Monday, November 20, 2006

That's Dr. ScienceGeek to you!

Yay!!!! The defense is done!!! I passed!!!

Now for the details...
The day before my defense I had a bit of a breakdown. I went to the University to practice my talk one last time and pick up the projector I would need for the next day. I ended up getting the crappiest projector and my images looked awful. I had a bit of a breakdown due to my images not showing up right and how this was supposed to be my time to shine yet my presentation looked like crap. The next morning I got to the University bright and early and tracked down a much better projector. Things were much better after that. Although I was dead tired because I had the crappiest sleep ever.

The presentation went quite well. I was a bit nervous but not too bad. I probably would have been less nervous had I not found out two minutes before my presentation that the person I would be having an interview for a post doc position the following week was coming to my talk.

After the presentation a fellow grad student friend of mine comes up and says, "Man you've done a lot of work since I last talked to you about your project". That was nice to hear since this particular grad student is a workaholic who makes every other grad student look bad. Of course I got all the "nice talk", "congrats", "good luck" comments as well.

On to the defense...
That part I wasn't nervous about at all. I was quite nervous a few days before but the projector freakout made me worry less about the defense and more about my talk. Plus, I enjoy sitting down with a bunch of scientists and talking the talk. It also helped that the first few comments out of my examiners mouths were, "I really enjoyed your thesis", "Your thesis is very well written", "Your thesis is very well organized". I knew after those comments that the actual defense was more of a formality than anything. My external examiner (who conference called it) was probably the toughest examiner. She is closest to my field so that was expected. Although one of her first questions was quite difficult but I found it sort of a useless question. She was picking on some term I used in one sentence in my thesis. Oh well. Overall there weren't any really tough questions in my defense. There were some I didn't know the answer to or drew a blank but those questions were more broad science questions than thesis related questions. Such as, how do you make a transgenic animal that has a missense mutation in a gene. I totally blanked. I also enjoyed when they put my supervisor on the spot by asking him a question. I'm not sure how that happened but I enjoyed watching him squirm for once. I know, I'm mean. Based on Sheepish's examiner archetypes I would say I had an examining committee consisting of an Insider, an Outsider, a Freethinker, and an Examiner. It was a pretty good combination, I thought.

Then onto the deliberation, of course. That didn't last too long thankfully. When they called me back in the Chair of my defense gave me a thumbs up so I knew it was all good. In hindsight, I actually enjoyed the defense. Besides the external and internal/external, these are researchers that have been with me since almost the beginning, some even before the beginning. It was nice to have them congratulate me. They seemed to be beaming too. I suppose it is a happy time for them as well to see you succeed.

After the defense I went out for lunch with my supervisor and then home for a nap before the celebratory dinner. I was so tired. I never got that nap though. I was visiting with my family who came for my defense and then I got a call and got offered a position that I interviewed for a while back. After that I was too excited to sleep. A PhD and a job all in one day! It was a huge stress relief. I did still go for the post-doc interview today though. I'll post more on that later. It's getting late, I'm tired, and my show is on soon. Oh the joys of being done the defense, now I can watch all the TV shows I've been putting off or feeling guilty when I do watch them.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

T-minus 2 days!

My supervisor got into town yesterday so this morning we went over my thesis presentation. Within about two minutes he was starting to do the head bob, which at first I figured, whatever, he might be tired from traveling and whatnot. Midway through the presentation he was in full on sleep mode complete with a bit of snoring. Lovely, just lovely. The sleeping supervisor flustered me a bit but I soldiered on with the talk, essentially talking to the pictures of former deans up on the wall of the conference room. Seriously though, when your grad student is doing their practice talk to get feedback from you and you are the only person in the room besides the student who is giving the talk at least have the courtesy to stay away! Drink some coffee, walk around, whatever but don't go into full on snore mode. At the end of the talk I asked him how long it was since I forgot to time it. He told me it was about 40 minutes. I was going to ask whether that included naps or not but I bit my tongue. At least on Friday I'll have other people to focus on who won't be asleep like my supervisor so hopefully I won't get as flustered. And people wonder why I have such a jaded view of academia.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Coming out of hiding

3 days! Man, that ticker gives me a bit of an anxiety attack seeing it. As expected, I've been pretty busy preparing for my defense. This is what prompted this post. I've been reviewing things for the past few days and wanted to brush up on the theory behind the yeast two-hybrid assay since that will probably come up in my defense when I talk about future directions of analyzing binding partners of my protein of interest. As I was searching on the web I came across The Science Creative Quarterly, which has a lovely description of yeast two-hybrid complete with pretty pictures, if you are interested. Of course, as always happens when I'm searching on the web I got sidetracked and came across another article on The Science Creative Quarterly entitled "Dave Ng is both a scientist and someone who writes nasty reviews on books he hasn't actually read". Of course I had to check it out, which by the way cracked me up. There are other humorous articles (and probably some more sciencey ones) on that website which I'm planning to check out, after the defense of course. Oh and the SCQ is Canadian to boot!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Where does the time go?

Yes I've been quite sporatic in my posting lately. That snail ticker gives me a mini-anxiety attack everytime I see it so I've been avoiding my blog. I have got a lot done lately...

  • I printed out my thesis and handed it out to all my committee members. I must say I was quite pleased to see my thesis on paper. Up to that point it had all been on computer. I was sitting there hole punching it all nicely and putting the thesis in binders for my committee. The husband comes home and I show him my thesis all nicely in a binder. We talk for about 15 minutes about whatever at which point he mentions that I haven't put my thesis down since he walked in the door. I told him it's my baby.
  • I've finished my thesis presentation and have a kick ass acknowledgements slide. I knew all those cell images that weren't worthy of going in an actual figure would be useful at some point even if it's only science geek art. Now I just have to figure out what I want to say for each slide.
  • I've done a bit of reading and reviewing. I just can't get into it. I read this lengthy review yesterday that just came out. It is a nice recap of the area of research I'm in but I found it so boring. I think that was because nothing was new to me. I guess that's a good thing. At least I know the info that is directly relevant to my area of research.
So what's left to do before D-day...
  • fine tune my presentation and practice, practice, practice. Also, go over my presentation with my supervisor. My friend loaned me his fancy laser pointer/slide advancer dohickey so I'll look like a pro.
  • read, review, read some more. I like to be overprepared.
  • play 20 questions with my supervisor. He asks me whatever he can think of that my examiners might touch on to see if I actually know it. He seems to enjoy the 20 questions just a bit too much in my opinion. And really it's more like 100 questions than 20 questions.
  • read my thesis many, many times.
By the way, Science Woman's thesis stats post reminded me of one stat I forgot for mine...
The last word - disease

What a pleasant ending.