A profound title – Week seventeen as a PhD student

PhD Life

Well, I did it, I have made a website where all of these posts will be open to comment. Of course, you already know this, as you would not be reading this if I hadn’t already done so. My experience so far is that there is a large number of people that have fitness-related blogs. I know this because as soon as I posted my ramblings, many fitness bloggers clicked ‘like’ on my post without even reading the post. I am excited to see what comes from this little online experiment.

In PhD student news, this week, I had to stop with one of my experiments as it was not working as intended. I measured the ion leakage from membranes of spinach leaves as a potential marker for shelf life; the problem was, that it took a long time after the best before date – two weeks until there was any useful difference. What I mean by this, is that I could distinguish day fourteen from day one, but not day seven from day one; as the date on the pack ended at day four, this is not ideal. From this experiment, I believe that the shelf life of spinach – from this season (Italian winter), is far too conservative. My take home from this is that you should use your judgement when assessing if your product is good for eating.

One big thing I have learnt this week is that networking, and actually talking to people are very close to the top of the skill tree. At the beginning of last week, I did not know where I was going with my next experiments. I got talking with one of the postdocs1, and he suggested I ran the same experiment he was running on my samples. This is great for me for many reasons: firstly I will learn a new technique; secondly I have something to do, thirdly I have made a new contact, and hopefully, he can be an ongoing resource for me. So, there we go, the power of networking.

It feels as if I have been preparing and presentations for two different events I have coming up exclusively this week. If you think my writing is weak, you should see my speaking. I am hoping that if I become a better writer, my speaking will improve along with it. After the next two weeks, my speaking engagements will be over for a while, and I can concentrate on my research more. One thing you should know about being a PhD student is that you will almost certainly have to give a presentation every few months, so you may as well get good, that is my thought on the matter anyway.

I had a lab-group meeting this week; I am getting much more confident speaking within the group. I think I am starting to relax into being in the position I am: progress! I am desperate to not be in the seventy-percent of people who experience mental health issues during a PhD. My approach to this is to try and balance my life as much as possible: no all-nighters. This should be an enjoyable time, and I will optimise my life for happiness and not ‘being successful’. I think this is the only logical way to live.

I have a question with regards to my writing. Do you like this style of post? Or, should I do less of this bloggy stuff and more informative articles related to my field?

1. Post-doctoral researcher.

Published by Louis

Spend less than you earn, Invest the surplus, avoid debt. Eat food, not too much, mostly plants

11 thoughts on “A profound title – Week seventeen as a PhD student

  1. I work at a university so I know a lot of PhD students. They all seem to encounter some challenges along the way and their workload can get excessive, but generally it does seem like a very rewarding and worthwhile journey.
    As for your posts, it would be interesting to find out more about your field, although maybe balance that out with more standard blog posts? Doing a PhD is very interesting, and should give you lots to talk about!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. The best science writing is always a mix of science and the colloquial. Given that 70% of people in your situation experience severe mental turbulence, the interest your readers will ultimately have, at least during this part of your documented journey, is the tension between what your research uncovers alongside the ups and downs you and your colleagues experience throughout your program. Keep it up!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I like your writing because it is informative to a general audience…. we don’t need to know much about science to understand it.
    I’m a PhD student too, so I wasn’t happy to read that 70% of PhD students suffer mental health problems. I guess that is because of the stress? I’d love to know more.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I did not know that about spinach. I am aware that the line for freshness that’s used in packaging from the farm is color which leads to a lot of waste just from the field. Maybe a third is left in the dirt and another ten percent gets tossed by inspectors. On top of the 20% that is bought and left to waste in our refrigerators. I think writing changes for the audience. Wider audiences require smaller words and levels of understanding rather than direct relations. My physicist friend calls them blocks. Most people that understand string theory do not understand it at all but as long as you understand there is a string theory (block) you can relate some other thing to that knowledge.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Food waste is an important issue! You bring up an interesting point with the ‘blocks’ I had not thought of it like that before, thanks for sharing!


  5. I am a biology freak and I love wordy reads. Your blogging style is very much like I think. I am always wondering how things work. When I was a kid I use to go to the mall just so I can watch people communicate. I have autism and I was tired of being afraid of everything so I faced my fears by walking through growds. I didn’t flench, if I did I made myself do it over again. I also took time to meditate in between those times. Now that I am a every day Blogger I have learned how to mingle through the medium of WordPress. I love it because I don’t have to look at people when they speak so I understand them better. Having autism makes it harder for me to understand body language and when people are not direct. I don’t understand why some people are dishonest. I never had a need to be. I have always been an outsider when it comes to being part of a group. The one group I truly do connect with would be the Goth community’s. I just like that type of stuff. I don’t care if people see me as being odd or anything because it’s not my problem. 😊 I love people doesn’t matter what you look like or believe. I care very deeply for all.

    I think you should keep using this style of writing but also switch it up once in awhile. Plus if you want to learn more you have to try different things. I have learned a lot because I am willing to change once and awhile.

    ♥️ Be bold, you, and stay beautiful. That’s my moto.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Nice project. A couple of seemingly unconnected thoughts spring to mind. Having blogged for a number of seasons I’ve come to recognize the twists and turns that journey continues to unexpectedly reveal. It is fun and rewarding, but it also commands energy and concentration to do it reasonably well. For the last few posts I’ve read, the energy and concentration you’ve expended shows, and by the number of likes you’ve received, others sense it also. You’ve got something here; keep that in mind.

    Then there’s this other thought. You’re in a PhD program, and in an earlier comment someone mentioned a statistic that 70% or so of PhD candidates suffer mental health problems. Not surprising that the stress exists, but perhaps surprising that the percentage is so high. It is most likely due to what we don’t know that we could know, but they don’t want to tell you and would rather see you figure it out (note: that’s one of the criteria for emerging from the PhD process).

    Perhaps a good picture is the following: getting a PhD is like climbing Mt. Everest without oxygen and trusting you have a really good Sherpa (thesis advisor). The reason it’s like Mt. Everest will make sense if you consider the following rarely used analogy:

    -K-12 (public, private school) is mostly memorizing other people’s stuff;
    -College is more of that plus trying to explain what you think it means;
    -a Master’s Degree is understanding other people’s stuff well enough to explain it to someone else so they can understand it;
    -a PhD is not only discovering your own original stuff and trying to explain it to someone else, but successfully defending your stuff to that someone because they have already been through a similar process and their purpose is to tear your stuff apart.

    That’s where part of the stress comes in. Another part they don’t let you know ahead of time is the possibility that another Sherpa might take you aside and tell you that he’s going to try and do everything possible to make you fail in your ascent up the mountain (true experience). All Sherpas are not necessarily interested in seeing everyone make it up the mountain.

    All things considered, we all have a finite amount of energy, concentration, and time. Keep them balanced, and invest wisely.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for the Comment Jim. I hope my sherpa does not try to make me fail that seems like a waste of time and resources for everyone! I am currently hoovering up knowledge from your blog.

      Liked by 2 people

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