Monday, July 24, 2006

A reflection

As I get closer and closer to the end of my PhD I find I reflect a lot and wonder if I had to do it all over again would I choose to go the grad student route? Honestly, there is no cut and dry answer to that. Personally, I feel I've been gypped out of the whole grad student experience and this leads me to a bit of resentment. With my supervisor leaving to take a new position three quarters of the way through my degree I didn't have the typical grad student experience. For one, he hated the job/people at the university I'm at, which was the main reason why he left. This attitude, of course, made our lab sort of the outcasts in the department. No a good way to start out. Plus, for the year or so before he left, when he knew he was going to find a new position somewhere else, he really didn't put much effort into anything. Sure, we would have meetings and discuss my results and whatever but this was also while he was checking his email, going through his mail, whatever other tasks he figured he could handle while still listening to me. In actuality, he really wasn't listening to me. I could stop talking and it would be a good few minutes before he realized it.

Now that I no longer have actual face to face meetings with him, everything is by email and sometimes phone. That's fine and actually I seem to get more of his undivided attention that way. Although I do feel a bit screwed over in the thesis writing department. Don't get me wrong, it has made me quite independent in my writing since I can't go over every little detail with my supervisor face to face but I still feel a bit screwed over. Also with my supervisor gone I am really not feeling the love from the department. Not that I thought I would but when the day after they kick us out of the lab I get an email requesting my key back it's sort of a slap in the face. Especially since I'm the one who got stuck with sending a bunch of my supervisor's stuff to him so I still need access to the lab to get all, what the department calls, "the crap" out of there. I so feel like handing in my key and when the department complains that all that stuff is still there I'll just say, "Sorry, I no longer have a key".

Don't get me wrong, doing my PhD was enjoyable at times. The people in the lab were a lot of fun usually, I went to a bunch of conferences, I enjoyed the research for the most part. I guess I just feel gypped on the last part of my PhD. No lab meetings to have scientific discussions, the lack of direction in my writing up, getting kicked out of the lab. That sort of thing. On the bright side, I have found the whole supervisor leaving thing has made me way more independent. At times I think I should get a PhD and a post doc out of this whole thing. That is also partly why I'm not so keen on doing a post doc. I feel like I've already been doing a post doc for the last two years.

Anyways, to answer the initial question of would I do it all over again? Hmmm... honestly, probably not. And if I did do it all over again, I would do it a lot different. Although that may just be my bitterness talking. Maybe when I actually have my degree I'll feel differently. I'll let you know in a few months.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

What next?

As I get closer and closer to finishing my PhD I keep thinking, what next? So far, nothing, which when I think about it gives me a mini anxiety attack. I think I've come to the conclusion that I don't want to do a post doc. Why? Well, for one I don't really want to be a professor. Blasphemy, I know. A PhD who doesn't want to go into academia?!? So then what? That's what I'm trying to figure out. Perhaps a research associate or doing research for industry or government. I've applied at a number of places, had one interview but that's it so far. I'm starting to worry that maybe I should do a post doc. Not because I want to but because I'm supposed to. It's almost ingrained that you do the PhD, then the post doc, then get an academic position, then get tenure and live happily ever after. Ya right. I'm tossed up though. Even if I don't want to go into academia I'm wondering if I should still do a post doc "just in case". However, since I don't really want to do a post doc I would probably hate every minute of it and that wouldn't be good for anyone. Argh! Thesis writing, deciding what to do for the rest of my life... ya no stress at all.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

I'm NOT a fan of statistics

I spent the better portion of my day trying to do statistical analysis on one figure. ONE FIGURE!!! I have never been a fan of statistics. I took two stats classes in university and do you think I can remember any of it? All I remember from stats class was that the funky cowboy was my stats prof. He was this short, skinny man who wore these western type shirts but they weren't any old cowboy shirt Clint Eastwood would wear. No siree. These were bright, colourful cowboy shirts. It was like Rainbow Bright puked all over Clint Eastwood or something. That prof and his shirts solidified my theory that anyone who likes stats is crazy.

So as I was trying to figure out if I needed to do a Student's t-test or a One-way ANOVA on my data and Googling what the heck those tests are, I came across a website about the Student's t-test. It had a little history thrown into the stats explanation. Apparently the student who came up with the test was working in a brewery and he developed this test to solve some brewery problems. I'm convinced he was drunk (and probably crazy). Anyhoo, turns out it's a pretty good test. I didn't use it though. Seems I needed a One-way ANOVA. Righty. More Googling I did go. Finally after hours of swearing and telling myself this stats isn't going to get the better of me I got it done. Thanks, in no small part, to Excel and it's Data Analysis function. It wasn't all Excel though, I did have to figure out what all the numbers it spit out meant. So much for getting a lot done today. Stupid statistics.