, water, snack, coffee, tylenol, advil, glasses, contact case, contact solution, microbiology textbook, cell phone, cell charger, arthritis cream, headphones, jacket....)

Everyone you run into starts the conversation with "I haven't seen you in a while."

 You start getting really excited about finding a good reference

You start getting really picky about whether you cite X. Smith et al 2012a or X. Smith et al 2012b, even though they're on the same topic and have the same authors

Wearing something besides pajamas or sweats is the most you can muster for going out in public

You get upset when a senior citizen is using "your" computer at the library

You recognize all the work study students who sit at the front entrance and when their shifts are

Dirty dishes start to overwhelm the sink

And the counter

And the stovetop

You've ordered out 6 days in a row because "you deserve it"

You become obsessed with Doge.

Thesis writing, or lack thereof

I am supposed to be writing my thesis. My thesis committee told me to work on nothing BUT my thesis, because until they did, even though I have been in grad school for 6 years, I was constantly being given new tasks to do and accused of being "difficult" when I said some of them were unnecessary.

My thesis document is due tomorrow  for review by my committee. Things that I have been emailed about, to deal with immediately, in the last week include
-Spending lab money before the end of the fiscal year (keeping in mind that I will be gone at the end of August)
-Sending samples to a colleague for a project that is not my thesis
-Finding the concentrations of samples that I did not generate and will not be working with
-Checking on the progress of an undergrad's work on data from a project that is ALSO not my thesis (though I did waste approximately 2 years on it)
-Being asked to determine where a new student should sit in the office.

This is just a subset of the entertaining responsibilities I enjoy taking care of as an underpaid secretary.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

A three minute distraction

Here I am, holed up in the library, hidden in the back behind a soundproof cubicle, ducking under the desk to answer the phone in a whispher and rushing out if it's important, worrying every time I set up my computer or riffle through my purse looking for a tissue that I'm being too loud.... and then across the library, in the huge, main, echoing room, a student turns on his music. His rap music. Without headphones. Of course this deviant is barefoot, as are most of the most highly ridiculous and deluded undergraduates at my university. Who raised this person? What makes him think that he is more special than the other people also using this room? And if he's a student, why in God's name did he come to the LIBRARY to play music?????????.

In other news, I watched Black Fish and I'm never going to SeaWorld again. Who in the world came up with the idea to perform with a 5000 pound animal without any safeguards (LITERALLY- there were NO safeguards for these trainers until the court forbade them to perform in the pool with the whales), anyway?? Gah. I need a cheeseburger.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Please get with it

me: omg. computers.
LW: I KNOW. It's like, you're the future, you should know better

Things we have determined that need to get with it
1. Computers
2. Cars
3. Boys/kitties (especially boy kitties)
4. People who think we want to come to their wedding el solo
5. Whoever should be making me breakfast, and isn't
6. Whoever is in charge of making a magical wine dispenser (shoutout to cousin) 7. bugs, specifically ones that are attracted to eyes, and fruit flies, but I guess really all bugs in general, because they would be perfectly happy in Antarctica but refuse to move there
8. My neighbor, who leaves stale bread on my porch and accused me of watching him with a camera in my window (hmm...paranoid, anyone?) and then informed my housemate that I'M crazy
9. Anyone who asks me how I'm doing from now until when my thesis is done and expects an actual answer
10. Men on Love it or List it; for some reason they're all legitimately jerks and totally ignore their wife/partner's concerns ("That's not a big deal."